Iran and the United States: New Presidents, Old Same Story?

19 October 2021. From 18:30 | Conference | English | Online
slideshow image Source: Reuters

Read the article “Iran and the United States: Four Decades of Tension and Missed Opportunities”.

On several occasions over the last three decades Iran’s foreign policy has been directly affected by administration transitions in Tehran and Washington, often derailing efforts by one side or the other to affect positive change in this tense bilateral relationship. Alas, the changing of the guard in Washington in 2016 was another such occasion. The arrival of Trump led to the total dismantling of the diplomatic efforts made by the Obama administration to contain the diplomatic and security crisis engulfing Iran’s nuclear programme and efforts to create a positive spin in relations. Trump’s election led to the reimposition of even harsher sanctions on Iran and all those who traded with the country, and more tensions following the administration’s willingness to engage in direct kinetic action against Iranian interests and actors. Trump’s policies hardened the arteries in Tehran and the failure of JCPoA led to the resurgence of conservative forces at home, particularly of those who were closely allied with the Leader. The election of Joe Biden in November 2020 was meant to provide relief and bring about positive change, so we need to ask why has not this happened? Answers in the view of the speaker lie in the changing political dynamics in Tehran, on the one hand, and continuing difficult conditions at both the regional and international levels, on the other. Ehteshami discusses these in the context of the domestic political changes which have been taking place in both Iran and the United States.

Anoush Ehteshami is a professor of International Relations in the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University, where he is also the Director of the Institute for Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (IMEIS). Previously, he served as a Joint Director of the research and training Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW). He also served as a Fellow of the Global Future Councils in the World Economic Forum and as Vice-President and Chair of Council of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES). Ehteshami has produced an extensive list of works, among the most notable of his works include his most recent authored books Islam, IS and the Fragmented State: The Challenges of Political Islam in the MENA Region (2020), Iran: Stuck in Transition (2017), and his journal article Iran’s Asianization.

Conference by Anoush Ehteshami, professor of International Relations and Jordi Quero, professor at CEI International Affairs. Co-organised by the IEMed as part of the Aula Mediterrània 2021-22 programme in collaboration with the Master’s in Diplomacy and International Organizations CEI/UB.

This lecture can be followed live on Zoom (with previous registration) or on YouTube.



Anoush Ehteshami

Professor Durham University

Jordi Quero

Professor CEI International Affairs

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