Abbas Milani

Understanding both is key to a potentially enduring solution to the snagged negotiations.

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The call, now heard around the world, made Friday by President Barack Obama from the Oval Office to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, as he was stuck in New York City traffic on his way to the airport, has at least for the moment ended a tumultuous 34-year-old estrangement between the two countries, a estrangement only occasionally broken by discreet mid-level meetings between the two countries’ representatives, or “back-channel” encounters. 

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Iran's new president is headed to New York this week. Americans should be optimistic.

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Hassan Rouhani, a man of ferocious pragmatism and an unfailing ability to find and align himself with the center of power in Iran’s labyrinthine political structure, was sworn in Sunday as the seventh president.

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Patience With All Things in Iran

President-elect Hassan Rouhani may challenge the status quo—or become a part of it

Patient resilience has long been a characteristic of the Iranian people. In times of adversity—and the increasing authoritarianism of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards allies, combined with the corrupt and inefficient populism of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his band of brothers, has certainly been one such time—the Iranians wait. And usually, instead of challenging the foe head-on, they try to deliver a stinging blow using the limited tools that adverse times allow them.

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Engineering elections in Iran, it turns out, is more difficult than what Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his allies in the Revolutionary Guards had imagined. With Friday's elections a day away, every indication is that a candidate's chances of victory is inversely correlated to their professed or perceived closeness to Khamenei. His son's father-in-law, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, pulled out when even the regime's own published polls showed him with no more than low-single-digit support. Khamenei's other favored candidate, Saeed Jalili, hitherto in charge of Iran's nuclear negotiations—and praised by sites close to Khamenei as a "living martyr" for the leg he lost in the Iran-Iraq war—has also failed to garner the kind of support the regime hoped. Even among Khamenei's closest circle of advisors, Jalili has been ridiculed for offering nothing but empty slogans.

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An Election Foretold

As expected, Iran's regime has engineered the presidential race

As expected, Iran's regime has engineered the presidential race.

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An 'Epic' Mess in Iran

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei wants an 'epic' election. He may get one, but not the kind he expected.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei wants an 'epic' election. He may get one, but not the kind he expected.

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Hillary Mann Leverett and Flynt Leverett respond to Abbas Milani's review of their book.

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The American Voices of the Islamist Regime in Iran

Two former U.S. officials make the case for accommodation

How did two former members of the National Security Council come to support a repressive theocracy?

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