Control of Order in Complex Regional Networks: Iran and West Asia

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, Faculty of Law & Political Science, University of Tehran, Iran

2 A PhD Candidate in International Relations, Faculty of Law & Political Science, University of Tehran, Iran



Control of order seeks to organize the relationships and behavioral patterns of actors in the international system to reach the desired status. By changing the order, the patterns of control of order change as a consequence. The purpose of this study is to present a new framework to study an innovative model of control of order, especially in West Asia. An examination of the historical evolution of control of order in this strategic region over the past two centuries shows that the control patterns during this time period  often had central-linear forms. Notably, Iran's regional network in West Asia has experienced the most changes, crises, rise and fall of power, and diversity in patterns of order, particularly in the last two decades. The dynamics of the global and regional power structure and the simultaneity of these dynamics have greatly affected the West Asian region and created a network of complex relationships.
The main research questions are as follows: 1. Given the complexity of order in regional networks, what rules do they follow? 2. What systems do prominent regional actors use for the control of order? 3. How does Iran control order in the West Asian network? It is evident that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s control of order in the regional network in West Asia has been affected by new realities and the complexity of international order. In this regard, new developments in the global order as well as in the regional order have led to changes in the patterns of control of order, rules of control, objectives of control, actions of the key players and environmental situation. Thus, the application of the decentralized network control model is appropriate in the current situation in West Asia. We consider decentralization as the main and logical model of controlling the evolving order in West Asia. Decentralized network control model algorithms include decentralization in the system through diversity of rules, lack of full access to information, multiple solutions, increased adaptability, flexibility, creativity and innovation. This model leads to the formation of more independent actions and the creation of local controllers that manage the system by self-organization, and thus affect the control of order in the Iranian network.
In order to answer the research questions, the authors present the complex networks as a theoretical framework of the order control model in Iran’s network. The theoretical framework is built around the complex networks theory which is based on a set of rules of complexity and network theory. The most important rules that shape network control are power in the form of relationships, and nonlinearity. The combination of the rules of these two theories will make it possible to study dynamic processes and evolving topologies simultaneously. The authors try to find the answers to the emerging realities in the control of the West Asian order on the assumption that the existing studies on this topic are incapable of reasonably addressing them. The method used starts from a set of accepted facts and provides the most likely, or the best explanations. The developments at the international system in the time period under investigation (i.e., the end of the Cold War to 2010) show a complex set of events arising from the evolving situations in the system which would bring important changes to the control of order. The key evolving trends in the world and West Asia include simultaneous emergence of the new global and regional actors, the occurrence of new crises, simultaneous divergence and convergence of internal elements of order control, and divergence at the level of external elements of order control in the region.
By studying global and regional complexities simultaneously, it can be seen that order in West Asia has become networked. Networking has changed the order of the linear control model to the decentralized network control model. Notably, in a decentralized network model, the most important principle in network control is decentralization. In order to implement the decentralized network control model in Iran’s network of influence in West Asia, the following strategies were recommended: Generating diversity in value-driven advocacy networks, developing issue-driven advocacy networks, and finally creating substitution networks, hedging networks, and mediation networks


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