Iranian Regime Continues Escalation, Despite Limited U.S. Strikes
On November 8, the United States conducted its second round of airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7. As part of that broader conflict, beginning on October 17, Iran-backed groups have launched a rapid, sustained escalation of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria that has become increasingly dangerous. In the twenty-three days since, there have been forty-six attacks on U.S. forces, fifty-six American injuries, and one related casualty. Iran’s Yemeni proxy, the Houthis, have also entered the conflict, firing missiles at Israel and downing a U.S. drone on November 8.
Faced with this escalation, the Biden administration has relied on the same approach it used when dealing with similar attacks before October 7: infrequent and limited U.S. strikes coupled with rhetoric that is more conciliatory than bellicose. That approach failed to deter the Iranian regime or its proxies before, and it is failing to deter them now. They already launched further attacks shortly after the U.S. strike on November 8.
To deter the Iranian regime and its affiliated groups the United States will instead need to use consistent and strong military force that holds the Iranian regime directly accountable for the aggression it enables, alongside a surge of air defense assets to the Middle East that can better protect U.S. personnel and regional partners.