Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Keeps Blinken Waiting for Hours before Meeting Him Published 4 minutes ago
Ahead of the meeting between Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the latter had to wait for hours before the meeting and then the crown prince eventually met him the next day, the Washington Post said in a report.
Blinken met Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS, to rally support against Hamas as Israel prepares a ground invasion of Gaza which has raised concerns in the West Asia region.
Blinken said his meeting with MBS was “very productive” but noted that there were differing views on “escalation” of the war. MBS discussed with the US Secretary of State about taking steps to halt the conflict while upholding international law, including lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza, the Saudi Arabian state-run news agency SPA said.
MBS also apprised Blinken about Saudi Arabia's ongoing diplomatic efforts to mitigate the crisis and establish peace, involving dialogues with regional leaders. This may also include talks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
He also highlighted that Palestinians achieving their legitimate rights and securing a just and lasting peace is the need of the hour. The US secretary of state however pointed out that Israel has the right to defend itself against these attacks from Hamas and to try to do what it can to ensure this never repeats.
“There's a determination in every country I went to, to make sure that this conflict doesn't spread. They are using their own influence, their own relationships, to try to make sure that this doesn't happen,” Blinken said.
Antony Blinken has been in West Asia following the Hamas-led attacks in Israel and said his presence shows US' ironclad commitment to Israel's security. He also met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and assured him that the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt “will be open”.
“Rafah will be open. We're putting in place with the UN, with Egypt, Israel, with others, the mechanism by which to get the assistance in and to get it to people who need it,” Blinken told news agencies.
Rafah is the only border crossing Gazans can get aid through to the city, as it is not controlled by Israel. Israel has closed its two border crossings with Gaza, thereby imposing a total siege.
US President Joe Biden will be heading to Israel on October 18 to pay a visit to show Washington's solidarity with Jerusalem. He will also meet Palestinian Authority chief and Palestine President Mahmud Abbas, Egypt's Sisi and the Jordanian king Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will pay his third wartime visit to West Asia this week and meet Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah.
The US officials gave only a few details about the agenda of the meetings but a report by AFP citing senior American officials said the US secretary of state will discuss the principles he laid out for “future of Gaza and the need to establish an independent Palestinian state”.
“The secretary will stress the need to sustain the increased flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, secure the release of all hostages and improve protection to civilians in Gaza. (He will discuss) the principles he laid out for the future of Gaza and the need to establish an independent Palestinian state,” the official told the news agency.
The US is also pressuring Israel to work with the Palestinian Authority and rein in settlers who have launched attacks against Palestinian villagers in the West Bank since October 7.
Netanyahu is a long-time critic of Abbas and does not prefer the two-state solution.
The US and Biden have backed Israel following the Hamas-led October 7 attacks which killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in Israel's deadliest-ever attack.
But they have also expressed concern regarding the Israeli retaliation's toll on civilians, which have galvanised public opinion in much of the world. The bombing and ground campaign has left almost 15,000 people dead, mostly Palestinian civilians, according to Gaza's Hamas government.
US President Joe Biden on Monday (local time) said he and his country will keep working towards the two-state solution and believes that it can bring lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians as Israel and Hamas extended their truce by 48 hours.
“A two-state solution is the only way to guarantee the long-term security of both the Israeli and the Palestinian people. To make sure Israelis and Palestinians alike live in equal measure of freedom and dignity, we will not give up on working towards that goal,” Biden said.
Both US President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier said that following the war Gaza should be unified with the Israeli-occupied West Bank under a “revitalised” Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas' PA, also known as Fatah, controls large parts of the West Bank in close coordination with Israel but Palestinians call them “collaborators”.
A report by the New York Times said that only a small section of people in the West Bank as well as Israel feel the authority is capable of governing a post-conflict Gaza. The West Bank Palestinians view Fatah as a subcontractor to the Israeli government which controls almost every aspect of life in the West Bank.
