Iran's Regional Policies Since the End of the Cold War
This chapter deals with decision making in Iranian foreign policy. It argues that both domestic and regional changes have combined to make of Iran an exceptional case study of how an Islamic revolutionary state might set about managing the post-cold war order. Accordingly, in the 1990s it was the new geopolitical realities which came to dominate the agenda of the Islamic republic, bringing Iran closer to its Eurasian hinterland (Central Asia, China, the European Union, and Russia). In the new millennium, however, geopolitical complexities have been compounded by the challenge of Salafi Islam, which has emerged as the single most significant source of threat to Iran, as well as to the West's regional interests. Al-Qaeda's fierce attacks on both the Shi’a communities and the West have made tacit, unacknowledged allies of Iran and the West in containing its impact on the status quo in the Middle East. This has been the case, remarkably, despite the ongoing rift between Iran and the United States. The chapter traces Iran's responses to this dynamic environment and analyzes its impact on Iran's elites, outlook, and policies.
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