Recent Events

The 1953 CIA-assisted overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh is getting new attention with the release of more US government documents about the coup and calls for changing the current Iranian regime by some members and supporters of the Trump administration. 

At an event July 13 at the Atlantic Council, Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini said the coup – which restored Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to the throne until the 1979 Islamic revolution – is one reason why “the vast majority of Iranians would never support a foreign regime change” now. “If there’s a change to be had, they want it to be done … with their own hands and feet as a domestic process,” said Anderlini, who was born in Iran and is co-founder and executive director of the International Civil Society Action Network. “Iranians are nationalistic," she said. "They don’t want outside interference.”
On June 7, 2017, the South Asia Center hosted a discussion on the regional perspectives of the United States strategy in Afghanistan. Former Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, India’s Former Minister of Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari, and the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Dr. Ashley J. Tellis discussed the role of regional players and the United States in stabilizing the security environment in Afghanistan.
On May 5, Barbara Slavin, acting director of The Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, moderated a panel on “Nurturing People-to-People Ties with Iran.” Slavin quoted a Mennonite professor, Harry Huebner, who has visited Iran at least 10 times as saying that “dialogue is its own justification.”

This is particularly the case when it comes to countries with which the US lacks normal relations, Slavin said. Speakers on the panel noted the mutual benefits of US-Iran ties from the academic and economic contribution Iranian scholars make to US universities to the goodwill generated by exchanges of athletic teams, clergy, artists and doctors.

“America is great because it has great universities,” said Stan L. Albrecht, the just-retired president of Utah State University, in recounting ties between the university and Iranians that go back to the 1940s. Albrecht also described a more recent joint project involving Iran’s Lake Urmia, which has been threatened with desertification and is similar in structure to Utah’s Great Salt Lake.
On Monday, January 30, 2017, the South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative co-hosted a half-day symposium with The Iran Project. The event focused on the record of the Iran nuclear deal and its likely fate under the Trump administration. The intent was to help forge a bipartisan path forward that will preserve the non-proliferation gains of the accord while finding a resolution for other Iranian activities that are of concern and contributing to conflict resolution.
On Wednesday, January 25, the South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative co-hosted a panel discussion entitled Iranian Attitudes on Iran-US Relations in the Trump Era with the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies, featuring Dr. Ebrahim Mohseni, Research Scholar, Center for International and Security Studies, University of Maryland, Ms. Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Co-Founder and Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network, and Dr. Paul Pillar, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University. Acting Director of the Future of Iran Initiative, Barbara Slavin welcomed attendees, introduced the panelists, and moderated the discussion.
On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, and the Global Energy Center hosted a panel discussion on what to do about Russia’s rising profile in the Middle East. Panelist included Anna Borshchevskaya, Ira Weiner Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Thomas Cunningham, Deputy Director of Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, Alireza Nader, Senior International Policy Analyst at RAND, and Aaron Stein, Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. The event was moderated by Barbara Slavin, the Acting Director of South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative. Panelists discussed Russia’s regional and international policy challenges including the Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war, expanded military cooperation between Russia and Iran, and Russia’s near future energy strategy, as well as policy options for President-Elect Trump towards Russia.
On November 15th, the South Asia Center held a conversation on Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP), a document that specifies the government’s recommendations for counter-terrorism efforts. Mr. Shuja Nawaz, a Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council, discussed his recent publication, “Countering Militancy and Terrorism in Pakistan: The Civil-Military Nexus,” which analyzes the relationship between Pakistan’s civil society and military in the context of the Apex Committees at the provincial level. Joining Mr. Shuja Nawaz on the panel were Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Associate Vice President, United States Institute of Peace and Dr. Thomas F. Lynch III, Distinguished Research Fellow, National Defense University. The panelists concurred that while the NAP is a commendable foundational document, it should pair down and focus on a core set of actionable objectives. The panelists also cautioned that limited resources may prevent the successful execution of all components of the NAP.

On November 9th, the South Asia Center hosted a discussion with the 2016 Emerging Leaders of Pakistan. The Emerging Leaders of Pakistan Fellowship seeks to empower the next generation of Pakistan’s leaders by providing fellows with resources to strengthen their engagement with civil society. The featured fellows --Ayub Ayubi, Haris Badar, Shahraiz Malik, and Wajeeha Riaz-- discussed methods for improving civil society in Pakistan and the practicable skills they developed through the fellowship. This program is funded by the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. More information about the 2016 cohort and fellowship program can be found here.
On Friday, November 4, 2016, the South Asia Center hosted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s Chief Adviser Dr. M Humayon Qayoumi for a discussion on administering reform in Afghanistan. Following the introductory remarks from Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy, the Director of the South Asia Center, Dr. Frederick Starr, the Founding Chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, moderated a conversation with Dr. Qayoumi on the practical steps Afghanistan has made towards instituting vocational training for Afghan youth to tackle unemployment, developing major cities beside Kabul to diversify Afghanistan’s economy, and reversing the brain drain in the country by attracting Afghans with economic opportunity. 

On Thursday, October 20, 2016, the South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative hosted a panel discussion moderated by the Future of Iran Initiative's Acting Director Barbara Slavin featuring Mehdi Ghadyanloo, Iranian artist and muralist, and David Furchgott, Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of International Arts and Artists, to discuss Iran’s public art scene. The panelists discussed the effects of sanctions on Iranian artists as well as the problems faced by Iranian artists who seek entry into international art circles and collaboration with other artists. Despite these obstacles, the panelists agreed, Iran’s growing art scene presents enormous potential for non-political exchanges between Iran and the international community.