Iran must bear this responsibility, as it did in the past.” He noted Iran’s past as an empire, and spoke of a “greater Iran” stretching from the borders of China to the Persian Gulf.Younesi’s statements are not, of course, a failsafe guide to policy.Additionally, reaching Lebanon gives Tehran an entry point into the Israel-Arab conflict.The Iranians have invested heavily for over 30 years in their client Hizballah in Lebanon.Tehran lacks the conventional ground and air forces to project power beyond its borders.It seeks to overcome this disadvantage through the development of its ballistic missile program, and through its efforts in asymmetric conflict.In addition, Iran has an interest in a weak or subordinated Iraq.The Iranian regime fought a bloody war against Iraq in the 1980s, which forms a core formative experience for the regime.
However, the release of tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief has enabled the Iranians, who were in some danger of overstretch, to now freely commit to supporting more strongly their various allies and proxies in the Middle East.
Thus, it seems clear that Iran’s strategic goal is ultimately to build regional hegemony.
In the short term, its core goals include maintaining its domination of the space between the Iran-Iraq border and the Mediterranean as well as deterring the United States while simultaneously intimidating the Gulf states.
There are several motivating forces behind Iran’s drive to create geographical continuity in the region.
There is an obvious strategic interest for Iran in having access to the Mediterranean, which has been a feature of Iranian and Persian state policy from antiquity.