Iran

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More than 30 years after Iran's revolution, its political, military, and international activities continue to challenge and perplex its neighbors and many Western democracies. RAND research has informed and influenced U.S. policymakers on a range of topics, from engagement and containment and Tehran's ability to exploit pan-Islamic causes to Iran's ongoing development of nuclear capabilities.

  • People pass a poster of Supreme Leader Khamenei and the late leader of the Islamic Revolution Khomeini during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in Tehran, February 11, 2016, photo by Raheb Homavandi/Reuters

    Report

    Iranian Domestic Issues Could Challenge the Nuclear Deal

    May 10, 2017

    The Iran nuclear agreement has proven successful so far, but challenges from within Iran may emerge. The deal could be affected by factional divisions in Iran, the death of the supreme leader, or heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

  • cmepp_theme_image_2957662907_bea5e336c7_o

    Project

    The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy

    Jun 17, 2016

    The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy (CMEPP) brings together analytic excellence and regional expertise from across the RAND Corporation to address the most critical political, social, and economic challenges facing the Middle East today.

Explore Iran

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif greets United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, July 17, 2017

    Commentary

    How We Can Keep Iran from Becoming the Next North Korea

    The U.S. brokered an agreement to constrain North Korea's nuclear program 25 years ago but hard-liners abandoned it with vague intentions of coercing the North into something better. They never did, and now a runaway North Korean program poses real danger. This offers a powerful reason to preserve the Iranian nuclear deal.

    Aug 22, 2017

  • Iraqis celebrate as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announces victory over Islamic State in Mosul, in Baghdad, Iraq, July 10, 2017

    Commentary

    Islamic State 2.0

    Many of Iraq's Sunnis are frustrated with the slow pace of reconstruction and a Baghdad government they consider too friendly to Iran. The U.S. needs to shift from supporting military operations in cities such as Mosul to helping the Iraqi government better address political grievances. Failure risks sowing the seeds of ISIS's resurgence.

    Aug 10, 2017

  • A checkers game depicting Saudi Arabia vs. Iran

    Commentary

    State Competition, Not Sectarianism, Key Driver of Middle East Politics

    Sectarianism is real and dangerous in the Middle East, but the region is more complicated. The next leaders in Iran and Saudi Arabia, under pressure from youthful populations and worsening economic challenges, may no longer see value in a costly sectarian agenda.

    Aug 3, 2017

  • Coalition Forces commanders and Combined Air Operations Center members attend a Bastille Day ceremony at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, July 14, 2015

    Commentary

    Time for Quiet Diplomacy, Not Taking Sides

    Disputes within the Gulf Cooperation Council are inevitable given differing threat perceptions and political interests, but there is no reason for the U.S. to pursue policies that aggravate the differences and risk fueling greater instability. Instead, Washington could assure both sides that it will support any agreement they reach.

    Jun 7, 2017

  • Supporters of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani celebrate his victory in the election, in Tehran, Iran, May 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Why Trump's Pressures on Iran Won't Benefit America

    The Trump administration has demonstrated a renewed policy of pressure against Iran. In doing so, it risks losing the ability to leverage the greatest potential source of change in Iran: millions of Iranians who want a better country at peace with the world.

    May 25, 2017

  • Shi'ite worshippers attend Friday prayer in the Great Mosque of Kufa near Najaf, Iraq, March 31, 2017

    Report

    The Future of Sectarian Relations in the Middle East

    Sectarianism is shaping developments across the Middle East. But sectarianism is only one lens for understanding the region's conflicts, and some of its drivers are amenable to policy interventions.

    May 22, 2017

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a welcoming ceremony at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, Russia, March 27, 2017

    Commentary

    Could Iran's Rouhani Lose?

    In this month's presidential election Rouhani is running against Ebrahim Raisi, a trusted member of the revolutionary establishment. The Iranian population continues to live under duress and may be open to new candidates. The Iran nuclear deal hasn't resulted in the great economic windfall Rouhani promised.

    May 3, 2017

  • An Iraqi security guard walks inside Al-Salam hospital destroyed during the fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants east of Mosul, Iraq May 2, 2017.

