Trump’s decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, better known as the Iran Nuclear Deal) is a highly destabilizing element in an already unstable regional scenario characterized by wars in Syria and Yemen, the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian question, the rift between Qatar and the other Gulf countries (chiefly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), political uncertainty in Lebanon and socio-political tensions continuously threatening to tear Iraq apart. Iran is the perceived common denominator to all these issues, at least to a certain degree.

The crucial geopolitical role Teheran plays, together with the domestic problems it faces, lead us to wonder about the future of the Islamic Republic’s regional stance in the medium-term future (e.g. 3 to 5 years). This question is of crucial importance to foresee the future of such a pivotal region as the Middle East. In order to think about the future, however, we have to consider the past carefully, notably to identify crucial and acting factors and dynamics.

As we reviewed Iran’s pre-1979 history previously, this article will be therefore centred on the Islamic Republic of Iran founded by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 and its main aspects.

We shall notably identify as key factors with continuous impact on current and future dynamics, first, the relationship between the political-religious power and the ordinary people. We then turn to the new political system  of Iran, identifying where power lays in this Theocracy and its Shia Islamic State. We look at the way the leadership consolidates power and find that foreign enemies on the one hand, bringing domestic security, on the other, are keys to domestic power. Finally we turn to Iran’s foreign relations, especially with Washington, pointing out that, so far, one major consequence of U.S. threats against Iran has been to favour conservatives.

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Full article 2444 words – approx. 6 PAGES


About the author:  Leonardo Frisani (MA Paris) focuses currently on challenges to the future of Iran in the Middle East. Beyond that, his specialisation is in European and Russian history, and his main interests are in geopolitics, macroeconomics, climate change and international energy.

Featured image: 1978 Iranian revolution – row of men holding Khomeini’s photos – Unknown Author – Public Domain in Iran via Wikimedia Commons


Abrahamian, Ervand (2008) A History of Modern Iran, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Amir-Moezzi, M. A., “Shi’ite Doctrine”, Encyclopaedia Iranica, 20 July, 2005.

Axworthy, Michael (2008) Iran: Empire of the Mind: a History from Zoroaster to the Present Day, London: Penguin Books.

Foltz, Richard (2015) Iran in World History, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Skocpol, T. “Rentier State and Shi’a Islam in the Iranian Revoution”, Theory and Society, Vol.11, No. 3 (May, 1982), 265-283.

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