Iran’s New Security Environment Imperatives

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Naser Hadian & Shani Hormozi

Iran-US relations since 1979 Revolution have remained tension-ridden. Various efforts towards resolution of the sensitive and critical issues between them have failed to bear fruit. The present article looks into the state of these relations from the vantage of Iran’s security environment and how the U.S. policies, particularly since the 2001 occupation of Afghanistan and 2003 war of choice in Iraq, have dramatically affected Iran’s immediate security environment. The paper argues that as a result of the removal of the Taliban and Ba’athist regimes and the emergence of pro-Iran ruling coalitions in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran’s regional stature and influence was enhanced, which also coincided with simultaneous shrinking of US material and symbolic resources in the region. The article also tries to shed light on the parameters of Iran 's security environment, decision making processes, sources of security and defense policies, which would help towards a better understanding of the reasons and rationale for the still tumultuous relations with the US, including in particular on Iran’s nuclear program. A review of the past U.S. strategies in dealing with Iran as well as of the alternative strategies currently on the table – Containment, Comprehensive and Selective Engagements, Military option – and Iran’s Counter Containment strategy, indicates that given the actual situation in the region a mere continuation of the past might simply prove impossible. A full-scale confrontation or a major reconciliation appears to be the only possible scenarios for the future. The paper concludes that Comprehensive Engagement will instead present a way out of the decades-old conflict with tremendous benefits for the protagonists and the surrounding region.

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Keywords: Iran-US Relations, Iran's Security Environment, U.S. Strategies, Iran’s
Counter Containment, Comprehensive Engagement

*Nasser Hadian, PhD in Political Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is professor of Political Sciences, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, University of Tehran, where he also served as the Director of Graduate Studies (1996-98). He served as the Director of the Political Development Program at the Center for Strategic Research - CSR (1992-95). He was a Visiting Professor and Research Scholar at the Middle East Institute and Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures Department, Columbia University (2001-04). His areas of scholarly and research interests include Iranian contemporary politics, Iran’s nuclear program, and political Islam. He recently authored several articles on the nuclear debate in Iran for the Contemporary Security Policy (in English) and for Political Quarterly and Research Letter of Political Science (in Persian).

*Shani Hormozi, M.A. in Political Sciences, Islamic Azad University, is currently a research fellow at the Center for Strategic Research – CSR. Ms. Hormozi has authored several research and policy papers on Iran-US relations, Iran's nuclear program, and U.S. politics. Her recent edited books (in Persian) are: The U.S. Strategy towards the Islamic World (2009), and The United States and Global Economic Crisis (2010).

Source: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs

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