Iran Primer: The Challenge of Iran

1_8712230420_L600.jpg[ primer ] Iran, proud and passionate, has been a conundrum since its 1979 revolution. It stunned the world by introducing Islam as a form of modern governance, in turn altering the balance of power across the Middle East. It rattled the region by exporting its zealous ideology and siring or sponsoring militant allies elsewhere. And it unnerved both East and West by defiantly challenging international norms and charting its own course. All three factors complicated dealing with the Islamic Republic.

But Iran looms even larger today. The confluence of challenges–defiance over its nuclear program, rising repression, support for extremists, and menacing rhetoric–has created a sense of impending crisis both at home and abroad.

Political volatility at home was reflected in six months of tumultuous protests after the disputed 2009 presidential election. For millions of Iranians in many cities, the issue quickly escalated from alleged voter fraud to condemnation of the regime, its leadership and even the Islamic system. The regime, briefly, appeared on a precipice. Tehran eventually restored control. But its tactics indicated the regime’s insecurity. It had to militarize to survive.

Tensions with the international community have been reflected in a series of U.N. sanctions since 2006 over Iran’s refusal to convince the world it was not building a bomb. In the end, even Russia, which built Iran’s first nuclear reactor, voted for a seri… >>>

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