THE HILL     |     BY RAMESH SEPEHRRAD     |     July 14, 2024

The recent presidential election in Iran, marked by historically low voter turnout and pervasive public rejection, underscores the profound disillusionment and frustration coursing through society.

Masoud Pezeshkian, while touted by some as a reformist, epitomizes the paradox of Tehran’s politics, where the facade of change masks a deeply entrenched crisis of survival. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s increasingly tenuous grip on power is evident as he navigates a regime riddled with internal strife, economic challenges and a society that has rejected his regime in its entirety. This election, far from heralding stabilization, portends a tumultuous period ahead for Khamenei’s leadership.

Pezeshkian’s ascent to the presidency, secured through a narrow margin over hard-liner Saeed Jalili, is an outcome of strategic maneuvers within a tightly controlled political system and a growing crisis for the regime. His acknowledgment that “Khamenei sets all plans and policies, and straying from them is my redline” demonstrates that there will not be any change under his administration.

This admission highlights a broader systemic issue in Iran: The ultimate authority lies with the supreme leader, rendering the president’s role largely ceremonial in terms of any policy shifts.

Pezeshkian’s emergence is the result of Khamenei’s strategic missteps, which are becoming increasingly apparent. The death of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash disrupted the supreme leader’s plans to consolidate his power further. Raisi’s death not only deprived Khamenei of a loyal enforcer but also exposed the vulnerabilities within the regime’s leadership structure.

The election of Pezeshkian further complicates Khamenei’s position, as it signals a crack in the hardliner facade he has meticulously maintained. One can argue Pezeshkian’s presidency is a direct result of infighting among the hardliners, which exposes Khamenei’s fading influence, even among his inner circles.

Whether Khamenei’s calculation was based on managing hardliner infighting or ability to control Pezeshkian more than Jalili, it suggests he is no longer able to fully manage the affairs of his regime as he did under Raisi.

Ali Khamenei congratulated Pezeshkian, urging him to “continue the path of Martyr Raisi.” However, this endorsement does little to mitigate the underlying challenges. Khamenei also accused “enemies of the Iranian nation” of orchestrating a scheme to boycott the elections, a claim that illustrates the regime’s paranoia and disconnect from the genuine rejection by the Iranian people.

The boycott of the election by at least 60 percent (the official number) or as many as 91 percent of Iranians (according to an opposition group) is a stark indictment of the regime’s legitimacy. This mass abstention reflects widespread disillusionment and indicates the potential for a nationwide uprising, reminiscent of the final phase of the shah’s regime that led to the 1979 revolution. The foundations of the Islamic Republic of Iran are weakening, and internal factions are increasingly at odds, creating a scenario where the regime’s stability is precariously perched on a crumbling edifice.

Pezeshkian’s victory is laden with contradictions. His alignment with former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and advocacy for better relations with the West, a return to the nuclear accord and less stringent enforcement of the hijab law are significant propaganda tools aimed at creating breathing room for the regime in the western media and international community.

In his first public speech, he acknowledged, “We must first thank the supreme leader. Certainly, if it were not for him, I don’t think our names would have come out of these ballot boxes so easily. This was the guidance that the supreme leader provided.”

The reaction in Tehran following the announcement of the results was telling. There were no obvious celebrations, indicating a deep sense of disengagement and rejection. This lack of public enthusiasm further underscores the fragile state of the regime’s legitimacy and the daunting challenges that lie ahead for both Pezeshkian and Khamenei.

The deep scars of the ongoing brutal crackdown, especially since the 2022 protests, remain irreconcilable between the regime and people from all walks of life. The regime’s increased penalties for women who disobey dress codes and the sentencing of protesters to death reflect a desperate attempt to maintain control through fear and repression. Massive corruption and mafia-style economic governance by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leave no room for economic progress for workers, retirees, non-governmental organizations and unions.

Pezeshkian’s stance on these issues, while different in tone, aligns fully with the regime’s draconian measures.

Pezeshkian’s hollow promises of reform, or his ability to implement any change, will lead to a tumultuous period characterized by internal strife, backlash from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and an uncertain succession for the supreme leader. Khamenei’s weakening grip on power is being tested as never before, and the cracks within the regime are becoming increasingly visible.

As the regime navigates this precarious juncture, the potential for significant upheaval looms large, with the future likely to be decided in the streets by the growing resistance advocating for a non-nuclear, secular republic in Iran.


By Nadine Yousif     |      BBC News, Toronto     |     6/20/2024

Canada has listed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation, after years of pressure from opposition legislators and some members of the Iranian diaspora.

Announcing the decision on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc called it a “significant tool in fighting global terrorism”.

The move will mean that thousands of senior Iranian government officials, including top IRGC officials, will be barred from entering Canada.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, quoted by Iran’s Fars news agency, has condemned what he described as the “unwise and unconventional” step.

The IRGC is a major military, political and economic force in Iran, with close ties to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It is estimated to have more than 190,000 active personnel with its own ground forces, navy and air force that oversee Iran’s strategic weapons.

The IRGC exerts influence elsewhere in the Middle East by providing money, weapons, technology, training and advice to allied governments and armed groups through its shadowy overseas operations arm, the Quds (Jerusalem) Force, according to the government.

The Quds Force was already listed as a terrorist group by Canada, but Wednesday’s announcement extends the designation to the entire IRGC.

Speaking to reporters, Mr LeBlanc said the action “sends a strong message that Canada will use all of the tools at its disposal to combat the terrorist entity of the IRGC”.

“The Iranian regime has consistently displayed disregard for human rights, both inside and outside of Iran as well as a willingness to destabilise the international rules-based order,” he said.

After this designation, current and former senior Iranian government officials already in Canada may also now be investigated and removed.

Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Melanie Joly, warned that Canadians in Iran could be at risk of arbitrary detention following the announcement.

“My message is clear: for those who are in Iran right now, it’s time to come back home,” she said.

“And for those who are planning to go to Iran, don’t go.”

