OUR SCHOLARS | Dr. Ali Ansari

Ansari Ali

Ali Ansari is a professor of Modern History with reference to the Middle East at St. Andrews University in Scotland, the founding Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies, as well as an Associate Fellow at Chatham House. Ansari currently resides on the Governing Council of the British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS). Moreover, he is a regular speaker at conferences and events regarding Iran, including “Iran’s New Parliament” at the New America Foundation. Ansari studied at Col. Brown Cambridge School Dehara Dun, University College London (BA), King’s College London (MA), and obtained his PhD from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Some of his publications include: The Politics of Nationalism in Modern Iran (2012); Crisis of Authority: Iran’s 2009 Presidential Election (2010); Iran Under Ahmadinejad (Adelphi Papers) (2008); Iran, Islam & Democracy – The Politics of Managing Change (2000); The History of Modern Iran Since 1921: the Pahlavis & After (2003); and Confronting Iran: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Roots of Mistrust (2006).

What Dr. Ali Ansari Said

“The Iranian embassy crisis in the summer of 1980, where apparently a group of Iranian Arabs from Khuzestan were encouraged by Iraqi intelligence to seize the Iranian embassy under the quite unbelievable pretense … that the British police don’t have guns, …so they were told. “And if you seize the Embassy, London as the media capital of the world, will be able to announce to the world what’s going on, and and if we were able to announce to the world what is going on…” These Iranian Arabs were declaring as part of their agenda to free Arabistan, as they called it, which was the province of Khuzestan and Iraq. So that’s one of the indications, the natural fact that there was a plan afoot.”

“Those people who don’t have access to hard currency, actually, it gets very, very difficult. And you get really throughout this eight-year period of Rafsanjani’s presidency, a certain amount of progress, but huge disparities in wealth. And really, a failure to tackle one of the fundamental problems in the Iranian economy, which is that it needs investment. But to get investment, you need to provide security, you need to provide stability – long-term stability – and you need to provide transparency and accountability. All of those things that really go toward a sort of liberal democracy as well. You need to hold your people to account; you need to hold the companies to account, and of course, it doesn’t exist in Iran.”

“Khatami did not betray the students in 1999, and certainly if they felt betrayed, they would not have then campaigned so vigorously for the parliamentary elections the following year. It’s simply inconceivable that people felt so betrayed. The fact is, people took a tactical decision. Khatami told the students to come off the streets, and he said, “Come off the streets, because the way to do this is to win the parliamentary election in the following year.” And they basically heeded his call – I mean, that’s what they basically did. It was a very uncomfortable situation – Khatami faced opposition from the [IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps)]…, but in 2000, he was able to win a landslide election in the parliament, and to get the parliament full of reformists. Now, this is the critical turning point in many ways, because now, the hardliners had lost control of two institutions: the presidency and the parliament.”