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.

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Can the Islamic Republic Survive Economic Collapse?

Under the weight of the United States' “maximum pressure” campaign, Iran is inching toward economic collapse. But this does not necessarily entail the collapse of the political order.

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Iran Reactivates Fordow Uranium Enrichment Center

Reactivating the Fordow uranium enrichment center is neither the first nor the last countermeasure of Tehran’s against Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign.

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Iran’s Imperial Overreach

As anti-government protests spread like wildfire threatening the Islamic Republic’s allies and proxies, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei faces a dilemma: use Iran’s scarce resources to stabilize regional protests or leave them to their own devices and risk a fight with the IRGC.

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Tehran’s Strategy: Heroic Flexibility, Strategic Patience, or Active Resistance?

Iran's political factions appear to have their own distinct perceptions of the Trump administration’s Iran policy and try hard to take advantage of that policy in their factional struggle for power.

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Political Succession in the Islamic Republic of Iran

In this video, Ali Alfoneh discusses how theocracy is evolving into a military dictatorship led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

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Political Succession in the Islamic Republic of Iran: The Rise of the Revolutionary Guards

The political dynamics during the transitions in Iran in 1979 and 1989 reveal a number of similar features that will play into who will succeed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; what is new now is the role the IRGC is playing in the factional power struggle.

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The War in Syria is Transforming the IRGC into an Expeditionary Force

The metamorphosis of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps into an expeditionary force as a result of the Syrian war bodes ill for the United States and its allies in the Middle East, who will likely encounter a more confrontational Islamic Republic in the future.

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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.