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.
Iran Timeline: Since the 1979 Revolution
Iran has been rocked by a series of developments in recent months, from the mass protests over raised fuel prices to the killing of powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. Over the weekend, protesters returned to the streets, spurred by the military’s mistaken downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet. As in past protests, like 2009, the government has met demonstrators with a draconian and violent response. USIP’s Garrett Nada and Maria Stephan explain how the protests have evolved over time and how demonstrators could use nonviolent tactics against the repressive regime.
USIP President and CEO Nancy Lindborg explains how U.S.-Iran tensions could exacerbate state fragility and hamper longstanding peacebuilding efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying, “All of this can be put at risk with the current tensions as both countries really fear becoming collateral damage.”
Iran has stated that—barring a U.S. response—the missile attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq will be the only immediate retaliation for the killing of Soleimani. USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed says this latest development offers an exit from further escalation, but “this doesn’t mean the broader tensions and the slower, more simmering tensions … will end.”