9 Items

Iran Syria missiles

Associated Press

Journal Article - International Affairs

Iran's Syria Strategy: The Evolution of Deterrence

| Feb. 04, 2019

Iran has been a critical player in the Syrian war since 2011, crafting a complex foreign policy and military strategy to preserve its Syrian ally. What have been the drivers of Iranian decision-making in this conflict? And how has Iranian strategy evolved over the course of the war? This article argues that the logic of deterrence has been fundamental not just for shaping the contours of Iran–Syria relations since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, but also for determining the overall trajectory of Iranian strategy in the Syrian war. The authors outline Iran's decision-making calculus and divide the country's strategy on Syria after the Arab Spring into four primary phases: 1) a ‘Basij’ strategy to establish local militias in Syria; 2) a regionalization strategy to incorporate transnational fighters and militias in the war effort; 3) an internationalization strategy to incorporate Russia and balance the United States; and 4) a post-ISIS deterrence strategy to balance against the United States, Turkey and Israel. Iran's Syria strategy progressively escalated in response to the possible defeat of its ally and the deterioration of its forward deterrence capacities against the United States and Israel. Today, the potential for direct inter-state conflict is rising as proxy warfare declines and Iran attempts to maintain the credibility of its forward deterrence.

Analysis & Opinions - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Iran in Syria: Securing Regional Deterrence

| Oct. 23, 2018

Iran is primarily concerned with preserving Syria’s prominent role in the Axis of Resistance and its overarching goal of securing its regional deterrence. Accordingly, the collapse of Damascus was intolerable because it would have negatively affected Iran and its allies in the region. This includes securing supply routes to Lebanon; enhancing the deterrence capabilities and operational experience of the Axis of Resistance against Israel and the United States, especially with Trump’s renewed hostility; and balancing Turkey in northern Syria. In addition, preserving Syria’s significant position within the Axis of Resistance serves to showcase Iran’s effectiveness in supporting allies and in its leadership role in the axis.

John Bolton speaking at the gathering of the People's Mujahedin of Iran in front of headquarters of the United Nations, New York City

VOA Persian

Blog Post - Iran Project Iran Matters

U.S.-Led Regime Change is not the Path

    Author:
  • Sina Toossi
| Oct. 11, 2018

For much of Iran's modern history, the Iranian people have been divided on issues such as traditionalism versus modernity and the nature of their relationship with the West. These divisions only highlight the need for organic political change to allow society to find common ground. However, outside political interventionism has been a constant setback, whether during the Constitutional Revolution period, the 1953 US/UK coup, or now with Trump's exhortations and actions.

Trump Salman White House Meeting

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Analysis & Opinions - Al-Monitor

Why Iran isn't Concerned Over US plans for ‘Arab NATO’

| Aug. 09, 2018

Having been targeted indirectly by the “leading from behind” policy under President Obama, Iran is now faced with a more organized US effort under Trump to establish a regional setting — an "Arab NATO," the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) — that is supposed to “push back” against Iran. Against this backdrop, however, Iran does not seem worried about US efforts to create MESA. In fact, Washington’s new anti-Iran campaign in the Middle East and beyond is interpreted as falling within the “milking logic” of the Trump administration.

Iranian worshippers attend a rally to protest the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent opposition Saudi Shiite cleric, after their Friday prayers in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016.

(AP Photo)

Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School The National Interest

A New Era of Brinkmanship in the Middle East

| January 13, 2016

Even before the news of ten U.S. sailors being detained by Iranian forces on Tuesday, tensions were flaring in the region. Consider the events of just the last two weeks. Stoked by the Saudi execution of Shia icon Ayatollah Nimr al-Nimr on January 2, the war of words between Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and Shia-majority Iran rapidly took a turn for the worse. On Friday, Tehran accused Riyadh of intentionally striking the Iranian embassy in Yemen, a claim that Saudi officials reject.

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Disrupting the Chessboard

| October 2015

Various narratives explaining Russia’s recent decision haveemerged which portray Russia alternatively as attempting tore-establish its role as a world empire or as a power-balancerprotecting its interests in the Middle East. This publicationaims to present different scholarly perspectives and viewpointson Russian objectives in Syria and the implications it holds forworld politics. It does so by gathering the opinions of severalexperts with different backgrounds and analytic viewpointsfrom across the world.

Blog Post - Iran Matters

What Happened to the Military Option Against Iran?

| Sep. 29, 2015

Gary Samore, Director of Research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Ephraim Kam, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, examine the fate of the military option in the process of the Iranian nuclear talks. They discuss how from the beginning, American and Israeli understandings of the use and effectiveness of the military option against the Iranian program, and that while the United States sought to diminish the likelihood of a military attack during the negotiations, Israeli officials accused the US of diminishing the credibility of a potential military attack. While they recommend that the military option be strengthened going forward, considering the continued possibility that Iran will renege on its commitments and potentially try to construct a nuclear weapon, they recognize that many factors will influence whether or not the military option is employed against the Iranian nuclear program going into the future.

Blog Post - Iran Matters

Hezbollah's Friends in Yemen are Trying to Lure the Saudis into a Ground War

| June 12, 2015

Daniel Sobelman, research fellow with the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes in Foreign Policy that the Houthi rebels in Yemen are following a similar operational strategy to the one pursued by Hezbollah during its 2006 war with Israel. He argues that the Houthis share operational links with Hezbollah. These links between the organizations can be best discerned by analyzing the rhetoric of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, who has stated that Hezbollah's fight against Israel in 2006 provides a model for organizations and groups operating against militarily superior forces. In this model, the actions of the Houthis to attack Saudi border towns and garrisons are part of a broader strategy of forcing Saudi Arabia to deescalate its air campaign or force it to engage with ground forces, an outcome that would favor the Houthis. He concludes that while it is impossible to know what the exact effects of the Houthi retaliatory measures against Saudi targets, it is clear that more than air power will needed to end the Houthi threat to Saudi Arabia.