The report also pointed out that without the security provided by the Israeli Army the Fatah may struggle to even survive in the West Bank. It also said that Palestinians consider the Fatah authoritarian, corrupt and undemocratic administration.
The New York Times report said that if elections were held imminently, it is probable, based on what experts and polls suggest, that Hamas would win again.
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Blinken Dials UK’s New Foreign Minister Cameron
US secretary of state Antony Blinken held a telephonic conversation with newly appointed British foreign minister David Cameron on Tuesday. Both discussed the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict and the war in Ukraine and also discussed relations with China.
“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron today. The Secretary congratulated Lord Cameron on his new appointments to the UK Cabinet and Peerage. Secretary Blinken and Lord Cameron underscored continuity in the US-UK special relationship and its importance to regional and global security,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a readout of the conversation.
“They discussed the Israel-Hamas conflict, including efforts to increase the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza. They also discussed relations with the PRC and cooperation to help Ukraine prevail against Russia's war of aggression,” Matthew Miller further added.
The former UK prime minister made a comeback to the UK political scene after right-wing former UK home minister Suella Braverman was ousted and James Cleverly, who was serving as foreign minister, was given her portfolio.
Braverman was ousted because she tried to exert her authority over the Conservative Party, experts told UK-based news media outlets.
Cameron stepped down as UK's prime minister in 2016 after losing the Brexit referendum. He also stood down from his MP role and later got mired in a lobbying scandal that was seen as tarnishing his reputation.
The former leader, whose foreign policy record as prime minister is viewed as chequered at best, said he “gladly accepted” his new role as Britain faced “a daunting set of international challenges”.
“While I have been out of front-line politics for the last seven years, I hope that my experience — as Conservative leader for 11 years and prime minister for six — will assist me in helping the prime minister to meet these vital challenges,” Cameron added, citing the Israel-Hamas war and Russia's conflict in Ukraine.
(with inputs from Reuters and AFP)
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Rajnath Singh Hands over World War-Era US Army Uniform
Union minister of defence Rajnath Singh symbolically handed over some items recovered in Assam to his American counterpart Lloyd Austin.
There are remains of approximately 400 US air force personnel who went missing in India during World War II. During World War II, the US helped the Chinese Army and provided them supplies by flying over the Himalayas. Several US army aircraft crashed and were never found in the rugged mountainous terrain of northeast India.
The items handed over included parts of parachute, uniform and airplane of the US forces from the World War II-era as part of the US Defence Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (DPAA POW/MIA) Accounting Agency Mission.
Lloyd Austin and US secretary of state Antony Blinken held the 2+2 India-US ministerial dialogues with Union external affairs minister S Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Friday.
The US defence secretary thanked the government for assisting in the efforts to locate the lost soldiers in a post on social media site X. “We have a sacred duty to ensure that all US troops are accounted for—no matter how long it takes. I am grateful to our Indian partners who have assisted the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in personnel recovery and accounting since 1978. Thanks for supporting this vital mission & returning another hero home,” Austin said.
According to a 2021 press release, the Gandhinagar-based National Forensic Sciences University (NFSU) has tied up with US's Department of Defense (DOD) to recover and identify the remains of these missing air force personnel.
The DPAA is part of the Department of Defense of the US and was formed in 2015. Its primary task is to trace the remains of US army personnel who went MIA or were taken as prisoners of war during World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War and the Iraq Offensive.
The agency is in constant touch with the families of the missing personnel and is currently working to trace more than 81,800 missing personnel.
Earlier under this programme, investigations to find the remains of US airmen were carried out in Tripura in 2013 and Assam and Nagaland in 2014. In 2016, a DPAA team along with a Anthropological Survey of India (ASI) team found some evidence of remains of US Army personnel.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in 2021 between the NFSU and the DPAA under which students of NFSU travelled to northeastern states with DPAA on several occasions to find the remains of the lost soldiers.
The DPAA said remains of six personnel of the US military have been identified in India. It says 306 US military/airmen have died in the country.
