Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies


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


Middle East Program

Featured Publications


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


Sanctions: Strategy, Implementation and Enforcement

Author: Ray Takeyh

In his testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, Ray Takeyh discusses the conflicting priorities of Iran's Supreme Leader. Khamenei needs America as an enemy and a robust nuclear infrastructure to legitimize his rule. Yet, these enmities only further erode his economy and potentially threaten his hold on power.

See more in Iran; Sanctions

First Take

Libya's Quixotic Despot Meets His End

Author: Ray Takeyh

In four decades of rule, Qaddafi chased doomed adventures that isolated his regime from Arabs and the world. Libyans now have a chance to recast their state and reintegrate with their region, says CFR's Ray Takeyh.

See more in Libya


Doubling Down on Iran

Authors: Kenneth M. Pollack and Ray Takeyh
The Washington Quarterly

Kenneth M. Pollack and Ray Takeyh state, ""... it is time to appreciate that the only manner of inducing meaningful change in the Islamic Republic's behavior without the resort to war is to otherwise imperil its very existence."

See more in Proliferation; United States; Iran


The March Toward a Nuclear Iran

Author: Ray Takeyh
Washington Post

Ray Takeyh argues that despite economic sanctions and other attempts to curtail technological development in Iran, its nuclear program has grown in sophistication and capability over the past two decades.

See more in Iran; Proliferation

Current Projects

Past Projects

Symposium on Iran and Policy Options for the Next Administration

Staff: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
September 5, 2008—8:30 am to 1:30 pm

On September 5, 2008, the Council on Foreign Relations convened some of the country's top experts on Iran. Over the course of three sessions, the symposium sought to understand Iran as a global player and identify policy options for the next U.S. administration.

This symposium was made possible through the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Roundtable on the U.S. and Middle East

Director: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
February 1, 2007—Present

The United States is faced with an array of serious challenges in the Middle East, perhaps unprecedented in the past fifty years. An attempt to provoke a revolutionary change in the Middle East has collapsed with a large U.S. land army lodged in the heart of the region. The United States now confronts a Middle East that features an imploding Iraqi state, an aggressive Islamic Republic about to cross the nuclear threshold and a Palestinian state broken into two failed entities.

The Roundtable on the U.S. and Middle East will seek to develop strategies for the next administration. Should the United States attempt to recoup its position by pressing forward, albeit more prudently and with international cooperation, or should the United States go "back to the future," and place "stability over freedom," to use President Bush's phrase? Is it time to create an alliance with Sunnis to stave off the immediate threat of Iranian encroachment? What should the United States' grand strategy be in the Middle East? These and other questions will be the focus of monthly discussions.

CFR Events

Academic Conference Call

Deterring a Nuclear Iran


James M. Lindsay, Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations, Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
April 7, 2010

This meeting is not for attribution.


Academic Conference Call

The Costs of Containing Iran


Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, "The Costs of Containing Iran," Foreign Affairs, January/February 2008


Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
January 17, 2008

This meeting is not for attribution.


Symposium ⁄ New York

The Emerging Shia Crescent Symposium: Is Shia Power Cause for Concern?


Steven A. Cook, Douglas Dillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Toby C. Jones, Mellon Post Doctoral Fellow in Middle East History, Swarthmore College, Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow, Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Ethan S. Bronner, Deputy Foreign Editor, The New York Times
June 5, 2006

This meeting is on the record.


General Meeting ⁄ Washington

Negotiating Iran from the European and Russian Perspectives


Charles A. Kupchan, Senior Fellow and Director for Europe Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Stephen Sestanovich, George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
May 25, 2006

This meeting is on the record.



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.


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

Prior to joining the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Takeyh was Senior Advisor on Iran at the Department of State. He was previously a fellow at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy and has taught at National War College, Yale University, and University of California, Berkeley.

Takeyh is the author of The Guardians of the Revolution: Iran's Approach to the World (Oxford University Press, 2009). He is also the author of two previous books, Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic (Henry Holt, 2006) and The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine: The U.S., Britain and Nasser's Egypt, 1953-1957 (St. Martin's Press, 2000). Dr. Takeyh has published widely, including articles in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, National Interest, Survival, World Policy Journal, Washington Quarterly, Orbis, Middle East Journal and Middle East Policy. His commentary has also been featured in many newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times and International Herald Tribune.

Takeyh has testified frequently in front various congressional committees and has appeared on PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Charlie Rose, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, BBC, FOX and CSPAN.

Dr. Takeyh has a doctorate in modern history from Oxford University.


Persian (fluent); Arabic (working knowledge)