UAE warns US: Time is running out to avoid wider Mideast conflict
Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh
Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh said: The risks are high, the war in Gaza is very clearly an open wound and it’s destabilising the region.”
Image Credit: WAM file

New York: The United Arab Emirates urged the US to support an immediate ceasefire of Israel’s war in Gaza, warning that the risk of a regional conflagration is growing daily as the conflict rages on.

“We need a humanitarian ceasefire now, we can’t wait another 100 days,” the UAE Ambassador to the United Nations, Lana Nusseibeh, said in an online interview from New York.

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“The risks are high, the war in Gaza is very clearly an open wound and it’s destabilising the region,” she said, adding that the US could play a critical role in easing the tensions.

The warning marks a new level of concern about the spiral of attacks involving Israel, Iran and its proxies and US forces as fighting drags on in Gaza amid widespread destruction and a soaring civilian death toll.

The Iranian-backed militant group Hamas, designated as a terrorist organisation by the US and European Union, killed 1,200 people and abducted 240 others in its October 7 incursion into southern Israel.

In retaliation, Israeli troops displaced most of Gaza’s 2 million population and killed at least 25,000, according to the Hamas-run health authorities.

In mid-December the World Bank estimated Israeli bombardment had damaged or destroyed over 60 per cent of Gaza’s infrastructure.

President Joe Biden’s administration has refrained from demanding a halt to the Israeli military campaign and vetoed a UN Security Council demand for a ceasefire put forward by the UAE in December.

Lebanon border tense

Israel’s far-right government has vowed to pursue its offensive and rejected a US-backed proposal by five Arab nations, including the UAE, for post-war Gaza reconstruction because it’s conditional on Israeli support for a Palestinian state.

Since the start of the war in Gaza, there have been almost daily skirmishes on Israel’s border with Lebanon between Israeli forces and Hezbollah, the Iranian-supported Shiite militia. Regional tensions have increased dramatically since late last year with Israel mounting a series of assassinations of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian commanders and Iran openly going on the offensive in its proxy war with the Jewish state.

Iran on Saturday accused Israel of a deadly rocket attack on a building in the Syrian capital Damascus serving as a residence for Iranian military advisers, killing at least five people. The strike followed an attack by Iran earlier in the week on what Tehran said was an Israeli spy base in Iraq.

US Central Command also said multiple ballistic missiles and rockets were launched on Saturday by Iran-backed militants in Western Iraq, targeting the Al Assad Airbase. While most of the missiles were intercepted, some impacted the base. A number of US personnel are being evaluated for traumatic brain injuries and at least one Iraqi service member was wounded, according to a post on X.

Meanwhile, Iranian-armed Al Houthi militants in Yemen are disrupting global trade by attacking cargo ships moving goods across the Red Sea, despite US-led military punitive action. Attacks by Iran-linked groups on US bases in Iraq and Syria are also intensifying.

“If the objective is not to increase extremism and terrorism in our region, this would be described as the case study for how not to do it,” Nusseibeh said.

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