Among the countries in the Middle East, Iran has one of the longest histories and strongest identities as a separate nation, with its own culture and traditions. Throughout the centuries, its leaders have shown a willingness to endure great costs to repel foreign invaders and maintain Iran’s identity. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 led to a religious dictatorship that has used its militias to crack down on internal dissent, in recent years most visibly during protests of the disputed presidential election of 2009. Concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program has led to the intensification of Western economic sanctions, which have had a debilitating effect on Iran’s economy. They have also led to threats by Israel to launch a preemptive airstrike on Iran.

Historical Background

Throughout most of its ...

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