(with inputs from Indian Express)
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US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Union minister of external affairs S Jaishankar met on Friday in New Delhi for the fifth edition of the India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.
The external affairs minister said the meeting was significant and thanked the US for its continued support to India throughout India's G20 presidency.
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin also reached New Delhi on Thursday and was greeted by counterpart Rajnath Singh. They discussed measures to bolster India-US defence cooperation.
“India is a country that we have a deep partnership with. Deepening security cooperation in partnership, will be one of the many topics that will be discussed,” the US State Department's Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said ahead of the meeting.
Donald Lu, the top US diplomat for South and Central Asia, said that the meeting will try to encourage more collaboration between both nations to encourage defence equipment production.
“Our intention is to encourage more collaboration to produce world-class defence equipment to meet Indian defence needs and contribute to greater global security,” Lu told news agency AFP.
Blinken and Jaishankar will also discuss developments in West Asia in the wake of the 2023 Israel-Hamas war. India said that it stands in solidarity with Israel and has condemned Hamas but also stood by its policy on Palestine and called for a two-state solution.
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Blinken Says Washington Working to Ensure More Aid to Gaza during Turkey Visit Published 47 minutes ago
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that Washington was working “very aggressively” to dramatically expand the amount of aid reaching trapped civilians in Gaza.
The top US diplomat held 2.5 hours of one-on-one talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan focused on soothing the anger at both Israel and the West of one of Washington's most strategic but difficult allies.
NATO member Turkey has been an increasingly vocal critic of the way Israel has been pursuing its month-long offensive against Hamas militants who staged an October 7 attack into Israel — the deadliest in the country's history.
Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of protesters who marched on an air base housing US forces in southeastern Turkey hours before Blinken's arrival Sunday.
Hundreds more rallied outside the Turkish foreign ministry during his visit.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself was travelling across Turkey's remote northeast on Monday in an apparent snub of Washington's top diplomat.
Blinken told reporters after the meeting that Washington was aware of “the deep concern” in Turkey “for the terrible toll” in Gaza.
“We are working, as I said, very aggressively on getting more humanitarian assistance into Gaza and we have very concrete ways of doing that,” Blinken said before boarding a plane for Japan.
“I think we will see in the days ahead that the assistance can expand in significant ways,” he added without providing details.
A Turkish diplomatic source said Fidan pressed Blinken for “an immediate ceasefire in Gaza”.
“Fidan also pointed out to his US counterpart Blinken that bombing civilian targets and destroying infrastructure in Gaza is unacceptable,” the Turkish source said.
Blinken's talks with Fidan would have been packed with problems even before Israel launched a relentless bombing and expanding ground campaign aimed at eradicating Hamas.
The Hamas-run health ministry said nearly 10,000 people — mostly civilians — had been killed in more than four weeks of war in Gaza.
The operation started after the militants killed more than 1,400 people — also mostly civilians — and took over 240 hostages.
The war threatens to have broad repercussions on Washington's relations with Turkey.
Ankara has a muscular foreign policy and stakes in conflicts across the Middle East that occasionally fail to align with those of Washington or other NATO allies.
Washington is currently anxious to see Turkey's parliament finally ratify Sweden's stalled drive to join the US-led NATO defence organisation.
The United States has also been tightening sanctions against Turkish individuals and companies that are deemed to be helping Russia evade sanctions and import goods for use in its war on Ukraine.
And Ankara is upset that the US Congress is holding up the approval of a deal backed by President Joe Biden to modernise Turkey's air force with dozens of US F-16 fighter jets.
Turkey also has longstanding reservations about US support for Kurdish forces in Syria who spearheaded the fight against Islamic State group jihadists but are viewed by Ankara as an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Ankara has stepped up air strikes against armed Kurdish groups in Syria and Iraq in reprisal for an October attack on the Turkish capital claimed by the PKK in which two assailants died.
Blinken called his talks in Ankara “very good, lengthy and productive”.
