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Controversial Actor of the International System: Iran

The three works examined here deal with Iran’s interaction with the international system from a historical perspective and across many dimensions. While the structural and cyclical problems and opportunities between Iran and the international system are conveyed to the reader, analytical and theoretical dimensions are not ignored. However, the three works, due to their publication time, do not include recent developments that have turned the world system upside down ‒the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Russia-Ukraine crisis and the rise of China seem to have opened the door to a multi-polar world. The effects of new developments such as advances in technology, digital diplomacy, and the Metaverse on the international system are still at the level of speculation, and Iran will take steps to adapt to this new reality. The emerging, multi-polar world will also increase Iran’s maneuverability. The new international order will open up the normative sources of Iran’s foreign policy; its structure, which is determined by factional dynamics; and its geopolitical imaginations to the discussion. There is a huge gap in the literature in this regard, and new studies are needed to fill it.

Controversial Actor of the International System Iran




Iran and the International System


Edited by Anoushiravan Ehteshami and Reza Molavi

Oxford: Routledge, 2012, 240 Pages, $160, ISBN: 9780415559669


Iran in the International System:
Between Great Powers and Great Ideas


Edited by Heinz Gärtner and Mitra Shahmoradi

Oxford: Routledge, 2020, 268 Pages, $160, ISBN: 9780367194475

Iran in an Emerging New World Order:
From Ahmadinejad to Rouhani


By Ali Fathollah-Nejad

Palgrave Macmillan, 2021, 465 Pages, $100, ISBN: 9789811560743






Since the Great Game of the 19th century, Iran has been a strategic country under the scrutiny of the great powers. As a result of the weakness of its Qajar dynasty, Iran entered the sphere of influence of Britain and Russia. Since then, Iran has been trying to achieve a stable position in the international system. However, the only stable thing has been Iran’s pendulous swinging in and out of the sphere of influence of various great powers.

Before the Islamic Revolution, in the international syste

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