Iran and the Kuwait Crisis
On the surface, Iran's behavior during the Kuwait crisis ( 1990-1991) appears as straightforward and relatively easy to comprehend: The Islamic Republic wisely insulated itself from the neighboring crisis, adopted a neutral stance, cooperated with the United Nations' resolutions aimed at reversing Iraq's conquest of Kuwait, and sought to take advantage of this crisis's "windfalls." According to the typical analyses of Iran's diplomacy in the course of this crisis, the anxieties of decision- making under the uncertainties of a fluid international crisis do not appear to have introduced any major headaches in clarifying Iran's policy option and choices of how to position itself vis-à-vis the protagonists of both sides in the crisis. Furthermore, it is often argued by various analysts that Iran emerged as a "clear winner" of the crisis by virtue of its leadership's shrewd diplomacy of "staying on the sideline" while their Iraqi nemesis was being crushed by the Western superpower and its allies. Indeed, reference to Iran's diplomacy in this crisis as "prudent" and as "highly successful" has become an article of faith among the experts. 1 But do such characterizations stand the weight of critical scrutiny?
In the following pages, our inquiry into this question will demonstrate the need to amend these happy prognostications of Iranian diplomacy, focusing on Iran's tactics and strategies, the interplay of dual leadership and the strategic concerns, and the tensions and dilemmas of Iranian actions which chewed away a great deal of Iran's much talked about crisis "windfalls." Contrary to the simplistic diagnoses of Iranian behavior aforementioned, our inquiry leads us to believe that there was nothing straightforward about any of Iran's reactions to this crisis and that, far from it, a complicated web of tactical and strategic actions characterized the Iranian behavior. Untangling this web under our