For decades, Iran has vexed the international community. It introduced Islam as a form of governance in 1979 and has supported militants abroad and defied international norms. Recent developments—including the centrist Hassan Rouhani’s presidential victory and the 2015 nuclear deal—hold the potential for improved international relations and a boost to the economy. However, economic revitalization is slow, and the nation remains a complex and contentious factor in global politics.

USIP’s Work

The U.S. Institute of Peace aids policymakers’ thinking on Iran and provides a unique forum for virtual diplomacy in the absence of formal ties between Washington and Tehran. USIP convenes experts, briefs lawmakers, and presents comprehensive views of Iran’s internal politics and relationships with the rest of the world through unbiased, fact-based research and analysis by Western and Iranian writers. USIP’s recent work includes:

Educating Policymakers, Academics, and the Public. Even though Iran’s prominence in the Middle East has increased, reliable resources on the nation remain scarce. That dearth prompted USIP to convene 50 of the world’s top Iran scholars to contribute to the book, The Iran Primer: Power, Politics and U.S. Policy.

First published in 2010 and updated in 2015, the unprecedented project acts as a comprehensive guide to Iran’s politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and nuclear program. The book’s authors present a range of views, prioritizing no single political perspective or agenda.

The Iran Primer also is available online through a website, iranprimer.usip.org, that offers analysis representing 20 think tanks, eight universities, and senior officials from six U.S. presidential administrations. Hosted by USIP in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the website provides articles, data, timelines, a rundown of U.S. government actions, and other resources. The material has been cited, quoted, and republished in congressional testimony, college syllabi, and a variety of print and online publications.

Convening Experts Through the Iran Forum. The Iran Forum is a series of discussions initiated by USIP in cooperation with seven think tanks. Top scholars, policymakers, thought leaders, and elected officials come together during events to analyze nuclear issues, Iran’s role in the Middle East, and the political tenor in Washington and Tehran. The Forum hosts two phases of each discussion: one for the public and a second with congressional staffers.

Forum events highlight a diversity of viewpoints and have included:

Briefing Decision Makers and Building Relationships. Through its focused research, USIP has become a leading source for timely Iran analysis. As a result, USIP experts periodically brief members of Congress and officials from the Pentagon and U.S. service academies.

The Institute also maintains relationships with Iranian think tanks, foreign affairs analysts, economists, women’s rights activists, and officials to stay up to date on the latest political, economic, and social trends.

Related Publications

Iran and Israel Are Racing Toward Confrontation in Syria

Iran and Israel Are Racing Toward Confrontation in Syria

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Ties between Tehran and Damascus have been close since the 1979 revolution, but the relationship deepened after Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011. With the Assad regime’s survival at stake, Tehran doubled down on its support, providing critical military assistance—fighters and strategists—and economic aid estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

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Monday, May 7, 2018

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed; Dr. Elie Abouaoun; Garrett Nada

Tehran’s interventions in conflicts throughout the Middle East have become a particular point of contention for detractors of the Iran Deal, which placed constraints on the country's nuclear program without addressing its role in Syria, Yemen, and across the region. There is no place Iranian influence has played a more conspicuous role than in neighboring Iraq.

Democracy & Governance; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen on Prime Minister Netanyahu's Visit to the U.S.

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen on Prime Minister Netanyahu's Visit to the U.S.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

By: Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen

This week in Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu successfully shifted the optics from mounting domestic pressure. Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen shares her analysis about Netanyahu’s warm reception at the AIPAC conference and his White House meeting focused on Iran. The conversation continues with Kurtzer-Ellenbogen explaining the latest hurdles for Middle East Peace and the anticipation for the Trump administration’s Middle East Peace Plan.

Peace Processes

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