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Research Report


Copyright Date: May. 1, 2012
Pages: 93
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 9-11)

    It is difficult to assess whether Iran’s influence in the Middle East has grown or waned over the last few years. Tehran’s policies have been largely successful in Iraq, giving Iran an unprecedented degree of influence in Iraq at the expense of the United States and of Iraq’s Arab neighbors. Hezbollah has gained a great degree of control over the Lebanese government even as it has preserved its own state-within-a-state autonomy and separate armed forces. The collapse of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt opened new opportunities for Iran, while uprisings among Shi’a populations in the Persian Gulf states would seem...

  2. (pp. 12-56)

    In our previous report, we concluded that the Islamic Republic of Iran, far from being an irrational actor, has pursued a coherent and well-integrated foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia. Aiming to become the dominant power in the area, Iran had positioned itself as the region’s main supplier of electricity; many of its neighbors’ grids are linked into Iran’s. Iran supported the construction of road networks linking up to its own, as well as education and “Persification” programs to encourage others to conform more to the Persian culture. Iran was the dominant arms supplier and patron for...

  3. (pp. 57-61)

    The Islamic Republic of Iran severed diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1980 over the Camp David Accords. Relations generally remained frosty for three decades despite periodic attempts at rapprochement. The state of the relationship was neatly summarized in Iran’s early decision to name a street in Tehran for Khalid Islambouli, the man who assassinated Egyptian president Anwar el Sadat for making peace with Israel. As late as December 2010 and in spite of the resumption of direct flights between Tehran and Cairo and a substantial petrochemical agreement,¹ the two countries were still sniping at each other. “Iranian interventions in the...

  4. (pp. 62-78)

    In sharp contrast with its tribulations in Syria and the Levant, Iran has seen its influence in Iraq grow steadily over the last four years. Iran has always been heavily involved in Iraq as neighbor, key trading partner, and perennial potential threat. From the invasion of 2003 until the end of 2008, the United States became the most important and powerful external actor in Iraq, and Iranian efforts focused heavily on combating US presence and influence through armed proxies and the development of political structures within Iraq closely tied to Tehran. Iranian efforts to oppose Iraqi government decisions that favored...

  5. (pp. 79-90)

    In Afghanistan, Iran is playing both sides of the conflict. While Tehran has cultivated friendly ties with Kabul and contributes to Afghanistan’s reconstruction, the IRGC provides arms and financial support to the Taliban to undermine US-led efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and to speed up the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

    Since 2008, Iran has increased investment in Afghanistan’s infrastructure, industry, and mining; doubled its export market into the country; signed a defense cooperation agreement with Kabul; and created a security and economic buffer zone in western Herat Province. Conversely, the IRGC’s secretive Quds Force has provided more sophisticated...