But he provided few details about the outstanding dispute and highlighted Turkey's “commitment” to accept Sweden into NATO.
Blinken faced a chorus of Arab calls to support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during a whirlwind tour of the Middle East that saw him visit both Iraq and the West Bank on Sunday.
Israel says it could accept a humanitarian pause to allow in additional shipments of aid once Hamas frees the hostages.
Blinken said on Monday only that “pause could help” secure more aid deliveries to Gaza.
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Saudi Arabia eyes ‘significant’ stake in IPL
Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in buying a multibillion-dollar stake in the Indian Premier League, international cricket’s most lucrative event, following a string of investments that have upended professional sports including football and golf.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's advisers have sounded out Indian government officials about moving the IPL into a holding company valued at as much as $30 billion, in which Saudi Arabia would then take a significant stake, people familiar with the matter said. The talks were held when the kingdom's defacto ruler visited India in September, the people said, asking not to be named as the information is not public.
Under plans discussed at the time, the kingdom proposed investing as much as $5 billion into the league and help lead an expansion into other countries, similar to the English Premier League or the European Champions League, the people said.
While the Saudi government is keen to press on with a deal, the Indian government and the country's powerful but opaque cricket regulator — BCCI — are likely to take a call on the proposal after next year's federal elections, the people said. The BCCI is led by Jay Shah, the son of India's Home Minister Amit Shah — a close ally of Premier Narendra Modi.
Saudi Arabia's powerful sovereign wealth fund, which has anchored many of the kingdom's previous sports investments, could ultimately be the vehicle used to do a deal with the BCCI if an agreement is reached. No final decisions have yet been made.
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Representatives for the BCCI and the Saudi government's Center for International Communication didn't respond to requests for comment. The Public Investment Fund declined to comment.
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Since its inception in 2008, the IPL has married American-style marketing with the glitz of Bollywood and the energy of India's vast population. The IPL's central strategic move was to discard cricket's traditional format for broadcast-friendly three or four hour games that encourage big, risky swings and frequent “sixes," cricket's equivalent of a home run.
The league has drawn a plethora of sponsors, including Aramco and the Saudi tourism authority. And despite a season that runs for just eight weeks each spring, bidders last year paid $6.2 billion for the right to broadcast IPL games through 2027. That works out to $15.1 million per match, more than the EPL and just behind the $17 million networks pay for each game in the National Football League in the US.
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Any Saudi investment into the IPL or changes to the league's format will likely mean those agreements for media rights will need to be reworked, according to people familiar with the matter.
Global Cricketing Destination
Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has splashed out billions of dollars on sports and the chairman of the sport's governing body in the kingdom has said he wants to turn the nation into a global cricketing destination.
“You can't compete with money, especially the money that Saudi Arabia is throwing around to certain people," England cricket captain and one of the world's top players, Ben Stokes, said in an interview this year.
Meanwhile, other attempts to replicate the IPL formula overseas are underway. Major League Cricket, a US upstart part-funded by Satya Nadella and Shantanu Narayen — the chief executive officers of Microsoft Corp. and Adobe Inc. respectively — concluded its first season in July.
That league, and others in South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere, haven't dented the IPL's commercial dominance.
For Saudi Arabia, any investment in cricket would come after significant spending on sports, primarily golf and football. The PIF backed the LIV Golf tour, which this year agreed to a shock merger with the PGA Tour.
ALSO READ: MS Dhoni reveals how he stumped Bangladeshi players | Video
Saudi Arabia has also led a group that bought English Premier League football club Newcastle United FC, and is now on the brink of hosting the 2034 FIFA World Cup. As part of its push into the world's most popular sport, the kingdom has spent millions on the likes of Brazil's Neymar, France's Karim Benzema and Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
That spending has opened up the Saudi government to claims of “sportswashing" its image and human rights record, though the kingdom's crown prince has emphasized the deals are primarily intended to boost the country's economy.
