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Ray Takeyh

Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies

Expertise

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

Programs

Iran Roundtable Series

Bio

Ray Takeyh is the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle East 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

The Iran Time Bomb

Authors: Ray Takeyh, Michael V. Hayden, and Olli Heinonen
Washington Post

As negotiations between Iran and the great powers press forward, Secretary of State John F. Kerry seems to have settled on this defense of any agreement: The terms will leave Iran at least a year away from obtaining a nuclear bomb, thus giving the world plenty of time to react to infractions.

See more in Iran; Treaties and Agreements

Op-Ed

The Strategic Genius of Iran's Supreme Leader

Author: Ray Takeyh
Washington Post

On the surface, there is not much that commends Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. An anti-Semite, he has frequently questioned the Holocaust and defamed Israel in despicable terms. As a conspiracy theorist, he endlessly weaves strange tales about the United States and its intentions. As a national leader, he has ruthlessly repressed Iran’s once-vibrant civil society while impoverishing its economy.

See more in Iran; Presidents and Chiefs of State

Op-Ed

The Ayatollah and the U.S. Embassy

Author: Ray Takeyh
Weekly Standard

It has long been the conceit of Iran specialists and political commentators that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was not informed that militant students intended to take over the U.S. embassy in Iran in 1979. The Western intelligentsia has vouched for the Islamic Republic and claimed that the hostage crisis was a product of an internal power struggle. It was not about America, but rather about a revolution sorting itself out. As such, the hostage drama should not stand in the way of a rapprochement between the two nations. 

See more in Iran; United States; History and Theory of International Relations

Op-Ed

Iranian Reformers Oppose Government's Nuclear Ambitions

Author: Ray Takeyh
Los Angeles Times

While the supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains Iran’s most consequential decision-maker, many of Iran’s most popular yet purged opposition leaders have decried the nuclear program as not economically beneficial, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh. Given that these reformers could win open and free elections, it is important to pay close attention to their arguments.

See more in Iran; Nuclear Energy

Foreign Affairs Article

Coupdunnit

Authors: Christopher de Bellaigue and Ray Takeyh

For as long as the shah of Iran occupied the Peacock Throne, his relations with the United States depended on a mutually accepted falsehood. Neither side stood to gain from acknowledging that Washington’s favorite dictator owed his position to American skullduggery. 

See more in Iran; Regime Changes

Op-Ed

Rethinking Iran

Authors: Eric Edelman, Dennis Ross, and Ray Takeyh
The Washington Post

With the extension on the nuclear deal with Iran, Western powers would do well to reconfigure their assumptions on how to pressure Iran into a deal, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh. Instead of economic or diplomatic punitive measures, the United States needs a comprehensive and coercive strategy that would mend fences between the White House and Congress on the foreign policy front, strengthen alliances in the Middle East, and isolate Iran from its partners.

See more in Iran; United States; Nuclear Energy; Treaties and Agreements

Op-Ed

Iran's Vested Interest in Nuclear Talks

Author: Ray Takeyh
Los Angeles Times

While many seek to pressure Iran into a deal soon, they fail to recognize that Iran continues to participate because the talks act as a shield servicing Iran's interests, writes CFR's Ray Takeyh. From the very start, the Islamic Republic's main policy goal has been to achieved legitimate recognition for its expanding atomic infrastructure.

See more in Iran; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament

Testimony

Iran’s Destabilizing Role in the Middle East

Author: Ray Takeyh

In his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ray Takeyh argues that in order to successfully combat Iran's destabilizing influence in the Middle East, the United States must be an active player in Syria and Iraq and undertake a more systematic effort to contest all of Iran's regional assets.

See more in Iran; Regional Security

Foreign Affairs Article

What Really Happened in Iran

Author: Ray Takeyh

Back in 2009, during his heavily promoted Cairo speech on American relations with the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama noted, in passing, that "in the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government."

See more in Iran; Regime Changes

Events

CFR Events

Meeting ⁄ Washington

DC CFR Fellows' Book Launch Series Guest Event: The Pragmatic Superpower--Winning the Cold War in the Middle East

Speakers Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


, Steven Simon

Visiting Fellow, Dickey Center for International Understanding, Dartmouth College; Former Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

, James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

, Steven Simon

Visiting Fellow, Dickey Center for International Understanding, Dartmouth College; Former Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


, James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

June 7, 2016 5:30 p.m.-7:15 p.m.


