U.S. allies that are fighting al-Qaida-linked insurgencies often suffer illegitimate regimes, civil-military tension manifested by fears of a coup, economic backwardness, and discriminatory societies. These problems, coupled with allies’ divergent interests, serve to weaken allied military and security forces tactically, operationally, and strategically. The ability of the United States to change its allies’ behavior is limited, despite the tremendous difficulties these problems create, because relying on allied forces is a key component of U.S. strategy in the war on terrorism and the U.S. goal of handing off security to Iraqi military forces. To reduce the effects of allies’ weaknesses, the United States should try to increase its intelligence on allied security forces and at times act more like a third party to a conflict. In addition, Washington must have realistic expectations of what training and other efforts can accomplish.
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Unfortunately, I don’t see a real opportunity for public opinion in Iran to change the regime’s regional activity. The Iranians supported terror organizations in the region even when they were under worse economic pressure than now. They will continue to do that.
By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the White House surely knew that the Palestinians would erupt in protest—and that the Israelis would not sit idly by. With the death of Abu Thuraya, the Trump administration now has the bonfire it wanted. The question going forward is this: Do they further fan the flames, or instead grab the fire extinguisher?