The 1979 revolution in Iran, later dubbed the Islamic Revolution, constituted a Zeitenwende not only nationally but on the global scale. For the emergence of the Iranian theocracy constituted a watershed moment as it catapulted “political Islam” or Islamism onto the prime stage of global politics, with wide-ranging ramifications to this day. In turn, four decades on, the revolutionary protests that engulfed Iran since the fall of 2022 have the capacity to constitute a historical corrective, potentially reversing the Islamization of state and society that was systemically imposed by the Islamic Republic since its inception. The talk will focus on the long-term revolutionary process in Iran, its characteristics and challenges, and the role of Western foreign policy.
Ali Fathollah-Nejad is the founder and director of the Center for Middle East and Global Order (CMEG), a think-tank devoted to exploring transformations and promoting a foreign policy that reconciles interests and values. The German-Iranian political scientist focuses on Iran, the Middle East, and the post-unipolar world order. He is also a McCloy Fellow on Global Trends of the American Council on Germany (ACG) as well as an Associate Fellow with the American University of Beirut’s Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (AUB-IFI). He is the author of the much-acclaimed book Iran in an Emerging New World Order: From Ahmadinejad to Rouhani (2021) and The Islamic Republic of Iran Four Decades On: The 2017/18 Protests amid a Triple Crisis (2020), where he proposed the start of a long-term revolutionary process in Iran. Ali is a former Iran expert at the Brookings Institution in Doha (BDC, 2017–2020) and at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP, 2015–2018). He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Department of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (SOAS), and was the winner of a 2016–2017 post-doctoral fellowship from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Iran Project.