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.
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.
In his testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ray Takeyh argues that irrespective of the ebbs and flows of nuclear diplomacy, the United States should continue to focus its efforts on ways of limiting Iran's aggressive policies in the Middle East.
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.
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.
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.
The nuclear negotiations with Iran should continue, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass. Though any reachable deal will inevitably be imperfect, it should be judged against the potential alternatives of war or multiple nuclear-armed states in the Middle East.
Though a full deal with Iran appears remote, U.S. allies in the Middle East remain concerned about a continuation of negotiations that could lead to a nuclear-powered Iran, says expert Suzanne Maloney.
In his testimony before the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation, and Trade, Ray Takeyh argues that Iran participates in the nuclear talks because they serve so many of its interests—one of which may yet be an accord that eases its path toward nuclear empowerment.
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.
As the November 24 deadline for the P5+1 negotiations with Iran approaches, Iran's hardliners seem more willing to expand the nuclear program than encourage economic growth, writes Ray Takeyh. Motivated by a desire for self-sufficiency, the decision of hardliners may push Iran toward a catastrophic future.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2016 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »