Beyond Control: Iran and its Opponents Locked in a Lopsided Confrontation

July 22, 2019 - 12:00 pm

Washington, DC

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, please join us for a panel discussion that will also mark 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. 

The discussion will be held July 22, 2019 from 12:00 to 1:30 pm at the Atlantic Council. The event is open to press and on the record. 


Introductory Remarks:

General James L. Jones, USMC (Ret.)

Executive Chairman Emeritus, Chairman, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security

Atlantic Council 

A conversation with:

Borzou Daragahi 

Nonresident Senior Fellow, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security

Atlantic Council 


Nader Uskowi

Nonresident Senior Fellow, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security

Atlantic Council


Jonathan Winer


Middle East Institute 


Moderated by:

Suzanne Kianpour

Foreign Affairs & Political Journalist

BBC News


On Twitter? Follow @AtlanticCouncil @ACIranSource and use #ACIran


Atlantic Council

1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator) 

Washington, DC


This event is open to press and on the record. 


VISITING THE COUNCIL: Metro and parking info


General James L. Jones, USMC (Ret.) is the chairman of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. He has spent his life serving and protecting America and American ideals. As the former commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, he led all military operations for NATO and later, as national security advisor, he brought clear vision and steady leadership to America's mission in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and the country's interests around the world. Jones graduated from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and was commissioned into the Marine Corps in January 1967. He served in Vietnam, serving as rifle platoon and company commander. On returning to the US, he pursued a career in the Marines, attending the Amphibious Warfare School in 1973 and the National War College in 1985, and serving as Marine Corps liaison officer to the US Senate. He was also commanding officer of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Northern Iraq and Turkey on Operation Provide Comfort; chief of staff, Joint Task Force Provide Promise, for operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia; and commanding general, 2nd Marine Division, Marine Forces Atlantic. He also served as military assistant to the secretary of defense from 1997 to 1999. He became the 32nd commandant of the United States Marine Corps in July 1999.

During his NATO assignment from 2003 to 2006, he advocated energy security and the defense of critical infrastructures as a core part of NATO's future missions. With the Chamber, Jones worked to unite energy consumers and producers for a common goal - to increase the variety of the US energy supply and associated infrastructures, to advance international cooperation on energy issues, to protect national energy security, and to promote better understanding of changes to the global climate and its effects on the environment. Upon retirement in February 2007, the combat veteran became the president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy and, in 2008, served as the State Department's Special Envoy for Middle East Regional Security. From 2009 until 2010, he served as President Obama's national security advisor at the White House. 

Borzou Daragahi is a journalist and a nonresident senior fellow with the Middle East Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council's Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. He is a foreign correspondent who has been covering the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe for more than sixteen years. He is now based in Istanbul, writing for Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, and The Daily Beast, among others. He has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist three times, once for coverage of Iran and twice for Iraq, and has won an Overseas Press Club award and citation for Iraq and Iran coverage. He has been honored with journalism awards from the American Academy of Diplomacy and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Before moving to the Middle East, he wrote for Money magazine in New York, newspapers in Massachusetts, and business publications after graduating from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and the Eugene Lang College of the New School for Social Research. He has taught undergraduate journalism at Purchase College and Pratt Institute in New York and has appeared frequently as a guest speaker on university campuses. Born in Iran, he grew up in the Chicago area and New York City. He speaks Persian as well as some Spanish, German, Arabic, and a little French and Turkish.

Nader Uskowi is a nonresident fellow with the Middle East Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. Nader is the president of Sagewood Consulting LLC, a consulting firm specializing on Iran, Middle East, and Central Asia. Before joining the Atlantic Council, Nader was a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is the author of Temperature Rising: Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Wars in the Middle East, published in January 2019. From 2013 to 2017, Nader worked at the Pentagon serving as the senior policy advisor to the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), focusing on geopolitical developments in the Middle East. From 2009 to 2012, he was deployed to Afghanistan, serving as the senior political advisor to the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s task force for stability operations. He has testified before the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence on state sponsors of terrorism. He began his professional life as a journalist in Iran, and in 1978 became the country’s youngest editor of a major daily newspaper, Neday-e Azadi. Nader holds a BA in international relations at the University of Southern California, and an MA from George Washington University. He lives with his wife, Patti, in Reston, Virginia. He has native fluency in Farsi and Dari.

Jonathan M. Winer has been the United States Special Envoy for Libya, the deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement, and counsel to United States Senator John Kerry. He has written and lectured widely on US Middle East policy, counter-terrorism, international money laundering, illicit networks, corruption, and US-Russia issues. In 2016, Winer received the highest award granted by the Secretary of State, for “extraordinary service to the US government” in avoiding the massacre of over 3,000 members of an Iranian dissident group in Iraq, and for leading US policy in Libya “from a major foreign policy embarrassment to a fragile but democratic, internationally recognized government.” In 1999, he received the Department’s second highest award, for having “created the capacity of the Department and the US government to deal with international crime and criminal justice as important foreign policy functions." The award stated that "the scope and significance of his achievements are virtually unprecedented for any single official."

Suzanne Kianpour is a foreign affairs and political journalist for the BBC. An Emmy nominated news reporter and producer, she’s currently covering foreign policy and United States national security issues. Kianpour is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council focusing on Iran and a guest lecturer at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. With previous postings in Beirut, London, and Los Angeles, Kianpour ’s reporting has taken her around the world: from conflict zones in the Middle East, to covering Secretary of State John Kerry’s role in the Iran nuclear negotiations in Europe, to Latin America and the United States detente with Cuba. Over the course of her career, Kianpour has conducted interviews with high-profile individuals, including Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

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