Dr. Ali Fathollah-Nejad | Official Website | Political scientist focusing on Iran, Middle East geopolitics & 21st century world order
home,page-template,page-template-full_width,page-template-full_width-php,page,page-id-19843,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-theme-ver-3.3,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.12,vc_responsive

Ali Fathollah-Nejad

political scientist & analyst

deutsch-iranischer politologe

politologue irano-allemand

Dr. Ali Fathollah-Nejad is an independent scholar based in Doha and Berlin, with a focus on Iran, West Asia and North Africa, the post-unipolar world order as well as right-wing populism in the West. Currently, he is a Visting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. Also, he is an Associate Fellow with the Middle East and North Africa Program of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) – acting as the latter’s in-house Iran expert – as well as an Associate with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Iran Project. Ali holds a PhD in International Relations from the Department of Development Studies at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), with a dissertation on Iran’s international relations in the 2000s in a changing world order. He has taught courses on globalization and development in West Asia and North Africa, contemporary Iran and the Arab Revolts among others at Freie Universität (FU) Berlin’s Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics, the University of Westminster and SOAS. His almost 150 analytical pieces in English, German and French have been translated into a dozen languages. A frequent speaker at political forums and academic conferences, he regularly contributes to international media outlets in English, German or French. Ali is fluent in German, French, English and Persian.


{Update: 11/03/2018}

Consultant Researcher

Joost Hiltermann, Tackling the MENA Region’s Intersecting Conflicts, Brussels: International Crisis Group, 13/02.


Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Westliche Perspektiven auf den Iran: Vom schönen Schein der Islamischen Republik [Western perspectives on Iran: On the Islamic Republic’s veneer], Qantara.de: Dialog mit der islamischen Welt, 07/03.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Das Ende der Stabilität in Iran: Zur jüngsten iranischen Rebellion [The end of stability in Iran: On the recent Iranian rebellion], WeltTrends, No. 137 (March 2018), pp. 4–8.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Revolte gegen die Revolution: Bilanz zum 39. Jahrestag der Revolution in Iran [Revolt against the revolution: Balance-sheet on the 39th anniversary of the Revolution in Iran], taz.die tageszeitung, 03–04/02, p. 11. {Media coverage: Perlentaucher: Das Kulturmagazin, 03/02 | Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education, bpb), »Sicherheitspolitische Presseschau«, 04/02 | Iran International TV (London), media review show »Irân az negâh-e digarân« [Iran viewed by others], 06/01}

Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Iran: Hält das Atomabkommen? [Iran: Will the nuclear deal survive?], LuXemburg Spezial »Weltordnungskonflikte«, January 2018, pp. 62–69.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad & Arash Sarkohi, »Fürchtet euch!« Wenn Slogans für sich sprechen [»Be afraid!« When slogans speak for themselves], Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 16/01, p. 37. {Media coverage: Perlentaucher: Das Kulturmagazin, 16/10 | Dirk Liesemer, »Brot, Arbeit, Freiheit«: Was die Menschen im Iran auf die Straße treibt, piqd, 20/10.}

Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Causes behind Iran’s Protests: A Preliminary Account, Al Jazeera English, 06/01 ▪ republished on Iran Matters, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 06/01 ▪ republished as Protests in Iran: The Spark that Turned Into a Wildfire, Qantara.de: Dialog with the Islamic World, 09/01.

