Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Understanding Iran’s political system

Image Credit: sajed.ir (Wikimedia Commons)

Image Credit: sajed.ir (Wikimedia Commons)

The specter of Iranian belligerence behooves a closer examination of the country’s opaque political leadership. In a new paper, AEI Resident Fellow Michael Rubin investigates some of the most salient characteristics of Iran’s political system:

  • A unique dictatorship: Iranian officials enjoy a greater degree of autonomy than their North Korean or Syrian counterparts.
  • Export of Revolution: One of the few things that unites regime reformers, hardliners, and the IRGC is the concept of spreading the Islamic Revolution.
  • The growth of the IRGC: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) currently wields more influence than ever before in Iran, yet relatively little is known about the group.
  • Hezbollah: A semi-autonomous terrorist/political group, Hezbollah provides Iran with a powerful tool to influence the Middle East.

On the IRGC’s activities in the Syrian conflict, read AEI scholar Will Fulton’s commentary here.

Here’s a video of Fulton outlining the IRGC’s command structure:

The bottom line on Iran, according to Rubin:

The Islamic Republic is not a status quo power. Neither diplomatic agreements nor traditional containment will end the threat posed by Iran. For Tehran, the ideology of the regime is not negotiable. So long as it remains in existence, the Islamic Republic will continue to act on its ideological prerogatives to export revolution, dominate areas it considers its “near abroad,” and counter its enemies, first and foremost Israel and the United States.

The full article by Michael Rubin can be found here.

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