- Research Programs
- Regions & Topics
- All Publications
A nation must think before it acts.
Access the Winter 2021 issue of Orbis here
From its inception in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has functioned as a traditional state and an exporter of the Islamist revolution, a formula promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Creating the revolutionary export narrative and calling on Shia Muslims to dominate the Middle East was one thing. Implementing this policy was another, as the regime—hobbled by a weak economy and a devastating war with Iraq—had few resources to spread its influence and take on its enemies. With traditional warfare out of the equation, Iranian leaders decided to mobilize the Shiite minorities to create the Axis of Resistance using tactics that later become known as fourth-generation warfare (4GW). Iran, still subject to overwhelming sanctions led by the United States and facing better armed opponents in Israel and Saudi Arabia, has intensified its proxy warfare in the twenty-first century.