This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals
The contemporary Middle East is torn between two major ideologies of Shiism and Sunnism, which occasionally undermine the norm of sovereignty of the modern international society. Behind this, stands two rivals—Iran and Saudi Arabia—that make use of proxy wars in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Iraq as a strategy in advancing their respective ideologies. My paper argues that at the regional level, a culture of rivalry similar to that of the Cold War has been taking place between Iran and Saudi Arabia since the fall of Saddam in 2003. This culture is thicker and overrides the global international institution of sovereignty accounting for inconsistencies in the foreign policies of Iran as well as proxy wars with Saudi Arabia. I adhere to the English School’s theoretical framework to illustrate the tension between the regional institution of rivalry and the global international institution of sovereignty. At the regional and global interstate levels, Iran conforms to the institutions of international society, which are heavily influenced by the rationalist tradition, while at the regional interstate, transnational and inter-human levels, traces of realism combined with revolutionism are more prevalent. By utilizing discourse analysis as a method, I examine the speeches of Iranian statesmen to comprehend the inconsistencies in Iran’s foreign policies. In addition, I scrutinize news articles and related documents to determine the interplay of realism, rationalism and revolutionism in the rhetoric and practice of Iranian foreign policy.