Iran Is Hardly On The March

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Iran Is Hardly On The March

Iran Is Hardly On The March

By John Bradshaw and J. Dana Stuster
July 15, 2015 | Defense One

The reality is that Iran is fighting to maintain a diminishing sphere of influence. And Washington mischaracterizes Iran’s actual position in the Middle East. Yes, Tehran covets a role as regional hegemon with power reaching beyond Shiite-controlled areas to become the hub of an anti-Israel axis that includes Sunni territories. But Iran is unable to move this strategy forward. What some of President Barack Obama’s critics portray as a newly aggressive Iranian policy instead reflects Iranian efforts to counter challenges it has not faced in decades. Facts on the ground simply do not support fears in Congress that a nuclear agreement will somehow empower an Iranian grab for regional hegemony. Obama’s nuclear deal should not be evaluated on the basis of hysterics about Iranian imperialism, but rather on its effectiveness at ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Five years ago, Iran’s sphere of influence was secure. Its allies in Damascus and Beirut were comfortable and it was consolidating its control of Baghdad. Despite its Shiite identity, Iran sought to build a reputation as a sponsor of anti-Israel causes among Sunni groups, including Hamas. A 2010 poll found that the leaders of Iran’s “Axis of Resistance” were three of the top five most admired political figures in the Arab world. A majority of the Arab public also affirmed Iran’s right to a nuclear program, though they doubted its “peaceful” purposes as Iranian nuclear facilities expanded rapidly despite international sanctions.

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Photo Credit: [Blondinrikard Fröberg,  05/21/2014]

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