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Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies

Expertise

Iran; Persian Gulf and U.S. foreign policy.

Bio

Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). His areas of specialization are Iran, political reform in the Middle East, and Islamist movements and parties.

Prior to joining CFR, Takeyh was senior advisor on Iran at the Department of State. He was previously a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Takeyh is the coauthor of The Pragmatic Superpower: Winning the Cold War in the Middle East (W. W. Norton, 2016) and is the author of three previous books, Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs (Oxford University Press, 2009), Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic (Henry Holt, 2006), and The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine: The US, Britain and Nasser's Egypt, 19531957 (St. Martin's Press, 2000). He has also written more than 250 articles and opinion pieces in many news outlets including Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

Takeyh has testified more than twenty times in various congressional committees and has appeared on PBS Newshour, Charlie Rose, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, BBC, FOX, and CSPAN.

Takeyh has a doctorate in modern history from Oxford University.

Languages:

Persian (fluent); Arabic (working knowledge)

Featured Publications

Book

The Pragmatic Superpower

Authors: Ray Takeyh and Steven Simon

In The Pragmatic Superpower, Ray Takeyh and Steven Simon reframe the legacy of U.S. involvement in the Arab world from 1945 to 1991 and shed new light on the makings of the contemporary Middle East. Cutting against conventional wisdom, the authors argue that, when an inexperienced Washington entered the turbulent world of Middle Eastern politics, it succeeded through hardheaded pragmatism—and secured its place as a global superpower.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; United States; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Book

Guardians of the Revolution

Author: Ray Takeyh

For over a quarter-century, Iran has been one of America's chief nemeses. But as Ray Takeyh shows in this accessible and authoritative history of Iran's relations with the world since the revolution, behind the famous personalities and extremist slogans is a nation that is far more pragmatic—and complex—than many in the West have been led to believe.

See more in Iran; Politics and Strategy

All Publications

Op-Ed

Could Iran Be Following a Soviet Model Toward Downfall?

Author: Ray Takeyh
Wall Street Journal

Overall, the landscape of Iran suggests few reasons for optimism: The Islamic Republic has negotiated an advantageous arms-control agreement, and the accord looks likely to survive opposition in the U.S. Congress. Tehran’s regime represses its citizens and has embarked on an expansion of its influence from the Persian Gulf to the banks of the Mediterranean. 

See more in Iran; United States; Treaties and Agreements

Op-Ed

Iran Deal Needs Strengthening

Author: Ray Takeyh
Miami Herald

On August 5, President Obama took to the podium at American University to justify his controversial nuclear pact with Iran. The location was chosen with seeming care, as over five decades earlier, John F. Kennedy delivered a key speech at the same Washington school calling for arms control agreements with another adversary, the Soviet Union.

 

See more in Iran; United States; Treaties and Agreements

Testimony

Iran and the New Middle East in the Aftermath of the Nuclear Agreement

Author: Ray Takeyh

In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Ray Takeyh argues that there is precedent for Congress turning down agreements until a better draft is negotiated as in the case of arms control deals between the United States and the Soviet Union. Given the role Congress plays in ensuring that the United States negotiates the best possible agreement, it should aim to do no less with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

See more in Iran; Weapons of Mass Destruction; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament

Op-Ed

On Iran, Congress Should Just Say No

Authors: Ray Takeyh and Eric Edelman
Washington Post

While no agreement is perfect, the scale of imperfection of the Iran nuclear deal is so great that it is imperative to renegotiate a more stringent one, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh with former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman. To do so, Congress must reject the deal and push the United States and Iran to return to the table.

See more in Iran; United States; Treaties and Agreements

Op-Ed

The Unavoidable Contradiction in Striking a Nuclear Deal With Iran

Author: Ray Takeyh
Wall Street Journal

The U.S. and Iran are struggling to conclude what could be one of the most permissive arms-control agreements in history. Defenders of a deal insist that the U.S. could still hold Iran accountable for its pernicious policies, regardless of an accord. Such assurances miss the point that maintenance of an arms-control agreement is inconsistent with a coercive policy.

See more in Iran; United States; Treaties and Agreements

Op-Ed

The Payoff for Iran

Author: Ray Takeyh
Washington Post

The massive financial gains from a nuclear deal would enable Iran’s imperial ambitions in a fracturing Middle East, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh. At the same time, the Islamic Republic would invest the money in consolidating the power of a repressive regime.

See more in Iran; United States; Treaties and Agreements

Testimony

Evaluating Key Components of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran

Author: Ray Takeyh

In his testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ray Takeyh argues that before the impending nuclear agreement with Iran places Tehran inches away from the bomb, the United States should insist on additional parameters to assure that the deal will be an advantageous one for the international community.

See more in Iran; Weapons of Mass Destruction; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament

Op-Ed

Analyzing Khamenei's Criticism of the Iran Nuclear Framework Deal

Author: Ray Takeyh
Wall Street Journal

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s demand that all sanctions must be lifted in exchange for an agreement indicates that Iran’s top decision-maker may not be involved in the negotiation process, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh. In that case, there is little value in the agreement and little faith that Iran would fulfill its obligations.

See more in Iran; United States; Treaties and Agreements

Article

How Iran Can Game the Deal

Author: Ray Takeyh
Politico Magazine

The numerous concessions to Iran in the framework agreement means that the Islamic Republic should be able to manufacture bombs on short notice after the sunset clause expires, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh. Nevertheless, the Iran deal is not beyond repair and the United States needs to address the deficiencies of the accord in the coming months to close all remaining holes.

See more in Iran; United States; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Op-Ed

In Yemen Strikes, Signs of Saudi Arabia's Foreign Policy Shift

Author: Ray Takeyh
Wall Street Journal

The Saudi-led military incursion into Yemen signals a major shift in Saudi policy toward the region, one more suited for a post-American phase, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh. Perceiving that they are unable to reliably depend upon support from the United States, Saudi Arabia is adopting a more independent and aggressive policy to ensure its security.

See more in Yemen; Saudi Arabia; Conflict Assessment

Press/Panels

Video Interview

Charlie Rose: Analyzing Netanyahu's Speech

CFR's Ray Takeyh joins the Brooking Institute's Tamar Cofman Wittes on Charlie Rose to discuss Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress with the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg.

Watch

Radio Interview

NPR: Tensions With Iran, Center Stage at the UN

Neal Conan of Talk of the Nation interviews Ray Takeyh about Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech before the sixty-seventh United Nations General Assembly.