Joe Biden faces Iran red line

Former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton has called on President Joe Biden to respond to alleged Iranian-backed attacks on U.S. targets in the Middle East, saying, “This is your red line.”

The post on X (formerly Twitter) by Bolton, who served in the Trump administration and was once the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, follows a spate of drone and rocket attacks on American troops in Iraq and Syria.

Last week, U.S. forces faced an attack by aerial drones, and a U.S. Navy destroyer in the northern Red Sea intercepted several missiles and drones launched from Yemen, according to Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder.

Iran-backed armed groups have threatened to target U.S. positions if Washington intervened to support Israel in its war with Hamas, which is supported by Tehran.

While Ryder initially declined to attribute the attacks to a specific group, on Monday he toughened the Pentagon’s stance, saying that “the fact that they are supported by” Tehran, means that “we will ultimately hold Iran responsible.”

But Bolton said that “the Biden administration says it will respond if Iran attacks US troops,” Bolton said on Wednesday.

“But, since October 17, Iran has attacked our troops at least 13 times. Biden did nothing. Don’t those attacks count? No more excuses, Mr. President,” said Bolton. “This is your red line.” Newsweek has contacted the U.S. State Department for comment.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. “does not seek conflict with Iran,” but it will act to defend itself “swiftly and decisively” against attacks by Iran or its proxies.

Tensions in the Middle East are high as Israel faces scrutiny over its bombing of Gaza following the attack by Hamas militants on October 7 in southern Israel which killed around 1,400 people, according to the Associated Press. Gaza authorities say at least 6,500 people have been killed in the strip as concerns mount over an anticipated Israeli invasion and the prospect of the conflict spilling over into the region.

Experts have said that Iranian proxies rather than Tehran itself would be involved in hostilities and that Iran would only wade in if it faced a direct attack from the U.S., but there are fears it would expand the war in Israel and draw in other countries.

This could pose a risk to the 2,500 American troops in Iraq who advise Iraqi Security Forces, and 900 troops in Syria who help the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Bolton is considered to be a hawk on Tehran and repeatedly called for the termination of the Iran nuclear deal, from which the U.S. withdrew in May 2018. In a post on Monday, Bolton had accused Biden of being “asleep at the wheel” because his administration “fundamentally doesn’t understand the nature of the conflict” in Israel.

“Iran’s ayatollahs are responsible for the attacks against Israel and American weakness or indecisiveness only makes the situation worse,” Bolton wrote. “The world expects America to lead.”

President Biden discusses the U.S.’s response to the Hamas-Israel conflict on October 19, 2023. Former National Security Advisor John Bolton (right) says Biden isn’t doing enough in response to the attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East.
Pool/Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images