--With assistance from Matthew Martin.
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Saudi Arabia sole bidder to host 2034 Football World Cup
Saudi Arabia was the only football association to present a bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup before the deadline closed, soccer's global governing body said on Tuesday.
FIFA had invited bids from Asia and Oceania for the tournament by October 31, and Saudi Arabia announced it would bid only minutes after the announcement on October 4.
Australia said on Tuesday it would not be presenting a bid to host the tournament, leaving Saudi Arabia as the only candidate.
"As established in the Bidding Regulations approved by the FIFA Council, the FIFA administration will conduct thorough bidding and evaluation processes for the 2030 and 2034 editions of the FIFA World Cup, with the hosts to be appointed by FIFA Congresses expected to take place by Q4 2024," FIFA said.
Saudi FA President Yasser Al Misehal said the federation is fully committed to fulfil all FIFA requirements for the right to host the World Cup.
"All members of the Saudi football family are doing their best to achieve the dream of the Saudis male and females to see the World Cup in the Kingdom for the first time," he said on social media platform X.
We believe in the great power of football to inspire future generations and we hope World Cup 2034 contributes to the development of the game throughout the world.
FIFA also confirmed that the sole confirmation of interest in hosting the 2030 World Cup came from Morocco, Portugal, and Spain with Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay hosting celebratory games.
On Oct. 4 FIFA announced that the combined bid of Morocco Spain and Portugal would host the 2030 World Cup subject to the completion of a successful bidding process.
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De-escalation of Israel-Hamas conflict in India's interest
New Delhi: India has a stake in the de-escalation of the raging conflict between Israel and Hamas, said Navdeep Suri, former Indian Ambassador to Egypt, in an interview with Mint. As tensions rise between Israel and the militant group Hamas, Suri highlighted India's advantageous position resulting from the normalization process between Israel and several Arab nations since the 2020 Abraham Accords.
These accords, signed in Washington in 2020, led to a normalized relationship between Israel and countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. Additionally, Saudi Arabia, the regional heavyweight, has also been engaged in normalization talks with Israel.
The formation of the I2U2 group in 2021 by India, Israel, the US, and the UAE, along with the emergence of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, are products of this normalization.
“India was going to be the first beneficiary of the I2U2. The India-UAE food security corridor, for example, envisages a $2 billion investment by UAE, along with US and Israeli technology, into Indian agriculture. Similarly, there is another clean energy project which combines solar, wind and battery-storage technologies. So again, the fact that the first two projects that were being conceptualized were to be located in India, made India a beneficiary. But also the India Middle East Europe Corridor project was born out of the womb of I2U2 and the Abraham Accords. If those two building blocks hadn't been there, then this corridor project probably wouldn't have been conceptualized. So I think India is front and center as a country that was poised to benefit from the winds of normalization," Suri explained.
Yet, the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, which erupted after a series of Hamas-initiated attacks in Israel killing approximately 1,300 people on 7 October, might jeopardize this normalization and India's interests.
“What you see is a cooling-off in the warmth that had suddenly exploded in the last couple of years, particularly between UAE and Israel. This conflict has also nipped in the bud the ongoing discussions about bringing a normalization of ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel. I don't think the conflict means a death blow to either I2U2 or to the India-Middle East-Europe corridor project. This is a longer term game and they have a certain dynamic of their own. But the realities on the ground, and particularly the hardening attitudes against Israel once again in the Arab world, would make cooperation more difficult than it was 6 months back," said Suri, who also served as the ambassador to the UAE.
Suri believes India's interests would best be met by an early conflict resolution. However, he sees limited potential for India playing a mediation role due to entrenched positions from both parties. He also noted that the Israeli government's encouragement of unauthorized settlements complicates India's preference for a two-state solution.
