At a time of rising tensions between the United States and Iran, various active opposition groups among Iran’s exiled communities, each with their own unique ideology, continue to bid for the position of powerful alternative to the Islamic Republic. Largely fragmented, these opposition groups and their figures have had limited success in posing a real challenge to Tehran’s establishment. The Islamic Republic, however, has continued to view them as an existential threat. To discuss the realities, perceptions, and impact of these groups, the Atlantic Council hosted a panel discussion on July 22 that also marked the release of a new issue brief, “Beyond Control: Iran and its Opponents Locked in a Lopsided Confrontation.” The Issue Brief, written by Atlantic Council Nonresident Senior Fellow Borzou Daragahi, sketches out the landscape of the various major political opposition groups in Iran and addresses the question of why Iran perceives them as such a challenge.

Atlantic Council Executive Chairman Emeritus of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security General James L. Jones gave introductory remarks at the event. The panel discussion featured Atlantic Council Nonresident Senior Fellows Borzou Daragahi and Nader Uskowi as well as Middle East Institute Scholar Jonathan Winer. BBC News Foreign Affairs & Political Journalist Suzanne Kianpour moderated the discussion.