Key Points

Alternately, Netanyahu might well opt to kick the can down the road one more time. But he is running out of road.

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Yet I’ve lost count of how many articles have appeared demanding that the Trump administration compel the Saudis to stop fighting in Yemen without even a mention of the Houthis or their Iranian and Hezbollah patrons. It’s as if they didn’t exist at all. Trump’s critics ought to at least feel required to wrestle with the potential implications of their recommended course of action for the very real Iranian threat that now exists on the Arabian Peninsula. Even if you grant that the war has enabled the IRGC to deepen its influence over the Houthis and expand its ability to destabilize Saudi Arabia, it doesn’t necessarily now follow that forcing the kingdom to abandon the fight unilaterally will make the situation better. On the contrary, there’s at least a significant risk that it could make it worse, even much worse. Remember Iraq: The United States’ 2003 takedown of Saddam Hussein and the blunders that followed created unprecedented opportunities for Iranian meddling and influence. But the unilateral decision to withdraw U.S. troops in 2011 unintentionally ended up increasing the power of not only Iran, but what would go on to become the Islamic State as well.

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Congress and the administration maintain a somewhat rare bipartisan consensus on punishing Iran and its proxies directly. The overwhelming support in the House and Senate for the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act, which the president signed in October, illustrates that both parties unanimously approved more pressure on Hezbollah. This legislation requires the administration to sanction Hezbollah’s fundraising and recruitment networks, as well as the instrumentalities of foreign states moving funds to the group. Entities and individuals in Iraq and Lebanon can be expected to attract increased attention.

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If so, Western law enforcement and intelligence services should brace for more.

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All the while, the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is running a shadow government, which is preparing to rule over more ground in the future.

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Projects