Iran's Quest for Regional Hegemony: Challenges for Israel, the Arab World and the West

In his lecture, Visiting Professor David Menashri will explore the impact of Iran's growing power and ambition on the Middle East and beyond, placing these developments in their historical and regional context.

Thursday, November 09, 2017
6:00 PM - 7:15 PM
Royce Hall, Room 314


Co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, the Department of History, the Center for Near Eastern Studies, and the Center for Middle East Development.

About the Talk

From its historic imperial heritage and the more recent Islamic revolutionary vision, the Islamic Republic views itself as a major regional power. While the initial years of war with Iraq (1980-1988) and revolutionary upheaval limited the prospect of exerting its influence beyond its borders, major recent developments provided the opportunity for Iran to upgrade its influence in the region.

The American led coalitions' wars in Iraq (1991 and 2013) and Afghanistan (2002) removed its two adamant enemies on its west and east. The Arab Spring weakened its regional competitors for power (such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia), threatened the century old nation-state system and led to civil wars, providing Iran the opportunity to establish its presence from the Mediterranean Sea to Bab al-Mandab on the Red Sea, with firm presence in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. This turned the "Shi'i Crescent" into a "Full Moon." The Nuclear Deal (2015) led to the removal of sanctions, turned Iran from "part of the problem" to part of the solution, without forcing any change in its domestic and regional behavior, and led to improvement of its international relations. The weakening of American influence, the growing Russian involvement, the emergence of ISIS, and the survival of Bashar al-Asad's regime similarly worked to its advantage, at least in the short run.

All these developments led to a more assertive Iranian regional policy, causing growing alarm among the moderate Arab/Sunni states and Israel. The prospects of Iran turning nuclear in ten years or so and the presence of Iranian forces and their proxy-allies far beyond their borders and in close proximity to countries like the Gulf States, Israel and Jordan pose a serious challenge for these states.

About the Speaker

David Menashri, Professor Emeritus Tel Aviv University (TAU), is Founding Director of the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at TAU and Senior Researcher at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at TAU. In Fall 2017, he is the Israel Institute Visiting Professor at the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and teaches the course "Iran and Israel in a Changing Middle East."

Professor Menashri founded and was the first Director of the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies, the first center of its kind in Israel (2005-2010), and the first Incumbent of the Parviz and Pouran Nazarian Chair for Modern Iranian Studies (1997-2011). He chaired the Department of Middle Eastern and African History (1996-2000) and was Dean for Special Programs (2001-2010) at TAU. Following his retirement from TAU, he has served as President of the College of Law in Ramat Gan, Israel (2011-215).

His main field of research is religion, society, and politics in modern Iran; Islamic Radicalism; the Persian Gulf; and the history of education in the Muslim world. He has authored and edited more than ten books and published numerous articles on Iran and the Middle East.

Professor Menashri is also active in numerous NGOs in Israel and abroad. He is member of the International Council of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (which received the 1995 Nobel Prize Peace), Board Member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and Chairman (since 1995) of the Maccabim Foundation for Scholarships. He was also Chairman of the International Sephardic Education Fund (ISEF) in Israel (1996-2006) and President of the Iranian Jewish Federation in Israel (1982-1992).


Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, Center for Middle East Development, Department of History, Political Science, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures