In 2010, USIP and the Woodrow Wilson Center launched “The Iran Primer”—an original book and regularly updated website—to provide resources and education about Iran, which has been one of the thorniest foreign policy issues for the United States since 1979.

The website continues to cover Iran’s domestic politics and foreign relations, the economy, the military, its nuclear and missile programs, and U.S. policy. The project’s goal is to help develop a better understanding of the challenges Iran poses and reduce the likelihood of violent conflict. Featuring book chapters and articles by more than 80 leading experts from 20 think tanks, eight universities, and six U.S. administrations, it has become a comprehensive source for data and analysis on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

For Americans, Iran is one of the least understood countries in the world. Relations have been cut off since shortly after the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy. By 2010, the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program sparked deep debates on policy—and the possibi lity of war. But few resources offered hard information, thoughtful analysis, and historic context that could be useful for both policymakers and the public.  

About The Iran Primer

Provide objective information and analysis

The team continuously updates The Iran Primer website with new articles. Staff conduct original research and produce fresh perspectives, with outside experts also providing analysis.

Contribute to the national conversation on foreign policy issues

Staff members contribute expertise at conferences and events at home and abroad. They also provide analysis to the media and brief members of Congress and their staff, officials from the Pentagon and State Department, the intelligence community, and U.S. service academies.

Foster dialogue on the Middle East’s latest political, economic and social trends

The team builds relationships with U.S. government agencies, congressional offices, and foreign diplomats, as well as think thanks, foreign affairs analysts, economists, and youth and women’s rights activists. The program also hosts public events on the evolving trends.

Featured Resources

Latest Publications

Keith Mines on Secretary Blinken’s Trip to Colombia

Keith Mines on Secretary Blinken’s Trip to Colombia

Thursday, October 21, 2021

By: Keith Mines

As Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Colombia, USIP’s Keith Mines notes there is still work to be done in implementing and expanding the 2016 peace agreement with the FARC insurgency, saying that “consolidating the peace in a place like Colombia was almost as hard as fighting the war itself.”

Type: Podcast

Global Policy

Iraq’s Election Raises More Questions Than Answers

Iraq’s Election Raises More Questions Than Answers

Thursday, October 21, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia cleric whose Mahdi Army followers battled U.S. forces during the years of the occupation, made big gains in Iraq’s parliamentary election on October 10. His victory could pose problems for the United States and Iran. But despite the Sadrist List’s electoral success, it is not a given that al-Sadr will be the next man to lead Iraq, or even be the only kingmaker. USIP’s Elie Abouaoun examines the outcome of the election, the electoral process and the implications for Iraq’s future.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

 Une ville du Sahel conçoit un moyen d'améliorer les réformes – et l'aide internationale

Une ville du Sahel conçoit un moyen d'améliorer les réformes – et l'aide internationale

Friday, October 15, 2021

By: Jasmine Dehghan ; Sandrine Nama

La recrudescence cette année des troubles violents dans le Sahel en Afrique – des attaques djihadistes élargies, des coups d'État ou des tentatives militaires dans quatre pays, ainsi que le nombre constamment élevé de victimes civiles – souligne que des années de travail pour renforcer les forces militaires et policières n'ont pas réussi à réduire l'instabilité. Pour réduire l'extrémisme et la violence, les pays doivent améliorer la gouvernance, et des analyses récentes soulignent le besoin particulier de renforcer le sentiment des gens que leurs gouvernements peuvent assurer la justice et trouver des résolutions équitables aux griefs populaires. Un tel changement est une tâche extrêmement complexe et une ville du Burkina Faso a élaboré un plan de réformes locales avec un processus pour gérer cette complexité.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Democracy & Governance

A Sahel Town Builds a Way to Improve Reforms—and Foreign Aid

A Sahel Town Builds a Way to Improve Reforms—and Foreign Aid

Thursday, October 14, 2021

By: Jasmine Dehghan; Sandrine Nama

This year’s escalation of violent turmoil in Africa’s Sahel—widened jihadist attacks, military coups or attempts in four nations, and continued high civilian casualties—underscores that years of work to reinforce military and police forces have failed to reduce instability. To undercut extremism and violence, countries must improve governance, and recent analyses underscore the particular need to build people’s confidence that their governments can provide justice and fair resolutions of popular grievances. Such change is an immensely complex task—and one town in Burkina Faso has shaped a plan for local reforms with a process to manage that complexity.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Democracy & Governance

In Africa, U.S. Should Focus More on Democracy, Less on China

In Africa, U.S. Should Focus More on Democracy, Less on China

Thursday, October 14, 2021

By: Thomas P. Sheehy; Paul Nantulya; Gustavo de Carvalho

Even as the United States draws lessons from its unsuccessful, 20-year effort to build a sustainable peace in Afghanistan, it is shaping policies to engage the political and economic rise of Africa. Both the shortcomings in Afghanistan and the opportunities of Africa underscore the imperative of building policy on a full appreciation of local conditions. Yet on Africa, China’s growing presence has seized Americans’ political attention, and scholars of African politics say this risks distracting near-term U.S. policymaking. A requisite for U.S. success in Africa will be to focus on Africans’ desires—which include an ambition to build their futures by democratic means.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy; Democracy & Governance

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