    Commentary

    The Caliphate Is Crumbling: What Comes Next?

    ISIL's caliphate is crumbling. But unless the U.S.-led coalition can reduce the many possibilities that might give ISIL's down-and-out members a reason to fight on, the militants will continue to contribute to disorder in the region.

    May 3, 2017

  • A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2015

    Commentary

    Sticking with the Complicated U.S.-Iran Relationship

    The United States and Iran differ on many issues, but they signed what has so far been a successful nuclear agreement and both seek to defeat the Islamic State. The U.S. would have more to gain by sticking with the relationship than by pursuing a policy of “regime change.”

    Mar 2, 2017

  • Report

    Smarter Power, Stronger Partners, Volume II: Trends in Force Projection Against Potential Adversaries

    This book describes scenarios to test whether the anti-access and area-denial threat to U.S. force projection is growing more severe. They describe plausible U.S. and adversary military actions given current operational capabilities and approaches.

    Feb 8, 2017

  • Hezbollah members salute during the funeral of Ali Fayyad, a senior commander who was killed fighting in Syria, Lebanon, March 2, 2016

    Commentary

    Hezbollah Is Winning the War in Syria

    Most parties have been on the losing side of the war in Syria. Meanwhile, Lebanese terrorist militia Hezbollah has cemented its status as a regional power player. The group has gained fighting experience and benefited from a growing alliance with the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia.

    Jan 30, 2017

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) talks with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani as they meet during a summit of Caspian Sea regional leaders in the southern city of Astrakhan September 29, 2014

    Commentary

    Iran Is at Putin's Mercy

    Russia and Iran have forged an unprecedented but fragile alliance in the Middle East. But there's no guarantee that Putin won't sell Iran out if he manages to forge better U.S. relations under Trump.

    Jan 12, 2017

  • A sailor opens a network monitoring program during an exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, August 22, 2016

    Commentary

    America's Cyber Security Dilemma — and a Way Out

    The United States should continue to pursue international cooperation in cyberspace, improve its ability to identify and expose the sources of attacks, and improve its oversight of the development and adoption of cyber-related technologies.

    Dec 22, 2016

  • News Release

    China Invests Warily in Middle East

    China endeavors to protect its expanding interests in the Middle East by not taking sides in conflicts and controversies. The United States should encourage China to become more involved in efforts to improve regional stability while reassuring partners of its own commitment to the region.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and UAE's deputy commander-in-chief of the armed forces, meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, December 14, 2015

    Report

    China Invests Warily in the Middle East

    China endeavors to protect its expanding interests in the Middle East by not taking sides in conflicts and controversies. The United States should encourage China to get more involved in efforts to improve regional stability while reassuring partners of its own commitment to the region.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and CFR Senior Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon at RAND's Politics Aside event in Santa Monica, November 12, 2016

    Blog

    The Return of a Cold War Threat

    The danger of blundering into a nuclear war through miscalculation or human error has returned, said former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry at RAND's Politics Aside event. No leader is seeking nuclear war, but there are new dangers that didn't exist during the Cold War that could lead to one.

    Nov 15, 2016

  • News Release

    An Independent Kurdistan Would Impact Its Neighbors

    If the Kurdish region of northern Iraq were to become an independent nation the move would create important political and economic problems for the neighboring nations of Turkey and Iran, as well as for the Iraqi central government.

    Nov 14, 2016

  • Kurdish Peshmerga troops are deployed in the area near the northern Iraqi border with Syria, August 6, 2012

    Report

    How an Independent Kurdistan Might Impact Its Neighbors

    The Kurds make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but they have never formed a permanent nation state. If the Kurdish region of northern Iraq were to declare its independence, the move would create political and economic problems for Turkey, Iran, and the Iraqi central government.

    Nov 14, 2016

  • News Release

    U.S. Military Facing Challenges as Other Nations Improve Abilities to Deny Access to Territory

    A United States military strategy based primarily on an ability to deploy troops anywhere it feels necessary will face heightened costs and risks in critical regions by 2025, owing to other nations' improved abilities to deny the U.S. access.

    Oct 12, 2016