The June election of Iranian cleric Hossan Rouhani to be Iran's next president sparked optimism among some analysts and diplomats that the Iranian regime may moderate its foreign policy posture. In the days after the election, however, journalism about Rouhani's past activities and statements by the president-elect himself tempered that optimism.
Rouhani had advocated executing anti-government dissidents, had been a top figure in Iranian bodies promoting global terrorism, and after the election had vowed to support Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. Attention also shifted to the role of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who controls Tehran’s foreign policy and had preemptively banned presidential candidates from making concessions to the West should they win.
Foreign policy analysts and diplomats look set to continue debating the extent to which Rouhani is willing or able to move Iran in a new direction.
The Israel Project hosted a panel discussion examining Iran's political and military echelons, which will enable or constrain the policies of Rouhani's administration. Iran experts Karoline Henriques and Behnam Ben Taleblu discussed key figures in the Iranian establishment and the roles they will likely play.
About The Speaker
Karoline Henriques joined The Israel Project (TIP) in 2011 to work on Iran and regional geo-strategic affairs. Working out of TIP’s Jerusalem office, Henriques writes educational materials and analysis on Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and wider regional issues with particular focus on Iran and the threat of the Iranian nuclear program. She works with international security experts researching Iranian activities, including the regime’s nuclear ambitions and sponsorship of global terrorism.
Behnam Ben Taleblu is an Iran Research Analyst in Washington, D.C., and a graduate of The George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs, where he studied International Affairs (International Politics) and Middle East Studies while minoring in Religion. Behnam, a native Persian (Farsi) speaker, spent more than three years interning and working in think- tanks, consulting, and communications firms on issues related to Iran.