5:30 p.m.—6:00 p.m. Cocktail Reception 
6:00 p.m.—6:45 p.m. Discussion
6:45 p.m.—7:15 p.m. Cocktail Reception and Book Signing
*Please note special timing*

June 7, 2016

This meeting is on the record.

Read Watch

Meeting ⁄ New York

NY CFR Fellows' Book Launch Series Guest Event: The Pragmatic Superpower--Winning the Cold War in the Middle East

Speakers Steven Simon

Visiting Fellow, Dickey Center for International Understanding, Dartmouth College; Former Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Steven Simon

Visiting Fellow, Dickey Center for International Understanding, Dartmouth College; Former Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Presiders Richard N. Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

, Richard N. Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

May 26, 2016 5:30 p.m.-7:15 p.m.


5:30 p.m.—6:00 p.m. Cocktail Reception
6:00 p.m.—6:45 p.m. Discussion
6:45 p.m.—7:15 p.m. Cocktail Reception and Book Signing
*Please note special timing*

May 26, 2016

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Conference Call ⁄ New York

Media Call: Tensions Between Saudi Arabia and Iran

Speakers Philip H. Gordon

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Philip H. Gordon

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Presiders Anya Schmemann

Washington Director, Global Communications and Media Relations, Council on Foreign Relations

, Anya Schmemann

Washington Director, Global Communications and Media Relations, Council on Foreign Relations

January 6, 2016 9:15 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

January 6, 2016

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Meeting ⁄ New York

Deadline for the Deal: Opportunities and Pitfalls for U.S.-Iran Relations

Speakers Philip H. Gordon

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region

, Olli Heinonen

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School; Former Deputy Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Philip H. Gordon

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region

, Olli Heinonen

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School; Former Deputy Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Presiders Gary Rosen

Editor, Weekend Review, Wall Street Journal

, Gary Rosen

Editor, Weekend Review, Wall Street Journal

June 19, 2015 12:30–1:00 p.m. - Lunch
1:00–2:00 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Iran Update

Speakers Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Moderators Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

, Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

April 30, 2015 4:00–5:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Meeting

Media Call on Framework Agreement to Limit Iran's Nuclear Program

Speakers Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies


Presiders David E. Sanger

National Security Correspondent, New York Times

, David E. Sanger

National Security Correspondent, New York Times

April 3, 2015 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Meeting ⁄ New York

NY Town Hall: Middle East Update

Panelists Elliott Abrams

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Robert Danin

Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Steven A. Cook

Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Isobel Coleman

Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative, and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations

, Elliott Abrams

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Isobel Coleman

Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative, and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations

, Steven A. Cook

Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Robert Danin

Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Presiders Richard N. Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

, Richard N. Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

July 22, 2014 12:15–12:45 p.m. - Lunch
12:45–2:00 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Meeting

Iran: Influence, Islam, and Uncertainty

Speakers Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Moderators Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

, Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

September 12, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

Meeting ⁄ New York

Hidden Iran

Speakers Ray TakeyhSenior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; and author, Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Ray TakeyhSenior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; and author, Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic
Presiders Gary G. SickSenior Research Scholar, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, Gary G. SickSenior Research Scholar, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
November 7, 2006

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Meeting

Axis of Anxiety: U.S. Options on Iran

Speakers Kenneth M. PollackSenior Fellow and Director of Research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution, Ray TakeyhSenior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, "Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic", Kenneth M. PollackSenior Fellow and Director of Research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution, Ray TakeyhSenior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, "Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic"
Presiders Barbara SlavinSenior Diplomatic Reporter, USA Today, Barbara SlavinSenior Diplomatic Reporter, USA Today
November 1, 2006

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

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

Speakers Steven A. CookDouglas Dillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Toby C. JonesMellon Post Doctoral Fellow in Middle East History, Swarthmore College, Ray TakeyhSenior Fellow, Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Steven A. CookDouglas Dillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Toby C. JonesMellon Post Doctoral Fellow in Middle East History, Swarthmore College, Ray TakeyhSenior Fellow, Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Presiders Ethan S. BronnerDeputy Foreign Editor, The New York Times, Ethan S. BronnerDeputy Foreign Editor, The New York Times
June 5, 2006

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ Washington

Negotiating Iran from the European and Russian Perspectives

Speakers Charles A. KupchanSenior Fellow and Director for Europe Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Stephen SestanovichGeorge F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Charles A. KupchanSenior Fellow and Director for Europe Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Stephen SestanovichGeorge F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Presiders Ray TakeyhSenior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Ray TakeyhSenior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
May 25, 2006

This meeting is on the record.

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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.