Polling the Iranian Street: A Look Inside the Prospects for Reform in Iran
August 26, 2014
11:45 am -
A Conversation with Ali Alfoneh, David Keyes, and Michael Ledeen
Moderated by Clifford D. May
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Registration and lunch will begin at 11:45 am
The IMF reports that Iran is experiencing a modest economic recovery. While the Iranian regime has used the breathing space to build greater resiliency, the overall standard of living for the Iranian people is not improving. At the same time, the tempo of arrests and executions has increased, freedom of the press has been further curtailed, Green Movement leaders Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi remain in isolation, and public protests over Iranian involvement in Syria and Iraq have increased.
What does President Rouhani’s failure to improve economic conditions and human rights for average Iranians say about his political will and Iran’s capacity for meaningful reform? Is there still a significant domestic movement for real reform? What do these and other factors indicate for the strength and stability of the Iranian regime? How do these factors impact P5+1 negotiations and future U.S. policy towards Iran?
FDD was joined for a conversation with Ali Alfoneh, David Keyes, and Michael Ledeen, moderated by Clifford D. May
Ali Alfoneh is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a top expert on Iran and the inner workings of its regime. Mr. Alfoneh came to FDD from the American Enterprise Institute, where he worked as a resident fellow specializing on civil-military relations in Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Mr. Alfoneh is the author of Iran Unveiled: How the Revolutionary Guards Is Transforming Iran from Theocracy into Military Dictatorship (AEI Press, April 2013) and the originator of the thesis that the Islamic Republic is transforming into a military dictatorship, which he first published in 2005, and has since been adopted by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. Mr. Alfoneh grew up in Tehran, but moved to Denmark with his family in 1988. In 1993, he ran for public office, and served as elected member of the Herlev City Council from 1994 to 1998. He has written extensively on the leadership and inner workings of the Iranian regime.
David Keyes is the executive director of Advancing Human Rights which he founded together with Robert L. Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch and former head of Random House. Keyes was called a “pioneer in online activism” by The New York Times and is a contributor to The Daily Beast. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Foreign Policy and appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera and Bloomberg TV. Following his confrontation with Iran’s foreign minister, Keyes was credited by CBS with freeing Majid Tavakoli, one of Iran’s most famous political prisoners, on furlough. Keyes’ idea to rename the street in front of the Chinese embassy “Liu Xiaobo Plaza,” after China’s jailed Nobel Prize winner, was adopted by the US Congress and led to furious denunciations by the Chinese government. Keyes recently re-launched Movements.org, a new human rights platform linking dissidents from dictatorships with people around the world with skills to help. He frequently briefs senior policy-makers and speaks Arabic and Hebrew.
Dr. Michael Ledeen is a freedom scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is an internationally renowned scholar, whose ideas and insights on the workings of the Iranian government have been a critical part of the policy discussion for decades. He is a highly regarded expert on Iran’s Green Movement and maintains close ties to opposition groups inside Iran. His scholarship on Iraq, terrorism and international security have been sought after by those in and out of government and the intelligence community, the media and policy influencers. He is a contributor to The Hill and a contributing editor at National Review Online. He has a significant following on his blog at PJMedia, “Faster Please!,” which supports Iran’s democracy movement, and he also blogs at The Huffington Post. Previously, Dr. Ledeen served as a consultant to the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Defense Department. He has also served as a special adviser to the Secretary of State. Dr. Ledeen is the author of more than 20 books. He holds a Ph.D. in modern European history and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, and has taught at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Rome.