Arabic translation by Brookings Doha Center, 06/01.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Quo vadis Iran? Außen- und innenpolitischer Rückblick 2017 und Ausblick 2018 [Quo vadis Iran? Foreign policy and domestic politics review 2017 and prospects for 2018], Iran-Journal, 06/01 ▪ republished by Arabischer Publizisten-Verein Deustchlands (APVD), 09/01.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Iran : Les racines et ferments de la colère [Iran: Roots and ferments of the rage], L’Orient-Le Jour (Beirut), 06/01, p. 9 ▪ republished on CameroonVoice (Montreal), 08/01.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Protestwelle im Iran: »Rohani, ich bereue!« [Wave of protest in Iran: »Rohani, I regret«], Qantara.de: Dialog mit der islamischen Welt, 04/01 ▪ Trans. into Arabic, Qantara.de, 05/01 ▪ republished as Der enttschäuschende Hoffnungsträger [The disappointing bearer of hope], Iran-Journal, 05/01.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Wenn die letzte Hoffnung zerstört ist: Warum das Regime im Iran jetzt infrage gestellt wird [When the last hope is destroyed: Why the regime in Iran is now being put in question], Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin), 04/01, p. 6.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Saudi Arabia and Iran – An Unresolved Conflict: Your Guide to Understanding the Historical Struggle for Influence (Arabic), transl. from the English original ‘The Iranian–Saudi Hegemonic Rivalry’, Sana Press, 21/12.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad, The Survival of the Nuclear Deal and Iran’s External and Internal Challenges, in: ibid. et al, The Middle East and North Africa in 2018: Challenges, threats, and opportunities, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 21/12.

Interviews: Print & Online

APA (Austria Presse Agentur), Iran-Experte: “Proteste sind neues Kapitel”, Salzburger Nachrichten, 19/02.

Ali Cem Deniz & Gersin Livia Paya, »Das iranische Regime ist reformresistent« [»The Iranian regime is resilient towards reform«], interview with Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Radio FM4 – ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation), 09/01.

Ferdinand Knauß, Iran-Experte Ali Fathollah-Nejad: »Rohanis Kurs war von Anfang an ungeeignet« [Iran expert Ali Fathollah-Nejad: »From the beginning Rouhani’s economic course was inadequate«], interview with Ali Fathollah-Nejad, WirtschaftsWoche, 05/01.

Thomas Ludwig, Interview zu Iran-Protesten: »Die Islamische Republik ist an sich kaum reformfähig« [Interview on Iran protests: »The Islamic Republic as such is hardly reformable«], interview with Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, 03/01, p. 3.

Vanessa Vu, Proteste im Iran: »Das Regime in Teheran ist reformresistent« [Protests in Iran: »The regime in Tehran is resilient towards reform«] interview with Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Zeit Online, 03/01.

Gian Micalessin, »Voi europei avete creduto all’esistenza di un’élite buona« [»You Europeans believed in the existence of a good élite«], interview with Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Il Giornale (Milano), 03/01, p. 10.

Daniel Steinvorth, »Die Saudi sind die Verlierer« [»The Saudis are the losers«], interview with Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 23/12. [Media reports: Reasons for protests in Iran, Vestnik Kavkaza, 02/01.]

Radio Interviews

Hanna Sommersacher, Iran-Experte: »Europa muss sein Gewicht einsetzen« [Iran expert: »Europe must utilize its weight«], Ö1 »Mittagsjournal«, ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation), 21/02.

Claude Biver, Politesch Onrouen am Iran [Political unrest in Iran], radio 100,7 (Luxembourg), 30/01 | Radio feature, 29/01.

Iran-Strategie der EU auf dem Prüfstand [The EU’s Iran strategy on trial], interviewed by Samuel Wyss, »Echo der Zeit«, SRF (Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen, Swiss Radio and Television), 18/01. [Transcript: Iran-Strategie: »Die Sanktionen zu verschärfen, ist absolut falsch« [Iran strategy: »Tightening the sanctions would be absolutely wrong«], srf.ch, 19/01.]

Proteste in Iran [Protests in Iran], Radio FM4 – ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation), »Auf Laut«, 09/01.

Proteste im Iran: »Junge Menschen, die mit dem Rücken zur Wand stehen« [Protests in Iran: »Young people who stand with their back to the wall«], WDR 2, »Mittagsmagazin«, 05/01.

Proteste im Iran, BR2 (Bayrischer Rundfunk), »radioWelt«, 03/01.

Proteste im Iran [Protests in Iran], Ali Fathollah-Nejad interviewed by Jürgen Deppe, NDR Kultur, 03/01.

