Iran and the Changing Regional Strategic Environment

  • Amin Saikal


In the midst of the highly volatile and conflict-ridden region of greater West Asia, stretching from Pakistan to Lebanon, the only country that can claim to have functioned as a relatively stable and secure constituent state is the oil-rich but heavily sanctioned Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran’s economic and regional situation, together with its unique—and some might argue odd—Islamic system of governance, has confronted the country with serious challenges on a scale that few other states have experienced. Yet, Iran has managed to weather these challenges and has elevated its position to that of a critical regional player. As such, it has defied earlier doomsday predictions by some scholars and observers, who expressed skepticism about the longevity of its Islamic government that emerged under the political and religious leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in January 1979. Why has the Islamic Republic ofIran proved to be so resilient, and what direction is it likely to take for the foreseeable future?


Saudi Arabia Foreign Policy Islamic Republic Iranian Regime Policy Behavior 
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  1. 1.
    See Ervand Abrahamian, Iran: Between Two Revolutions (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982). pp. 69–118.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Amin Saikal, The Rise and Fall of the Shah: Iran from Autocracy to Religious Rule (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009). Chapter 2.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    For details ofKhomeini’s vision, also see Ruhollah Khomeini, Islamic Government (Springfield, VA: National Technical Information Service, 1979).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Amin Saikal, Zone of Crisis: Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq (London: I.B. Tauris, 2014). pp. 107–113.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    The hostage crisis is discussed in detail in David Farber, Taken Hostage: The Iran Hostage Crisis and America’s First Encounter with Radical Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    For a discussion ofIran’s reaction to the “Arab Spring” and relations with Syria and Hezbollah, see Shahram Akbarzadeh, “The Arab Revolution is bad news for Iran,” in Democracy and Reform in the Middle East and Asia: Social Protest and Authoritarian Rule after the Arab Spring, ed. AminSaikaland Amitav Acharya (London: I.B. Tauris, 2014).Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    For details, see Said Amir Arjomand, The Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), chapters 7–8.Google Scholar

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© Amin Saikal 2016

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  • Amin Saikal

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