Mullahs, Guards, and Bonyads: An Exploration of Iranian Leadership Dynamics

Mullahs, Guards, and Bonyads: An Exploration of Iranian Leadership Dynamics

Mullahs, Guards, and Bonyads: An Exploration of Iranian Leadership Dynamics

Mullahs, Guards, and Bonyads: An Exploration of Iranian Leadership Dynamics

Synopsis

The U.S. ability to "read" the Iranian regime and formulate appropriate policies has been weakened by lack of access to the country and by the opacity of decisionmaking in Tehran. To improve understanding of Iran's political system, the authors describe Iranian strategic culture; investigate Iran's informal networks, formal government institutions, and personalities; assess the impact of elite behavior on Iranian policy; and summarize key trends.

Excerpt

The Islamic Republic of Iran poses serious challenges to U.S. interests in the Middle East, and its nuclear program continues to worry, and bring condemnation and sanction from, the international community. Yet the U.S. ability to “read” the regime in Tehran and formulate appropriate policies has been handicapped by the lack of access to Iran experienced by U.S. diplomats and other citizens and by what many observers lament as the opacity of Iranian decisionmaking processes. The objective of this book is to offer a framework to help U.S. policymakers and analysts better understand existing and evolving leadership dynamics driving Iranian decisionmaking. The research herein provides not only a basic primer on the structure, institutions, and personalities of the government and other influential power centers but also a better understanding of Iranian elite behavior as a driver of Iranian policy formulation and execution. The book pays special attention to emerging fissures within the regime, competing centers of power, and the primacy of informal networks—a particularly important yet not well understood hallmark of the Iranian system.

While our aim is to expand analysts’ understanding of Iran so as to help them interpret the machinations of the country’s elites, we have a profound appreciation of the complexity and historical impenetrability of Iran’s political system. The motivations and behavior of the Iranian political elite have been the subject of numerous books and articles over the past several decades. One of the attributes of Iranian elite dynamics is the fact that the rules of the game are constantly in flux and are nowhere codified. Although participants certainly know the rules, for outside observers to understand them is naturally dif-

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