Contentious Politics in Iran: Factions, Foreign Policy and the Nuclear Deal

Sezgin Kaya, Zeynep Şartepe
2.758 661


This paper endeavors to analyze the evolution of Iran’s foreign policy in the post-revolutionary era by focusing on the ‘historic nuclear deal’ (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action- JCPOA) which is expected to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. The objective of the paper is to shed some light on Iran’s striving to maintain a delicate balance between ideology and pragmatism and the elements of change and continuity in its conduct of foreign policy since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. In this regard, different foreign policy agendas adopted respectively by Khomeini, Rafsanjani, Khatami, Ahmadinejad, and Rouhani will be examined within the context of factional rivalries which emerged out of the political, economic and social structure of the country. With the ascent of the reformist cleric Khatami to presidency in 1997, the long lasting rivalry between the reformist faction that seeks ‘Islamic democracy’ at home and Iran’s integration into the world politics, and the conservative faction whose guiding principle is the return to a revolutionary Islamic ideology, has become apparent in post-revolutionary Iran. While the hardliner Ahmadinejad’s rise to power in 2005 meant flashback to revolutionary ideology both in domestic and foreign affairs of Iran, the victory of pro-reform cleric Hassan Rouhani in 2013 marked the beginning of a new era in Iran’s relations with the West through nuclear negotiations.


Nuclear Deal, Factional Rivalry, Foreign Policy, Iran

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