Ali Alfoneh

Senior Fellow

Ali Alfoneh is a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. He is the author of Iran Unveiled: How the Revolutionary Guards are Transforming Iran from Theocracy into Military Dictatorship, published by AEI Press in April 2013.

Alfoneh grew up in Tehran but moved to Denmark with his family in 1988. He served as an elected member of the Herlev City Council from 1994-98 (Social Democrats). His professional experience includes various positions at the Press and Information Office of Federation of Danish Industries, the parliamentary group of the Social Democratic Party of Denmark, a lectureship in political economy at the University of Southern Denmark from 2003-04, and a research fellowship at the Institute for Strategy at the Royal Danish Defence College from 2004-06. Alfoneh worked as a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute from 2007-13 and as a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies from 2013-16. Since 2016, Alfoneh has worked as the main Iran analyst for The Arab Weekly, and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council.

Alfoneh is a political scientist by training and holds a BA and an MA from the University of Copenhagen. He speaks Persian, Danish, English, and reads German.

Alfoneh’s current research on political succession in contemporary Iran is generously funded by the Smith Richardson Foundation.

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Limited Iranian Losses in Iraq Do Not Indicate Lesser Strategic Interest

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps only suffered 43 losses during the fight against ISIL in Iraq. But this is not a sign that Tehran lacks an interest in Iraqi affairs.

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The Heavy Price of Lebanese Hezbollah’s Military Engagement in Syria

Hezbollah has paid a heavy price to secure the survival of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which also secures Hezbollah’s overland lifeline to Tehran.

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Iran’s Support of Iraqi Shia Militias Ensures Dependency and Loyalty

CENTCOM’s release of interrogation reports of Qais al-Khazali and a survey of combat fatalities shed new light on Iran’s relationship with Shia militias in Iraq.

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Fractured Iraqi Shia Militias in Syria

In the midst of the civil war in Iraq, and as ISIL was threatening the central government in Baghdad, why were Iraqi Shias prioritizing Syria instead of defending Baghdad?

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Rouhani, the IRGC, and Negotiations with Washington

The war of words between Washington and Tehran is giving way to a more conciliatory tone, including even hints at direct and unconditional talks between the two capitals, even while U.S.

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Iran: Neither Bread nor Freedom

On July 31, the Islamic Republic was once again shaken by rallies beginning in Gohardasht, in Alborz province, and Isfahan, the third largest city in Iran, as Iranians took to the streets to protest rising prices.

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Four Decades in the Making: Shia Afghan Fatemiyoun Division of the Revolutionary Guards

Iran has provided support to Shia and Sunni Afghan militants for four decades, increasing its presence to fill the power vacuum.

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Using Syria as a Training Ground: The Case of the Pakistani Zeinabiyoun Brigade

The Zeinabiyoun Brigade remains one of the least known and most understudied foreign Shia militias operating in Syria.

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Tehran’s Expendable Yemenis

Somewhere in Iran’s holy city of Qom the Islamic Republic is educating the next generation of Muslim revolutionaries: young people from all over the world lured to Iran by a mixture of idealism, adventure, and opportunism.

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Tehran Will Fight Hard to Keep Iraq in Its Sphere of Influence

There was a time when Iran’s Major General Qassim Suleimani, chief of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was the ultimate kingmaker in Iraqi politics.