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Outside In/Inside Out: The Role of International, Domestic and Idiosyncratic Factors in British-Iranian Relations 1979-2005

TAYLOR, ARLENE (2010) Outside In/Inside Out: The Role of International, Domestic and Idiosyncratic Factors in British-Iranian Relations 1979-2005. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 16 July 2015.


This study analyses the development of British-Iranian relations during the 1979-2005 period. Using a model constructed from a combination of traditional realist international relations theory and theory derived from the sub-field known as foreign policy analysis, the study analyses the way in which a variety of factors from the international, domestic and individual levels have influenced the development of each state’s foreign policy, and therefore also their relations with each other. More specifically, on the international level, the study considers the importance of international developments and changes in the geopolitical sphere, as well as fluctuations in the oil price and ongoing considerations of energy security. Meanwhile, on the domestic level, attention is given to the influence wielded by economic considerations and constraints, societal pressures, the national character of each state and the nature of their political systems. Finally, on an individual level, the study also focuses on the extent to which the specific idiosyncratic personality characteristics of the leaders and other select individuals in positions of power have been able to condition the direction of each state’s foreign policy, in turn affecting the overall development of their relationship.

Based on the findings derived from an extensive, historically-based qualitative and quantitative analysis of British-Iranian relations, and also from interviews conducted with a select number of credible and well-placed sources involved in the British and Iranian political scene and the oil industry, the study argues that the continuity and change in British-Iranian relations during the period 1979-2005 cannot be understood solely from an international systemic level perspective, neither can it be understood solely from a domestic or individual approach. Indeed, it is argued that attempting to locate the analysis of British-Iranian relations into neat categorisation will provide only one segment of the story. Instead, the study demonstrates the way in which the confluence of all the aforementioned factors, located on all three levels, have at different times and to differing extents had a significant part to play in conditioning and shaping the development of each state’s foreign policy options and decisions, and hence also the direction and evolution of each state’s relations with the other.

Essentially, the study demonstrates the way in which the aforementioned factors influenced the evolution of Iranian foreign policy between 1979-2005: from a radically hostile and revolutionary policy under Khomeini (1979-1989), to a more pragmatic, moderate approach under Rafsanjani and new Supreme Leader Khamenei (1989-1997), an approach that continued during the era of democratic reform under Khatami (1997-2005), until finally a dramatic reversal of fortunes occurred from 2005 onwards, when the hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assumed the presidency and the Neo-Conservative faction came to fore. Since then, Iran has once again reverted back to the revolutionary populism characteristic of the initial Khomeini decade, with an accompanying foreign policy espousing radical and hostile anti-Western sentiment. Throughout this period British policy towards Iran has also evolved in a predictable sequence, from a deeply troubled relationship during 1979-1989, to a generally more cooperative, yet cautious form of engagement during the tenures of both Rafsanjani and Khatami, at which point British policy towards Iran became increasingly bound up with the wider policy of her EU partners. Since 2005 relations have once again become deeply troubled and highly unpredictable, and based on current developments, the study concludes that each of the factors highlighted within are likely to remain significant in shaping the foreign policy behaviour of both states, thereby in turn also dictating the future course of British-Iranian relations.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2010
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Jul 2010 12:33

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