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The Arab world thinks differently about this war
THE SCENES looped on news channels all night: ambulances, bodies, an explosion lighting the night sky. Hamas blamed Israel for the blast at Gaza’s al-Ahli hospital on October 17th. The Gaza health ministry said hundreds of people were killed. Israel later denied that it was carrying out air strikes in the area; the explosion, it said, was caused by a misfired rocket launched by Islamic Jihad, another militant group in Gaza. By the time Israel issued its denial, though, details had ceased to matter. The catastrophe had sparked protests in the West Bank and Jordan, and as far away as Tunisia. That was the maelstrom into which Joe Biden flew when he arrived in Israel on October 18th for a quick visit. -
It is hard to generalise about “the Arab world", a collection of 450m people spread across thousands of kilometres and nearly two dozen countries. But it is safe to say that most Arabs still sympathise with the Palestinian cause. Their dispossession remains a totemic political issue across the Middle East, able to mobilise popular anger and protest like little else.
The war between Israel and Hamas, now in its 12th day, has been no different. Covered around the clock on television, discussed endlessly on social media, it has sparked an outpouring of support for Palestinians. Still, compared with past conflicts, like the 50-day war in Gaza in 2014, a few things look different.
One is geopolitics. Since 2020 four Arab states—Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—have established relations with Israel, which previously had ties with just two (Egypt and Jordan). Saudi Arabia has been in talks to do the same. That has changed the way some Arab media outlets cover the conflict.
Al Jazeera, the Qatari broadcaster, has given ample time to Hamas, which is supported by Qatar. Meanwhile, channels run by Saudi Arabia and the UAE have tried to walk a tightrope. Though they cover scenes of devastation in Gaza, they do not book Hamas officials for interviews (Arabic-speaking Israeli Jews are frequent guests, though). There have been heated debates in newsrooms over language: where once they might have used the phrase jaish al-ihtilal (“occupation army"), for example, today they just refer to it as the Israeli army.
A second difference is fear of a broader conflict. The 2014 war was limited to the holy land. It may not stay there this time—and that has complicated the discussion, at least in those countries close to Israel. Take Egypt. America and several Arab countries are urging it to open Rafah, the sole border crossing with Gaza not controlled by Israel, to allow civilians to escape the fighting.
But a broad swath of Egyptian society is adamant that their country should resist such pressure. “Why did you impose this war on me?" asked Ibrahim Eissa, a pro-government talk-show host, in a message directed at Hamas. “You want me to risk 100m Egyptians for your sake?" Other pundits have made similar remarks. One could dismiss them as mere mouthpieces for the regime—but their words have been widely echoed by the public.
The discourse is similar in Lebanon, which is four years into one of the worst economic crises in modern history. Many Lebanese are worried that Hizbullah, the powerful Shia militia and political party, will open a second front against Israel, thus dragging their country into another ruinous war like the one in 2006. “Don't enter us into this hell," wrote Dima Sadek, a well-known journalist who is both deeply supportive of the Palestinians and deeply critical of Hizbullah.
That points to a third shift: the region is more polarised today. Many Syrians, in particular, are appalled by the scenes in Gaza, where Israel's siege warfare reminds them of the tactics deployed by Bashar al-Assad. But they are simultaneously loth to cheer for Hamas, a group backed by Iran, which did so much to destroy their country. And they fume at commentators across the Arab world who abhor Israeli atrocities but cheered Mr Assad's. In Lebanon, too, some people are focused on the wider politics: whatever their views of Israel, they hope Iran (and thus Hizbullah) will emerge weakened.
In off-the-record conversations over the past 12 days, some Arab officials have spoken about Hamas and Gaza in the sort of language one would expect to hear from right-wing Israelis. They harbour no sympathy for an Islamist group backed by Iran. But they dare not repeat such remarks in public.
The disconnect between palace and public helps explain why Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, received a frosty reception on his recent round of shuttle diplomacy. First it was Muhammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, who kept Mr Blinken and his entourage waiting hours for a planned Saturday-night meeting (the prince did not receive them until the next morning).
