This panel will be in Farsi
The election of Joe Biden could be a restart for the U.S. Iranian relations. Perhaps, nowhere has the collective relief been felt as strongly as in Iran, whose economy suffered under the stranglehold of the Trump administration’s extensive sanctions. Some Iranian leaders were quick to celebrate President Trump’s defeat as a wholesale vindication of their steadfast refusal to negotiate with the Trump administration over sanctions removal. Most government figures, including President Rouhani, called for the incoming Biden administration to return to the international commitments that President Trump had pulled America out of–namely the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)–but also to compensate Iran for the economic damages incurred over the last four years. However, some skeptical hardliners within Iran have warned their exuberant colleagues that America remains an enemy to the nation, and that a Biden victory changes nothing. Public opinion in the election’s aftermath has been a mix of optimism that the hardships caused by sanctions might soon be over, uncertainty over President-elect Biden’s policies towards their country, and cautious cynicism regarding America’s previous failure to commit.
Will Biden’s victory allow for a return of US-Iran negotiations? Or will a sense of victory over American sanctions make Iran less flexible at the negotiating table? Will Tehran seize the opportunity of Biden’s president and reach an agreement with him before the end of his term in 2024? Could the outgoing Trump administration cause irreparable harm to any Biden diplomatic efforts? And which factions within Iran will benefit from these events in the upcoming elections?
Featured Speakers: Dr. Fatima AlSammadi (moderator), Alex Vatanka, Negar Mortazavi, Adnan Tabatabai and Dr. Mahjoob Zwreiri.
Fatima al-Samadi (moderator)
Researcher at the Al-Jazeera Center for Studies
Fatima al-Samadi is a Jordanian scholar who specializes in Iranian politics. Al-Samadi is currently a principal researcher at the Al-Jazeera Center for Studies where she supervises studies on Iran. She received her doctorate degree in Iran and her thesis discusses feminist tropes in Iranian cinema. Al-Samadi served as an assistant professor of Journalism and Media at the University of al-Zarqa’ and an assistant professor at the Middle East University Media department. Her publications include books and articles, namely “Political Movements in Iran”, “Women in the Midst of Politics”, “The US-Iranian Rapprochement: the future of Iran’s Role”, “Iran and the Arabs” (co-author), and “The Islamic State: Its Origins, Influence, and Future”.
Senior Fellow, the Middle East Institute
Alex Vatanka specializes in Middle Eastern regional security affairs with a particular focus on Iran. He was formerly a Senior Analyst at Jane’s Information Group in London. Alex is also a Senior Fellow in Middle East Studies at the US Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) at Hurlburt Field and teaches as an Adjunct Professor at DISAS at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He has testified before the US Congress and lectured widely for both governmental and commercial audiences, including the US Departments of State and Defense, US intelligence agencies, and a list of international corporations. Born in Tehran, he holds a BA in Political Science (Sheffield University, UK), and an MA in International Relations (Essex University, UK), and is fluent in Farsi and Danish. He is the author of two books: “The Battle of the Ayatollahs in Iran: The United States, Foreign Policy and Political Rivalry Since 1979” (2021) and “Iran and Pakistan: Security, Diplomacy, and American Influence” (2015). He has also written chapters for a number of books, including “Authoritarianism Goes Global” (2016); “Handbook on Contemporary Pakistan” (2017); “Russia in the Middle East” (2018), “Winning the Battle, Losing the War: Addressing the Drivers Fueling Armed Non-state Actors and Extremist Groups (2020) and “Global, Regional and Local Dynamics in the Yemen Crisis.” (2020). He is presently working on his third book “Iran’s Arab Strategy: Defending the Homeland or Exporting Khomeinism?”
Iranian American Journalist
Negar Mortazavi is an Iranian-American bilingual journalist and media analyst based in Washington. She has been covering Iran and the region for over a decade and is a frequent guest commentator at U.S. and international outlets including NPR, MSNBC, BBC, Aljazeera, CGTN, and i24News. In 2017 she was named a Young Leader by Friends of Europe in Brussels, Belgium. The Guardian has named her one of the top ten people to follow on Twitter for Iran news. She has a Master‘s degree from Brandeis University and a Bachelor‘s degree from the University of Massachusetts.
Dr. Mahjoob Zweiri
Director of Gulf Studies Center, Qatar University
Dr. Zweiri is an Associate Professor in Contemporary Politics of Iran and the Gulf at Qatar University. From March 2003-December 2006 he was a research fellow and then a director of the Centre for Iranian Studies in the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Durham University. Dr. Zweiri has more than 70 publications in the areas of Iran and Contemporary Middle East History and Politics. In addition to Arabic, Dr. Zweiri is fluent in Farsi and English.
Co-founder and CEO of Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient
Adnan Tabatabai is the co-founder and CEO of Germany based Middle East think tank CARPO – Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient. As an Iran analyst, he is consulted by European policymakers and businesses on Iran related affairs. Through his work at CARPO, Tabatabai has designed and facilitated track 2 and civil-society dialogue formats between Iran and Saudi Arabia since 2015. He is furthermore involved in a variety of projects at CARPO on regional security in the Persian Gulf region. Tabatabai is the author of the book “Morgen in Iran” (Oct. 2016, Edition Körber-Stiftung). He is regularly featured in international media with commentary and analysis on developments in Iran and the Middle East.