US names alleged culprit behind deadly drone strike

The White House has blamed an “Iranian-backed” umbrella group in Iraq for an attack that killed three American troops at a base in Jordan

President Joe Biden’s administration has identified the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella organization for several Islamist Shia militias in the region, as the group responsible for the drone strike that killed three American soldiers and wounded over 40 others on Sunday.

The attack was “planned, resourced, and facilitated” by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday in a press briefing. The group consists of several militias, including Kataib Hezbollah, which has launched multiple rocket and drone strikes against US forces in the region since the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

A drone packed with explosives struck a secretive US outpost in Jordan, near the Iraqi and Syrian borders, on Sunday, causing the first American fatalities in months of attacks by various militant groups working in solidarity with Hamas. Biden has vowed to strike back “at a time and in a manner of our choosing.” He told reporters on Tuesday that he had decided on a response, though he offered no details.

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Biden says he has decided how to respond to Jordan attack

Kirby suggested a multi-faceted retaliation, saying it “won’t just be a one-off. As I said, the first thing you see will not be the last thing.” However, he reiterated a White House claim that Biden is trying to avoid a wider conflict with Iran. “We’re not looking for a broader conflict. We’re not looking for a war with Iran.”

Biden blamed Iran for supplying the weapons that Islamic militants have used in attacking US forces in the Middle East more than 150 times in recent months. He has faced political pressure to respond aggressively, including calls by Senator Lindsey Graham and other Republican lawmakers to launch a devastating strike against Tehran.

“We have obligations in the region, including those to our troops and our facilities,” Kirby said. “We will have to do, we will do, what we need to do to make sure that those responsible are held properly accountable.”

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No US threat will go unanswered – Iran

The Iranian government has denied involvement in Sunday’s drone attack. Kataib Hezbollah said on Tuesday that it was suspending military operations against Washington’s “occupation forces” to prevent embarrassment of the Iraqi government. “We will continue to defend our people in Gaza in other ways,” the group added.

Iranian officials have pledged to “decisively respond” to any attack. Major General Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said on Wednesday that no US threat against his country would “be left unanswered.” He added, “We are not looking for war but are not afraid of war, either.”

Israel might let Hamas leaders live in exile – media

The government in West Jerusalem has reportedly discussed allowing Palestinian militants to take refuge in another country

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has reportedly floated the idea of exiling some Hamas leaders to other Middle East countries to help end the war in Gaza and clear the way for a new governing authority in the Palestinian exclave.

The proposal calls for letting top Hamas officials in Gaza – including political leader Yahya Sinwar and military commander Mohammed Deif – move to another country, such as Algeria, Qatar or Saudi Arabia, Semafor reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with discussions by Israeli and US officials. The militant leaders who planned the October 7 attacks that triggered the current war would be among those allowed to escape into exile.

Some Israeli officials see the plan as a way to help persuade Hamas to free its remaining hostages in Gaza, lay down arms and turn over governance of the Palestinian territory to new leadership, Semafor said. Such a peace agreement might then accelerate a US-brokered deal for Saudi Arabia to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

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Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal close – NYT

John Hannah, a former White House aide in President George W. Bush’s administration, told Semafor that ending the war quickly would open the door for normalizing relations between Riyadh and West Jerusalem, thereby countering Iran’s influence in the region. He called the Israel-Saudi deal “a major US objective” and said he had discussed the Hamas exile plan with senior Washington and Israeli officials in recent weeks.

The strategy of letting Hamas leaders go into exile might be similar to a 1982 initiative in which the Palestinian Liberation Organization, led by Yasser Arafat, moved its headquarters to Tunisia after being besieged by Israeli forces in Lebanon. However, even if a willing country could be found to provide a safe haven, Semafor said it’s unlikely that Hamas leaders would accept such an offer.

“The Hamas guys in Gaza won’t leave,” as they would probably prefer to die as martyrs, a senior Arab official told the media outlet. Besides, Hamas leaders know that the Israelis could eventually hunt them down and kill them anywhere they might take refuge. Mossad chief David Barnea vowed earlier this month to take revenge on everyone involved in the October 7 attacks, “wherever they will be.”

READ MORE: CIA providing intel on Hamas leaders to Israel – NYT

Nearly 27,000 Gazans have been killed since the war began, according to Palestinian health officials. The October 7 Hamas attacks killed more than 1,100 people in Israel, and hundreds more were taken back to Gaza as hostages. Most of the casualties on both sides were civilians.

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Andrey Sushentsov: Here’s why the US can’t get along with the other major global powers

American elites believe in democracy at home and dictatorship abroad; that’s why the world is so dangerous right now

Ukraine is a convenient, rather cheap tool for the US to weaken and contain Russia, and to force its European allies to keep their discipline and obey. This is all part of an international struggle for a new form of hierarchy.

Of course, it’s just a temporary phenomenon until a new balance of power, recognized by all, is established. Until this point is reached, we will see foreign policy experiments by various countries. The position of small and medium-sized states is increasingly attracting the attention of the great powers, which are negotiating the formation of a new balance. We are at a point where a small state can demand much more than it would get in a system of rigid hierarchy.

In the struggle to increase its status in the world hierarchy, Russia feels like it’s well prepared to defend its national interests and restore justice. It is through such a stress test, like the one we see now, that the realism of assessments, national qualities, and the strength of resources and strategy are put to the test. 

