Iran has been a conundrum since its 1979 revolution. It stunned the world by introducing Islam as a form of modern governance, and rattled the region by exporting its zealous ideology. It supported militant allies and challenged international norms. For decades, dealing with the Islamic Republic was complicated by internal repression, menacing rhetoric, and defiance over its nuclear program. USIP conducts research and policy analysis on Iran, and Institute experts regularly brief Congressional staff and U.S. officials. To learn more, see USIP’s fact sheet on The Current Situation in Iran. For a comprehensive website on Iran providing timely analysis by American and Iranian scholars, see The Iran Primer, hosted by USIP.
The confrontation between the United States and Iran has shifted again as President Trump and the administration announced financial sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other Iranian officials. Within days, the crisis has spun from attacks on oil tankers to an Iranian missile strike on a U.S. military surveillance drone, all centered around the Persian Gulf, the economic artery for about a third of the world’s oil. Hours after President Trump announced the latest sanctions, USIP’s Robin Wright—who directs the Institute’s Iran Primer project—discussed where the crisis stands, and where it could turn.
For decades, Iran has vexed the international community. It introduced Islam as a form of governance in 1979 and has supported militants abroad and defied international norms. In May 2018, the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement negotiated by six world powers and Iran. The administration argued that the deal did not adequately curb Tehran’s nuclear program or address its missile program, human rights abuses, and support for terror.
Since 2013, as many as 50,000 Afghans have fought in Syria as part of the Fatemiyoun, a pro-Assad force organized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Based on field interviews with former fighters and their families, this Special Report examines the motivations of members of the Afghan Shia Hazara communities who joined the Fatemiyoun as well as the economic and political challenges of reintegrating them into Afghan society.