Tag Archives: Sanctions

Challenging U.S. Hegemony: Tehran Stands Defiant

By Connor J. Wangler

Ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran has acted as a thorn in the foot of the Western world. It would seem like the main goal of Iranian leaders is to stand in defiance of everything the United States and its allies want to do, especially when it comes to the Middle East. Many claim that the United States has hit a peak in its global power. Is its relationship with the Islamic Republic representative of this? The Iranians, and several others, would like to think so. Source: Zakaria, The Post-American World, pg. 31

Mohammad Khazaee, Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations, and Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General. Source: http://iran-un.org

Iran is a member of several international organizations that allows its anti-U.S. stance to be presented on the world stage. It was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945, a founding member of OPEC in 1961, and it joined the Non-Aligned Movement in 1979. It often uses its membership in these organizations to disrupt the plans of the U.S. and Israel, the U.S.’s main ally in the region. 

One such example of this is the situation in Syria. Speaking to Iranian FARS News Agency, Expediency Council Chairman and former President Akbar Rafsanjani said, “Support for Syria and Lebanon should continue since these countries are in the forefront of resistance against Israel.” He then went on to blame the United States for the recent chemical attacks inside Syria. Iran has urged its allies in the UN Security Council, Russia and China, to veto any resolution calling for action against Syria.

Source: http://www.ngoilgasmena.com

Another interesting aspect of Tehran’s defiance towards Washington is the Iranian economy. Despite many years of crippling sanctions place on Iran due to its nuclear program, Iran’s leaders haven’t budged on their energy policies, much to the U.S.’s annoyance. In fact, the Iranian Ambassador to Germany was recently quoted by the Tehran Times as saying, “sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear energy program have failed to achieve their objectives and have rather led Iran to self-sufficiency in oil and gas sectors.” Despite its rhetoric, Iranian oil production and exports have been severely damaged by the sanctions, while U.S. oil production has increased (Source: Bloomberg News).

Source: http://www.theguardian.com

From a Western perspective, Iran’s identity is one of extreme anti-Americanism and Islamic extremism. As discussed by Manfred Steger, many Westerners associate extremist Islam to be leading a fight against “Westernized” lifestyles. For Iran, this is incredibly accurate; part of the cause of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in the 1970s was western influences in Iranian, and specifically Islamic Iranian, life. Source: Steger, Globalization, pg. 126-130

However, in order to offer a more accurate depiction of Iran’s identity, one must delve into its regional power status. As one of the strongest and most populous countries in the middle east, Iran has immense geopolitical power. There is little in the region that goes on without somehow being affected by Iranian interests.

Below is an interesting piece by RussiaToday regarding Iran’s latest push against the U.S., saying that if Damascus comes under attack, it could lead to an all-out war in the region:

All-Out War? Iran vows ‘immediate destruction’ of Israel if Syria attacked


Islamic Republic of Iran

By Connor J. Wangler


The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded on April 1, 1979 after the Islamic Revolution ousted the government of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Iran stands on the frontier of the Middle East serving as an agglomeration of Middle Eastern and Central Asian cultures. It has one of the largest populations in the Middle East at approximately 80 million people.

The Islamic Republic is led by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei. The President, who leads the country’s domestic and foreign policy, is ultimately responsible to the Supreme Leader and the Assembly of Experts, who elects the Supreme Leader. The current President of Iran is Hassan Rouhani.

(Source: CIA World Factbook)


Assuming office on August 3, 2013, President Rouhani is being forced to deal with the many effects of the many international sanctions placed on Iran because of its nuclear program. According to Iranian FARS News Agency, the West and its allies accuse the country of trying to build nuclear weapons instead of developing a civilian nuclear energy program. Iran is currently subject to four rounds of sanctions by the UN Security Council for turning down the West’s call to give up its program.

According to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, “These sanctions put people under pressure, but they will not force a change in foreign policy.” However, recognizing the economic strain placed on the Iranian people, the new administration has pledged to do its best to have the embargoes lifted without altering its nuclear policy.

Official portrait of President Rouhani

Speaking to the Tehran Times, President Rouhani discussed his appointment of Reza Najafi as the new envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He will lead nuclear program negotiations with the U.N. and other international organizations. These talks are aimed at creating a structured approach document to resolve issues with Iran’s nuclear program, particularly the Parchin military site, which the West suspects of being used to build nuclear weapons. Little progress on this document has been made, however.

Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran

According to Euronews, however, everyday Iranians care little about the country’s nuclear program. They are, instead, concerned about President Rouhani improving the economy, which has been severely damaged by the effects of the international sanctions.

Below is a piece by Al Jazeera that details the issues that were most pressing during the recent Iranian presidential elections, most notably the sanctions’ effect on the Iranian economy.

Inside Story: Choosing Iran’s Next President