AGSIW experts explain what regional trends they’ll be following most closely as the year unfolds.
Ali Alfoneh is a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. He is a political scientist by training and the originator of the theory of transformation of the Islamic Republic into a military dictatorship. Alfoneh first put forward the theory in the spring 2006 edition of Udenrigs, journal of The Danish Foreign Policy Society. In the United States since 2007, Alfoneh advanced the theory in a series of essays published by the American Enterprise Institute culminating in Iran Unveiled: How the Revolutionary Guards are Transforming Iran from Theocracy into Military Dictatorship published by AEI Press in April 2013. He is also the author of Political Succession in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Demise of the Clergy and the Rise of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (2020).
The lifting of the arms embargo is not likely to result in an Iranian buying spree. But, the Islamic Republic’s arms exports in the post-embargo era may prove as significant as its potential procurements.
None of Iran’s leadership hopefuls can seize power without IRGC support, and any future leader of the Islamic Republic will be beholden to the IRGC.
The normalization of relations with Israel provides another grievance Tehran can use to mobilize Bahrain’s Shias against their rulers.
Authors of articles published by Imam Hussein University of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps see the real challenges the regime is facing from the unprivileged slumdwellers and the politicized middle class and its grievances.
The Islamic Republic has yet to realize taking such a posture toward its Arab neighbors further encourages them to align with Iran’s adversaries.
The IRGC’s military exercises are little more than ineffective political propaganda.
The Iran-China agreement appears as a framework for cooperation. Its realization depends on external factors over which Iran has no influence.
A pilot survey of Imam Hussein University academic journals shows the limits of academic freedom in the Islamic Republic, save a few pieces reflecting the Iranian leadership’s view of the role of missiles in strategic deterrence.
Survival supersedes ideology, and the ruling elites of the Islamic Republic find themselves adhering to the constants in security policy of a predecessor they vilify.