Between greater Iran and Shi'ite crescent : some thoughts on the nature of Iran's ambitions in the Middle East
Date of Issue2007
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
In this "position paper", the author presents his views on the "essential nature" of what ought to be considered a comeback of Iran as the dominating power in the Gulf region. This comeback appears to manifest itself most clearly in Tehran's current "cold war" with the United States in the Iraq issue and the recent Lebanon crisis. Iran's "rise" has been considered by some within the context of the supposed emergence of a "Shi'ite crescent". Contrary to this view, however, Marcinkowski argues that Shi'ism abroad - in Iraq, Lebanon, the Arab Gulf states - has been largely instrumentalized by Iran in order to achieve a rather different agenda: the hegemony over the Middle East based on a purely "nationalist" Iranian agenda. According to the author, the key factor in Iran's foreign policy vis-a-vis its Arab neighbours is domination ot of distrust - a factor that reaches far back into the past, beyond the 1979 revolution. See Iran's "rise" as what it essential is - a petty regional nationalism of a country that, nevertheless, is aware of its imperial past - could help in rationalizing of a country that, nevertheless, is ware of its imeperial past - could help in rationalizing international relations. The discussion of this issue - currently still characterized by a tsunami of hasty and emotional conclusions and irrational evaluations on both side of the fence - should rather be addressed with patience (but nevertheless preseverence and vigilance), as the succession of Iran's ailing "supreme leader" Ayatollah Khamenei and future course of the country are not clear at all. This contribution constitutes the sequel to an earlier RSIS Working Paper where the author has addressed the issue of the future direction of Shi'ism in neighbouring Iraq.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Military and naval science::Strategy::Asia
RSIS Working Papers ; 124/07
Nanyang Technological University