A man reacts to the scene after a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen's capital Sanaa, February 2016.
REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

The Trump administration’s top goal in the Middle East is clear: counter Iran, which U.S. President Donald Trump and his senior officials have denounced as a duplicitous and murderous state sponsor of terrorism and sower of regional chaos. In May, the Trump administration invoked Tehran’s regional ambitions to justify U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Just this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that Iran’s regime was bent upon “the export of Islamic revolution and the destruction of its neighbors.”

Yet such warnings of the Iranian threat miss a key factor: the United States’ own policies have at times advanced rather than hindered Tehran’s regional ambitions. Nowhere is this clearer than in Yemen. U.S. support for a brutal Saudi-led military campaign in the country has created a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions, while offering an opening for Iran to expand its

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  • DANIEL BYMAN is a Professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. 
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