WASHINGTON (Agencies): The US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford has been ordered to return back to its home port of Norfolk, Virginia, from the eastern Mediterranean amid the Gaza conflict. The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier has wrapped up its mission in the eastern Mediterranean after operating in the region for over two months as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict raged on.
US President Joe Biden warned the Israeli leadership in December that they were losing international support over their brutal war in Gaza which has claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives. Netanyahu’s government earlier defied Washington’s vision of a post-war Gaza ruled by the Palestinian Authority. Addressing a fundraiser in Washington DC on December 12, Biden called the Netanyahu cabinet “the most conservative government in Israel’s history”, which does not want “anything remotely approaching a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, as quoted by the New York Times.
The Biden administration has sent repeated signals to Tel Aviv to scale down the intensity of the military campaign against Hamas, amid growing pressure from the Democratic Party constituents in the US. A large part of Biden’s electorate — including young Democrats, non-whites, Arab and Muslim Americans and progressives — support an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza war.
According to Biden, the withdrawal of the US forces from the eastern region sends “a clear message” to Tel Aviv that Washington’s “options at this stage are political”. He also pointed out that Turkey, Qatar, Egypt, and other countries are interested in the ceasefire.
Meanwhile, the US has asserted to its Israeli allies that it will continue to maintain military presence in the region. The USS Dwight Eisenhower has been deployed in the Gulf of Aden near Yemen to deter Houthi attacks. In addition, the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, the dock landing ship USS Carter Hall, and amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde are presently operating in the eastern Mediterranean
However, the situation may become even more complicated after the US forces’ encounter with Houthi vessels in the Red Sea over the weekend. Three Houthi boats were sunk by the US military, prompting Iran to step in the next day after the US-Yemeni clash. Iran’s Alborz warship entered the Red Sea through the Bab el-Mandeb strait on Monday, as per the nation’s Tasnim news agency