Upcoming Event

Details

Date:
May 23
Time:
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
Event Category:

Venue

Online

Organizer

Gulf International Forum

Event Synopsis

On May 19th, a tragic helicopter crash near the Azerbaijan border resulted in the deaths of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and several other officials. In response to this devastating event, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber would assume the role of interim president. According to Iran’s constitution, a new presidential election must be held within 50 days, with candidates subject to vetting by the Guardian Council—a stringent body known for disqualifying even prominent conservative and moderate figures. This suggests that significant shifts in Iranian policy are unlikely.

This incident occurs amid increasing domestic unrest and international pressures. Iran is currently facing numerous political, social, and economic crises, alongside global scrutiny over its contentious nuclear program and its deepening military cooperation with Russia in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Since taking office, Raisi had enforced stricter laws, led a severe crackdown on anti-government protests, and adopted a hardline stance in nuclear negotiations with global powers. Furthermore, the long-standing covert conflict between Iran and Israel has recently escalated into open exchanges of drone and missile fire, underscoring the region’s volatility.

Among moderates, conservatives, and hardliners, who are the most likely candidates to succeed Raisi, and what factors will influence their chances? With Raisi being a potential successor to Supreme Leader Khamenei, how does his death alter the dynamics of the supreme leader’s succession? Should we anticipate any changes in Iran’s foreign relations, particularly with the West and in its support for Russia in the Ukraine conflict? Given that the presidential election will occur only weeks after the parliamentary elections, what impact might this have on Iran’s societal dynamics, especially among the youth and women who protested Raisi’s policies two years ago? What are the potential implications for Iran’s internal stability in light of the upcoming presidential election?

Featured Speakers: Ambassador Patrick Theros, Holly Dagres, Dr. Abdolrasool Divsallar, and Dr. Hamidreza Azizi.

Speakers Bio:

Ambassador Patrick Nickolas Theros

Strategic Advisor and Senior Fellow, Gulf International Forum

@PNT_Gulf

Ambassador Patrick Nickolas Theros is Strategic Advisor and Senior Fellow at Gulf International Forum. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar from 1995-1998. Prior to his appointment, he served as Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, responsible for the coordination of all U.S. Government counterterrorism activities outside the United States. From 1991-1993, Ambassador Theros served as the Political Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of Central Command (CENTCOM).

Ambassador Theros joined the Foreign Service in 1963, and served in a variety of positions in Washington D.C., Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Nicaragua and Syria, including charge d’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassies in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

In 1999, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah Al-Thani awarded Ambassador Theros the Qatar Order of Merit for his efforts in service of the U.S.-Qatar bilateral relationship. His commitment to national service also earned him the President’s Meritorious Service Award and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service (1992). Ambassador Theros has also earned four Superior Honor Awards, the highest awards for distinguished service given by the Foreign Service.

After his retirement from the Foreign Service Ambassador Theros assumed the office of President of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council in March 2000 until his retirement in 2017. Ambassador Theros’ personal commitment to community and public service earned him the rank of Knight Commander of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem (1999), as well as the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom (2005).

In addition to his duties as President of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council, Ambassador Theros is also active in the following organizations: The Middle East Policy Council, Board of Directors; The Council of Foreign Relations, Member; The Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, Member; and The American Academy of Diplomacy, Member.

Ambassador Theros graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1963. He has done advanced studies at the American University in Washington, D.C., the Universidad Centroamericana in Nicaragua, the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, and the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. He is married to Aspasia (nee Pahigiannis) and has three children. He speaks and reads Spanish, Arabic and Greek professionally.

Holly Dagres

Nonresident Senior Fellow and Editor of IranSource blog, Atlantic Council; Curator, The Iranist

@hdagres

Holly Dagres is a nonresident senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank, the Atlantic Council. She is also the editor of the Council’s IranSource blog and curator for the weekly newsletter, The Iranist. In a separate capacity, she is an Iran analyst for the US Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO). Holly regularly conducts radio, television, and print interviews, including CNN, Bloomberg, NBC News, and NPR. Her work on Iran has appeared in numerous publications, including Foreign Policy, Guardian, The New York Times, TIME, and the Washington Post. She is the author of the groundbreaking report, “Iranians on #SocialMedia.”

Dagres received a master’s degree in political science at the American University in Cairo, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and French from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has fifteen years of experience in the Middle East (living in Tehran, Cairo, and Jerusalem). She is fluent in Persian.

Dr. Abdolrasool Divsallar

Senior Researcher for the Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research

@Divsallar

Dr. Abdolrasool (Farzam) Divsallar is a Senior Researcher for the Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (ME WMDFZ) Project. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Universita’ Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan and a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute (MEI) in Washington. His area of research lies at the intersection of security studies and regional studies. Dr. Divsallar’s focus and interests include military strategies in the Persian Gulf, Iran’s military and foreign affairs, regional security reform, Middle East non-proliferation issues, Russia-Iran relations, and security assistance. He has written and edited eight books, including Struggle for Alliance: Russia and Iran in the Era of War in Ukraine (2024), and has published numerous peer review journal articles.

Prior to joining UNIDIR, and between 2019-2023, Divsallar was a visiting Professor at the Universita’ Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and a co-led of the Regional Security Initiative at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. In these roles, he led a combined research and dialogue efforts on rethinking the security architecture in the Persian Gulf region. Divsallar has been a Policy Leader Fellow at the EUI School of Transnational Governance in 2020. Between 2005 and 2018 he worked in Tehran in various positions including at the Institute for the Middle East Strategic Studies, Defense Industries Training and Research Institute, and Center for Strategic Studies. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science – Iranian Studies from the University of Tehran. Dr. Divsallar speaks, English, Farsi, and Italian.

Dr. Hamidreza Azizi

Visiting Fellow, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

@HamidRezaAz

Hamidreza Azizi is a visiting fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). He is also a  nonresident fellow at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs and an associate researcher at Clingendael – the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.

Prior, Azizi was an associate fellow at Al Sharq Strategic Research in 2022. He also lectured at several Iranian universities, including the University of Tehran (2016-2018) and Shahid Beheshti University (2016-2020). Azizi’s research interests include security and geopolitical issues in the Middle East and Central Eurasia, Iran’s foreign and security policy, and Iran-Russia relations.

Azizi has published many books, academic articles, and policy papers in English and Persian. His latest peer-reviewed articles were published in the Mediterranean Politics, the Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, and Small Wars & Insurgencies. His analysis has been featured in many research and media outlets including Chatham House, the Middle East Institute (MEI), Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), Foreign PolicyThe National Interest, and Al-Monitor, among others.

Details

Date:
May 23
Time:
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
Event Category:

Venue

Online

Organizer

Gulf International Forum
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