It is not unusual for Prince Muhammad, a night owl with an erratic schedule, to leave guests to cool their heels. That he did it to such a high-profile visitor, though, was seen as a pointed message. Then, after landing in Cairo, Mr Blinken was subjected to an unusual public lecture by Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian president, who lamented the plight of the Palestinians.
Mr Biden will not even receive that chilly welcome. He had been scheduled to fly to Jordan after Israel, where he was to meet King Abdullah; Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president; and Mr Sisi. But Mr Abbas backed out shortly after the hospital blast, and then Jordan announced that the whole summit was off. Whatever Mr Biden had hoped to say to Arab leaders, they are in no mood to hear it.
Yet behind the public posturing lies deep unease. Since October 7th many analysts have drawn parallels with the Yom Kippur war, the last time Israel experienced such a calamitous intelligence failure. But there is also a profound contrast with that moment.
In 1973 Arab states were able to launch a war that seemed, to Israel, an existential threat. Historians have argued ever since about whether that was true. But it felt that way at the time—enough so that Moshe Dayan, the defence minister, is said to have mooted the use of nuclear weapons. Half a century later, Israel was dragged to war by a militant group, and the region now faces the prospect of a broader conflict waged by other non-state actors supported by non-Arab Iran.
As for Arab states, they are nervous onlookers. Najib Mikati, the Lebanese prime minister, was blunt about the possibility of war in Lebanon: “These decisions are not in my hands," he told al-Jadeed, a local television network. The leaders of Egypt and Jordan fear fallout from the war will destabilise their own brittle regimes. Gulf states are nervous about antagonising Iran, lest its proxies lash out at Riyadh or Abu Dhabi. This is not an existential moment for Israel—but some Arab rulers fear it might be for them.
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Babies Murdered And Burned by Hamas Monsters
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday alleged babies were murdered and burned by Hamas terrorists during their onslaught against Israel.
He also showed the photos to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who landed in Israel today.
The official X account of the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel posted the photos on the microblogging authorities. News18 is neither embedding the tweet nor publishing these horrific pictures given the nature of sensitive content.
Sharing pictures, the PM's account wrote, “Here are some of the photos Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Warning: These are horrifying photos of babies murdered and burned by the Hamas monsters. Hamas is inhuman. Hamas is ISIS.”
Earlier, US President Joe Biden expressed his disgust at atrocities including murders of entire families, rapes of women and “stomach-turning reports of babies being killed”.
Launching an unexpected attack on Saturday, Hamas fighters killed 1,200 individuals in Israel, with civilians being the primary victims, and they took approximately 150 hostages. In response, Israel has conducted continuous airstrikes and artillery bombardments on Hamas targets in Gaza for the past six days, resulting in more than 1,350 casualties in that region.
Meanwhile, Blinken said the United States will “always” back Tel Aviv. However, he asserted that the Palestinians also have “legitimate aspirations” not represented by militant group Hamas.
Addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken said, “You may be strong enough on your own to defend yourself. But as long as America exists, you will never, ever have to. We will always be there by your side.”
Blinken said anyone who wants peace and justice must condemn Hamas' reign of terror. “We know Hamas doesn't represent the Palestinian people, or their legitimate aspirations to live with equal measures of security, freedom, justice, opportunity and dignity,” he said.
Blinken said the number of innocent lives claimed by Hamas' heinous attacks continues to rise. He informed that at least 25 American citizens were killed in the Hamas attacks.
Netanyahu said undoubtedly “forces of civilisation” would win and added that there would be many difficult days ahead.
“Antony, my friend. I say to you, I say to all of us. There will be many difficult days ahead. But I have no doubt that the forces of civilisation will win. The reason that is true is because we understand what is the first prerequisite of victory – moral clarity. This is a time that we must stand tall, proud and united against evil…,” he said.
Netanyahu voiced appreciation for US support, which includes military aid, and said that Hamas, which rules the blockaded Gaza Strip, should be treated like the Islamic State group.
(With AFP inputs)
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