Iran’s Syrian Foreign Policy Objectives
Iran’s revolutionary history, antagonism toward the West, and threatening regional postures suggest a “constructivist” foreign policy interpretation, emphasizing irrational Islamist zeal. Yet Iran’s external actions are inconsistent. Iran had categorically defended President Bashar al-Assad as part of the “axis of resistance.” This chapter reflects on incumbent President Rouhani’s efforts to redirect Iran’s priorities, easing tensions with the West through nuclear negotiations alongside exploring a shift on Syria. Yet conservative critics, a hostile international environment, and competing power centers constrained major policy changes. Domestic pressure and diplomatic setbacks stymied Rouhani’s approach, reinforcing familiar ideological foundations. While Iran’s foreign policy may not be immutable, change may only be possible when favorable internal and external factors relax the ideological framework within which policy is designed and carried out.