Karim Sadjadpour
Karim Sadjadpour is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he focuses on Iran and U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East.
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No country in the Middle East has Iran’s combination of geographic size, strategic location, large and educated population, ancient history, and vast natural resources. Regardless of whom rules Tehran, these attributes will always fuel aspirations of regional primacy. During the reign of the United States (US)-allied Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, Iran’s external ambitions were cloaked in nationalism and prioritised developing Iranian power and influence within the international system. Since the 1979 revolution and the advent of the Islamic Republic, Iran’s foreign policy has been cloaked in an anti-Imperialist, Islamist revolutionary ideology that has expanded the country’s regional influence by challenging the international system — but has subjected its population to economic hardship, insecurity, and global isolation.

Foremost among these policies has been the Islamic Republic’s staunch opposition to the US and its interests and allies in the Middle East. Since radical students seized the US embassy in the 1979 hostage crisis, Iran and the US have been engaged in an often cold, and occasionally hot, political and asymmetrical conflict from the Levant to the Persian Gulf. While the promise of a nuclear deal has raised hopes for US-Iran reconciliation, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has consistently made clear his profound mistrust toward Washington and his opposition to political normalisation....

Read the full article at FRIDE