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Sectarianism in Iran foreign policy

Deniz, Nazlı Gül
This thesis aims to understand the explanatory power of sectarianism regarding the international politics of the Middle East, with a specific focus on Iran's foreign policy. The findings of this study are as follows: Iran as a main "Shia power", uses any kind of identities beside Shi'ism if it fits into its agenda, however, it does not pursue a sectarian foreign policy. It has been following pragmatic policies according to its national interests largely free from religion. Iranian foreign policies that support other Shia groups or communities in the Middle East like Hezbollah or Iraqi Shias are not implicitly influenced by religious norms and affinities. Accordingly, the study addresses those policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which confute the sectarian explanations in international relations. Another aim of this work is to question the idea of Shia Crescent, whether such a religious coalition is trying to be created by Iran; why, and for whom it is "created". For this aim, the thesis analyzes the discourse through a critical approach and sees it as a securitization discourse as framed by the Copenhagen School. To have a deeper understanding of sectarianist explanations on Iran's foreign policy, in the last part of the work, Iran's foreign policy towards the Syrian Civil War is studied as a critical case.