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The current conflict in the Middle East is so perilous that you would have to go back more than 50 years to find a more dangerous time for the region, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Monday. 

Blinken’s assessment of the escalating tensions in the region comes in the wake of a weekend drone attack on a US military outpost in Jordan by an Iran-backed militant group which left three Army soldiers dead and 40 others wounded. 

“I think it’s very important to note that this is an incredibly volatile time in the Middle East,” Blinken told reporters during a press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.   

“I would argue that we’ve not seen a situation as dangerous as the one we’re facing now across the region since at least 1973, and arguably even before that,” he added, referring to the two-week-long Yom Kippur War, when Israel fought off a surprise attack launched by Egyptian, Syrian, Saudi Arabian, Moroccan and Cuban forces on the holiest day of the year in Judaism. 

Blinken argued that Middle East tensions are at a level not seen in more than 50 years. ZUMAPRESS.com
Hamas’ Oct. 7, 2023 attack on Israel came one day after the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

“And that is the environment in which we’re operating, and of course that was triggered by the horrific attacks of October 7th by Hamas against innocent men, women, and children,” Blinken said.  

The secretary of state’s warning stands in stark contrast to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s faulty analysis in a Foreign Policy magazine essay written just prior to Hamas’ Oct. 7, 2023, attack on the Jewish state. 

“Indeed, although the Middle East remains beset with perennial challenges, the region is quieter than it has been for decades,” Sullivan wrote in a section of his essay published after Hamas’ attack on Israel. 

The line was removed from the online version of the piece, which included an editor’s note explaining that the article “was updated to address Hamas’s attack on Israel, which occurred after the print version of the article went to press.”

“The Israeli-Palestinian situation is tense, particularly in the West Bank, but in the face of serious frictions, we have de-escalated crises in Gaza and restored direct diplomacy between the parties after years of its absence,” Sullivan wrote in another passage edited out of the online article. 

More than 22,000 people have been killed in Palestinian territory since Israel declared war on Hamas, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. REUTERS
US forces in the Middle East have faced near daily attacks by Iranian-backed militant groups since Israel’s declaration of war against Hamas. US NAVY/AFP via Getty Images

When Biden, 80, assumed the presidency, “US troops were under regular attack in Iraq and Syria,” the administration official also argued in the outdated print version, later adding, “Such attacks, at least for now, have largely stopped.”

Israel’s declaration of war against Hamas has triggered a wave of attacks on US troops in the Middle East by Iran-backed militant groups. 

Since Oct. 17, 2023 the Pentagon has recorded 165 attacks on US personnel in the region – 66 in Iraq, 98 in Syria and Sunday’s deadly attack in Jordan.

Approximately 80 US service members have sustained injuries as a result of the attacks. 

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