Iranian soldiers march during an annual military parade in Tehran, September 2018
Tasnim News Agency / Reuters

On September 14, drones and cruise missiles struck Saudi Arabia’s most important oil-processing facility, at Abqaiq. The attacks don’t just threaten the global oil supply, of which Abqaiq accounts for roughly five percent. They pose a critical test for the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Iran has chosen to act very brazenly with these strikes. If there is no consequence for that choice, the Islamic Republic will be even more emboldened. Worse, an ineffectual response will send a message internationally that there are no rules, no limits, and anything goes.     

The day of the strikes, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lost no time in attributing them to the Iranians. The Saudi Ministry of Defense has displayed remnants of the drones and cruise missiles used—all Iranian made—and the ministry’s spokesman, Colonel Turki al-Malki, said the attack was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”

That choice

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