Two to tango: Why Iran turns dance partners into enemies
Christian Science Monitor

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has rebuffed a string of potential allies from Canada to Britain and now Russia. Why? An outside enemy helps revolutionary regimes consolidate power.

On the diplomatic balance sheet, Iran and Russia should be best friends.

Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power reactor – a $1 billion project. It signed a contract to provide S-300 air defense missiles to Tehran. And as Iran's diplomatic isolation enters its fourth decade, Moscow stands out as a past defender of the Islamic Republic that can veto sanctions.

And yet, Iran-Russian relations have soured, with Russia now likely to support new United Nations sanctions against Iran – the latest in a string of examples of Tehran turning potential allies into enemies since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

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"As they say, 'It takes two to tango,' and in the case of Iran, it has shown again and again that it doesn't know how to dance," says Mehrzad Boroujerdi, an Iran specialist at Syracuse University, who sums up the past 30 years of Iranian diplomacy as "statecraft by trial and error."

The result in key cases has been turning off, angering, or provoking potential friends from the slim list of countries that have sought to engage Tehran. While the specifics have varied from Canada to Britain and now Russia, the pattern is familiar. To divert the attention of critics at home – a task that became nearly impo... >>>

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