Blinken meets Arab leaders to ‘limit spread’ of Gaza war

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with the leaders of Jordan and Qatar on 7 January, as part of a tour across West Asia aimed at limiting the spread of the Gaza-Israel war. 

In a meeting between Blinken and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, the king warned of the “catastrophic repercussions” of the war if it continues, according to a statement released by the royal palace. 

Abdullah II emphasized “the important role of the United States in bringing pressure for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, protection of civilians, and guaranteeing delivery” of aid. 

Blinken, in turn, reiterated Washington’s “opposition to forcible displacement of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza and the critical need to protect Palestinian civilians in the West Bank from extremist settler violence,” according to the State Department. He also highlighted the US commitment to “peace and security” and “the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.” 

Both vowed to continue close coordination to ensure sustained humanitarian assistance to Gaza. 

Following his meetings in Jordan, Blinken made his way to Qatar for talks with the Gulf state’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and its Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. 

The talks focused on ramping up humanitarian aid, preparing for an end to the fighting, and addressing the growing fear that the conflict may overtake the entire region. 

“This is a conflict that could easily metastasize, causing even more insecurity and even more suffering. So, from day one, among other priorities, we have been intensely focused on working to prevent the conflict from spreading. We share a commitment to ensure that the conflict does not expand,” Blinken said during a joint press conference with Qatar’s foreign minister. 

At the press conference, Al-Thani called for an immediate ceasefire. “This is a big test for our humanity. We are looking for a sustainable future; however, the focus is now on stopping the fighting,” he said. 

Blinken also traveled to the UAE and held talks with President Mohamed bin Zayed on 8 January. The secretary is due in Saudi Arabia, Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Egypt before returning to Washington.

Despite Israel’s withdrawal of some of its ground forces from Gaza, the fighting is ongoing. Israeli troops are now focusing on central and south Gaza. However, Hamas’ Qassam Brigades and other resistance groups remain active across the entirety of the Gaza Strip – clashing with the Israeli army on a daily basis and inflicting heavy losses across Israeli ranks. 

Tel Aviv is no closer to its stated goal of wiping out Hamas, and the indiscriminate bombardment continues. 

Over 22,100 Palestinians have been killed and at least 57,000 injured. US pressure to reduce harm to civilians has had no sway over Israel, and Washington continues to fuel the war effort. Ceasefire efforts remain at a complete standstill.

Meanwhile, fears of a regional flare-up are growing. Lebanon’s Hezbollah carried out a large rocket attack on a strategic Israeli airbase on 6 January, in response to Tel Aviv’s assassination of top Hamas chief Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut at the start of the month. 

The crossfire has intensified significantly on the southern Lebanese border. The resistance in both Iraq and Yemen continues to maintain its heightened activity. Western officials are said to be pushing for diplomacy and de-escalation.

On 7 January, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant threatened to “copy-paste” the destruction in Gaza onto Beirut. 

Source: The cradle

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