Proteste im Iran [Protests in Iran], Ali Fathollah-Nejad interviewed by Matthias Dänzer-Vanotti, Bayern 2, »radioWelt«, 03/01.

Proteste im Iran: “Das ganze System der Islamischen Republik wird kritisiert”, Deutschlandfunk, »Informationen am Tag«, 02/01.

Ann-Kathrin Büüsker, Iran: Was treibt die Menschen auf die Straße? [Iran: What drives people onto the streets], Deutschlandfunk, »Der Tag«, 02/01.

TV interviews

Trump’s State of the Union address, interview on his Guantanamo & Iran statements, Al Jazeera English, 31/01.

Iran Protests End, But Grievances Remain, interviewed by Aaron Maté, The Real News Network, 12/01.

Iran Protests: Takeaways and Prospects, Brookings Doha Center, 08/01.

Protests in Iran, DW (Deutsche Welle), »DW News«, 04/01.

Iran accuses ‘enemies’ as US seeks emergency UN session, Al Jazeera English, 03/01.

Protests in Iran, Al Jazeera English »The News Grid«, {29m34–35m40}, 01/01.

Weiter Proteste im Iran [Ongoing protests in Iran], interviewed by Jens Olesen, Deutsche Welle, »Der Tag«, 01/01.

What Triggered Iran’s Protests?, Al Jazeera English »Inside Story«, 30/12. [Media reports: DQ Yam (China), 02/01; Investing.com (Indonesia), 02/01; Rilis: Belita Politik Indonesia (Jakarta), 02/01]

Commentary: Online & Print


Julie Kebbi, En Iran, match nul dans la bataille pour le pouvoir [In Iran, a draw in the battle for power], L’Orient-Le Jour, 12/02, p. 7.

Moritz Eichhorn, Teheran gegen Berlin: Kabalen iranischer Art, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS), 21/01.

Muhammad Zamir [fmr. Ambassador], Iran protests highlight issues of good governance and accountability, The Financial Express (Dhaka), 21/01 ▪ a version published as Can there be meaningful change in Iran?, Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh), 20/01 ▪ Domestic issues need to be addressed in Iran, Bangladesh Post, 23/01.

Daniel Steinvorth, Die Mär von den guten und den bösen Mullahs: Solidarität mit den Iranern, nicht mit den Mullahs [The tale of the good and bad mullahs: Solidarity with Iranians, not with the mullahs], Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 19/01.

Manfred Bergheim, Großen Hoffnungen folgt die Ernüchterung, VDI nachrichten, Verband Deutscher Ingenieure (VDI, Association of German Engineers), Vol. 72, Nos. 1–3 (12/01), p. 7.

Nadine Abdalla, Two Major Keys for Understanding the Iranian Protests (in Arabic), Al-Masry Al-Youm (Egypt), 12/01.

Jörg Lau, Iran: »Brot, Arbeit, Freiheit« [Iran: »Bread, job, freedom«], Die Zeit, No. 03/2018 (11–17/01), p. 6. {Persian translation}

Marcus Mäckler, Atomabkommen: Trumps heikle Entscheidung, Münchner Merkur, 11/01, p. 4 & Oberbayerisches Volksblatt (OBV), 11/01.

Fatima Al-Smadi, Iran’s Protests: Are They the Start of the »Bread« Uprising?, Report, Doha: Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, 08/01.

Samia Medawar, L’interventionnisme iranien dans la ligne de mire des manifestants [Iranian interventionism in the protesters‘ line of fire], L’Orient-Le Jour (Beirut), 03/01, p. 7. [Republished by Le Courrier international, 03/01]


Susanne Klaiber, Umweltschützer im Visier: Irans Häscher schlagen wieder zu [Environmentalists targeted: Iran’s bloodhounds strike again] , HuffPost Deutschland, 14/02.

Roberto Vivadelli, Iran, le rivendicazioni delle donne vanno oltre il velo [Iran, women’s demands go beyond the veil], Il Giornale On Line (Milano), 24/01.

Stefania D’Ignoti, Women’s campaigns flourish beyond Iran protests, Al-Monitor, 18/01.

