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.

  • Supporters of the Houthi movement attend a rally to mark the 4th anniversary of the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen's war, in Sanaa, Yemen, March 26, 2019, photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

    Report

    Could Yemen's Houthis Be the Next Hizballah?

    Jul 13, 2020

    Iran turns to sponsor-proxy relationships to expand its reach in the Middle East while minimizing the risk of inviting direct conflict. The Houthis give Iran reach into Yemen and the Red Sea, providing a means to harass its rival, Saudi Arabia. Will Iran further invest in the Houthis?

  • 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

  • the Shrine of the Tomb of Imam Reza

    Commentary

    Think Again: A Nuclear Iran

    When contemplating the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, we should all be grateful that notions of martyrdom and apocalyptic beliefs don't have a significant pull on Iranian decision-making, writes Alireza Nader.

    May 29, 2013

  • Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili at a May 2013 news conference

    Report

    Iran After the Bomb: How Would a Nuclear-Armed Tehran Behave?

    Iran may feel more confident and gain a sense of prestige from a nuclear capability, but other factors, such as the regional geopolitical environment and Iran’s political, military, and economic capabilities, will have a greater bearing on Iranian calculations.

    May 17, 2013

  • Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) and First Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei attend a ceremony in Tehran July 22, 2009

    Commentary

    Will Iran's Real Reformists Please Stand Up?

    Neither Ahmadinejad nor Mashaei will be the political “messiahs” many religious and secular Iranians long for, writes Alireza Nader. Much like Khatami and the reformists, figures like Ahmadinejad are willing to challenge the system only to a limited degree.

    May 15, 2013

  • Door with poster of Ahmadinejad, Assad, and Nasrallah

    Commentary

    Why Iran Is Trying to Save the Syrian Regime

    Tehran views Syria as a strategic gateway to the Arab world, a bulwark against American and Israeli power, and, perhaps most importantly, a crucial link to Lebanese Hezbollah, writes Alireza Nader.

    Apr 25, 2013

  • An Iranian worker builds a wall in Aradan, east of Tehran, March 12, 2008

    Commentary

    Labor and Opposition in Iran

    The economic pains caused by the Iranian regime's mismanagement, corruption, and international sanctions have dealt serious blows to worker wages, benefits, and job security — enough reason for Iranian laborers to organize and oppose the regime.

    Apr 22, 2013

  • Iranians campaigning for reformist candidate Mostafa Moeen in 2005

    Commentary

    Iran's Forgotten Ethnic Minorities

    Non-Persian ethnic minorities make up roughly 40 to 50 percent of Iran's population. Marginalized from society, they may choose a path of political apathy. On the other hand, Tehran's refusal to acknowledge minority rights may lead to future ethnic insurgencies and uprisings.

    Apr 4, 2013

  • Iranian people living in France protested the 2009 the reelection of Ahmadinejad and the irregularities in the vote count for his main opponent, the reformist Moussavi.

    Commentary

    Iran's Elections to End All Elections

    The June election will not be about mobilizing the Iranian public. It is instead the culmination of a years-long evolution in Iranian politics: the transformation of the Islamic Republic from a mildly representative theocracy into a Revolutionary Guards-controlled kleptocracy, writes Alireza Nader.

    Mar 7, 2013

  • Israeli and Iranian flags, weapons, fire

    Commentary

    Khamenei's Mounting Pressures

    Khamenei's mounting pressures may compel him to be more flexible on the nuclear program, writes Alireza Nader. Otherwise, he will face greater sanctions, more internal political opposition, and, possibly, the wrath of his own people.

    Feb 11, 2013

  • Former Senator Chuck Hagel shakes hands with Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta

    Commentary

    Reading Chuck Hagel in Tehran

    If Obama's election didn't change Tehran's view of U.S. policy, it's hard to see how Hagel's nomination could. After all, America's war-weariness is no secret, and it's hardly limited to Vietnam veterans such as Hagel, writes Alireza Nader.

    Feb 6, 2013

  • Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili listens to a reporter's question during a news conference in New Delhi January 4, 2013

    Q&A

    What Is Iran's Strategy at New Talks?

