Apivotal country at the juncture of the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia, Iran, with ambition, oil, the sheer size of its 70 million-strong population, is a regional power. Iran’s geography and history contribute much to its sense that it is a great country under siege. Whereas its neighbors only coalesced as countries and gained independence in the twentieth century, Iran in one form or another extends back to the centuries before Islam when it was among the ancient world’s great empires. Such self-conception does much to explain the proud nationalism that has remained at the center of Iranian politics as the country has gone from being an American ally, and what former President Carter called a “pillar of stability” in the Middle East, to a revolutionary state exporting terrorism, and thus a member of President Bush’s “axis of evil.”
KeywordsSyria Turkey Iraq Azerbaijan Banner
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- 1.Oleg Grabar provides a useful summary of the evolution of Islamic institutions in The Formation of Islamic Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987).Google Scholar