After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy

By K. L. Afrasiabi | Go to book overview

Introduction

Since the death of its spiritual founding father in June 1989, the Islamic Republic of Iran has experienced dramatic changes in its regional and global environments. These changes have produced the impetus for a thorough rethinking of Iran's foreign policy assumptions and norms of conduct. Both the Kuwait crisis and the disintegration of the Soviet Union were watershed events that created a new strategic environment that simultaneously carried risks as well as opportunities for the country. The coupling of leadership discontinuity, the urgency of postwar reconstruction, and the extensive ramifications of these two neighboring crises immensely complicated Iran's foreign policy agendas. The attempt to respond to the formidable challenges of economic renewal coincided with new heights in national security concerns arising from vulnerabilities introduced by the twin crises, above all, the preponderant power of the United States in the Persian Gulf and the fear of spillover separatist nationalist movements and conflicts in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

From Iran's perspective, the myriad domestic priorities and the corresponding changes in the Middle East implicated by these crises demanded urgent attention to the need to recast the thrust of its foreign policy by making the necessary adjustments. Both these crises, by transforming power relations, readjusting political alignments, changing public attitudes, and causing other impacts that redefined the interests and capabilities of the nations in the Middle East, impelled the post- Khomeini leaders not only to recognize a fundamental sea change in regional and global affairs but to adjust with a remarkable speed. In turn, the accelerated tempo of policy adjustments heralded the end of a fragile elite consensus that had underpinned Iran's domestic and foreign policies since the purge of President Abul Hassan Bani-Sadr in 1981. Consequently, the Islamic Republic's foreign policymaking became subject to unprecedented factional politics.

Initially, in reinventing Iran's foreign policy, President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his "working" cabinet were able to take the upper hand. Specifically, to the dismay of his militant competitors, the president placed himself in the very forefront of the struggle to redesign Iran's foreign policy. Rafsanjani initiated his own version of economic opening, successfully reached a modus vivendi with the majority of

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After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 5
  • 1 - The Dynamics of Iran's Foreign Policy 9
  • Introduction: International Relations Theory and the Islamic Republic 9
  • Notes 41
  • 2 - Iran and the Kuwait Crisis 57
  • Introduction 57
  • Notes 77
  • 3 - The Making of a New Persian Gulf Policy 85
  • Introduction: A New Persian Gulf Configuration 85
  • Notes 108
  • 4 - The Making of Iran's Central Asia-Caucasus Policy 117
  • Introduction 117
  • Notes 145
  • 5 - Iran and the Passages to the Post-Cold War Era 153
  • Introduction 153
  • Notes 187
  • 6 - Future of Iran's Foreign Policy: Agendas for Adjustment 201
  • Introduction: Iran as an International Power 201
  • Notes 211
  • Selected Bibliography 219
  • About the Book and Author 233
  • Index 235
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