The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran has significantly shaped and impacted developments in the Near and Middle East and inspired the regional rise of Shia Islam. Iran's Islamic government has consistently played a leading role in promoting anti-Western and anti-American sentiments within the global context of Islamic radicalization. It is imperative, therefore, that United States government officials more fully understand the role of religion in Iran's approach to international relations. This thesis topic fulfills a specific and important knowledge gap in understanding Iran's religious beliefs as trigger points for strategic actions against the United States. In particular, this research examines Iran's religious tools and sacred carriers as potential triggers in the form of individual leaders, end-times beliefs, religious traditions, or divine justifications. It explores Iran's end-times beliefs, to include how the earth will be governed before the Day of Judgment, and the extent to which these millenarian beliefs might affect the regime’s actions. Using primary source documents from Iran's most influential contemporary leaders, this research project revealed three major narratives that are central to the self-preservation of the Iranian regime: 1) establishing a government representing true or pure Islam; 2) protecting the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Revolution; and 3) fighting oppression and imperialism. These narratives serve as the backdrop to understanding Iran's religious options—the sacred carriers and tools—that could play a key role in future Iranian aggression directed at the United States.
Security Studies (Homeland Security and Defense)
Naval Postgraduate School
Master of Arts in Security Studies (Homeland Security and Defense)
National Security Affairs
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