Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s Unprecedented Middle East Tour
The Scale and Complexity of the Diplomatic Crisis
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken embarked on an extraordinary journey through the Middle East, facing a diplomatic crisis of immense scale and complexity. This whirlwind tour, which was initially planned for two days, has now extended into its sixth day with 10 stops and counting.
An Unpredictable and Chaotic Journey
Unlike his meticulously planned and rarely revised travel schedule, Mr. Blinken’s trip has been marked by unpredictability and chaos. It all began when he hurried into a bunker in Tel Aviv as air raid sirens wailed, highlighting the dramatic nature of his journey.
Originally scheduled to land in Amman, Jordan, on Monday night, Mr. Blinken found himself stuck in a marathon overnight negotiation session in Tel Aviv, unsure of his next destination. The ad hoc nature of the trip, which includes visits to multiple major capitals, reflects the uncertainty and chaos of the crisis at hand.
Making a Difference in a Complex Crisis
Mr. Blinken’s goals during this extraordinary tour are multifaceted. He aims to demonstrate U.S. support for Israel, while also limiting Arab criticism of Israel’s military response. Furthermore, he strives to secure the freedom of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza and prevent an escalation of the conflict involving Hezbollah and Iran.
A Grim Voyage with Haunting Realities
Throughout his journey, Mr. Blinken has been confronted with somber realities. He has described the slaughter of Israeli citizens and witnessed the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. These haunting experiences have left a lasting impact on him.
A Journey Through Multiple Countries
Mr. Blinken’s travel itinerary has taken him through multiple countries in the region. From Egypt to Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, to his visits in Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, he has been constantly on the move.
Resemblance to Seat-of-the-Pants Diplomacy
Mr. Blinken’s travel style has drawn comparisons to his predecessor, John Kerry, who was known for extending and improvising his trips. However, unlike Kerry, Mr. Blinken typically adheres to a Monday to Friday travel schedule, allowing him to spend the weekends at home with his children.
Unceasing Efforts to Achieve Goals
Despite the challenges and constant revisions to his itinerary, Mr. Blinken remains undeterred in his efforts. He strives to secure the free passage of American citizens in Gaza through a border crossing into Egypt, even as hundreds of individuals remain stuck at the sealed border.
Adapting and Improvising Along the Way
Throughout his journey, Mr. Blinken and his team have had to adapt and improvise to meet their scheduled meetings. This has included taking alternate means of transportation, such as a C-17 U.S. military plane, to get from Tel Aviv to Amman.
A Rare and Frustrating Experience
During his trip, Mr. Blinken experienced a rare and frustrating encounter with delay. Waiting for a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, the hours dragged on into the early morning. Such delays are a testament to the complexities of diplomatic negotiations in the region.
An Unexpected Return to Israel
Despite originally planning to conclude his trip in Egypt, Mr. Blinken made an unexpected return to Israel after speaking with President Biden. This decision was accompanied by whispers of a possible visit by President Biden himself.
A Journey Filled with Uncertainty and Danger
Mr. Blinken’s trip has been fraught with danger and uncertainty. Security officers, usually dressed in suits, have sported body armor and helmets while guarding his plane. Moreover, air sirens sounded in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, prompting everyone to seek shelter.
Read More of this Story at www.nytimes.com – 2023-10-17 04:12:00
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