Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been traveling the Middle East, campaigning tirelessly to contain the war that began with the Hamas attack in Israel on October 7. America’s top diplomat has appealed to the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others to help prevent a wider regional war from erupting. No country has felt more pressure than Israel.

But the war keeps widening, anyway. The Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group has attacked Israel hundreds of times from Lebanon, eliciting predictable Israeli responses. Iran-backed militias have attacked American bases more than 130 times since October 17; the U.S. has responded 8 times. The Iran-backed Houthis have been terrorizing the Red Sea with drones and missile attacks against maritime vessels. The U.S. is now responding with significant force. Iran claimed direct responsibility for two missiles that it fired at the northern Iraq town of Erbil, claiming that it struck Israeli targets there. Jordan’s air force has recently started striking Iran-backed drug smugglers in Syria with connections to the sale of the highly addictive drug captagon.

Now, seemingly out of nowhere, Iran struck a Baluch militant group inside Pakistan. The Pakistanis chafed at this act of aggression and responded in kind last night.

As my colleague Behnam Ben Taleblu at Foundation for Defense of Democracies notes, “While Iran claims to have struck Jaish Al-Adl, a Sunni Baluch terror group responsible for attacks in southeastern Iran, the attack marked Iran’s first missile barrage against the territory of its nuclear-armed neighbor. No doubt, the aura of invincibility the Islamic Republic felt over the years and overconfidence in its ability to insulate Iranian territory from an overt military reprisal underwrote this attack.… While Pakistan has struck Iran directly and both sides are hyper-sensitive about their sovereignty, by claiming to have targeted separatists Pakistan may have attempted to achieve parity and restore an equilibrium while also giving Iran a face-saving line of retreat. After all, both sides may not want to invite further escalation to save a population they have both long discriminated against.”

In other words, the likelihood of a full-on war between these two countries is probably quite low. Neither country is willing to wage a wider war over a bunch of radical Baluch separatists. But we can also now add Pakistan to the long list of countries at war in the region, in response to Iranian aggression.

It is certainly worth noting that this is the first time a Sunni country has fired back at the regime after a provocative action. Some might even say this could serve as a roadmap for the Sunni states that continue to suffer from Iran’s hegemonic designs on the region. But Pakistan is not at all similar to a weak Gulf Arab state. It is in another league. It’s a nuclear power, after all.

Still, one could argue that Islamabad has just showed the world how to respond to Iranian aggression. The Pakistanis fired after being fired upon, and the Iranian regime has backed down, at least for now. Whether we would see the same reaction by the regime after military action from the U.S., Israel or a coalition in the Middle East is hard to say.

In the end, the skirmish between Iran and Pakistan is something that must be tracked, but it’s not likely to change the equation significantly. Islamabad is not going to swoop in and put a stop to the Iranian regime’s aggression across the Middle East. So if the Biden administration wants to prevent a wider war, it’s time to address the source of the chaos. It all started and ends with the Islamic Republic in Iran.

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