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March 21 – Nowruz – marks the beginning of a new century for Iranians who count their years according to an ancient solar calendar. A century ago, Iran was effectively a failed state, with a rudimentary infrastructure, a bankrupt economy and a dysfunctional central government incapable of providing livelihood or security for its citizens. Separatist warlords fought to bite off corners from the domain, and Iran was a playground of foreign powers. A deep sense of malaise and despair pervaded the nation. Then, on February 22, 1921, some intellectuals and a senior officer in the Cossack Brigades, by the name of Reza Khan, marched on Tehran and took power. In 1925 he became king, setting out to lay the foundations of modern Iran. As Iran enters the year 1400, however, its people have a renewed sense of hopelessness and many unfulfilled aspirations. The Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative invites you to a discussion of the similarities and differences between the Iran of today and a century ago. What are the main lessons of this past tumultuous century for the next?

The discussion will be held via Zoom on March 9, 2021 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET.  The event will be open to the press and on the record.


Sina Azodi
Nonresident Fellow
Atlantic Council

Mehrzad Boroujerdi
Director, School of Public and International Affairs
Virginia Tech

Nadereh Chamlou
Nonresident Senior Fellow
Atlantic Council

Sadegh Zibakalam
Author and Professor
University of Tehran

Moderated by

Barbara Slavin
Director, Future of Iran Initiative
Atlantic Council