Iranian Power Projection Strategy and Goals
April 21, 2017The Iranian leadership has not reevaluated its regional posture after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The reasons are many, Farideh Farhi argues in this report. Beyond the government’s ideological frame, dramatic volatility in the region, uncertainty about the direction of U.S. policy, and domestic political and power dynamics all play a role in Iran’s unchanging defense posture. Seen broadly, the Iranian leadership feels it must continue aggressively to counter efforts to destabilize Iran and to ensure security at home by projecting power and (increasingly) fighting the enemy abroad.
In the post-JCPOA environment, the United States has two options. It can treat the JCPOA and the channels of communication that it has opened as a one-time effort that failed to transform the Islamic Republic’s behavior, externally or internally. Or it can treat the JCPOA as a successful transaction with a significant, if difficult, regional player, and seek to draw useful lessons from it for the future.
A version of this paper was originally published in the CSIS International Security Program report Deterring Iran after the Nuclear Deal.