Religion, nationalism, ethnicity, economics, and geopolitics all are important in explaining Iran's goals and tactics in its relationship with the outside world, as are the agendas of key security institutions and the ambitions of their leaders. This report assesses Iran's security policy in light of these factors. It examines broad drivers of Iran's security policy, describes important security institutions, explores decision making, and reviews Iran's relations with key countries. The authors conclude that Iraq is widely recognized as the leading threat to Iran's Islamic regime and Afghanistan is seen as an emerging threat. In contrast, Iran has solid, if not necessarily warm, relations with Syria and established working ties to Pakistan and Russia. Iran's policies toward its neighbors are increasingly prudent: It is trying to calm regional tension and end its isolation, although its policies toward Israel and the United States are often an exception to this policy.
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This report assesses Iran's security policy. It examines broad driversof Iran's security policy, describes important security institutions,explores decisionmaking, and reviews Iran's relations with key coun-tries.It concludes by assessing the characteristics that distinguishIran's security policy today.This study's findings will be of greatest interest to analysts and schol-arswho seek to anticipate changes in Iran's behavior or to under-standthe more opaque developments in Iran. This study will also beof interest to policymakers, who will be better able to adapt U.S.policy to meet the challenges posed by Iran today and in the future.This research was conducted for the Department of Defense withinthe Center for International Security and Defense Policy of RAND'sNational Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research anddevelopment center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary ofDefense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Commands, and the defenseagencies.About the Author:
Daniel L. Byman (Ph.D., political science, M.I.T.) is a policy analyst at Rand whose research interests include modeling ethnic conflict, assessing Middle East politics and security issues, developing counter measures against terrorism, reevaluating air power theory, and other general issues related to U.S. foreign policy. Jerrold Green (PhD, Political Science, University of Chicago) is Associate Chair, Research Staff Management Department; a Senior Political Scientist; and Director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy. Research interests and activities include U.S. Foreign Policy, Middle East Politics, Sociopolitical Change in Developing Countries, Impact of the Information Revolution, Terrorism and Political Violence, and Mediterranean Security.
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