In essence, this crisis is a test of the quality of the strategy of all participants: Everyone enters it with their own initial understanding of what the world looks like, how it works and where history is going.

The US sincerely believes that foreign policy is part of domestic policy. Moreover, every American external strategy is a component of internal struggles. Of course, the country’s self-absorption makes its allies near and far very nervous and creates uncertainty in the development of the situation. I do not see any objective conditions for Washington to reduce its involvement in Ukrainian affairs, at present. The current decision to suspend funding is of a technical nature: Most likely, the US will find a way to transfer the necessary funds to Ukraine from another source.

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The US is eliminating any impulses for strategic autonomy by Western Europeans and is cutting off resources from that side of the continent. The Americans “sold” the conflict to the Euros as a quick victory over Russia, which would lead to easier access to large amounts of resources and the opportunity to enrich themselves. As the conflict has dragged on, the relative gains for both the Americans and the Western Europeans have begun to decline. The resources that the latter should be using for their own development are now being channelled either into the purchase of energy resources, the main material basis of any development, at inflated prices, or into the supply of arms and military equipment to Ukraine. Therefore, I believe that we will not see anything new in the American strategy, and since the new draft of the Russian budget assumes the preservation of military conditions for the next three years, I do not believe that the Americans will be ready to abandon their asset in the form of Ukraine.

There is another observation: that Americans never “hold” a falling asset. As investors, they realize that they need to put their dollars into something else quickly. And maybe at some point they will get the feeling that Ukraine is an asset that is constantly costing them money but has stopped adding value.

The Americans could be forced to withdraw their support from Ukraine by an emergency situation in another part of the world, which would force them to concentrate their efforts there. Taiwan or a sudden crisis in the Western Hemisphere come to mind.

The suspension of funding for Ukraine would not have happened if Kiev had shown signs of being a good investment, and if the media image of a “victorious Ukraine” and “doomed Russia” painted by the Americans was a reality. The problem for Ukraine and the West is that the constant production of illusory ideas is not supported by reality. This makes it harder to “hold” the asset.

Instead of positive images associated with victory: triumph, good returns on investment, other news comes in: a stalled offensive, corruption scandals, President Vladimir Zelensky’s attempt to pressure allies, scandals with Nazi collaborators in which he is directly involved. The shocking episode of honoring a World War Two Waffen SS criminal in the Canadian Parliament is symptomatic of a larger problem.

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Throughout the decades, as the large Ukrainian diaspora in Canada has grown in influence, the US has turned a blind eye to the cult around the OUN-UPA [Ukrainian nationalists who were aligned with Adolf Hitler’s Germany] in its ranks, where it is common to honor Nazi collaborators and indoctrinate children in schools. The Ukrainian government, realizing that this is already a legitimized phenomenon, is beginning to use it in its official propaganda.

However, some changes are taking place: For the first time, the Americans are correcting the Ukrainians when they stage provocations, including information provocations, in an attempt to shift responsibility for their crimes onto Russia. The missile strike on civilian facilities in Kostantinovka, which by a strange set of circumstances coincided with Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Kiev, was attributed by Ukrainian propaganda as a “Russian crime.” Washington neatly corrected Kiev, and seemingly for the first time, by pointing out that the missile was Ukrainian. The fact that such disagreements have arisen suggests that at some point the interests of the US and Ukraine may diverge. I believe that the elites in Kiev should think about what a “plan B” would look like for them, because right now they are putting all their eggs in one basket and thus cutting off any path to negotiations, retreat, or some other scenario.

Is it possible that the American election campaign could have an impact on the Ukrainian conflict? I would consider a scenario in which it would not make anything better for Russia, and I would start from the premise that we should be indifferent to who sits in the White House. Frankly, discussions with the Americans on regional crises are repetitive. I remember them on the Syrian conflict, when Washington’s experts said that it would have a strong negative impact on Russia’s domestic politics, that we would be at odds with the Islamic world and that our relations with Türkiye, Iran, and others would collapse. All this was unfounded speculation. Russia acted in its own interests and in the end achieved the optimal picture for itself.

It must be recognized that the US is becoming increasingly cynical and no longer observes many rules it once espoused.

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We see this in the series of terrorist attacks by Ukraine against Russian public figures, which are not condemned by Washington. The issue of counter-terrorism, for example, was once something that united the Americans and Moscow – in the early 2000s, we even tested the possibility of deep cooperation. But this is all gone now.

First, communication with our country in the fight against terrorism have been interrupted, even though this is an absolutely vital area of interest in which cooperation is extremely important.

Second, Americans often use the groups that are recognized in our country as terrorist groups instrumentally to achieve their goals.  Americans are completely blind to the terrorist actions of the Ukrainian armed forces, the government, and the special services, which openly target civilian infrastructure and intimidate the civilian population. It is as if they are turning a blind eye to this, as well as to all manifestations of Nazi elements in Ukrainian politics.

The structural problems of the US in its relations with Russia and other major countries are as follows: Washington cannot imagine that human dignity and self-respect can be possessed by anyone other than itself and that other countries have their own points of view. What the Americans practice quite well in their domestic politics – attention to every voice, different communities, freedom of speech – they cannot tolerate in international affairs. The principle of sovereign equality of countries is very difficult for them.

This article was first published by Valdai Discussion Club, translated and edited by the RT team.