The Islamic Republic of Iran and its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have arguably become the most powerful country, and leader, in the Middle East. A Machiavellian combination of ruthlessness, radicalism, and realism—underpinned by a 2500-year history of subtle statecraft—has helped Tehran fill political vacuums created by the Iraq war and Arab uprisings. Though American and Iran share numerous common interests—and adversaries—as long as Iran continues to define itself as a revolution rather than a nation-state cooperation will be minimal, containment will be necessary, and confrontation may be unavoidable.
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This essay was originally published by the Hoover Institution.
About the Middle East Program
The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.