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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Succession Crisis in Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces

While it took the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps less than 24 hours to replace Major General Qassim Suleimani, Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces is suffering more from its leadership succession woes.

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Iran’s Patient Zero: The Islamic Republic

Strategic relations with China, domestic political considerations, and religious taboos all prevented an earlier and more effective response by the Iranian government toward the country's coronavirus crisis.

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Khamenei’s New Parliament: Cohesive, But Unrepresentative

The supreme leader’s engineering of Iran's parliamentary elections may help the regime to manage the multiple crises it is facing. But there will be consequences for narrowing the circle of the ruling elites and restricting the path for political participation for Iranian citizens.

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U.S.-Iranian Tensions: The Iranian Regime

Ali Alfoneh discusses the Islamic Republic's strategic options following the killing of Quds Force commander Major General Qassim Suleimani.

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Who is the New Chief Commander of Iran’s Quds Force?

Under the leadership of Brigadier General Ismail Qaani, there is likely to be greater continuity than change in the Quds Force.

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The Fractured Bureaucracy Behind Tehran’s Response to November Protests

Iran's supreme leader demanded the establishment of a "war room" to safeguard the regime against economic pressure from the United States. This left politicians and bureaucracies engaged in a blame game as the Islamic Republic faced mass protest.

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The Supreme Leader’s Perilous Crisis Management

As supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cannot exonerate himself from the government’s decision to adjust the fuel price, and as commander in chief, he must shoulder responsibility for the deaths, injuries, and arrests of protesters.

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Iran’s November Protests in Perspective

As long as U.S. sanctions are in place, Iran is likely to encounter more unrest. How the recent crisis compares to earlier crises in the Islamic Republic may provide insights into the regime’s behavior in future protests.

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Tehran Unveils New Approach to Information Warfare

Recent protests provided the Islamic Republic with an opportunity to test drive an internet blackout and the Iranian intranet.