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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

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

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

Events

CFR Events

Assessing Netanyahu's Speech

Speakers: Robert M. 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
Presider: Gideon Rose, Editor, Foreign Affairs
March 3, 2015 2:30–3:30 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

NY Town Hall: Middle East Update

Panelists: 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 M. 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
Presider: 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

Deterring a Nuclear Iran

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

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

The Costs of Containing Iran

Speaker: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, "The Costs of Containing Iran," Foreign Affairs, January/February 2008
Presider: Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
January 17, 2008

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

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

Speakers: Suzanne Maloney, Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution, Barbara Slavin, Author, "Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S., and the Twisted Path to Confrontation;" Senior Fellow, Jennings Randolph Fellowship Program, United States Institute of Peace
Presider: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
October 31, 2007 12:00–12:30 p.m. - Reception
12:30–1:30 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

Hidden Iran

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

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Axis of Anxiety: U.S. Options on Iran

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

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

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

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

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Negotiating Iran from the European and Russian Perspectives

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

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Iran and Nuclear Proliferation

Speakers: Charles D. Ferguson, Fellow for Science and Technology, Council on Foreign Relations, Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
September 13, 2005

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

Transition 2005: U.S. Policy Toward Iran

Speakers: David Kay, Senior Research Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Mark Palmer, President & CEO, Capital Development Company; Member, Committee on the Present Danger, Kenneth M. Pollack, Senior Fellow and Director of Research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution; author, The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America
Presider: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
January 12, 2005

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.