Courtesy Reuters

Since 1973 and the first oil shock, the center of gravity of Middle Eastern politics has been gradually shifting—from the eastern Mediterranean and the Arab-Israeli conflict toward the Persian Gulf and Iran. That process was accelerated in 1979 by the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, which dramatically reduced the likelihood of another Arab-Israeli war, and the nearly simultaneous climax of the Iranian revolution, which replaced the government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi with a radical theocratic regime under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iran has long harbored ambitions to become the superpower of the Persian Gulf. That prospect is not as improbable today as in the past. In recent years, despite the severe constraints imposed by a chaotic internal situation, Iran has managed a complex and dangerous set of international relationships with boldness, sangfroid and a considerable measure of success.

Americans are prone to evaluate developments in Tehran from

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  • Gary G. Sick is International Affairs Program Officer at the Ford Foundation responsible for activities relating to U.S. foreign policy. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis and is the author of All Fall Down: America's Tragic Encounter with Iran.
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