4. The Middle East sucks Biden back in

Illustration of U.S. President Joe Biden with a map of the Middle East in the background.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden had intended to pivot away from the Middle East and shun its strongmen, but the regional reality has already forced him to shift course.

Why it matters: Biden initially saw the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a low priority in which it wasn't worth investing political capital. But the latest fighting in Gaza exposed how unprepared the administration was for an escalation. Since then, Biden's engagement has dramatically increased.

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