Iran: A Politically Pluralist Theocratic State and Regional Actor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


The Islamic Republic of Iran has had a very difficult journey since its advent in 1979 in the wake of the Iranian revolution that toppled the Shah’s pro-Western monarchy and replaced it with Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Government. The Republic has faced many domestic and foreign policy challenges. Its ruptured relations with the US, opposition to Israel, and apprehension about the US Arab allies in the region have led it to be very conscious of its need for regime and national security. It has managed so far to weather the challenges, including the US sanctions over its nuclear program and regional policy behavior. Contrary to its early days, the Republic has proved to be resilient by following Khomeini’s jihadi-ijtihadi (combative and pragmatic) approach to its internal and external behavior. It has emerged as a critical “middle power” in a particular sense of the term. As US policy of containing the Republic in different forms has failed, the Joe Biden administration has opted to revive the multilateral July 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, from which Biden’s Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew in 2018. Indirect US-Iranian negotiations via European Union mediation started in April 2021. Whatever the outcome, it is unlikely to result in a rapprochement between the two sides in the near future, given the depth of policy differences and distrust between them. This is despite the fact that the Republic is badly in need of structural reforms to improve the living conditions for a majority of its citizens and to change substantially its foreign policy direction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Security Dynamics
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Electronic)9781003298458
ISBN (Print)9781032287751
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Sep 2022


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