In response, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani was quoted as describing Canada’s move as “an unwise and unconventional politically-motivated step”.

“Canada’s action will not have any effect on the Revolutionary Guards’ legitimate and deterrent power,” he said.

The Canadian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had previously declined to extend the terrorism designation to the IRGC, despite pressure from some diaspora members – including the families of those who died after Flight PS752 was shot down by the IRGC in January 2020 in Tehran.

All 175 passengers onboard the plane were killed, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents of Canada.

Tehran had claimed that the missile strike on the plane was done by mistake.

Mr Trudeau had previously said in 2022 that he feared a terrorism designation would unfairly target Iranians in Canada who opposed the regime and fled, but had to serve in the IRGC in the past.

Asked why now by reporters, Mr LeBlanc said the decision to designate a group as a terrorist entity is a “deliberative process” made on advice of security services and with foreign policy considerations.

“It is a threshold that must be met under the criminal code of Canada,” he said.

The move makes Canada the second country in North America after the US to label the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, which did so in 2019.

The UK had previously indicated its intent to make a similar move as recently as 2023, but has yet to do so.


March 13, 2024

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) urges the U.S. government to support a United Nations (UN) Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court following the finding by a panel of UN-appointed experts that Iran’s crackdowns on protests against mandatory hijab and other religious freedom violations amount to crimes against humanity. Last week, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran determined that this repression “intersects with discrimination on the basis of ethnicity and religion.”

The Fact-Finding Mission’s determination reflects meticulous consideration of the evidence of the Iranian regime’s egregious violations of religious freedom, many of which have explicitly targeted women and girls,” said USCIRF Commissioner Eric Ueland. “The Biden administration must work with like-minded partners, including fellow members of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, to support the Mission’s investigation and hold accountable Iranian regime officials complicit in these crimes, including through Global Magnitsky sanctions, visa bans, and similar measures.

The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission determined that “methods of torture of detainees from ethnic or religious minorities were particularly severe and brutal” and expressed concern over the “severe…violations of the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.” It also noted Iran’s use of vague legal provisions against insulting Islam to target religious minorities who peacefully asserted their freedom of religion or belief. Iranian authorities have used widespread sexual and gender-based violence against religious freedom protesters as a tool of repression.

The Iranian government relentlessly violates women’s religious freedom and targets any individual who supports freedom of religion or belief in the country. USCIRF applauds the U.S. government’s support for the international efforts to hold Iran accountable for its heinous acts,” said USCIRF Commissioner Stephen Schneck. “USCIRF also urges Congress to reauthorize the bipartisan Lautenberg Amendment, a family unification program that provides a life-saving path to resettlement in the United States for persecuted Iranian religious minorities.”

In its 2023 Annual Report, USCIRF called on the U.S. government to support the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Iran and its important work. In September 2023, USCIRF published a report detailing Iran’s crackdown on peaceful protesters and outlining a new law that further restricts women’s freedoms on the basis of religion. In May 2023, USCIRF held a hearing on transnational repression of religious minorities, including by the government of Iran.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at




08 March 2024

GENEVA (8 March 2024) –The violent repression of peaceful protests and pervasive institutional discrimination against women and girls has led to serious human rights violations by the Government of Iran, many amounting to crimes against humanity, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran said in its first report today.

The report to the Human Rights Council said violations and crimes under international law committed in the context of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests that began on 16 September 2022 include extra-judicial and unlawful killings and murder, unnecessary and disproportionate use of force, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, torture, rape, enforced disappearances, and gender persecution.

Human rights violations have disproportionately impacted women, children and members of ethnic and religious minorities. The Mission found that gender persecution intersected with discrimination on the basis of ethnicity and religion.

“These acts form part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against the civilian population in Iran, namely against women, girls, boys and men who have demanded freedom, equality, dignity and accountability,” said Sara Hossain, chair of the Fact-Finding Mission. “We urge the Government to immediately halt the repression of those who have engaged in peaceful protests, in particular women and girls.”

The protests in Iran were triggered by the death in the custody of the so-called morality police, in September 2022, of Jina Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman, after her arrest for alleged non-observance of Iran’s laws on mandatory hijab. The Mission found that physical violence in custody led to Ms. Amini’s unlawful death. Rather than investigating this unlawful death promptly, effectively, and thoroughly – as required under international human rights law – the Government actively obfuscated the truth, and denied justice.

Authorities then mobilized the entire security apparatus of the State to repress the protesters who took to the streets after Ms. Amini’s death. Credible figures suggest that as many as 551 protesters were killed by the security forces, among them at least 49 women and 68 children. Most deaths were caused by firearms, including assault rifles.

The Fact-Finding Mission found, in the cases investigated, that security forces used unnecessary and disproportionate force which resulted in the unlawful killing and injuries of protestors. A pattern of extensive injuries to protesters’ eyes caused the blinding of scores of women, men and children, branding them for life. The Mission also found evidence of extrajudicial killings.

The Mission acknowledged that security forces have been killed and injured, but found that the majority of protests have been peaceful.

Security forces repressed protests through a pattern of arbitrary arrests, including of people who merely danced, chanted, wrote slogans on walls, honked car horns, or posted on social media in support of their demands, including for women’s rights, equality and accountability. Many were blindfolded and taken away in unmarked vehicles, including ambulances. Hundreds of children, some as young as 10, were arrested and separated from their families without any information about their whereabouts.

In detention, the State authorities tortured victims to extract confessions or to intimidate, humiliate or inflict punishment. The Mission found cases of women and girls subjected to rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, including gang rape, rape with an object, electrocution of genitalia, forced nudity and groping. Security forces characterised women’s demands for equality and non-discrimination as a “willingness to get naked” and “spreading immorality.”

The Fact-Finding Mission found that the Government arbitrarily executed at least nine young men from December 2022 to January 2024, after summary trials which relied on confessions extracted under torture and ill-treatment .Dozens of individuals, remain at risk of execution or receiving a death sentence in relation to the protests. Women and children have been among the many charged with capital offences since the start of the protests.

