Alex Vatanka is an Adjunct  Scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C. and as well as the U.S.-based Senior Middle East Analyst at HIS Jane’s. He currently lectures as a Senior Fellow in Middle East Studies at the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) at Hurlburt Field. Between 2001 and 2006, Vatanka served as the senior political analyst at Jane’s in London, where he mainly covered political developments in the Middle East. From 2006 to 2010, he became the managing editor of Jane’s Washington based Islamic Affairs Analyst and joined the Middle East Institute as a scholar.

Vatanka holds a BA in Political Science (Sheffield University) and MA in International Relations (Essex University) as well as a specialization in Middle Eastern affairs with particular focus on Iran. His forthcoming book entitled, Iran and Pakistan: Security, Diplomacy, and American Influence and is set to be published in June 2015.

“The rhetoric spoke of harmony across the board, in reality it was much more complicated than that but he had no alternative. [Mohammad Reza Pahlavi] simply had no alternative, and one of the reasons why he felt that only United States could help him was when he looked inside his own country, the force that made him fear mobilization against him was the message of communism, and he knew Moscow had an eye on Iran, on Iran’s natural resources, not to mention its strategic location, bordering the rich, warm waters of the Persian Gulf.”


“So you have huge amounts of money being confiscated by the new revolutionaries and basically foreign investors are forced out, if they hadn’t already chosen to get out faster. And that was basically, again, the sort of mantra of the new regime, the Islamist that took over, and it would take them decades before they would go back and rethink this animosity they had to foreign investment. But in those early days, they were against it because they felt that foreign investment was basically exportation of the Iranian population and that’s how they sold it.”


“So, by the time the [Iran-Iraq War] ends in summer of 1988, the Iranian nation, as a whole, is exhausted. Some 250,000 people dead, billions, literally billions of dollars spent on this war effort and in many ways nothing to show for it. The best they could say was we kept the Iraqis out, but this nagging question of why did we do that for eight years. We had the option of a ceasefire back in the ’82-’83. The Iraqis, as soon as we kicked them out, were very open about the fact that they wanted a ceasefire, so why did we fight for as long as it did, and that question was a very powerful debate in itself and it went to the heart of what’s this regime. This new regime, this post-Shah regime, what is it about?”

International Affairs

Marriage and Divorce

Bread, Butter, Oil

Locomotive Without Brakes

The Third Path

Make Friends

Iranian Chaos

The Smiling Mullah