Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Professor Hicham Bou Nassif

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Daniel Hayon


As Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution was followed by a devastating war with Iraq in the 1980s, the Islamic Republic was forced to shift its strategy in the Middle East. In time, the Iranian regime has managed to expand its influence and gained multiple strategic partnerships throughout the region. My thesis seeks to answer the following question: How has Iran expanded its influence and garnered authority in the pursuit of regional hegemony in the Middle East? I first begin by providing context to Iran’s political structure and then detailing the Islamic Republic’s history of economic turmoil and challenges to regime stability. I then begin my analysis by explaining how the long-established relationship between Iran and Syria set the foundations for Iran’s anti-Western alliance known as the ‘Axis of Resistance.’ Then, I discuss a critical point in the 2003 US Invasion of Iraq that allowed Iran to topple Saddam Hussein and establish financial and ideological supremacy in Iraq. In these sections, I mirror how these two strategic relationships with Syria and Iraq in the present hold an abundance of similarities. In the following section, I will explore how Iran extended the Axis of Resistance over time through funding semi-state and non-state organizations as well as terrorist groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and Hamas in the Palestinian Territories. I will conclude by considering future threats to Iran’s expanding influence and the prospective implications of Iran’s rise in power on the Middle East.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.