Many are still paying a high price for having supported the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement. Authorities are doubling down on their repression of families of victims, journalists, human rights defenders, lawyers, medical doctors and many others simply for expressing their views, supporting the protesters or seeking truth and justice for victims.

State authorities at the highest levels encouraged, sanctioned and endorsed human rights violations through statements justifying the acts and conduct of the security forces. They engaged in a disinformation campaign depicting protesters as “rioters”, “foreign agents” and or “separatist” groups. State security forces, in particular the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Basij forces and the Law Enforcement Command of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Faraja), among others, participated in the commission of serious human rights violations and crimes under international law.

The authorities in Iran have prevented and obstructed efforts of victims and their families to obtain a remedy and reparation. Victims face a justice system lacking independence, transparency and accountability, the Fact-Finding Mission found.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has the obligation to uphold the rights of women and children, and to ensure the right to truth, justice, and reparations of all victims,” said Viviana Krsticevic, Member of the Fact-Finding Mission. ”Given the deeply rooted institutional discrimination against Iranian women and girls, they are owed transformative reparations that guarantee their full, free and equal participation in all spheres of Iranian society. Given our findings, this would entail, among other measures, an overhaul of criminal and civil laws, a reform of the justice system, and measures for accountability.”

The Fact-Finding Mission regrets the lack of meaningful cooperation by the Iranian authorities with the mandate, despite repeated requests for information, including information on killing of and injuries to security forces and its denial of access to the country and people. It further notes the total lack of transparency with regard to the Government’s own reported investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations.

Absent effective remedies and in light of the systemic and historic impunity for violations in Iran, Member States should explore avenues for accountability at international level and in their domestic systems. The Fact-Finding Mission calls on States to apply the principle of universal jurisdiction to all crimes under international law without procedural limitations, establish victim funds, jointly or individually, and provide protection, including by granting asylum and humanitarian visas to those fleeing persecution in Iran in the context of the protests.

“We urge the Iranian authorities to halt all executions and immediately and unconditionally release all persons arbitrarily arrested and detained in the context of the protests, and to end the repression of protesters, their families and supporters of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement,” said Shaheen Sardar Ali, a member of the Fact-Finding Mission.

Background: The UN Human Rights Council mandated the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran on 24 November 2022 to investigate alleged human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran related to the protests that began there on 16 September 2022, especially with respect to women and children. On 20 December 2022, the President of the Human Rights Council announced the appointment of Sara Hossain (Bangladesh), Shaheen Sardar Ali (Pakistan) and Viviana Krsticevic (Argentina) to serve as the three independent members of the Mission and appointed Sara Hossain as its Chair.

More information on the work of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran can be found here.

For more information and media requests, please contact: Ahmad Azadi, Iran Fact-Finding Mission Communications Officer, at, or Todd Pitman, Media Adviser for the HRC’s Investigative Missions, at, Cell: +41 76 691 1761, or Pascal Sim, HRC Media Officer, at




FIONA HAMILTON     |     THE TIMES     |     JANUARY 8, 2024

Wikipedia entries have been changed to downgrade Iranian human rights atrocities and other abuses, The Times has learnt.

The alterations raise concerns that the site is being used to ­manipulate information about the hardline Islamic regime. Details have been changed to discredit dissident groups, and government publications have been presented as impartial sources on the free online encyclopaedia.

In one case key details about mass executions by the regime were removed. The involvement of senior officials in the 1988 death commissions, in which thousands of political prisoners were killed, was also deleted. In a separate ruling, supporters of Vahid Beheshti, an Iranian human rights activist who went on hunger strike in the UK, were thwarted when they tried to set up a Wikipedia page.

Mattie Heaven, Mr Beheshti’s wife, said four attempts were made to set up a page because there was so much online misinformation about her husband, who continues to put pressure on the British government to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organisation. Ms Heaven said the text was repeatedly ­removed so the page could not function. “We believed it was the Iranian cyber army,” she said.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit group that operates Wikipedia, said all content was ­determined by its global community of volunteers. A spokeswoman said all information was required to be neutral and verified by ­reliable sources. Serial offenders could be banned, she added.

The online encyclopaedia also deleted references to the jailing of an Iranian official in Sweden in 2022 for human rights abuses, and the expulsion of two Iranian diplomats from Albania in 2018 over their alleged involvement in a bomb plot against dissidents. The changes were made anonymously so it is impossible to question the motives.

Ms Heaven, an adviser to the International Organisation to Preserve Human Rights, said online disinformation was a key tool of the Iranian regime. She said it was important for it to have legitimacy in the eyes of the world. “They care what the world thinks about them,” she said. “If the regime can add confusion and misinformation then they will do it.”

British security officials have increasingly called out Iranian tactics. MI5 and police said they had disrupted at least 15 plots to kidnap or kill Iranian dissidents in Britain since the start of 2022.

Online misinformation is a key tool for the regime. In 2019 the news website Open Democracy revealed key differences in the ­reporting of Iranian affairs on ­Persian Wikipedia compared with its English counterpart.

It reported that the Persian page on Iranian involvement in the Syrian civil war was based mostly on unchallenged statements by Iranian officials.

Manipulation now appears to have been carried out on the ­English-language Wikipedia. Many of the Iran edits concerned a page for the People’s Mujahidin of Iran, also known as the Mujahidin-e-Khalq, an exiled opposition group. Over the summer reports on human rights abuses by Iranian officials on the MEK’s page was deleted. The anonymous users who changed the content cited the need for “trimming”.

Last June details were removed from a section on the 1988 death commissions, including that many of the political prisoners were jailed for peaceful activities such as handing out leaflets. A reference to the executions being carried out by “several high-ranking members of Iran’s current government” was also deleted. A month earlier the same anonymous user removed references to the expulsion of two Iranian diplomats from Albania due to alleged involvement in a bomb plot against the MEK in 2018. In April 2022 a reference to about 3500 MEK prisoners being killed in the early 1980s in Iran was removed.

