Daniel Byman on "Iran's Terrorism Problem"

By Benjamin Wittes
Thursday, November 21, 2013, 11:28 AM

Over at the Brookings Iran@Saban blog, my colleague Daniel Byman---who has agreed to curate a foreign policy essay feature for Lawfare (more on that later)---has this interesting essay on "Iran's Terrorism Problem." It opens:

Iran is a major sponsor of terrorism, striking Israel, U.S. Arab allies, and at times Americans. The twin blasts on Tuesday that destroyed the Iranian embassy in Lebanon and killed at least twenty people, however, should remind us that Iran faces a serious terrorism problem of its own. It is tempting to enjoy Iran getting a taste of its own medicine, but the growing violence risks further destabilizing the Middle East and harming U.S. interests there.

Byman concludes:

The blows to Iran’s regional stature are good for U.S. influence, but anti-Iranian terrorism is not. In addition to the loss of innocent life, growing terrorism exacerbates Iran’s sense of isolation and grievance, leading it to double down on groups like Hizballah and Hamas. In addition, the skyrocketing sectarianism in the region also poses risks for U.S. interests, threatening to destabilize already precarious countries like Iraq and drag U.S. allies into proxy confrontations and self-defeating interventions, including support for jihadists who hate both Iran and the United States. Especially as talks over Iran’s nuclear program appear close to bearing fruit, the United States should make clear it condemns terrorism of all stripes, regardless of who the victim is.