U.S. should continue to aggressively challenge Iran's destabilizing regional operations through continued sanctions and assistance to our allies
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The basic outlines of such a strategy are clear. The urgency of the situations in Iraq and Syria demands active American involvement in those conflicts, not necessarily through the deployment of US combat troops, but certainly through the deployment of advisers, support elements, enablers (including air power), and intelligence to assist the majorities in both countries who seek to reject both al Qaeda and Iranian domination. Hezbollah’s invasion of Syria has exacerbated rifts within Lebanon and opened the possibility of driving a wedge between Hezbollah and other parts of Lebanese society. Aggressive diplomacy and well-targeted assistance could help weaken Hezbollah’s control over its vital base, forcing it to refocus on Lebanon and away from supporting Assad. The US must also work seriously—and not through speeches—to regain the confidence of our Arab allies, particularly Saudi Arabia and Turkey. America’s retreat from the region has increased the costs of implementing such a strategy, but we must keep in mind that things are not going terribly well for Iran either, despite the current euphoria in Tehran. A strategy that combines continued sanctions with meaningful efforts to displace and disrupt Iran’s proxies and Iran’s strategies in the region is essential to creating any prospect of long-term change in Tehran’s attitudes and of regional stability.