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. He has testified before the US Congress and lectured widely for both governmental and commercial audiences, including the US Departments of State and Defense, US intelligence agencies, and a list of international corporations.

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 Farsi 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 has also written chapters for a number of books, including Authoritarianism Goes Global (2016); Handbook on Contemporary Pakistan (2017); Russia in the Middle East (2018), Winning the Battle, Losing the War: Addressing the Drivers Fueling Armed Non-state Actors and Extremist Groups (2020); Global, Regional and Local Dynamics in the Yemen Crisis (2020); Routledge Handbook of Counterterrorism and Irregular Warfare Operations (2021); and Understanding New Proxy Wars (2022). He is presently working on his third book, Iran’s Arab Strategy: Defending the Homeland or Exporting Khomeinism?

B.A. in Political Science at Sheffield University; M.A. in International Relations at Essex University

Farsi, Danish

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Iran domestic and foreign affairs, Iranian military and security forces, Iran-US relations, Political Islam in Middle East



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