image

Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies

Expertise

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

Programs

Iran Roundtable Series

Bio

Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. 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, 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, University of California, Berkeley, and Georgetown University.

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, 19531957 (St. Martin's Press, 2000). 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, Wall Street JournalLos Angeles Times, Financial Times, and International Herald Tribune.

Takeyh has testified frequently in front 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

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 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

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

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

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

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

Events

CFR Events

Media Conference Call

Assessing Netanyahu's Speech

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

General Meeting ⁄ New York

NY Town Hall: Middle East Update

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Academic Conference Call

Deterring a Nuclear Iran

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Academic Conference Call

The Costs of Containing Iran

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

General Meeting ⁄ Washington

Mixed Messages and Missed Opportunities: U.S.-Iranian Relations

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

General Meeting ⁄ New York

Hidden Iran

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

General Meeting

Axis of Anxiety: U.S. Options on Iran

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Symposium ⁄ New York

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

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

General Meeting ⁄ Washington

Negotiating Iran from the European and Russian Perspectives

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Press Briefing ⁄ New York

Iran and Nuclear Proliferation

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

General Meeting

Transition 2005: U.S. Policy Toward Iran

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

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.