Persian Gulf. Iran has a deep concern about national security within a regional and international context. Security concerns of Iran include American troops near east and west borders (Iraq and Afghanistan), neighbors that are allies of America such as Turkey and Azerbaijan, nuclear neighbors that are also allies of America (India and Pakistan), Israel as an enemy that is also nuclear and problems with Arab neighbors (borders-Shi’ism). Political prestige is also another motivation for Iran to persuade a new security system for the Persian Gulf. Iran has been a great power for a long time and now it wants to reacquire its historical position. (Bahjat, 2006)
Historical and religious heritage and prestige of Iranians in the Middle East has been another motivation for Iranians to move toward a stable security system to strengthen them and protect their allies in the Middle East. Most of the Iranians are Shi’a that is the opposite of sunny in Islam. Iranians are proud of their religious heritage and they want to protect their religious identity also they want to protect Shi’a groups in other Arab countries like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Jeysholmahdi in Iraq (Brennan, 2008).
Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has shaped her foreign policy in answer to direct threats to her security, sovereignty and internal integrity, which had been related to the ideological structure of Iran. After 9/11, the USA entered Afghanistan and Iraq and complicated the Iranian position even more. Longstanding American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan created many threats to Iran but at the same time it gave new opportunities for increasing Iran’s influence in the region and its international position. Without Iran’s will, there probably would not be any peace in those states. On the other hand, radicalized policies of the Islamic regime may result in international isolation or even in open conflict with the United States (Bojarczyk, 2008).
In an informal announcement of Iran’s decision to ensure a successful regional security system for the Persian Gulf, Saideh Lotfian (2007) believes Iran, Iraq and Yemen must be part of any security arrangement in the Persian Gulf (Lotfian, 2007-08). She believes the main pillar of Iranian policy on the Persian Gulf is based, on the regional states’ responsibility for ensuring security of this region without outside help. One barrier in the way of improving the security environment of the region is the current tension between Iran and the United States. This has also overshadowed Iran’s ties with other regional states. In sum, Iranians think of an effective regional security pact to minimize extra-regional influence of foreign countries. The strategy of the Iranian government vis-à-vis the security of this important region is based on the expansion of regional cooperation and intra-regional security-building. In this regard, there has been a remarkable growth in political exchanges and interaction at high levels between the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Persian Gulf states (Simbar & Ghorbani, 2011).
Joseph Marie and Shahdad Naghshpour (2011) at their book “Revolutionary Iran and the United States”, explain the US and Iran’s objectives toward each other. In this regard, one of main objectives of the American is deter Iran to control the Persian Gulf region: “the united states seek several objections: 1) regime change in Iran, yet short of regime change at least containment of an expansionist Iran; 2) reduce the ability of Iran to control the Persian Gulf region though military, economic and political means; and 3) reduce the ability of Iran to support terrorist organizations and organizations that are hostile to American allies”. Also in view of Naghshpour and Marie the mail goal of Iranian is limitation of the influence of the US in the Persian Gulf region: “Iran seeks: 1) to limit America influence in the region; 2) spread the Ideas of the Islamic revolution to neighboring nations, particularly nations with large Shia communities; 3) confront the US in the Persian Gulf and internationally though low level military actions and diplomatic means; 4) engage the grater Islamic world in dialogue detrimental to US interest; and 5) create bilateral economic, diplomatic and military ties with states hostile to US e.g. Venezuela and china” (St Marie & Naghshpour, 2011).
Marie and Naghshpour (2011) concluded that the conflict between Iran and US had been in motion for almost three decades and this conflict can be directly tied to domestic policies in each nation. They summarized for both Iran and US, the conflict is costly in economic terms but it can also be used politically to gain votes. They believed from the perspectives of political elites in each county this is a rational strategy and both have used the conflict for their political advantage. Indeed politicians like to have an enemy that allows them to rally voters because it is an advantageous. In sum, according to Naghshpour and Marie the real or unreal conflicts will continue between two countries and especially as they mentioned the Persian Gulf is the common point in security policies of both countries.
According on the literature review in this chapter the main criticism on western scholars is that their thinking about security of the Persian Gulf is according to the US and its western’s allies interests and the realities of the region has been not considered in their studies on the Persian Gulf region. As it was reviewed current studies have focused on the U.S. as the balancer of power in the Persian Gulf region that will led to penetration of US in the region, because inherent nature of balance of power policy is penetration of big powers to regions to maintain their interest and influence. So the gap between current studies by scholars and the studies that refer to today’s realities of the region that lurched from crisis to crisis is the significant reason for doing this research. Furthermore; the theory that is justified for this study can offer practical ideas on improving or replacing the current security arrangements to prepare peace and security with independence for all states of the region.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE U.S. POLICIES TOWARDS IRAN IN THE PERSIAN GULF REGION (1979 – ۲۰۰۸)
The following chapter contains the discussion of the first objective of this research. The purpose of this study is to discuss the policies of the United States toward Iran in the Persian Gulf region after the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 until the end of the George W. Bush administration in 2008. The first section of this chapter describes the geography and geopolitics of the Persian Gulf region. The second section deals with the historical background of external powers in the region until the withdrawal of the British from the region in 1972. In the third section, the discussion is on the American arrival and their objectives and interests in the Persian Gulf region. Furthermore, this section discusses the first US Persian Gulf policy before the Islamic Revolution in Iran and after the withdrawal of Great Britain from the region in 1972 that was called the “Twin Pillar Policy” or “Nixon-Kissinger Doctrine”. The last and main section of this chapter focuses on the main US policies toward the Islamic republic of Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The “Carter Doctrine”, “Dual Containment Policy”, and “establishment of Gulf Cooperation Council” were the main US policies toward Iran related to the Persian Gulf after the Islamic Revolution.
The British arrived in the Persian Gulf region at the beginning of the 19th century to protect the free flow of commerce and also to keep out the other great European powers. After World War II and in 1968, because of financial constraints and anti-western movements, the British government announced a withdrawal until 1971 from east of Suez that involved also the Persian Gulf region. On the other hand, the Vietnam war was the most important reason why the U.S. refrained from interfering directly in the Persian Gulf region in 1971 (Jeffrey R. Macris, 2007). Since 1971, the U.S. entered the region indirectly and they introduced several security policies in the Persian Gulf for the maintenance of stability and in line with the national security priority of the United States. The primary U.S. objectives in the region included securing the free flow of the region’s oil and natural gas to international markets (especially to the U.S. and its allies) and supporting allied coastal Arab conservative monarchies of the region. In pursuit of these objectives, successive U.S. administrations demonstrated security commitments to the six countries of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Huge and significant arms sales,