Middle East Peace and Security Initiative

  • Iran in Iraq

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    Geographic proximity and shared religion, specifically Shia Islam, give Iran deep influence in Iraq, as shown in a new Atlantic Council issue brief entitled  “Iran in Iraq,” by American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Kenneth M. Pollack. Despite advantages in geography and demography, Pollack argues that Iranian influence in Iraq is not insurmountable. The United States should therefore seek to implement policies that strengthen Iraq's government and unify its people in order to keep Iran at bay. 

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  • Partners or Competitors? The Future of the Iran-Russia Power Tandem in the Middle East

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    Ambassador John Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, writes in a new issue brief entitled "Partners or Competitors? The Future of the Iran-Russia Power Tandem in the Middle East" that Russia and Iran are currently drawn into partnership over common regional interests and anti-American policies and sentiments despite centuries of historical rivalry. While their strategic partnership might not survive long-term shifts in either country’s politics, it remains inimical to US interests in the short-term.

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  • Iran's Bottom Line in Afghanistan

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    Due to proximity and historical ties, no other country is as well placed as Iran to play a dominant role in Afghan society, as Middle East Institute senior fellow Alex Vatanka shows in his new paper, "Iran's Bottom Line in Afghanistan."

     

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  • Tehran Stands Atop the Syria-Iran Alliance

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    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has managed to hold onto power through the civil war and has the determined support of Iran to thank for his position. In “Tehran Stands Atop the Syria-Iran Alliance,” author Danielle Pletka examines ties between Syria and Iran, the power relationship that has emerged, and the legacy it leaves for the next Syrian ruler.

     

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  • Iran's Fingerprints in Yemen: Real or Imagined?

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    In “Iran's Fingerprints in Yemen: Real or Imagined?”, Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, nonresident senior fellow with the Brent Scowcroft Center's Middle East Peace and Security Initiative and senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic studies at Pembroke College at Oxford University, investigates the true extent of Iran's presence in Yemen, including both military and cultural aspects.

     

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  • US Strategy Options for Iran’s Regional Challenge

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    In their new paper, entitled US Strategy Options for Iran’s Regional Challenge, Kenneth M. Pollack, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Bilal Y. Saab, senior fellow and director for defense and security at the Middle East Institute, present five alternative strategies that the United States could pursue to limit Iran’s destabilizing activities. After weighing the pros and cons of each option, they conclude that the most effective US course of action would be Pushback—an approach that would seek to measurably weaken Iran’s regional influence and eliminate its meddling in key states by...

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  • The Roots and Evolution of Iran’s Regional Strategy

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    Understanding what drives Iran’s regional policies is crucial to confronting its challenges. In her new paper, entitled "The Roots and Evolution of Iran’s Regional Strategy," Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of foreign policy and senior fellow for Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution, explores how the Islamic Republic operates throughout the Middle East, and the ideological and strategic underpinnings of its actions. The issue brief concludes that, in addition to core realpolitik, Iran’s policies are driven by its view of itself as an
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  • Revolution Unveiled: A Closer Look at Iran’s Presence and Influence in the Middle East

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    Revolution Unveiled: A Closer Look at Iran’s Presence and Influence in the Middle East, by Phillip Smyth, Tim Michetti, and Owen Daniels, pieces together snapshots of Iran’s influence in the region using photographic analysis, geolocation, social media monitoring, and other methods. Through four case studies, this report systematically examines new or lesser-known methods Iran employs to project its influence beyond its borders. By using proxy Shia groups, ideology, arms provision, and transnational networks, Tehran destabilizes and strikes at regional adversaries to achieve its strategic and policy...

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  • IRGC’s Gulf Antics: A Strategy to Undermine the Nuclear Deal?

    Iran’s recent aggression toward US forces in the Persian Gulf may be part of a strategy among the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other hardline elements to goad Trump into a rash decision on the nuclear deal that earns them a political payday.  

    On August 8, Iran flew a drone within one hundred feet of a US fighter jet attempting to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. The US F/A-18 was forced to change course to avoid the unarmed drone. This was the third incidence of unprofessional Iranian behavior toward US forces in the Gulf in as many weeks, following two buzzing incidents involving the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-Navy on July 25 and 29.

    In light of Trump’s antagonistic view of Tehran and his outspoken criticism of the Iran nuclear deal, notably expressed days before the...

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  • Shots Fired in the Gulf

    Iran challenges US policy, this time in the maritime domain

    It seems hard for the United States to catch a break in the Persian Gulf these days. As its Arab partners continue to bicker among themselves, Iran remains a source of tension from across the water. A week after US President Donald J. Trump reluctantly notified Congress of Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal and imposed new non-nuclear sanctions, a US Navy ship fired warning shots at a patrol boat operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-Navy in the Persian Gulf.

    The July 25 encounter is yet another reminder that the IRGC-Navy will continue to create dangerous, potentially escalatory situations with US craft in the Gulf. Understanding the...

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