Shadow Networks: Evaluating Iranian Transnational Policy in Latin America

By Reed Blakemore

Abstract: Despite international isolation, Iran has developed a transnational network at diplomatic and sub-state levels in Latin America to pursue its core objectives of subverting international sanctions and gaining international influence. Amid negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, however, whether such activity will continue must be evaluated. This paper analyzes the different degrees of achievement these operations have on Iranian objectives as a function of positive effects against active and emerging limitations. It then reviews the policy options Tehran has at its disposal moving forward. The paper concludes that although Iranian objectives are in the process of being achieved, Iran is likely to adopt a “wait-and-see” policy, as rapprochement with the global community, though uncertain, offers the opportunity to more fully achieve Iranian objectives. Such evidence has serious implications for U.S. regional policy, and should play into how officials interpret Iranian grand strategy as the P5+1 proceeds with negotiations.

About the Author: Reed Blakemore is a first-year student at the Elliott School of International Affairs Security Policy Studies Program, with concentrations in Transnational Security and Defense Analysis. He received his B.A. in International Relations from the University of Redlands. He has a background in Middle East security, sub-state conflict, and European Union security policy. Reed currently works as a research intern at the International Institute for Strategic Studies-United States.

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