Analysis showed some edits were replaced but many deletions remained intact at the time of publication. Marco, a Wikipedia ­editor, reported the changes to site administrators and alerted The Times because he believed insufficient action was taken.

He also noted that material on Iran’s mass internal protest movement appeared to be manipulated.

A Wikimedia spokeswoman said the foundation took misinformation “very seriously”.

“When a user account or IP ­address repeatedly violates policies, Wikipedia administrators can take disciplinary action and block or ban a user or IP address,” she said. “The foundation has a trust and safety function that flags such issues to the volunteer community when it is reported.”


National Review     |     By DAVID ZIMMERMANN     |     November 14, 2023

Iran has been conducting covert influence operations for years in the U.S. and abroad as part of a concerted disinformation campaign that is suspected to be espionage, a congressional briefing and corresponding report revealed Tuesday.

The 82-page report, titled “Iran: The Ayatollah’s Hidden Hand,” details how supreme leader Ali Khamenei and the Iranian regime use operatives in the Biden administration to influence U.S. policy involving the Islamic Republic, building on a Semafor article that was published in September. At the time, it was reported that at least three Iranian agents transitioned from soliciting Tehran’s talking points to working directly on policy under the purview of U.S. special representative for Iran, Rob Malley. In April, Malley’s security clearance was suspended over his alleged mishandling of classified documents.

“Having been provided with top-level security clearances, these Iranian agents had access to highly classified and sensitive information available only to senior U.S. officials, placing them in a unique position to mislead American policymakers while undermining policy toward Iran’s theocratic regime,” the newly published report states. “The actors allegedly collaborated with and took direction from senior Iranian officials while maintaining the appearance of working on behalf of the U.S. government.”

In addition to swaying foreign policy in favor of Iranian interests, the operatives also worked to subvert favorable opinions of the Middle Eastern nation’s leading opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), from Washington, D.C. Iran continues to demonize the MEK to this day, accusing the political group of terrorism primarily for its defiance of Ayatollah Khamenei.

“By brazenly targeting the highly effective dissident organization, the operatives hoped to leave U.S. officials with the false impression that there is no viable alternative to the ayatollahs — and certainly not one with a pro-democracy record that remains committed to toppling clerical rule,” the report adds.

Dr. Ivan Sascha Sheehan, associate dean at the University of Baltimore who authored the report, presented an overview of his findings to select congressmen, foreign policy experts, and the media on Capitol Hill, where he called on both chambers of Congress to organize investigations and hearings into the matter.

“The Iranian regime poses a direct national security threat to U.S. citizens and U.S. security interests,” Sheehan said. “The fact of the matter is that no organization who aligns themselves with a hostile state or serves as a foreign agent should wield influence over U.S. policy or have access to sensitive national security information.”

Representatives Tom McClintock (R., Calif.), Randy Weber (R., Texas), and ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield Jr., the former assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs during the George W. Bush administration, introduced the professor’s research at the briefing.

While lauding the House’s actions to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, Sheehan advocated for Congress and decision-makers in Washington to be aware of the tactics that Tehran employs to “advance their broader, geopolitical agenda.” Early this month, the House passed a bipartisan resolution that declares a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable under U.S. policy.

Intimidation of U.S. officials is one of the many tactics listed in the book, Sheehan said, noting one of the key endorsers of his report was shot in Madrid, Spain, just five days prior to the Tuesday briefing. Professor and European statesman Alejo Vidal-Quadras, who fortunately survived, has reason to believe the Iranian regime was behind the failed assassination attempt. The Spanish police’s special terrorism unit is currently investigating the matter.

Sheehan posed questions to the audience, wondering whether the Iranian influence operations have officially become efforts of espionage and how much damage the covert campaign has caused.


Semafor     |     Jay Solomon     |     Sept. 29, 2023


In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues — particularly its nuclear program — by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative.

The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails reported for the first time by Semafor and Iran International. The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative. At least two of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance. A third was hired by the think tank Malley ran just as he left for the State Department.

The documents offer deep and unprecedented new insights into the thinking and inner workings of Iran’s Foreign Ministry at a crucial time in the nuclear diplomacy — even as Tehran’s portrayal of events is questioned, if not flatly denied, by others involved in the IEI. They show how Iran was capable of the kind of influence operations that the U.S. and its allies in the region often conduct.

The emails were obtained and translated by Iran International, a Persian-language television news channel headquartered in London — which was briefly based in Washington due to Iranian government threats — and shared with Semafor. Semafor and Iran International jointly reported on some aspects of the IEI. Both organizations have produced their own stories independently.

The communications reveal the access Rouhani’s diplomats have had to Washington’s and Europe’s policy circles, particularly during the final years of the Obama administration, through this network. One of the German academics in the IEI, according to the emails, offered to ghostwrite op-eds for officials in Tehran. Others would, at times, seek advice from the Foreign Ministry’s staff about attending conferences and hearings in the U.S. and Israel. The IEI participants were prolific writers of op-eds and analyses, and provided insights on television and Twitter, regularly touting the need for a compromise with Tehran on the nuclear issue — a position in line with both the Obama and Rouhani administrations at the time. The emails describe the IEI being initiated following Rouhani’s 2013 election, when he was looking to find an accommodation with the West on the nuclear issue. According to the emails, Iran’s Foreign Ministry, through its in-house think tank — the Institute for Political and International Studies — reached out to ten “core” members for the project, through which it planned to liaise over the next 18 months to aggressively promote the merits of a nuclear deal between Tehran and Washington, which was finalized in July 2015.

