ReportFeb 11, 2020
Iranian digital influence efforts: Guerrilla broadcasting for the twenty-first century
By Emerson T. Brooking, Suzanne Kianpour
This brief begins with a discussion of the modern Iranian state’s approach to information and information control. It proceeds to a history of the Iranian Internet. Next, it examines the evolution of Iranian digital influence operations, followed by a discussion of the broader information conflict in which they take place. The brief concludes by considering the future nature and intent of Iran’s clandestine digital activities.
IranSourceJan 9, 2020
Qasem Soleimani: From meme to martyr
By Suzanne Kianpour
The Quds Force commander was seen by some as the future of Iran’s leadership, in recent years having evolved out of the shadows of spymaster to increasingly in the spotlight as a celebrity officer who took selfies with Shia militias. Now, the seemingly untouchable commander is a martyr—something he always said he dreamed of—and the memes have gone international.
Suzanne Kianpour is a former nonresident senior fellow with Middle East Programs. She is also a foreign affairs and political journalist for the BBC.
An Emmy nominated news reporter and producer, she’s currently covering foreign policy and national security issues, leading the Washington side of the BBC’s investigation into Russia’s role in US politics and other foreign influence. She also teaches Public Diplomacy at the University of California, Los Angeles.
You can find her work on the BBC’s multiple television, radio, online and digital outlets.
With previous postings in Beirut, London and Los Angeles, her reporting has taken her around the world: from various conflict zones in the Middle East, to Europe traveling with then-Secretary of State John Kerry in a front row seat to the Iran nuclear negotiations, to Latin America and the US detente with Cuba.
In 2016, she criss-crossed America – covering presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and ultimately returned to Washington, the Trump White House and the corridors of Capitol Hill.
Over the course of her career, she has landed multiple high profile exclusive interviews including Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif – the BBC’s first interview with an Iranian official since being banned from the country in 2009 and Khaled Meshaal – Hamas leader in exile in Doha – during the Gaza War of 2014. Kianpour also played a leading role in securing the first sit down TV interview with President Obama post the Iran Nuclear Deal being agreed.
With a specialty and expertise in Iran and the broader Middle East, Kianpour contributes analysis to Atlantic Council’s Iran Source blog, moderates foreign policy panel discussions at think tanks and guest lectures at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.
She is listed in Washington Life magazine as one of DC’s most influential leaders under 40 and was also profiled as a person to watch in the magazine’s May 2015 “Power Issue.”
Prior to the BBC, she worked at Fox News and NBC News, where she began her journalism career.
Kianpour actively encourages students to pursue careers in journalism to keep the fourth estate alive and thriving.
As an alumnus of The Fund for American Studies Institute of Political Journalism – the program through which she first studied at Georgetown – she regularly speaks to classes of aspiring reporters.
She’s also studied at Emory University and Oxford University – University College in the UK. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia with a Persian and Sicilian background, she’s fluent in written and verbal Farsi, conversational in Spanish, basic Italian and French and began learning Arabic while living in Lebanon.
Kianpour is a member of the Junior League of Washington and serves as a strategic adviser to the non-partisan Women Influencers Network – as part of her passion and pursuit to get more women involved in public service and national security.
She’s also involved with the American University in Afghanistan and the effort to maintain continued access to education, especially for girls previously denied the right to attend school.
Her other interests in addition to politics and foreign policy include fashion, food and football – of the American AND British variety.