Iran’s Post-Revolution Foreign Policy Puzzle
FARIDEH FARHI AND SAIDEH LOTFIAN
Analyzing domestic debates about Iran’s foreign policy is difficult. Identifying the stakeholders, pinpointing their institutional affiliations, and understanding how different worldviews interact are elusive. Compounding the task further are shifting stances by participants, overgeneralized and bombastic rhetoric, and lack of institutionalization in a constrained and yet highly contested domestic political environment.
In the past three decades, advocates of certain policies have shifted positions and research institutions have become staffed by individuals with different viewpoints than those whom they have replaced. In some instances, even research centers have changed their institutional affiliations and have been moved from one branch of government to another.1 Meanwhile some institutes have simply lost their significance or even personnel while others have mushroomed without much transparency about their affiliation or ideological tendencies.
Similar dynamics have been at play in the wider public arena. Even during the periods of high political repression, contending views regarding the scope and means of Iran’s foreign policy have not disappeared in newspapers representing various political factions. However, closures of newspapers as well as subtle shifts of ideological positions either because of changed editors or changed views make the delineation of consistent points of view difficult.