NYU Washington, DC welcomed an expert panel of scholars and policymakers to discuss the contradiction that is the Islamic Republic of Iran. While the Obama Administration and its international partners have initiated an unprecedented strategy of dialogue and compromise, the clerical regime in Tehran continues to actively support revolutionary movements, violent extremists and hostile governments.
Iran is a nation of enormous strategic consequence. It is the Middle East’s most populous with over 80 million citizens, 60% of whom are under the age of 30. It has the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, controls the Straits of Hormuz and shares land borders with Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan Afghanistan and Pakistan. The country’s growing nuclear program and support for terror have caused it to be the subject of international sanctions, yet also remains an indispensable party to any comprehensive and durable peace in the region.
This panel considers if negotiating partner are we engaged in a fools’ errand, or if this attempt at détente offers the reasonable prospect of a more peaceful world. What are the real intentions of the Supreme Leader and government of President Hassan Rouhani? Are the expectations of the United States compatible with the ideology of the Islamic Revolution?
Ambassador Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr. has served since 2008 as Chairman of the Stimson Center in Washington, DC. Mr. Bloomfield was the U.S. Special Envoy for MANPADS Threat Reduction from 2008-09 (reducing the availability of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to terrorist groups), and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs as well as Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State for Humanitarian Mine Action from 2001-2005. He previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1992-93), Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs (1991-02), Member, U.S. Delegation to Philippine Bases Negotiations (1990-91), Member, U.S. Water Mediation in the Middle East (1989-90), and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (1988-89), among other policy positions in the Department of Defense (OSD/ISA) beginning in 1981. Mr. Bloomfield is the editor or author of two books and many articles on international affairs. He is a graduate of Harvard College (1974) and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (1980), and in his private capacity serves today as President of Palmer Coates LLC, Operating Partner at Pegasus Capital Advisors L.P., Senior Advisor at ZeroBase Energy LLC and Senior Advisor to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
Andrew Bowen, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow and the Director of Middle East Studies at the Center for the National Interest. His research and writing primarily focuses on the regional and international politics and economics of the MENA Region and U.S. national security policy. His work has been published in English, Arabic and Persian in a number of publications including The National Interest, Asharq al-Awsat, Foreign Policy, Al Majalla, and Open Democracy and has been interviewed by a number of networks including Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and the BBC.
Bowen is a contributor to Oxford Analytica. Prior to joining the Center, he was the Scholar for the Middle East and Director of the Levant Program at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He also lectured on the modern politics and economics of the Middle East and American foreign policy at Rice and at the London School of Economics (LSE). He has presented papers at a number of international conferences, including the International Studies Association and the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies. Bowen previously served as the contributing editor of Al Majalla in London.
Bowen is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Based in Washington DC, he has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Middle East and North Africa and has traveled and lived around the world.
Bowen completed his Ph.D. in international relations at the LSE under the supervision of Professor Fawaz Gerges. He received his M.Sc. in international history from the LSE, and his B.A. in political science from Rice.
Audra Grant is a NYU Washington, DC professor and political scientist. She has worked on various projects concerning the evolution of domestic politics of Iraq; tribal configurations and insurgent group organization in Iraq; development in Al-Anbar province; the nature of apocalyptic rhetoric in Muslim discourse and Muslim perceptions thereof; the structure of attitudinal support for radicalism in the Middle East, Europe, and Southeast Asia; and issues related to democracy and governance in Africa and the Middle East and to societies in transition. A former intelligence analyst at the U.S. State Department, Grant focused on Middle East political analysis and on implementing and analyzing public opinion research in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). She has conducted research on the dynamics of political Islam; democratization; and U.S. foreign policy in her extensive travels to the MENA, including Iraq. She has published articles on party dynamics in Algeria and Morocco; peace and reconciliation in Algeria; attitudes among Arab-Israelis; identifying support for democratization among Palestinians; gender as a determinant of support for political Islam and hard-line foreign policies; and illicit trade patterns in Africa. A visiting scholar at Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco (2006–07), Grant taught courses on Middle East politics and U.S. foreign policy and is an adjunct professor at The George Washington University. She is fluent in German and proficient in Arabic. Grant has a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
Blaise Misztal is the director of the Foreign Policy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), having previously served as the project’s associate director and senior policy analyst. At BPC, Misztal has researched a variety national security issues, including: Iran and its nuclear program; cyber security; stabilizing fragile states; and public diplomacy in the 21st century. He has testified before Congress and published op-eds in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, and Roll Call. In addition, Misztal wrote and directed the 2009 “Cyber ShockWave” simulation that aired on CNN.
Before joining BPC, Misztal spent a year as a Nuffield Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University. He was selected as a future leader by the Foreign Policy Initiative in 2010 and named as a National Security Fellow by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in 2011. Misztal is currently completing his Ph.D. in Political Science at Yale University, where his research focuses on the relationship between democracy, liberalism, and social stability. He holds an M.Phil. in political science from Yale and an A.B. with honors from the University of Chicago.
Ali Safavi is a member of Iran's Parliament in Exile, National Council of Resistance of Iran, and President of the Near East Policy Research (NEPR), a consulting and policy analysis firm in Washington, DC, www.neareastpolicy.com.
A sociologist by career, Safavi studied and taught at UCLA, California State University Los Angeles and University of Michigan from 1972 until 1981.
An activist during the anti-Shah student movement in the 1970s in the US, Safavi has been involved in Iranian affairs since then and has lectured and written extensively on issues related to Iran, Iraq, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and the political process in the Middle East.
Safavi was involved in the successful legal campaign to remove the main Iranian opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), from the lists of terrorist groups in the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States.
A dozen of his articles have been published in various books and periodicals. Some of them include “Who is Khatami?,” “Beware of Misnomers in Iran,” “Iran’s Foreign Policy Under the Clerical Regime,” and “Soccer Diplomacy,” and "Missing the Mark on Iran."
Safavi has worked on translating and editing several books, including “Enemies of the Ayatollahs (Zed Books, 2003)”, “Crime Against Humanity (2000),” “Misogyny in Power (1998)”, Democracy Betrayed (1995), “Women, Islam and Fundamentalism (1995) and “Islamic Fundamentalism: The New Global Threat, (Seven Locks Press, 1993).”
He has appeared on many television and radio interviews, including CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, CBC, The BBC, Sky TV, Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeera, France's Antenne 2, France-24, ITN, BBC radio, Voice of America, Deutche Welle, and ORF of Austria.
Safavi's articles have been published in major media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Hill, The Botosn Herald, The Washington Times, The McClatchy Newspapers, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herlad, San Fransisco Chronicle, Orange County Register and The Daily Telegraph, among others.
Safavi's older brother, Hossein, a US-educated aerospace engineer from Northrop University in California, was executed by the current Iranian regime in 1981 for his opposition to their repressive policies.
He could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @amsafavi