Document Type


Publication Date

November 2004


In what follows, I will discuss the transformation of Iran’s Persian Gulf policy since 1979, its role in past regional security regimes, its reaction to the emerging strategic situation in the region, and its current policy toward Iraq. I will make four main arguments. First, the collapse of Saddam Husayn has accelerated Iran’s transformation from a revolutionary to a regional status quo power in search of creating “spheres of influence.” One of Iran’s ultimate strategic goals is to become a hub for the transit of goods and services between the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, Central Asia, and possibly China. Second, Iran’s Iraq policy is directly correlated to Tehran’s threat perception regarding the U.S. A threatened Iran whose legitimate security needs are ignored will act more mischievously in Iraq than will a secure Iran. In my opinion, the U.S. and Iran can surely build upon their common interests in Iraq to lay the foundation for improving their tortured relations. Third, any future regional security regime that excludes Iran will most likely be expensive, ineffective, and unsustainable. Finally, when the United States, as the world’s hegemonic power, and Iran, an emerging regional power, are at peace, the region is most likely to enjoy stability; when they are not at peace, the region will suffer.


The following article was written by Mohsen Milani in connection with his participation in the conference entitled “Iran After 25 Years of Revolution: A Retrospective and a Look Ahead,” which was held at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on November 16-17, 2004. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and in no way represent the views or opinions of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.