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Research Report

AMERICA VS. IRAN: The Competition for the Future of the Middle East

Danielle Pletka
Frederick W. Kagan
With an Introduction by J. Matthew McInnis
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2014
Pages: 68
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-7)
    J. Matthew McInnis

    At the center of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy is a constant effort to expand its influence while undermining the US-led world system and Washington’s key regional allies. The use of soft power supports Iran’s aspirations to become the natural leader of the region, and, conversely, to mitigate its political, economic, and strategic isolation since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Perhaps just as important, by building partnerships and establishing proxies to confront the West, Israel, and rival Muslim powers, the Iranian regime hopes to position itself as the vanguard of a new, just Islamic world.

    The Islamic Republic must...

  2. (pp. 8-25)

    The countries considered vital to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s power and influence are Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.

    Relations with Iran. It seems almost incredible to imagine that a mere five years ago, the United States and Israel both believed Syria was ready to abandon its alliance with Iran in favor of a historic strategic realignment.13 But while there may have been a few straws in the wind that hinted at such a possibility at the time, the reality then is the reality today: the Islamic Republic of Iran is Bashar al Assad’s most important diplomatic, political, economic, and military...

  3. (pp. 26-38)

    The countries where Iran aspires to expand its power and influence include Egypt, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Afghanistan, and the Gulf Cooperation Council states.

    Relations with Iran. In our 2012 report, we explained:

    On balance, Egypt’s revolution has thus far delivered little by way of practical results for Tehran. Cairo, likely under some additional pressure from the Gulf and from Washington, has made only miniscule steps in the direction of renewed relations. As for Tehran’s promises of major Iranian investments in Egypt—worth $5 billion, according to one account—Egyptians would be well advised to consider other such...

  4. (pp. 39-40)

    The future of the Middle East hangs in the balance. There are no clear-cut options of good versus bad, but rather questions about the nature of the region, who will dominate, what direction new governments will take, and whether the overall trajectory serves the national security interests of the United States. Arguably, the answer to the last question is no.

    The United States has long struggled with its place in this complex region. Is it the champion of Israel, but not of democracy? The oil consumer obsessed with the security of the supply chain? The moral leader in favor of...