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