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Iran's Arc of Influence

Iran’s domain in the Middle East stretches from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. It maintains this arc of influence through its use of militant proxies, political agents and economic relationships, fending off challenges to its power from Sunni rivals in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Iran’s nuclear program, meanwhile, will continue to test relations with the West. But for all the program’s controversy, it is unlikely to spark a serious confrontation with the United States — Iran will instead leverage its control of the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly 20 percent of all globally traded crude oil passes. In fact, some of the biggest challenges to Iranian power will come not from without but from within as new generations of Iranians drift further from the religious principles — principles guarded by the still-strong clerical elite — on which the revolution was founded.

For all the Iran nuclear program’s controversy, it is unlikely to spark a serious confrontation with the United States — Iran will instead leverage its control of the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly 20 percent of all globally traded crude oil passes.
(BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
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    A general view for the GCC leaders meeting in Kuwait City on Dec. 5, 2017. Things have been tense in the bloc since Saudi Arabia and some GCC peers' started a campaign to isolate Qatar over differences in regional policies. Of course, the GCC has been beset by internal squabbles among its six members -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- since its inception.
    The determination to stop Iran from following North Korea's lead in developing nuclear weapons could end up pushing Tehran back on a nuclear path.
    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman poses for a picture at a meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition in Riyadh.
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