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Iran’s Interregional Dynamics in the Near East

Edited By Banafsheh Keynoush

Few regions in the world are as torn by conflicts as the Near East, in which Iran plays a central role. Opportunities to engage with Iran are abundant, but they are squandered when regional states address immediate conflicts in which Iran is only one part, despite its prominent role. Iran’s Interregional Dynamics in the Near East provides a comprehensive guide to broaden our understanding about Iran and its regional neighbors. By analyzing how Iran’s neighbors view their ties with the country, this volume reveals why Iran is less successful in expanding its regional influence than what is commonly assumed. This is the first book of its kind to be written exclusively by authors from and working in the Near East region who came together at a roundtable funded by and convened at Princeton University. As the moderator of the roundtable, the editor of this volume invited the authors to contribute chapters to this timely book. The book explores a wide range of topics to describe the complex relations between Iran and other states in the Near East including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman. The volume is designed to inform politicians, world leaders, scholars, senior policy makers, and graduate students, and it provides an accessible guide to undergraduate students, junior scholars, and the general public.

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2. Iran’s Axis of Influence in Levant and Iraq (Banafsheh Keynoush and Hamad H. Albloshi)


Banafsheh Keynoush and Hamad H. Albloshi

Since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, the country has strengthened its political and military bonds with the Shiʿa and Alawite communities in the Levant and Iraq. A cacophony of ideological priorities and security concerns has enabled Iran to justify its outreach to these communities, often reflected in the Iranian axis of resistance policy to contain big power influence in the Near East region including by the United States of America. More specifically, Iran has aimed through its influence in the Levant to contain Israel. Iranian interventions in Iraq have broadened its access to the Levant and helped Tehran bypass frequent tensions in the Persian Gulf region with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Iraq’s invasion by the United States in 2003, and the Syrian Arab Spring in 2011, accelerated the emergence of a strategic corridor that links Tehran’s interests with those of its allies in Baghdad and Damascus, despite efforts by Israel, the United States, Egypt, the Gulf Arab states and Turkey to contain Iranian ambitions. Jordan and Palestine remained on the margins of Iran’s Levant outreach initiatives, because their priorities rested in the outcome of a wider Middle East peace deal between Israel and Palestine. Additionally, tight security in Jordan and Palestine dampened Iranian influence, quite unlike Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, where internal conflicts opened the doors for Iran’s political and security interventions.

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