Iran’s threat to close a vital international waterway if stricter sanctions are imposed on Iranian oil exports is more than just bellicose and provocative. It is also a test of U.S. will and commitment in the Persian Gulf at a time when our role in the region is changing.
The Iranian Qods Force plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. in Washington in a terrorist attack using Mexican drug cartel associates shows the complex threat the Iranian regime poses. Had the attack succeeded, it would have marked a dramatic escalation in the Iranian war against Saudi Arabia, which Tehran has hitherto waged primarily by proxy. It would also have been an escalation of the decades-long war Iran has waged against the U.S., which Tehran has fought largely indirectly rather than on American soil.
This article appears in the Winter 2011 issue of Middle East Quarterly.
Seventeen months after the fraudulent June 12, 2009 presidential election, which threw the Islamic Republic into its worst political crisis since the 1979 revolution, and five months into the latest round of international sanctions against Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i is desperate to demonstrate that he is the legitimate supreme authority in Iran.
Iranian protestors aligned with the opposition and Green Movement have demonstrated in Tehran and other cities on multiple days in February and March 2011. These protests are the first significant anti-regime protests since late 2009. Recent activity indicates that the grievances of the embattled Iranian opposition continue to build and that the Iranian authorities' systematic campaign against the opposition has not entirely suppressed the broader opposition movement.