The situation in the Red Sea vividly illustrates the diminishing influence of the U.S. in maintaining 'deterrence,' a concept that now seems more illusory than ever. Despite numerous large-scale Western coalition attacks on Houthi positions in Yemen, these Shia rebels are undeterred, continuing to threaten commercial shipping routes.
This pattern of defiance is mirrored by Iran-aligned groups in Syria and Iraq. Even after the Pentagon's substantial Friday assault, involving 85 targets and 120 bombs – the largest U.S. attack on 'Iranian proxies' since the Gaza war began – these groups swiftly retaliated.
The "Islamic Resistance in Iraq," for instance, claimed an attack on U.S. soldier-housing bases in Erbil by Saturday. While there are disputes about the actual occurrence or proximity of this attack to American personnel, the message of resistance was clear.
President Biden, in his statement, ominously noted, "Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing." This forebodes a relentless cycle of aggression and retribution, as evidenced by a recent overnight attack on an American base in northeast Syria.
This attack resulted in significant casualties among the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at the Al-Omar oil field, the largest U.S.-led coalition base in Syria. Notably, this base has become a symbol of the prolonged U.S. military presence in Syria's oil-rich regions.
Originally justified under the 'counter-ISIS' mission, it's increasingly viewed as part of a broader counter-Iran strategy and efforts to undermine the Assad government. The exploitation of these resources is seen by many as a strategic move to deny Iran and its allies access to crucial natural resources.
Following the deadly attack in eastern Syria, U.S. officials assert their right to respond to such aggressions. These incidents are not isolated but form part of a larger pattern of attacks on American outposts in the region. This includes a recent incident where three U.S. Army soldiers were killed at Tower 22 base on the Syria-Jordan border. Despite the severity of the Al-Omar attack, there have been no reported American casualties, a fact that remains officially unconfirmed.
This escalation of hostilities in the region underscores a stark reality: the diminishing effectiveness of U.S. deterrence and the complex geopolitical landscape that challenges American foreign policy and military strategy.