“This initiative which we call ‘Iran Experts Initiative (IEI)’ is consisted of a core group of 6-10 distinguished second-generation Iranians who have established affiliations with the leading international think-tanks and academic institutions, mainly in Europe and the US,” Saeed Khatibzadeh, a Berlin-based Iranian diplomat and future Foreign Ministry spokesman, wrote to Mostafa Zahrani, the head of the IPIS think tank in Tehran, on March 5, 2014, as the project gained steam. Their communication veered between English and Farsi — which was translated by Iran International and independently verified by Semafor.

Khatibzadeh wrote again a week later, on March 11, and said that he had gained support for the IEI from two young academics — Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary — following a meeting with them in Prague. “We three agreed to be the core group of the IEI.”

Tabatabai currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, a position that requires a U.S. government security clearance. She previously served as a diplomat on Malley’s Iran nuclear negotiating team after the Biden administration took office in 2021. Esfandiary is a senior advisor on the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that Malley headed from 2018-2021.

Tabatabai and Esfandiary didn’t respond to requests for comment on the IEI. Esfandiary’s current employer, the International Crisis Group, confirmed her participation in the initiative. But the Crisis Group, which promotes conflict resolution globally, said the IEI was an informal network of academics and researchers that wasn’t overseen by the Iranian Foreign Ministry and that it received funding from a European government and some European institutions, which they declined to identify.

The emails discussing the IEI were part of a trove of thousands of Zahrani’s correspondence that Iran International obtained. These include passport copies, resumes, invitations to conferences, airplane tickets, and visa applications. It’s not clear how complete or comprehensive the documents are concerning the IEI.


According to the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s communications, the IEI project ramped up after this initial outreach. On May 14, 2014, a kickoff conference was held at the Palais Coburg hotel in Vienna — site of the international nuclear talks. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was listed as an attendee, according to an email, as well as members of his nuclear negotiating team and eight representatives from Western think tanks. Lower-level Iranian diplomats had initially proposed the meeting be held in Tehran, but Zarif’s deputy advised against it for logistical reasons.

Zarif was fixated during the discussions in Vienna on elevating, or creating, a public figure who could promote Iran’s views on the international stage concerning the nuclear issue, according to the emails. He specifically mentioned an Iranian version of Robert Einhorn, an Obama administration diplomat and expert on nuclear proliferation, who regularly published scholarly pieces on Iran’s nuclear program and appeared at U.S. and European think tank events.

“You were very right by saying that it is a shame that Iran has not its very own Bob Einhorn — someone who can foster attention on Iran’s case the way Einhorn does for the US or the P5+1 for that matter,” Adnan Tabatabai, a German academic who attended the IEI meeting in Vienna, wrote Zarif in English five days after it ended. The P5+1 was the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, and the diplomatic bloc negotiating the nuclear deal with Tehran. Adnan Tabatabai is not related to Ariane Tabatabai.

Adnan Tabatabai also offered Iran’s Foreign Ministry to ghostwrite pieces on its behalf. “Our suggestion could be that we as a group, work on an essay (2000 words) regarding the ongoing talks,” Tabatabai told Zarif in the same email. “It could, for example, be published under a former official’s name, through the CSR or IPIS — of course after you and your team revised the piece.”

The foreign minister responded four days later, copying Zahrani. Zarif accepted the suggestion and recommended that “these articles or Op-Eds” be published under the names of various Iranian and non-Iranians abroad, as well as former officials. It’s unclear if, or how many, pieces were actually published through this process.

Adnan Tabatabai declined to comment about the IEI, saying the reporting by Iran International and Semafor was “based on falsehoods and factually wrong assumptions.” He also questioned the authenticity of the correspondence with Zarif. Iran International commissioned a forensic examination of the emails, and found no discrepancies in the metadata that would indicate they were inauthentic.

The IEI quickly pushed ahead with one of the initiative’s primary objectives — publishing opinion pieces and analyses in top-tier media in the U.S. and Europe, specifically targeting policy makers. Less than a month after the Vienna gathering, Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group, a close protégé of Robert Malley’s who is listed as part of the IEI, sent an article on defusing the nuclear crisis to Zahrani of IPIS, ahead of publication. “I look forward to your comments and feedback,” he wrote in Farsi on June 4, 2014, attaching a piece entitled, “The Conceptual Perils of Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran.”

The emails show that the article was shared by Zahrani with Foreign Minister Zarif the day it arrived. It was then published 12 days later in the National Interest, under the title, “False Dilemmas in the Iran Talks,” with some minor wording changes. It’s unclear if Zarif made any fixes as no reply email from him is in the chain. While many think tanks and media outlets have policies against sharing articles before publication, ICG said in a statement to Semafor that it routinely and actively solicits the views of the primary actors involved in a conflict and shares relevant text with policymakers.

Ariane Tabatabai, the current Pentagon official, on at least two occasions checked in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events, according to the emails. She wrote to Zahrani in Farsi on June 27, 2014, to say she’d met Saudi Prince Turki al Faisal — a former ambassador to the U.S. — who expressed interest in working together and invited her to Saudi Arabia. She also said she’d been invited to attend a workshop on Iran’s nuclear program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. “I am not interested in going, but then I thought maybe it would be better that I go and talk, rather than an Israeli like Emily Landau who goes and disseminates disinformation. I would like to ask your opinion too and see if you think I should accept the invitation and go.”

Zahrani replied the same day: “All things considered, it seems Saudi Arabia is a good case, but the second case [Israel] is better to be avoided. Thanks.” Tabatabai answered a few hours later: “Thank you very much for your advice. I will take action regarding Saudi Arabia and will keep you updated on the progress.” There’s no evidence Tabatabai went to the conference in Israel, though her books and research reports suggest she’s interviewed a number of senior Israeli officials.

Ariane Tabatabai told Zahrani that she was slated to give testimony before the U.S. Congress on the nuclear deal. On July 10, 2014, she wrote that she had been asked to appear before multiple congressional committees alongside two Harvard academics — Gary Samore and William Tobey — whom she viewed as hawkish on Iran. “I will bother you in the coming days. It will be a little difficult since both Will and Gary do not have favorable views on Iran,” she wrote.

