GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES

Iran Aspires to a Former Glory

MIN READDec 27, 2017 | 09:15 GMT

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's chief foreign policy adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, oversees an agreement between the University of Aleppo in Syria and Iran's Islamic Azad University in November 2017. Syria is a key component in Iran's foreign policy strategy to extend its influence across the Arab world.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's chief foreign policy adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, oversees an agreement between the University of Aleppo in Syria and Iran's Islamic Azad University in November 2017. Syria figures prominently in Iran's foreign policy strategy to extend its influence across the Arab world.

(GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Since Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Empire in 625 B.C., Iran has stayed true to its imperial identity. Even the architects of the 1979 Iranian Revolution kept the country's ambitions to build a new empire alive, albeit with an Islamic political spin. In a 2014 essay in Foreign Affairs, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif left no room for doubt about the Islamic republic's aspirations for "a prominent regional and global role." And still today, the leaders of the country constantly remind foreign officials about its claim to cultural exceptionalism. Iran's leaders genuinely believe their state has emerged as one of the world's most powerful countries thanks to its perseverance and steadfastness, an attitude that comes across unmistakably in Iranian foreign policy....

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