Biden faces dilemma over Iran after drone strike kills US troops in Jordan

Three US soldiers were killed and more than 30 others wounded in a drone strike on a military base in Jordan on Sunday, January 28, 2024. The attack was claimed by Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia group that operates in Iraq and Syria. The US has accused Iran of providing weapons and training to these groups, which have launched several attacks on US and coalition forces in the region.

The drone strike has put President Joe Biden in a difficult position, as he faces pressure to respond to Iran and its proxies for their role in the attack. Biden has vowed to retaliate “at a time and in a manner of our choosing”, but he has also expressed his desire to avoid a wider war in the Middle East and to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which was abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump in 2018.

Biden faces dilemma over Iran after drone strike kills US troops in Jordan

Biden has several options to consider, ranging from diplomatic to military actions. He could impose new sanctions on Iran or its allies, or he could launch covert or overt strikes on Iranian targets or proxies. He could also target Iranian officials directly, as Trump did when he ordered the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in Baghdad in 2020.

A complex context

Biden’s decision will have implications not only for the US-Iran relations, but also for the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which has killed more than 26,000 people since October 7, 2024. The US has been trying to broker a ceasefire and a hostage exchange deal between the two sides, but the efforts have been complicated by Iran’s involvement and influence in the region. Iran is a major supporter of Hamas and other militant groups that oppose Israel, and it has also been accused of orchestrating attacks in Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen through its proxies.

Biden’s response to the drone strike could affect the prospects of a peaceful resolution in Gaza, as well as the stability of the region. If he responds too harshly, he could provoke Iran to escalate its attacks or to withdraw from the nuclear talks. If he responds too softly, he could embolden Iran to continue its destabilizing activities or to lose credibility among his allies and adversaries.

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