From the Summary: "Iran's foreign policy is the product of many, and sometimes competing, factors: the ideology of Iran's Islamic revolution; Iranian leadership's perception of threats to the regime and to the country; long-standing Iranian national interests; and the interaction of the Iranian regime's various factions and constituencies. Some experts assert that the goal of Iran's foreign policy is to overturn a power structure in the Middle East that Iran asserts favors the United States and its allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni Muslim Arab regimes. Iran characterizes its support for Shiite and other Islamist movements as support for an 'oppressed' underclass and asserts that Saudi Arabia, in particular, is instigating sectarianism tensions to encircle and isolate Iran. Others interpret Iran's foreign policy as more practical than ideological--an attempt to protect Iran from U.S. or other efforts to invade or intimidate Iran or to change its regime. Its foreign policy might also, in some respects, represent an attempt to enhance Iran's international prestige or restore a sense of 'greatness' reminiscent of the ancient Persian empires. From 2010 until 2016, Iran's foreign policy was also intended to mitigate the effects of international sanctions on Iran."
CRS Report for Congress, R44017
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html