This post originally appeared on Order from Chaos.
Daniel Byman is foreign policy editor of Lawfare. He is a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, where he focuses on counterterrorism and Middle East security. He is also a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.
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The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran has proved one of the most consequential events in the history of modern terrorism. The revolution led to a surge in Iranian-backed terrorism that continues, albeit in quite different forms, to this day. Less noticed, but equally significant, the revolution provoked a response by Saudi Arabia and various Sunni militant groups that set the stage for the rise in Sunni jihadism. Finally, the revolution sparked fundamental changes in American counterterrorism institutions and attitudes.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Order from Chaos.
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the president tweeted to explain his sudden decision to withdraw the several thousand U.S. troops stationed in Syria within 30 days. Trump’s decision has a few potential positives, but overall the decision is a poor one—made far worse by the lack of a process and preparation.
Pressure is mounting on Saudi Arabia to pull out of Yemen. The Pentagon announced on Nov. 9 that it would stop aerial refueling of Saudi planes conducting operations in Yemen, ending assistance that began under President Obama in 2015, when Riyadh first began its bombing campaign.
For counterterrorism officials, one of the most difficult counterterrorism challenges is identifying the next global struggle that, like the Syrian civil war, will energize the world’s Muslims and lead tens of thousands of foreigners to join the fray.
The power balance in Washington has shifted at least a little now that the Democrats have won the House. In addition to being able to pass legislation and shape the budget, Democrats now have the power to investigate, conduct hearings, and otherwise hold the executive branch accountable for the first time since the Senate flipped in 2014—and then, of course, a Democrat was in the White House.
For many Israelis, the embrace and policies of the Trump administration seem like an overwhelming win. President Trump has good relations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, certainly as compared with President Barack Obama (the distaste was mutual). In addition, many of Trump’s senior officials vie with one another to maintain good relations with Jerusalem. Gone are the days when a U.S.