On January 9, AGSIW hosted a virtual roundtable with its leadership and scholars as they looked ahead and assessed trends likely to shape the Gulf region and U.S. foreign policy during the coming year.
Senior Fellow, AGSIW
Ali Alfoneh is a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. He is a political scientist by training and the originator of the theory of transformation of the Islamic Republic into a military dictatorship. Alfoneh first put forward the theory in the spring 2006 edition of Udenrigs, journal of The Danish Foreign Policy Society. In the United States since 2007, Alfoneh advanced the theory in a series of essays published by the American Enterprise Institute culminating in Iran Unveiled: How the Revolutionary Guards are Transforming Iran from Theocracy into Military Dictatorship published by AEI Press in April 2013. He is also the author of Political Succession in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Demise of the Clergy and the Rise of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (2020).
Alfoneh also created AGSIW’s Iran Media Review, a twice-weekly publication that monitors, translates, and reviews critical Persian-language media sources identifying important developments and trends in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Subscribe to receive the Iran Media Review Recap.
AGSIW hosted a virtual private roundtable with its leadership and scholars as they looked ahead and assessed trends likely to shape the Gulf region and U.S. foreign policy during the coming year.
Targeted assassinations of skilled engineers, seasoned commanders, and intelligence operatives are no doubt taking a toll on the IRGC and the Quds Force but not enough for Iran to reconsider its attempt at containing the perceived threat from Israel.
While no immediate threat to the Islamic Republic’s survival, the gradual shrinking of the ruling elites presents a long-term threat to the regime in Iran.
AGSIW experts explain the regional trends they’ll be following most closely as the year unfolds.
Quds Force chief Brigadier General Ismail Qaani is likely to be succeeded by his deputy, but the role Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Fallahzadeh currently plays in the organization remains obscure.
Reports on Hezbollah’s fatalities provide some insight into the structure of Hezbollah’s military units and strengthen the perception of a relatively low risk of the war expanding into Lebanon.
If history is any indication, the latest ISIL attack in Iran may serve to rally Iranians around the flag against a terrorist enemy and even strengthen the regime.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei presumably wants to choose his successor, but he cannot publicly name one without creating a rival undermining his own authority.
Brigadier General Ismail Qaani’s public remarks offer some insights into the fundamental tenets of his thinking and ability to deal with delicate political problems, however they do not reveal Suleimani-style coded messages to the United States and Israel.
Iran and its allies appear to be engaged in symbolic actions against Israeli and U.S. forces rather than openly provoking a war, but these theatrics still risk igniting a regional war all involved parties want to avoid.
While there are ways Hezbollah could become involved in the Israel-Hamas conflict, neither Hezbollah nor Iran appears interested in a wider regional war.