Iran has harbored hegemonic aspirations for decades. Indeed, during the Shah of Iran’s reign, such hopes were encouraged by the U.S. policy of developing Iran as a regional power that would safeguard Western interests in the Persian Gulf against Soviet adventurism. The Islamic revolution that deposed the Shah, the internal upheavals that accompanied the transformation to a theocratic state, and the bloody 1981–1988 Iran-Iraq War moved them to the back burner. However, a combination of international events—the end of the Iran-Iraq War and the Cold War and the annihilation of much of the Iraqi military in 1991—and a relatively stable domestic political environment have emboldened Teheran to pursue regional hegemony once again.
One indication of Iran’s renewed quest for power is the steady rebuilding of its land and air forces. Furthermore, for the first time since the end of the country’s monarchy, the Iranian Navy is being given the resources to modernize and expand.