Tabatabai shared a link with Zahrani to an article she’d published in the Boston Globe that outlined the “Five Myths about Iran’s Nuclear Program.” The piece explained why Iran needs nuclear power and highlighted a fatwa, or religious edict, that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei allegedly issued forbidding the development of nuclear weapons as un-Islamic. Some Western officials have questioned the legitimacy of the fatwa.


The Iranian officials behind the IEI — Zahrani and Khatibzadeh — boasted to their superiors in internal emails about the initiative’s successes. They tracked how often the academics in the IEI wrote or were cited in the media during the week after a preliminary nuclear agreement was reached between Tehran and world powers on April 2, 2015 in Lausanne, Switzerland. The media data was shared with others in the Iranian Foreign Ministry in Tehran.

“Following our phone conversation, I attached here for your review only a few of the most significant works some of our friends published during the week after the Lausanne framework agreement was reached,” Khatibzadeh wrote in Farsi. “We were in constant contact and worked vigorously around the clock. Some friends performed as resourceful as a media outlet all by themselves.”

On April 14, 2015, Khatibzadeh emailed Zahrani, who then forwarded the message to Zarif and one of the foreign minister’s deputies on the nuclear negotiating team, Majid Takht-Ravanchi. Khatibzadeh attached 10 separate Word documents to the email, each referencing the media footprint of each IEI academic. These included Ariane Tabatabai and Ali Vaez, who have both worked closely with Malley over the past decade, and Dina Esfandiary, who was hired during his time at ICG. (Malley publicly welcomed Esfandiary to his team at ICG on Twitter in January of 2021, but stepped down to join Biden’s State Department before she started.)

Khatibzadeh, the future Foreign Ministry spokesman boasted in the email: “These are in addition to hundreds of tweets, posts and…on the internet that were definitely unique and trend-sending in their own right. It should be noted that these works were not only published in English, but also in several other international languages.”

The list shared by Khatibzadeh showed that in one week, Ariane Tabatabai published four articles, including in Foreign Policy, and gave interviews to the Huffington Post and Iran’s Fars News agency, which is linked to the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, mostly supporting Tehran’s views on the nuclear talks. In an article for the National Interest co-written with Dina Esfandiary, they argued that Iran was “too powerful” to be contained and that “Tehran doesn’t need any agreement to be empowered and to strengthen its foothold in the region.”

Ali Vaez was also extremely prolific in his media outreach. The ICG analyst was cited in virtually all of the U.S.’s major newspapers, including the New York TimesWall Street JournalWashington Post and Los Angeles Times, from the initiation of the IEI in March 2014 to the finalization of the Iran nuclear deal in July 2015.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry, the IPIS think tank, and Zarif, Zahrani, and Khatibzadeh didn’t respond to requests for comment.


Covering Iran, either as an academic or a journalist, is a minefield. Access to both the country and Iranian officials is tightly controlled. And even opportunities come with serious caveats. During my visits to Iran as a reporter, I needed to provide my questions and story ideas to the Foreign Ministry ahead of arrival and hire a government-appointed fixer. This individual provided translations, but also clearly monitored my movements and meetings. I assumed Iran’s intelligence services were closely tracking me.

Tehran also aggressively pushes its information operations overseas, sometimes with success, sometimes not. An Iranian academic and permanent U.S. resident who used to contact me with his insights on Tehran’s nuclear program, a man named Kaveh Afrasiabi, was arrested in a Boston suburb in 2021 for allegedly working as an unregistered agent for the Iranian regime. He’s allowed to return to Tehran as part of the prisoner-swap agreement reached this month between the Biden administration and Iran, though Afrasiabi said he plans to stay in the U.S.

UPDATE: Afrasiabi, whose case was in the pre-trial stage before he was pardoned, contacted me after the publication of this story and denied ever acting as an agent advancing Iran’s interests. “I strongly object to such unfair and false characterizations that have seriously marred my reputation,” he wrote in an email. “My part-time international affairs consulting for Iran’s mission under the UN guidelines had absolutely no bearing on my wealth of books and articles…These include numerous articles clearly at odds with and critical of Iran.” He added: “I was a national security asset to US, and never a threat.”

The Iranian regime is also factionalized, and navigating these fissures is hazardous for diplomats and journalists. The Iran Experts Initiative was born from a Rouhani administration eager to end Tehran’s pariah status following eight years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency in which he courted Holocaust denial and promoted the eradication of Israel. Rouhani’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had developed extensive ties to Western politicians and academics during his earlier tenure as Tehran’s ambassador to the United Nations. Participants in the IEI, as well as most Western governments, saw Rouhani’s tenure and Zarif’s ascendence as an opening to try and integrate the Islamic Republic into the global economy and end the nuclear crisis. The Obama administration used both overt and covert channels to do this.

But Rouhani never represented the Islamic Republic’s more radical or hardline face, particularly the Revolutionary Guards, or IRGC. And the election in 2021 of President Ebrahim Raisi, who’s been sanctioned by the U.S. for human rights abuses, largely closed the window on these channels. In fact, Raisi’s government has turned on Robert Malley and some IEI members in recent weeks, accusing them in state media of seeking to incite racial and ethnic unrest in the country. The Tehran Times, an English-language media outlet associated with Raisi’s office, has reveled in Malley’s suspension: It’s claimed in a string of columns that the diplomat’s disciplinary action is tied to the very types of outreach to Iran he and some of his colleagues pursued.

“Malley’s suspicious interactions with his aides of Iranian descent contributed to his downfall,” the Tehran Times wrote in a column published last month. The State Department has declined to comment on the reasons behind his suspension. The FBI is also investigating Malley, suggesting the diplomat’s actions may be more serious than just the mishandling of classified information.

Malley is hardly the first U.S. official to be ensnared in the machinations of the Islamic Republic. The opacity of Tehran’s system and the expansive work of its intelligence services can mask the government’s true intentions. The IEI emails offer a unique look into the Iranian system.


