Iran, proud and passionate, has been a conundrum since its 1979 revolution. It stunned the world by introducing Islam as a form of modern governance. It rattled the region by exporting its zealous ideology; it sired or sponsored militant allies from Lebanon to the Gulf. It also unnerved both East and West by defiantly challenging international norms. For decades, a confluence of challenges—political and cultural repression, menacing rhetoric, and defiance over its nuclear program—complicated dealing with the Islamic Republic. The patterns of Iran’s nearly four-decade revolution—whether in domestic politics, foreign policy, the economy, or social sphere—have often been determined by the dominant political faction of the day. Iran’s revolution has passed through at least five phases.
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