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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaThe U.S.-Iran Showdown: Clashing Strategic Universes Amid a Changing Region

The U.S.-Iran Showdown: Clashing Strategic Universes Amid a Changing Region

Author: Ross Harrison

Organization/Publisher: Aljazeera Centre for Studies

Date/Place: April 16, 2020/ Doha, Qatar

Type of Literature: Report

Number of Pages: 22


Keywords: Strategic View, Containment, Forward Defence.


The American-Iranian tensions have their origins since before the nuclear deal and its renunciation by Trump, as US administrations have been in contention with Iran since 1979. The US had a positive image in the Iranian mind for its verbal support of freedom from imperialistic designs which defined Iran in the first half of the 20th century, but that sentiment changed after the fall of Mossadegh’s government in a coup supported by the US. Grand strategies facing the Soviets put the Iranians under an authoritarian regime supported by an external power, which boiled under the surface until the revolution of 1979. The rise of the Islamic Republic brought both the Iranian and American strategic view into a clash, with both eying the other with hostility and putting both countries on a trajectory of conflict. With the fall of the USSR, the US sought to maintain the status quo in the Middle East and its allies within. Iran countered by building its “Forward defence” via spreading its influence by sub-state actors. The result was Iran becoming the American focus of containment but with limited success due to Iran’s sub-state strategy that dodges the US conventional state focused strategy. With the invasion of Iraq, civil wars and the Arab Spring, the goal of containment became obsolete and Iran became bolder in its movements. The Middle East’s environment gives Iran the edge over American containment strategy, and Iran will continue to be able to spread its influence to challenge US influence. 

By: Omar Fili, CIGA Research Assistant



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