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.
Ties between Tehran and Damascus have been close since the 1979 revolution, but the relationship deepened after Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011. With the Assad regime’s survival at stake, Tehran doubled down on its support, providing critical military assistance—fighters and strategists—and economic aid estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Tehran’s interventions in conflicts throughout the Middle East have become a particular point of contention for detractors of the Iran Deal, which placed constraints on the country's nuclear program without addressing its role in Syria, Yemen, and across the region. There is no place Iranian influence has played a more conspicuous role than in neighboring Iraq.
This week in Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu successfully shifted the optics from mounting domestic pressure. Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen shares her analysis about Netanyahu’s warm reception at the AIPAC conference and his White House meeting focused on Iran. The conversation continues with Kurtzer-Ellenbogen explaining the latest hurdles for Middle East Peace and the anticipation for the Trump administration’s Middle East Peace Plan.