None of Malley’s associates whom Iranian diplomats cited as being part of the Iran Experts Initiative spoke directly to Semafor. But Vaez’s and Esfandiary’s current employer, the International Crisis Group, has a significantly different understanding of the IEI and Tehran’s role in it.

Elissa Jobson, Crisis Group’s chief of advocacy, said the IEI was an “informal platform” that gave researchers from different organizations an opportunity to meet with IPIS and Iranian officials, and that it was supported financially by European institutions and one European government. She declined to name them.

“To spell it out a bit more, it was a means to facilitate research discussions and not a more formal entity where participants could be directed by anyone,” she said. “The fact that participants were from a host of different think tanks demonstrates that it was merely an informal platform.” ICG also notes that all the work its staff publishes is vetted and agreed upon in-house; they dispute that Iran — or any government — could have directed any members of their team to take a position at odds with the organization’s official view.

Another European think tank, the European Council on Foreign Relations, confirmed that one of its senior fellows, Ellie Geranmayeh, also took part in the Iran Experts Initiative. An ECFR spokesman said a European government backed the IEI, but didn’t identify it, and stressed that that the think tank always covers the “core costs” of its staff’s research trips. “As part of its efforts to inform European policy, ECFR regularly engages with experts and think tanks across the world, including through research visits and workshops,” the spokesman said.

Malley didn’t respond to requests for comment. Both the State Department and Pentagon declined to comment on the substance of the correspondence related to the IEI, but said they support Ariane Tabatabai and the vetting process involved in the approval of her security clearance. “Dr. Tabatabai was thoroughly and properly vetted as a condition of her employment with the Department of Defense. We are honored to have her serve,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Amnesty International     |     September 21, 2023

Reacting to the news that Iran’s parliament has passed a new bill that would impose further draconian penalties severely violating women’s and girls’ rights as well as increasing  prison terms and fines for defying Iran’s degrading and discriminatory compulsory veiling laws, Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said:

“This bill is a despicable assault on the human rights of women and girls that will further entrench violence and discrimination against them in Iran. If approved by Iran’s Guardian Council, it will further exacerbate the already suffocating surveillance and policing of women’s bodies and require the Islamic Republic’s various political, security and administrative arms to obsessively observe compliance with compulsory veiling laws and control women’s and girls’ lives.

“The Iranian authorities are doubling down on punishments against women and girls who claim their human rights to freedom of expression, religion, belief and bodily autonomy. This all-out assault is part of the authorities’ ongoing efforts to crush the spirit of resistance among those who dared to stand up against decades of oppression and inequality as part of the ‘Woman Life Freedom’ popular uprising.

“States must urgently call on the Iranian authorities to revoke the bill and abolish all degrading and discriminatory compulsory veiling laws and regulations. They must also pursue legal pathways at the international level to hold Iranian officials accountable for ordering, planning and committing such widespread and systematic violations against women and girls.”

“The Iranian authorities are doubling down on punishments against women and girls who claim their human rights to freedom of expression, religion, belief and bodily autonomy.”

Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International


On 20 September, Iran’s parliament approved the “Bill to Support the Culture of Chastity and Hijab”. The bill needs to be approved by Iran’s Guardian Council to become law. It would expand the powers and capabilities of intelligence and security bodies including the Revolutionary Guards, the paramilitary Basij force and the police to control and further oppress women and girls.

The law equates unveiling to “nudity” and provides for prison terms of up to 10 years for anyone who defies compulsory veiling laws. The law also makes “insulting or ridiculing the hijab” a criminal offence punishable by a prison sentence, travel ban and/or fine and encourages ordinary people, businesses, and pro-government vigilantes to enforce compulsory veiling.

In May 2023, the authorities presented the “Bill to Support the Culture of Chastity and Hijab” to parliament. In August 2023, parliamentarians voted for the revised bill, which was not made public at the time, to be adopted in a closed special internal committee, in order to expedite its passing, further evading transparency and public scrutiny. On 20 September, the special internal committee approved the text of the bill, which was then sent to the Guardian Council for final approval.


Khamenei knows he can’t offer concessions, since the smallest shift could trigger another uprising across the deprived and suppressed nation

Telegraph    |    Maryam Rajavi    |    September 17, 2023

Almost exactly a year ago, a remarkable nationwide uprising unfolded in Iran. It witnessed people from all walks of life chanting “death to [regime supreme leader Ali] Khamenei” and “down with the oppressor”. These powerful words reflected the popular rejection of the clerical regime. In mere days, the uprising became a firestorm of dissent that encompassed every province and shook the ruling theocracy to its core.

In response, the regime embarked on a campaign to ruthlessly suppress the revolt. The past year has been unmistakably characterized by the people’s uprising on the one hand, and the regime’s relentless crackdown on the other. However, when we contemplate the future of Iran, a fundamental question arises: which one of these forces will ultimately shape the nation’s destiny?

The mullahs want to convey the impression that the balance of power has reverted to its pre-uprising status. But the daily realities experienced by the people paint a starkly contrasting narrative. A bankrupt economy, unbridled inflation, chronic unemployment, and institutionalized discrimination are contributing to a situation in which Iranian society is primed to erupt again.

The events of September 2022 revealed widespread discontent transcending class, region, generation and gender. It was led by women. The middle and lower classes came to the streets in major urban centres and smaller towns. And in spite of the regime’s four-decade endeavor to exert control over universities, students played a leading role in the uprising, often receiving resolute support from fellow citizens. There was also unprecedented participation from high school students. This epitomized the people’s fervent longing to oust the theocracy, which, for over four decades, has clung to power through brutal repression. Despite its brutality, the regime has failed to eliminate the organised resistance.

Western analysts, taken aback by the profound societal discontent, might have been less surprised had they been attuned to recent developments in Iranian society. Several nationwide uprisings have unfolded since December 2017, steadily increasing in frequency, scale and social inclusiveness, while the demands of participants have grown progressively radical.