Josie Ensor, Why are Iranian protesters calling for the return of the Shah?, The Telegraph (online), 14/01.

Proteste in Iran [Protests in Iran], »Politik – Hintergrund aktuell«, bpb.de, Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education), 11/01.

Anna Samarina, Proteste im Iran: 21 Tote und über 450 Verhaftete – Warum reagierte die Bundesregierung nur zögerlich?, Epoch Times, 13/01.

Asa Fitch & Jared Malsin, Behind Iran’s Protests: A Struggling Economy Despite Sanctions Relief, The Wall Street Journal (online), 04/01.

(Pashto) Maseer Daily (Afghanistan), 02/01.

Iran-Experte Fathollah-Nejad warnt vor Zerrbild der Proteste im Iran [Iran expert Fathollah-Nejad warns about a distortion of the protests in Iran), dpa (Deutsche Presse-Agentur), 02/01.

Marco Fieber, Aufstand von unten: Warum die Proteste im Iran ein Klassenkampf sind [Uprising from below: Why the protests in Iran are a class struggle], HuffPost, 02/01.

Gewalttätige Proteste: Iran verliert die Kontrolle [Violent protests: Iran loses control], Handelsblatt, 02/01.

Hunderte Festnahmen im Iran – Oberster Führer sieht Verschwörung [Hundreds of arrests in Iran – Supreme Leader sees conspiracy], gmx.at (Austria), 02/01.

Ariane Sohrabi-Shirazi, Iran protests: Why are thousands of Iranians demonstrating against the government?, Daily Star (UK), 02/01.

Why did protests erupt in Iran? Here’s everything you need to know about the protests rocking Iran, Vennomax, 02/01.

Ein Flächenbrand ohne sichtbaren Auslöser [A wild fire without apparent trigger], AFP, 03/01.


Andreia Martins, Entre a “ingerência externa” e o direito ao protesto. O que se passa no Irão?, RTP (Rádio e Televisão de Portugal), 03/01.

Jahin Khan, Economic Protests Shake Iran, The Organization for World Peace, 02/01.

»Der Protest fiel auf fruchtbaren Boden« [»The protest took place on fertile gound], Münchner Merkur, 03/01.

Allison Kaplan Sommer, Iran Protests Explained: Why Are Thousands of Iranians Taking to the Streets, Haaretz, 01/01.

Borzou Daraghi, Iran’s Rouhani Acknowledges Right To Protest, But Blasts Trump For Encouraging It, BuzzFeed News, 31/12.

Five things you need to know about protests in Iran, Al Jazeera English, 31/12.

Malin Rising, Experter: Ökande sociala klyftor bakom protester [Experts: Increasing social gaps behind protests], Omni (Sweden), 31/12.

Orkhan Sattarov, Expert: »Saudi Arabia can’t stop Iran’s advance in the region«, Vestnik Kavkaza, 29/12.


[en] Overview and selected publications in English, German and French – with translations into a dozen languages.

[de] Übersicht und Auswahl meiner Veröffentlichungen auf Deutsch, Englisch und Französisch – mit Übersetzungen in ein Dutzend weiterer Sprachen.


[en] Details about my talks and lectures in English, German or French.

[de] Informationen zu meinen Vorträgen auf Deutsch, Englisch oder Französisch.

[fr] Des informations sur mes conférences en allemand, anglais ou français.

Events in February & March 2018

14 Mar. 2018     Panel »Die aktuelle Lage in Iran – Auswirkungen auf die Wirtschaft« [The current situation in Iran – Ramifications on the economy] | Org. vbw – Vereinigung der Bayerischen Wirtschaft (Bavarian Industry Association) | Hotel Bayerischer Hof, München.

2–4 Mar. 2018   Iran – Staat, Gesellschaft und Außenpolitik im Umbruch [Iran – State, society and foreign policy in flux] | Seminar organized on behalf of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) | Düsseldorf.

