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

Takeaways from Blinken’s Trip to the Middle East

Takeaways from Blinken’s Trip to the Middle East

Friday, February 3, 2023

By: Robert Barron;  Caroline Dibble;  Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen;  Garrett Nada;  Ambassador Hesham Youssef

The Middle East has not been a high priority for the Biden administration thus far, with issues such as Russia’s war in Ukraine and escalating tensions with China taking precedence. However, recent developments in the region are catching the administration’s attention, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Egypt, Israel and the West Bank earlier this week sought to reaffirm U.S. engagement in the Middle East amid political turnover in Israel, spiraling violence in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, stepped-up Iran-Israel tensions and a deepening economic crisis in Egypt.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Can Blinken’s Beijing Visit Help Build Bilateral Trust?

Can Blinken’s Beijing Visit Help Build Bilateral Trust?

Thursday, February 2, 2023

By: Carla Freeman, Ph.D.;  Adam Gallagher

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned visit to Beijing next week is unlikely to see breakthroughs in the tense U.S.-China relations. However, his visit — the first to China by a U.S. secretary of state since Mike Pompeo’s in 2018 — provides an important opportunity for him to take up a range of issues with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi. There is no doubt that the bilateral relationship is severely strained, but Blinken’s visit is an important follow up to the meeting between President Joe Biden and General Secretary Xi Jinping on the sidelines of November’s G-20 in Bali and a sign that both sides see the need to stabilize ties.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Four Takeaways from Treasury Secretary Yellen’s Trip to Africa

Four Takeaways from Treasury Secretary Yellen’s Trip to Africa

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

By: Edward A. Burrier

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen’s recent 10-day trip to Africa kicks off a year of sustained, high-level U.S. engagement, aimed at demonstrating that the Biden administration is “all in on Africa, and all in with Africa” following December’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. With trips from the president, vice president, and other cabinet secretaries in the works, this “super-charged” U.S. diplomacy is moving beyond the typical secretary of state visits. A close look at some of the issues encountered by Yellen on her trip demonstrates that showing up on the continent may be the easy part of going all in with Africa.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EconomicsGlobal Policy

For Israelis and Palestinians, a Tragic Spiral Reemerges

For Israelis and Palestinians, a Tragic Spiral Reemerges

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

By: Robert Barron

Since late last week, violence between Israelis and Palestinians has rapidly escalated in the West Bank and around Jerusalem, and January has proven to be one of the most violent months in the West Bank in decades. Attacks continue, exacerbated by bitter publics, frenzied politics and fragile institutions in the West Bank. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be in a spiral toward a third intifada and even the possible end of the two-state paradigm.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Two Years of Myanmar’s Junta: Regional Instability, Surging Organized Crime

Two Years of Myanmar’s Junta: Regional Instability, Surging Organized Crime

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

By: Priscilla A. Clapp;  Jason Tower

Two years ago today, Myanmar’s military snuffed out the country’s democratic government in a coup and set about restoring the grim dictatorship that dominated the Southeast Asian nation for 50 years. But the generals’ initial moves — jailing civilian leaders, shutting the free press, issuing heavy-handed decrees — were the only things that went according to plan. To date, the coup has instead triggered myriad unintended effects. None are more urgent and consequential than the instability and crime that the generals’ power grab triggered across Southeast Asia, and none more directly implicate U.S. interests in the region.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGlobal Policy

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