Iran in Three Dimensions

Speaker biographies

Mohebat Ahdiyyih currently serves as the senior Iran analyst at the Open Source Center, where he focuses on Iran and the implications of Shiite doctrine. After finishing his graduate work in New York City, Mr. Ahdiyyih traveled and lived in developing countries, working on socioeconomic development projects with organizations including the U.S. Agency for International Development. Since 1990, he has specialized in Middle Eastern and Islamic affairs in the U.S. government. Mr. Ahdiyyih has been interviewed by the Washington Post, Voice of America, and other media about Iran.

Ali Alfoneh is a researcher in residence at AEI and a doctoral candidate in the department of political science at the University of Copenhagen. His research areas include civil-military relations in the Middle East in general, with a special focus on Iran and the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in the politics of the Islamic Republic. Previously, Mr. Alfoneh was a research fellow at the Institute for Strategy at the Royal Danish Defence College and taught political economy at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Southern Denmark.

Patrick Clawson is the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. His previous positions include five years as senior research professor at the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies and four years each as senior economist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Clawson has published op-eds in major newspapers, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. In addition to his frequent appearances on television and radio, he has authored more than thirty scholarly articles on the Middle East in such journals as Foreign Affairs, the International Journal of Middle East Studies, The Middle East Journal, and Les Cahiers de l’Orient. Mr. Clawson has also testified before congressional committees more than a dozen times. Currently serving as senior editor of Middle East Quarterly, he was previously editor of Orbis, a quarterly review of foreign affairs.

Hormoz Hekmat is the editor of Iran Nameh, a quarterly journal published by the Foundation for Iranian Studies. Mr. Hekmat taught political science and international law at Utica College from 1967 to 1970 and at Tehran University from 1974 to 1981. He was a senior fellow at the Tehran Research Center for Social Sciences from 1975 to 1977, a member of the Iranian Academy of Languages from 1976 to 1978, and a member of the board of legal advisers to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization from 1977 to 1978. Mr. Hekmat was a Fulbright Scholar from 1958 to 1959.

Ken Katzman is a specialist in Middle East affairs for the Congressional Research Service, where he provides analysis to members of Congress and their staffs on Persian Gulf political, military, and diplomatic affairs and on U.S. policy in that region. Mr. Katzman has served in government and the private sector as an analyst in Persian Gulf affairs, with special emphasis on Iran and Iraq.

Tom Parker is the executive director of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. Mr. Parker is the former CEO of the Halo Partnership consulting firm, which has designed and executed transitional justice projects for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Darfur Peace and Development Organization. Mr. Parker served for six months in 2003–2004 as the United Kingdom’s special adviser on transitional justice to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad, Iraq, and as head of the CPA’s Crimes against Humanity Investigation Unit. He was a member of the team of experts dispatched to Chad by the U.S. State Department in August 2004 to investigate reported atrocities in Darfur and spent four years as war crimes investigator with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, working in the field in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia.

Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI. Her research areas include the Middle East, South Asia, terrorism, and weapons proliferation. Before coming to AEI, Ms. Pletka served for ten years as a senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Since joining AEI, Ms. Pletka has developed a conference series on rebuilding post-Saddam Iraq, directed a project on democracy in the Arab world, and designed a project to track global business in Iran. She was a member of the congressionally mandated U.S. Institute of Peace Task Force on the United Nations, which released its final report in 2005. She recently coedited Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats (AEI Press, 2008) and coauthored Iranian Influence in the Levant, Iraq, and Afghanistan (AEI, 2008).

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at AEI, a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and the editor of the Middle East Quarterly. Mr. Rubin previously served as an Iran and Iraq country director in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and as a political adviser in the Coalition Provisional Authority. He is the author of two books about Iranian history and politics, most recently Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), and he publishes articles in a range of scholarly and policy journals. Mr. Rubin lectures frequently on the politics, culture, and strategy of Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and South Asian countries to senior military officers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a regular contributor to major U.S. and Middle Eastern newspapers.

Mohsen Sazegara is a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. In 1979, he returned with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran to found the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and become managing director of the National Radio of Iran. Mr. Sazegara held many state positions during the 1980s, including political deputy in the prime minister’s office and chairman of the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran. In 1989, he left the Revolutionary government and became publisher of several reformist newspapers. In 2001, his candidacy for president was rejected by the Guardian Council. Currently, Mr. Sazegara analyzes political and social affairs in Iran.

Alex Vatanka is the managing editor of Jane’s Intelligence Digest and Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst. Mr. Vatanka is Jane’s Information Group’s resident specialist on Iran, and he has also extensively covered security affairs in the Caucasus and Central Asia. His most recent publications include "Ali Khamenei: Iran’s Most Powerful Man" (Middle East Institute, March 2008) and "Energy Security in Iran’s Khuzestan Province" (Jane’s Intelligence Review, December 2007). He has frequently appeared on media outlets such as the BBC World Service, CNN, MSNBC, Voice of America, and CBC, and he has written for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor, The World Today, and the Jerusalem Post. Mr. Vatanka joined the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., as an adjunct scholar in July 2007.

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