Russia and the Israeli-Syrian-Iranian Confrontation

| February 15, 2018

On February 11, 2018, Israel conducted multiple airstrikes on Syrian-Iranian targets in Syria in response to the downing of an Israeli F-16 in Israeli territory following infiltration by an Iranian drone. Moscow’s mild reaction to these events reflects its desire to maintain cooperation with both Tehran and Jerusalem.

Turkey and Iran’s Skin-Deep Friendship

| February 13, 2018

Like most moments in the passionate Turkish-Persian relationship, incidents of Muslim-to-Muslim fraternity are misleading. For the mullahs in Tehran, Turkey remains too western, too treacherous, and too Sunni. For the neo-Ottomans in Ankara, Iran remains too discreetly hostile, too ambitious, too untrustworthy, and too Shiite.

39 Years Since the Establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran

| February 1, 2018

Thirty-nine years have passed since Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile and established the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under his leadership, Iran has undergone significant changes that have left a mark on the basic concepts and worldview of its leaders. That process can be divided into five periods distinguishable by the effects they had on the discourse of the Republic. The signal achievement of the theocratic regime that emerged from the revolution is its ability to maintain its power. However, Tehran’s quest for regional hegemony has created a wave of social protest that arose from the gap between the foreign ambitions of the Islamic leadership and the people’s desire for a better life.

Will the Mullahs’ Missiles Backfire?

| January 26, 2018

Important new Middle East developments give the US and its allies a real chance to push back on Iranian hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East. Key to this effort will be Congressional focus, not just on the Iran nuclear deal, but on sanctions legislation to undermine both Iranian missile proliferation and terrorist-supporting activities.

Iran and Saudi Arabia Revisit Their Strategies

| January 24, 2018

Expressions of support for the Iranian anti-government protests by US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have provided grist for Iranian claims that the protests were instigated by foreign powers. The assertions, while largely baseless, nonetheless offer insight into the very different strategies adopted by Iran and Saudi Arabia in their vicious struggle for regional dominance.

Russia and Iran: Friends and Foes

| January 17, 2018

Russia and Iran have been geopolitical rivals for centuries – but over the past couple of years, the Moscow-Tehran axis has grown exponentially. This creates major headaches for the US and other western powers that are concerned about how far this cooperation could go. The two powers share common interests in the South Caucasus and the Middle East, but are wary of one another’s growing influence in their own backyards.

Iranian Protests Reveal Leadership Fault Lines in the Muslim World

| January 16, 2018

If week-long anti-government protests in Iran exposed the Islamic Republic’s deep-seated economic and political problems, they also laid bare Saudi Arabia’s structural inability to establish itself as the leader of the Sunni Muslim world.

How Iran Became the Dominant Power in the Middle East

| January 4, 2018

Iran has emerged as the big winner of the so-called “Arab Spring.” Russia also benefited greatly – it achieved its aims in Syria by helping to preserve the Assad regime, and in the process, became the key broker of the postwar settlement – but Tehran made major gains not only in Syria but in Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon as well.

Protests in Iran: Social Challenges vs. Foreign Policy Ambitions

| January 3, 2018

The social protests now sweeping across Iran reflect the deep tension between the Islamic regime’s commitment of vast resources to the assertion of Tehran’s regional hegemony and the yearning of middle class Iranians for an improvement in their economic wellbeing. And while the Islamist establishment that took power in the 1979 revolution is keenly aware of the perils of popular restiveness, history teaches that prolonged retention of power often makes regimes oblivious to the needs and yearnings of their subjects. This could upset the delicate balance between state and society.

Iranian Protests Raise Tricky Questions for US and Saudi Policymakers

| January 2, 2018

In many ways, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad faces the same considerations in deciding how to respond to the protests in Iran as does US President Donald J. Trump. Support for the protesters could amount to support for hardline conservative factions in Iran.