All of which is compounded by the fact that the regime is woefully incapable of enacting major economic, political or social changes. It knows that any substantial change would risk spiraling out of control, intensifying the populace’s desire for self-governance and liberty, and ultimately hastening its own disintegration. Consequently, the regime can only rely on short-term, constrained measures to stifle dissent or temporarily placate the public. It has no long-term strategy to avert enduring conflict.

Khamenei is acutely aware that a larger uprising looms on the horizon. Yet his response remains confined to consolidating power within loyalist ranks, poised to enforce future suppressive measures. This only serves to bolster the people’s calls for a comprehensive regime change, escalating social tensions and setting the stage for a more devastating revolt.

The Iranian people are resolute in their quest for freedom. The West must now recalibrate its policies consistent with this reality in mind, and abandon the politics of appeasement. It should refrain from offering concessions to the regime, designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, and acknowledge the Iranian people’s inalienable right to resist against tyranny.

Maryam Rajavi is the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran



Global Consensus: NCRI Stands as Viable Democratic Alternative for Iran
Townhall     |     Ivan Sascha Sheehan     |     Jul 16, 2023

Picture the vibrant suburbs of Paris as they became the epicenter of an electrifying gathering earlier this month—the Free Iran World Summit 2023. The event boasted an extraordinary lineup of over 500 global leaders, luminaries, and influential personalities, including current and former officials, presidents, prime ministers, ministers, and lawmakers from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. They united in resolute support of Iran’s main opposition movement and its transition plan as an alternative to the incumbent theocracy.

Among the attendees were a constellation of notable figures like 2024 US presidential candidate Mike Pence, former prime ministers Stephen Harper of Canada, Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium, and Liz Truss of the UK, and seasoned former National Security Advisors Ambassador John Bolton and General James Jones. Joining them were several renowned members of the European foreign policy establishment, alongside sitting members of the US Congress Lance Gooden (R-TX) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA).

These prominent figures voiced unyielding support for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the largest and most enduring opposition movement in Iran. They rallied behind the NCRI’s Ten-point Plan, a comprehensive roadmap for a future democratic republic, first outlined by the NCRI’s President-elect, Maryam Rajavi.

The timing of the NCRI event couldn’t have been more propitious. Amidst the formidable challenges of nuclear weapons development and terrorist by the regime, a central question emerges: What lies beyond the brittle regime as an alternative? Cunningly, the mullahs have spun a deceptive web, propagating the notion that no viable alternative exists—a ploy to perpetuate its iron grip on power.

However, the Iranian people have unveiled a clear vision and an authentic alternative. Speaking before thousands of impassioned attendees at the Free Iran event on July 1, former US vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman declared, “We can never acknowledge that there is no alternative to a totalitarian government, certainly not in Iran. … It is a democratic republic. … And Iran is closer to that today than ever before because the regime is weaker than it’s ever been before.”

This sentiment reverberates through the very core of the nationwide protests in Iran, as impassioned chants thunder: “Death to the tyrant, be it the Shah or the mullahs,” and “Monarchy, mullahs, 100 years of crime!” Iranians stand united in vehement rejection of a despotic return to monarchy-led dictatorship. Yet, the path to a democratic republic demands deft navigation to avoid the pitfalls encountered by nations in the throes of transformative regime change.

A political alternative is not something that can be spontaneously created overnight. Its creation requires patient cultivation and a meticulous struggle over time. A substantive alternative to the current regime embodies certain distinctive characteristics: a robust organizational structure, unwavering domestic and international support, competent leadership, a clear action plan for the future, and an unequivocal rejection of all forms of dictatorship. The NCRI has emerged as a paragon embodying these qualities.

Since 1981, the movement has weathered the storms of a prolonged and arduous struggle against the prevailing religious tyranny. With the help of its main constituent, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), the coalition has defied the suffocating clutches of religious fascism, consolidating its organizational structure, crafting a comprehensive plan, and displaying unwavering resolve—paying the price of resistance day in and day out.

Kazem Gharibadai, deputy for legal affairs to the Judiciary Chief recently revealed that not a single meeting with European countries transpires without Tehran raising the issue of the MEK, which Tehran deeply fears as an existential threat. Such concern was palpable when, on June 10, President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran beseeched his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, to halt and prohibit the Free Iran rally.

Eager to appease Tehran, French authorities complied, but the NCRI successfully contested the ban in court, embarrassing both the Islamic theocracy in Tehran and the advocates of appeasement in Paris. The very fact that the rally took place underscored the opposition’s impressive diplomatic and organizational capabilities.

The NCRI comprises a tapestry of opposition groups and individuals. The MEK has demonstrated remarkable prowess in intelligence-gathering and enjoys fervent grassroots support through its well-organized Resistance Units, which according to regime officials, lead nationwide protests. At the Free Iran rally this month, over 10,000 messages poured in from these units, prompting the regime to panic and hastily announce the arrest of Resistance Unit members—an unmistakable testament to their influence.

The NCRI commands significant international backing. The recent summit witnessed powerful endorsements from 3,600 lawmakers representing 40 countries, including majorities from France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Norway.

The movement’s Ten-Point Plan for a secular, democratic, and non-nuclear Iran has garnered widespread acclaim both at home and abroad. It stands as a tangible and pragmatic roadmap, capable of dexterously navigating the most pressing strategic concerns on the nation’s path to transformation.

Amidst the crucible of adversity, a glimmer of hope emerges in the form of the main organized Iranian opposition—a beacon of resilience and a viable alternative to the nightmarish status quo in Iran. To forge a more secure world and weaken authoritarian regimes across the globe, Western governments must resolutely heed the resounding support of countless luminaries who now rally behind this compelling alternative.

Dr. Ivan Sascha Sheehan is the executive director of the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Baltimore and an associate professor in the College of Public Affairs. Dr. Sheehan specializes in global terrorism, counterterrorism, U.S. foreign policy, and international conflict management.