Iran at the Crossroads: A New Direction?

Event Date: 
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Event Time: 
4:30 p.m.
Location: 
300 Wallace Hall

The Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination will host a high-tea talk, "Iran at the Crossroads: A New Direction?" with Visiting Research Scholar Amin Saikal on Thursday, May 7, 2015, at 4:30 p.m. in 300 Wallace Hall. To attend the session, RSVP to Angella Matheney.

Thirty-six years have elapsed since the Iranian revolution of 1978/79 toppled the Shah’s pro-Western monarchy and spawned Ayatollah Khomeini’s theocratic pluralist Islamic regime, with an anti-American and anti-Israeli posture. Placing Iran between the "sovereignty of God" and the "sovereignty of people," the regime has continually been confronted with major domestic and foreign policy challenges. Whilst the regime has proved resilient and has survived these challenges, Iranian society has paid a high price. The June 2013 election of moderate-reformist President Hassan Rouhani has finally brought the Islamic Republic of Iran face-to-face with the need for domestic reforms, based on foreign policy flexibility that could enable it to secure a major breakthrough with the United States. In the era of President Barack Obama, who has been keen to reach out to Tehran for a diplomatic resolution of the two sides’ differences, especially in relation to the Iranian nuclear program, the prospects for a breakthrough, based on mutual need and vulnerability, appear as good as they can get. What has made the Islamic Republic so resilient? What can be expected of a possible US-Iranian rapprochement in the region?

Amin Saikal AM, FASSA, is Professor of Political Science, Public Policy Fellow, and Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (Middle East and Central Asia) at the Australian National University, as well as currently a Visiting Research Scholar at Lichtenstein Institute on Self-Determination. He has been a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in International Relations, and Visiting Fellow to Princeton University, Cambridge University and the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. He is an awardee of the Order of Australia (AM) "for service to the international community and education through the development of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, and as an author and adviser," and is an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.

His latest books include: Iran at the Crossroads (Cambridge: Polity Press) – forthcoming; Zone of Crisis: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq (London: I.B. Tauris, 2014); Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival (London: I.B. Tauris, 2012); The Rise and Fall of the Shah: Iran from Autocracy to Religious Rule (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009); Islam and the West: Conflict or Cooperation?(London: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2003); American Democracy Promotion in the Changing Middle East: From Bush to Obama (London: Routledge, 2013, co-editor); Democracy and Reform in the Middle East and Asia: Social Protest and Authoritarian Rule after the Arab Spring (London: I.B. Tauris, 2014, co-editor). He has also published in major journal and dailies, including The New York Times, International Herald TribuneThe Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian; and is a frequent commentator on TV and radio networks on issues pertinent to his field of specialty.