Systemic pressures are filtered through domestic processes, explaining the conversion from possible – the range of feasible outcomes shaped by power – to actual choices. Three intervening variables matter: status, identity and factional politics. There is a discrepancy, first, between Iran’s aspiration to regional power status and its perception that the status ascribed to it is unbecoming of what it believes is its rightful place in the regional order, it suffers from a status discrepancy. This is a source of revisionism, but remains indeterminate. To achieve greater specificity, the second variable consists of the Iranian regime’s rejectionist identity, which specifies Iran’s interests by ranking alternatives and shaping decisions. The balance of power among regime factions – the third intervening variable – constantly evolves but remains within the parameters of the Islamic Republic’s identity. That is, power, aspirations and identity shape an increasingly precise set of options, bargaining among factions subsequently determines which are selected.
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