AGSIW experts explain what regional trends they’ll be following most closely as the year unfolds.
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.
Ali Alfoneh discusses the Islamic Republic's strategic options following the killing of Quds Force commander Major General Qassim Suleimani.
Under the leadership of Brigadier General Ismail Qaani, there is likely to be greater continuity than change in the Quds Force.
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.
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.
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.
Recent protests provided the Islamic Republic with an opportunity to test drive an internet blackout and the Iranian intranet.
Iran’s leadership has for years downplayed the impact of sanctions on the economy. Now that President Hassan Rouhani and the regime are compelled to make economic adjustments, they are facing predictable public anger and protests for which they were unprepared.
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.
Reactivating the Fordow uranium enrichment center is neither the first nor the last countermeasure of Tehran’s against Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign.