President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2005 election and the consolidation of power of the hard-line Principalist faction in the most recent parliamentary elections have altered the Iranian political landscape. In addition, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is wielding its influence more boldly outside of its traditional military role--increasingly in domestic political and economic spheres. Iranian security forces have launched a new cultural crackdown to target Western influences and Iranians deemed insufficiently loyal to the Islamic Republic’s founding principles.
As U.S. policymakers and presidential candidates debate policy toward the Islamic Republic, it is worthwhile to assess and debate the extent to which human rights and democracy have deteriorated in Iran. Has IRGC influence undercut or enhanced the Islamic Republic’s clerical leadership? How have these institutional and systemic changes affected Iran’s foreign policy? What does this mean for the future of U.S.-Iranian relations? Please join AEI for a discussion of the multidimensional and often ambiguous character of the Islamic Republic of Iran.