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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Strategic Partnership Agreement With China Represents Lifeline for Iran

The Iran-China agreement appears as a framework for cooperation. Its realization depends on external factors over which Iran has no influence.

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What Iran’s Military Journals Reveal About the Role of Missiles in Strategic Deterrence

A pilot survey of Imam Hussein University academic journals shows the limits of academic freedom in the Islamic Republic, save a few pieces reflecting the Iranian leadership’s view of the role of missiles in strategic deterrence.

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Constants in Iran’s Security Policy Under the Pahlavi Regime and the Islamic Republic

Survival supersedes ideology, and the ruling elites of the Islamic Republic find themselves adhering to the constants in security policy of a predecessor they vilify.

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What Iran’s Military Journals Reveal About the Goals of the Quds Force

A pilot survey of the complete series of two journals published by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Imam Hussein University provides valuable information about the internal deliberations of the Quds Force.

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Rare Criticism of IRGC Rooted in Iran’s Military Rivalry

The regime-instigated and nurtured rivalry between the army and the IRGC has reached a point where it undermines the regime.

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The Quds Force After Suleimani

Under its new leadership, the Quds Force is no longer a popular mobilization force but commands a multinational Shia army and remains the dominant force within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

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Keep Your Enemies Closer: Iran and the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue

While the long-term objective of Tehran may well be to expel all great powers from the Middle East, in the short term, Iran benefits from the U.S. presence in Iraq.

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Iran’s Missile Program Delivers Both Triumph and Tragedy

The Iranian friendly fire incident that killed 19 Iranian sailors on May 10 points to the inconsistencies of the regime’s leadership and makes one of its sources of pride into a liability.

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The Art of the Possible: Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s Cabinet

Mustafa al-Kadhimi seems to have succeeded where his predecessors mostly failed, forming a Cabinet mainly composed of technocrats, academics, and respected national military figures.

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"The Lesser of Two Evils”: Quds Force Commentary on Iraq’s Prime Minister-Designate

For reasons of self-interest, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force officers are trying to persuade Iran's Iraq allies to support Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi.