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The Islamic Republic of Iran's ongoing nuclear programme has provoked a major and menacing crisis in its relations with the US and other Western powers. Ali Ansari, a Briton of Iranian origin, argues that the crisis is a symptom of broader, long-term fissures in US-Iranian relations, and in Confronting Iran he seeks to disentangle the myths that are at the bottom of this gulf in understanding which is compounded by the nature of the two states, their foreign policy establishments and the fraught history of their relations since the 1979 revolution. Ansari reviews the historical antecedents of the crisis, in particular US-Iranian relations since 9/11 and attempts by the EU to broker a settlement acceptable to all parties. He argues that the European position has been dictated as much by its relations with the US in the wake of the invasion of Iraq as by domestic politics in Iran, and he concludes by assessing the election of Mahmud Ahmadinejad as President and its likely impact on the view from Tehran and Washington. This account of a potential flashpoint in relations between the Muslim world and the West could t be more timely.
Ali M. Ansari is Reader in Modern History with reference to the Middle East at the University of St Andrews, and Associate Fellow of the Middle East programme with reference to Iran at Chatham House, London. He is the author of The History of Modern Iran since 1921 (2003).