Dr. Ali Fathollah-Nejad is Founder and Director of the Center for Middle East and Global Order (CMEG), a Berlin-headquartered 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, Palgrave), The Islamic Republic of Iran Four Decades On: The 2017/18 Protests Amid a Triple Crisis (2020, Brookings), where he suggested the start of a long-term revolutionary process in Iran, as well as The Islamic Republic in Existential Crisis: The Need for a Paradigm Shift in the EU’s Iran Policy (2023, EUISS, Chaillot Paper). Ali is also the former Iran expert of the Brookings Institution in Doha (BDC, 2017–20) and the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP, 2015–18). He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Department of Development Studies at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) and was the winner of 2016/17 post-doctoral fellowship of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Iran Project.
Born in Tabriz, he grew up as a little kid in Ahvaz during the Iraq–Iran War, before his parents emigrated to Germany in late 1987 where completed the German and Iranian primary schools (through the Iranian Embassy in Bonn) in parallel. Educated at universities in France (Sciences-Po Lille), Germany (Münster) and the Netherlands (Twente), he earned his PhD in International Relations from the Department of Development Studies of 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.
Fathollah-Nejad has also 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.
He has pursued multi-lingual, multi-national and pluri-disciplinary university studies in Western European countries covering the fields of political science, sociology and law. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Public Administration and a Master of Arts (M.A.) in European Studies from the University of Münster (Germany) as well as a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Public Administration and a Master of Science (M.Sc.) cum laude in European Studies from the University of Twente (The Netherlands). He began his studies at the Lille Institute of Political Studies (Sciences-Po Lille, France) where he obtained an Intermediate Diploma. From 1999 to 2004, he had been working as a teacher in various German education centers, mainly with children and young adults of immigrant background.
Fathollah-Nejad’s expertise and research interests lie in the U.S.–Iran conflict and the role of the European Union (with special attention to geopolitics, diplomacy, decision-making processes and power structures), 21st-century world order, peace and conflict studies, the foreign policies of the U.S. and EU vis-à-vis West Asia and transatlantic relations. He further focuses on politico−cultural issues of immigrant integration.
In addition to two monographs on the post-“9/11” U.S.–Iran conflict, he has written over 150 analytical pieces in English, German and French – with translations into almost a dozen languages. His work has been published worldwide, e.g. by PBS Newshour, Al Jazeera English, The Guardian, Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Middle East Institute (Washingto, DC), The National Interest, openDemocracy, Jadaliyya, World Policy Journal, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Internationale Politik (IP), Der Tagesspiegel, taz, Huffington Post (France, Quebec & Germany editions), L’Orient-Le Jour, Géostratégiques, Mediapart, Insight Turkey, Iranian Diplomacy and the Palestine–Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture.
He has given over 150 talks in English, German and French at academic (e.g. Harvard Kennedy School, SOAS, Imperial College London, Seoul National University Asia Center, University of Economics in Prague, Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Kadir Has University in Istanbu, Humboldt University of Berlin) and political institutions (e.g. European Parliament, House of Commons, German Federal Foreign Office, MED – Mediterranean Dialogues, University of Law in London, Vienna School of International Studies, Iranian Foreign Ministry think-tank IPIS).
Fathollah-Nejad provided consultancy on Iran-related issues for Members of the European Parliament and of the German Bundestag as well as on geopolitical issues in the Middle East for the International Crisis Group and for global risk consultancies, such as Control Risks (London).