70 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.

Hassan Ahmadian

IIP

Broadcast Appearance

IIP Interview with Hassan Ahmadian on the Middle East

| Jan. 22, 2019

Interview with Hassan Ahmadian, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Iran Project, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, to discuss topics such as the role of the U.S. in Syria and broadly in the MENA region; identity issues; and the role of Iran and the future of the nuclear deal.

teaser image

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

Does the U.S. Have the Wrong Middle East Strategy?

| Dec. 11, 2018

Events in the Middle East tend to have serious policy implications for the United States given the range of important U.S. economic, political, counterterrorism, and broader military interests in the region. Although there is a healthy debate to be had about where the Middle East might fit into a potential recalibration or rebalancing of U.S. global priorities, at this juncture I don’t believe it would be in U.S. interests to turn its back on the region’s crises and just hope for the best. 

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.

Rouhani and Erdogan Iran Turkey

Tasnim News

Analysis & Opinions - Al-Monitor

Will Iran, Turkey jointly confront US influence east of the Euphrates?

| Oct. 02, 2018

Turkey is facing a new conundrum in Syria. While its main concern is the areas held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), due to the latter’s links with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Turkey has had to prioritize Idlib because of the looming attack on the province, which could jeopardize Ankara's presence in northern Syria. Iran, on the other hand, is prioritizing pushback against the United States east of the Euphrates. Tehran’s objective is to restore the status quo in Idlib — under Turkey’s influence — as well as northeastern Syria, where US forces are based. Against this backdrop, a strategic overhaul of Iranian-Turkish cooperation in Syria is not unprecedented.

Rouhani Erdogan Putin turkey iran russia sochi

Wikicommons

Analysis & Opinions - Aljazeera

What does Iran want in northern Syria?

| Sep. 23, 2018

Although there are a number of major disagreements between Iran, Russia and Turkey, what is important in the end is that they are all opposing the current US policies in Syria. All three countries have suffered from US sanctions and all have serious trust issues with the Trump administration. Emphasising this common ground, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in September that "the US is containable" and that Iran and Russia should continue close cooperation towards this goal. Whichever strategy Iran chooses to pursue, the US will likely feel the pressure on the ground soon enough. That could end up being an effective deterrent against US plans of opening additional fronts against Iran in the Middle East.

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.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are welcomed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Saturday, May 20, 2017, on their arrival to King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

White House

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

The United States Cannot Afford to Pick a Side in the Shia-Sunni Fight

| June 25, 2018

While many Shia movements may have differences of opinion with Iran, as long as the Trump presidency uncritically supports Saudi Arabia and the threat of military conflict with Iran remains on the horizon, it is unlikely that any popular Shia group will side with the United States. The administration’s narrow focus on Iran will provoke precisely what the Trump White House aims to prevent—a more cohesive regional Shia movement under Iran’s protection and aggrieved Shia supportive of countering U.S. influence in the region. In other words, the current U.S. course is narrowing policy discussions both within individual Shia organizations as well as across transnational Shia alliances by closing the door to pro-U.S. policy alternatives. This further consolidates Iran's position as the center of the Shia world and its long-standing partnership with various Shia transnational movements throughout the Middle East such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, many of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), and Yemen's Ansarallah (the Houthis) all of whom are engaged in critical regional hotspots.

President Trump withdrawing from the JCPOA

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Analysis & Opinions - Aljazeera

Closing the Deal: The US, Iran, and the JCPOA

| May 13, 2018

The US withdrawal from the JCPOA has laid bare the strategic contradictions inherent in this approach. The United States has abrogated its leadership position on global nuclear non-proliferation while demanding trust and support from allies. It has also reopened the prospect of Iranian nuclear armament while forfeiting the moral and institutional ammunition the US would need to clinch a better deal.