Iran's Bid for Hegemony and Its Consequences

(National Interest) Yoel Guzansky and Ron Tira - In recent times, not only have the threats on Iran diminished, but a power vacuum has emerged around it: the USSR collapsed and new, mostly Muslim, states now buffer between Iran and Russia; European powers significantly reduced their regional footprint; contemporary Turkey is not as threatening as the Ottoman Empire; Sunni rule in Iraq was toppled; and the U.S. withdrew from Iraq and is withdrawing from Afghanistan, Iran's eastern and western neighbors, and thereafter seems reluctant to engage in additional armed conflicts. Iran is drawn into the resulting power vacuum. Iranian bids for hegemony are now active in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Its footprint can also be found in Eritrea, Gaza, Bahrain and Shiite regions of eastern Saudi Arabia, as well as in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Indeed, Iran is in hegemony competition with major regional powers over footholds and clients. Furthermore, in the JCPOA, the West has essentially recognized Iran's previously unacceptable nuclear program as legitimate. At the same time, with its growing footprint in multiple theaters, Iran has managed to alienate and antagonize most regional powers, and with its exploitation of substate actors within the Arab world, Iran is unearthing deep primal Arab fears. Consequently, the unexpected outcome of Iran's current policies is a new coalition of its own making of many regional players opposed to Iran. Yoel Guzansky is a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. Ron Tira is a businessman and a reservist in the Israeli Air Force's Campaign Planning Department.

2016-04-08 00:00:00

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