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Gulf security can be achieved only through the collective involvement of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran, and Iraq. It is thus important to avoid polarized viewpoints when trying to understand Iranian foreign policy. Despite some internal regime opposition, many Iranians--even those not strongly committed to Islam--opposed the Shah, supported the revolution, and now genuinely fear the United States. Iran is attempting to overcome its political and regional isolation and economic debilitation by improving its relations with its non-Arab neighbors and developing trade deals to overcome the U.S. isolation efforts. Although Iran is hostile to the Gulf states, a major military buildup has not materialized. In addition, Iran does not seem to have developed a nuclear-weapon capability, although such a capability could yet emerge, as could a renewed reliance on terrorism. Thus, although Iran is not of a mind to abandon its powerful Islamist ideology, there is no evidence that it is seeking military domination of the region.

Originally published in: Gulf Security in the Twenty-First Century, David E. Long and Christian Koch, eds., pp. 15-25.

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