1 Mar. 2018       3 talks on »Europa und seine Nachbarregion: Reflexionen und Lehren aus dem ›Arabischen Frühling‹ bis hin zum ›Krieg gegen den Terror‹« [Europa and its neighbouring region: Relections and lessons from the »Arab Spring« and the »War on Terror«] Spessart-Gymnasium Alzenau, Germany. {Report}

26 Feb.             Panel organizer & chair »Iran in 2018 and Beyond: External and Internal Challenges« w/ Dr. Mohammad-Kazem Sajjadpour (Pres., Institute for Political and International Studies [IPIS], Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs) & Prof. Hooshang Amirahmadi (School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University & President, American-Iranian Council) & Prof. Shafeeq Ghabra (Professor of Political Science, Kuwait University & fmr. founding President, American University of Kuwait) | Brookings Doha Center. {Reports: Qatar Tribune, 01/03, p. 3 | Gulf Times, 04/03, p. 10}

23 Feb.             Missachtete Lehren aus dem »Arabischen Frühling«: Wieso Entwicklungs- und Außenpolitik in Europas Nachbarregion zusammengedacht werden muss, Keynote & Podiumsdiskussion »Die Globalisierung und die außenpolitischen Herausforderungen für Deutschland unter spezieller Betrachtung der Entwicklungsländer«, Wirtschaftsforum der Evangelischen Bank, Berlin, 22.–23.02.

22 Feb.             Introduction to the talk »Wer regiert im Iran und welche Ziel verfolgt der Iran in der Region?« [Who rules Iran and what are Iran’s goals in the region?] by Omid Nouripour, German MP, The Green Party | berlinlounge | Org. AGIT (Agentur für Integrierte Kommunikation) | Kempinski Hotel Bristol Berlin.

22 Feb.             Political and Socio-Economic Situation in the Middle East and EU Foreign and Developmental Policies | International Diplomats Programme | Federal Foreign Office (AA) of Germany, Berlin.

22 Feb.             Panel »Die aktuellen Unruhen im Iran und die Zukunft des Iran-Abkommens« [The current unrest in Iran and the future of the Iran deal] w/ Charlotte Wiedemann, journalist | Aspen Institute Germany, Berlin.

19 Feb.             Panel »Der neue Iran: Zwischen Konfrontation und Veränderung« [The new Iran: Between confrontation and change] w/ Dr. Hannes Swoboda (IIP President & ex-MEP); mod. Angela Kane (IIP Vice-President & ehem. Hohe Repräsentantin der UN in Abrüstungsfragen) | International Institute for Peace (IIP), Vienna. {Video}

15 Feb.             »Domestic politics in Iran and foreign policy implications for Europe« | Mod. Amanda Paul, Senior Policy Analyst, EPC | European Policy Centre (EPC), Brussels.

14 Feb.             Panel »Transatlantic Perspectives on Iran« with Dr. Ian Lesser (Vice-President, Foreign Policy & Executive Director, Transatlantic Center, GMF) | GMF series »Mediterranean Mornings« | Org. German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) Brussels & American Jewish Committee (AJC) Transatlantic Institute (TAI) | GMF Mediterranean Policy Program, Brussels.

13 Feb.             A Critique of Iran Analyses in the Rohani Era: Deconstructing Eight Key Hypotheses | Seminar »Où va l’Iran ?« [Where is Iran headed to ?], mod. Prof. Firouzeh Nahvandi, Institute of Sociology Director & CECID Director | Centre d’Études de la Coopération Internationale et du Développement (CECID), Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels.

10 Feb.              Chairing »Raving Iran« panel with Blade&Beard | Studio, Essen.


Latest Posts

Books / Studies

Der Iran-Konflikt und die Obama-Regierung

Alter Wein in neuen Schläuchen?
Mit dem Amtsantritt Barack Obamas wurden nach Jahren schwelender Kriegsgefahr mit dem Iran große Hoffnungen verbunden.

Iran in the Eye of Storm

Why A Global War Has Begun
The Iran crisis has become a synonym for escalation dangerously tending towards confrontation. Tehran therein is accused by the U.S.-led West of developing nuclear weapons.