Iran and the challenges to Middle East security

June 12, 2009 | 00:00

Iran and the challenges to Middle East security

Anthony H. Cordesman and Adam C. Seitz, CSIS

Iran presents a wide range of potential challenges to the security of the Middle East. This does not mean that Iran plans to start new conflicts in the region or will actively seek to achieve its objectives by force. At the same time, however, Iran is actively seeking to expand its influence, and is now the most serious threat to the security of energy exports in the Gulf region.

While much of the world has focused on Iran’s missile developments, and possible nuclear capabilities, this is only one of the risks that threaten the flow of petroleum products from the Gulf – a region with some 60% of the world’s proven conventional oil reserves and 40% of its natural gas. Iran is developing capabilities that pose more immediate threats in terms of asymmetric warfare, ties to non-state actors and terrorist groups, and links to Lebanon, Syria, and other states with large Shi’ite populations.
The Burke Chair at CSIS has developed a new briefing that provides an overview of these developments in Iran that examines current trends and highlights the strategic geography involved. This brief looks beyond Gulf waters and examines the problems created by Iran’s ties to other states and non-state actors throughout the region. It highlights Iran’s missile and nuclear developments, conventional war fighting forces, and capabilities for asymmetric warfare, but it also examines the threat that its ties to non-state actors and terrorist groups could play in the Gulf and greater Middle East.

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