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(Mis)Understanding What Iran Wants

"But what does Iran want?" This is the question currently being posed, and Amir Taheri responds in Misunderstanding Iran, looking at several of the answers being offered by various circles.

One answer, echoing the views of the Council on Foreign Relations, is that the Islamic republic is, in fact, crying out for attention. The Tehran leadership resents being shut out of the regional geopolitics at a time of upheavals prompted by regime changes in Kabul and Baghdad.

But how credible is such an analysis?

Not much. Tehran was given a place at the table when the future of Afghanistan was shaped in Bonn in 2002. But that did not prevent it from doing its bit of mischief on the side. Tehran’s influence has also been present in post-Saddam Iraq from day one, in the shape of Shiite groups and personalities close to the Iranians by blood, marriage, and political affinity. And, yet, that has not prevented Tehran from financing and arming maverick groups, including the one led by Moqtada Sadr, against Iran’s long-time friends in the new Iraqi leadership.

He revisits the CFR mentality (not monopolized by them by any means) near the conclusion of his column:

The Council on Foreign Relations cannot liberate itself from the typical deal maker’s mentality. It cannot conceive of a regime and a movement that put their messianic mission above conjectural maneuvers and compromises. They do not understand movements and regimes that, given something, would demand more because they believe that they should have it all.

So...what does Iran want?

Read in full to understand Taheri's answer. No shortcuts.