    Iran is still willing to give diplomacy a chance after a seven-month hiatus, as demonstrated by the announcement of new talks. But Tehran wants the P5+1 to make the first move, writes Alireza Nader.

    Feb 5, 2013

  • Yesh Atid on Election Night

    Commentary

    When Winning Means Losing: Israel After the Election

    It is not clear whether or to what extent Netanyahu will abandon his traditional coalition partners on the right and turn toward the fragmented political center. However, such a turn may be necessary, writes Shira Efron.

    Jan 23, 2013

  • U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to speak after he took the oath of office during swearing-in ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, January 21, 2013

    Commentary

    Israeli Election Not Likely to End Pressure on Obama for Iran Action

    In the absence of any diplomatic breakthrough and the continued advance of Iran's nuclear enrichment program this year, we can expect Israeli leaders across the political spectrum to press the Obama administration for military options, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.

    Jan 23, 2013

  • Iran's Revolutionary guards commander Mohammad Ali Jafari speaks during a conference to mark the martyrs of terrorism in Tehran, September 6, 2011

    Commentary

    Profile: Revolutionary Guards Chief Gen. Jafari

    Jafari now commands one of the most feared militaries in the Middle East, which is also far better equipped than Iran’s conventional army, navy and air force, writes Alireza Nader. He has an estimated 150,000 troops under his control.

    Jan 22, 2013

  • James Dobbins at Politics Aside 2012

    Blog

    Dobbins to Debate Whether Israel Can Live with a Nuclear Iran

    Amb. James Dobbins, director of the RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center, argues that "Israel Can Live with a Nuclear Iran" Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in a live debate at 6:45 p.m. EST at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City.

    Jan 14, 2013

  • Members of the revolutionary guard attend the anniversary ceremony of Iran's Islamic Revolution at the Khomeini shrine in the Behesht Zahra cemetery, south of Tehran, February 1, 2012

    Commentary

    Sanctions Squeeze Revolutionary Guard

    Iran's inability to sell its oil due to sanctions will not only shrink the resources available to the Guard as a military force, but will crimp the wealth of individual Guard officers. This could erode the Guard's loyalty to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, writes Alireza Nader.

    Jan 8, 2013

  • Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque at Imam Square in Isfahan, Iran

    Commentary

    Iran: A Rough Year in 2013

    The Islamic Republic faces the potential of stronger economic sanctions and even a military strike because of its intransigence in complying with U.N. resolutions on its nuclear program. It also must deal with twin domestic challenges—deepening malaise among the young and increasing tensions among the political elite, writes Alireza Nader.

    Jan 2, 2013

  • flags of China and Iran

    Commentary

    Chinese-Iranian Ties in the Face of the Nuclear Crisis

    The U.S. effort to isolate and pressure Iran in order to extract concessions on the nuclear program faces a significant vulnerability: the ties between Iran and the People’s Republic of China, writes Alireza Nader.

    Nov 12, 2012

  • U.S. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney answers a question during the final U.S. presidential debate with President Barack Obama in Boca Raton, Florida, October 22, 2012

    Commentary

    A Crucial Difference on Iran

    The dilemma is how sanctions and pressure would dissuade Iran's leaders from pursuing their nuclear program (as Mr. Romney recommended) if a President Romney wouldn't agree to sit down and talk with them, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.

    Oct 23, 2012

  • news stories about Iran and Israel showing in the Al Jazeera English newsroom

    Commentary

    Israel, Iran, and the Redline Debate

    Politicizing the Iran-Israel issue at Monday's presidential debate could prove a setback for efforts to ultimately prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.

    Oct 18, 2012

  • A person holding Iranian currency

    Commentary

    The Iranian Regime Is in Trouble

    Any instability in Iran, even if it is meant to pressure Ahmadinejad, is bad news for the entire regime. The nose-diving economy has affected the lives of millions of Iranians; they are unlikely just to blame Ahmadinejad alone, writes Alireza Nader.

    Oct 4, 2012