Iran: Internal Politics and Global Ambitions

December 10, 2010 — Dr. Ray Takeyh joined us for a discussion on recent political developments in Iran, the current round of multilateral negotiations and the future of U.S.-Iran relations.  Dr. Takeyh is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.  He previously served as senior adviser to the special adviser for the Gulf and Southwest Asia at the U.S. Department of State, and he is the author of The Guardians of the Revolution: Iran’s Approach to the World (2009). 

Dr. Takeyh opened the discussion with some brief remarks about the recent multilateral negotiations which took place in Geneva.  He noted that while bringing Iran to the negotiating table may appear to be a positive step; however, in reality, Iran’s nuclear proliferation agenda, and internal political ambitions, benefit from a prolonged negotiation process.  First, Iran seldom concedes any ground and often breaks its promises.  Second, negotiations are almost always preceded by a sustained period of human rights abuses and oppression of opposition groups within Iran. 

The economic sanctions favored by the United States are largely ineffective and pressures the wrong people according to Dr. Takeyh.  He suggested that political pressure should be favored and compared the situation to that of the Cold War and its ideological struggle.  He believes that Iran’s Green Movement is significantly more vibrant than many of the Eastern European movements of the Cold War.  In summation, Dr. Takeyh indicated that Iran’s internal difficulties could begin to fracture the current regime if the Green Movement can receive the slightest bit of external support. 

The question and answer period addressed a number of issues including the internal politics of Iran, as well as the role of regional actors and the international community.  There was discussion on the impact isolation has had on education and economic development within Iran, and whether the current regime can be successful in those areas given its ideology.  There was a question posed about the role of Turkey in the negotiating process and its relationship with Iran, and what affect Iran will have on the future stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Finally, the discussion ended on the role of U.S. policymakers moving forward. 

Security for a New Century is a bipartisan study group for Congress. We meet regularly with U.S. and international policy professionals to discuss the post-Cold War and post-9/11 security environment. All discussions are off-the-record. It is not an advocacy venue. For more information, please call Mark Yarnell at (202) 224-7560 or write to [email protected].

This event is part of the Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran briefing series in partnership with the U.S. Institute of Peace.


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