May 20, 2024
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Zoom Webinar

Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack against Israel and the increased belligerence of other Iranian allies across the region brought new scrutiny to their ties to Iran and the potential of a regional confrontation. With the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal — officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — on ice, the Biden administration’s policy on Iran and its nuclear program remains unclear. Yet in the aftermath of Oct. 7 and the subsequent war in Gaza, there is even more at stake for Washington, as well as regional capitals. 

With increased Iranian threats to US interests and allies in the Middle East, as illustrated by the mid-April direct missile exchanges between Iran and Israel, the formulation of a clear, bipartisan US policy is urgently needed to deter or blunt Iran’s nefarious activities domestically, regionally, and on the nuclear front. But how can US policymakers across the ideological spectrum agree on a broadly acceptable yet effective approach to Iran? Can the Iranian regime be encouraged or induced to change its behavior? And what role might reformist factions of the regime in Tehran as well as Iranian society and diaspora play in this effort?


Brian Katulis 
Senior Fellow for US Foreign Policy, Middle East Institute

Goli Ameri
Vice Chair, Freedom House Board of Trustees

Alex Vatanka 
Director of Iran Program, Middle East Institute

Patricia Karam (Moderator)
Senior Policy Advisor on Iran, Freedom House

Detailed Speaker Biographies 

Brian Katulis is Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Middle East Institute. He was formerly a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP), where he built the Center’s Middle East program and also worked on broader issues related to U.S. national security. He has produced influential studies that have shaped important discussions around regional policy, often providing expert testimony to key congressional committees on his findings. Katulis has also conducted extensive research in countries such as Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. His past experience includes work at the National Security Council and the U.S. Departments of State and Defense.

Goli Ameri is the Co-Founder and CEO of StartItUp, in addition to holding the position of Vice Chair on the Freedom House Board of Trustees. She is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs and Under Secretary for Humanitarian Diplomacy at the International Federation of Red Cross. Ms. Ameri was a Representative to the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and served as a Public Delegate to the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

Alex Vatanka is the founding Director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute. He specializes in Middle Eastern regional security affairs with a particular focus on Iran. He was formerly a Senior Analyst at Jane’s Information Group in London. Alex is also a Senior Fellow in Middle East Studies at the US Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) at Hurlburt Field and teaches as an Adjunct Professor at DISAS at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Born in Tehran, he holds a BA in Political Science (Sheffield University, UK), and an MA in International Relations (Essex University, UK), and is fluent in Persian and Danish. He is the author of two books: “The Battle of the Ayatollahs in Iran: The United States, Foreign Policy and Political Rivalry Since 1979” (2021) and “Iran and Pakistan: Security, Diplomacy, and American Influence” (2015). He is presently working on his third book “Grand Contest: The Rivalry of Iran, America and Israel in the Arab World.

Patricia Karam is currently Senior Policy Advisor on Iran at Freedom House, where she plays a leading role in crafting Freedom House’s policy agenda and advocacy strategy for promoting democracy and human rights in Iran. She was, most recently, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Director at the International Republican Institute (IRI), where she oversaw a multi-million portfolio of programs focused on citizen-responsive governance, political party development, legislative strengthening, and civil society strengthening in the Levant, Afghanistan and the Gulf, and North Africa. 


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