Analysis & Opinions - CNN

2018 for Iran: Ripe for Miscalculation?

| Dec. 19, 2017

Iran was at the center of developments in a volatile Middle East throughout 2017. Expect more of the same in 2018, writes Payam Mohseni, Iran Project Director and Fellow for Iran Studies at Harvard’s Belfer Center, for CNN Fareed Zakaria's Global Briefing.
“The defeat of ISIS in Iraq and the victory of Bashar al-Assad in Syria is a win for Iran and its allies,” Mohseni writes. “As post-war reconstruction gets underway in these countries, Iran will play a crucial role in governance, economic, and security issues. As a result, all eyes will be on Iranian moves in 2018 to establish a more permanent security presence in Syria, and whether this elicits military reactions by Israel as the region tries to establish what could be described as the new rules of the game.
“Also important to watch in 2018 will be Iranian ally Hezbollah, and specifically whether it limits its regional operations. The broader political question, of course, is whether Iranian-backed militias that have fought in Iraq and Syria will be disbanded post-ISIS. That seems highly unlikely.
“Another factor impacting Iran? Regional rival Saudi Arabia, which has failed under the adventurous foreign policy of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to positively influence regional politics, from Qatar to Lebanon to Yemen. The risk of escalation between Iran and Saudi Arabia is high, and there will likely be many opportunities for miscalculation through 2018.
“One final issue that loomed large in 2017 and will continue to do so next year: the future of the Iranian nuclear deal under a Trump administration. The US President’s election has empowered Iranian hardliners, and it remains to be seen if he will decide to pull out of the deal altogether after stating Tehran is not in compliance. Either way, President Trump’s tough rhetoric has already given Iranian nationalism a boost.”

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Mohseni, Payam.“2018 for Iran: Ripe for Miscalculation?.” CNN, December 19, 2017.

The Author