Recent Events

On July 10th, The Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and South Asia Center welcomed Sumant Sinha, chairman and managing director of Renew Power, India's largest solar and wind energy company, for a discussion on the future of Indian renewables. Sinha started his career in investment banking in the United States and United Kingdom, before returning to India to hold senior leadership positions at a multitude of renewable energy companies. David Livingston, deputy director of climate and advanced energy for the Global Energy Center, introduced and moderated the roundtable.

On Monday April 22, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center hosted a panel discussion on the Afghanistan peace negotiations. The panel was moderated by the South Asia Center's Nonresident Senior Fellow Fatemeh Aman and focused on the role of regional powers helping to secure stability and peace.

On April 11th, the Atlantic Council’s Global Business & Economics Program and South Asia Center partnered with the Grameen Foundation India and the NGO Committee on Financing for Development to host a panel discussion titled Financial Inclusion to Financial Sustainability – Empowering women in South Asia and Across the World as part of the World Bank’s Civil Society Policy Forum Spring 2019.

Iran forty years after its Islamic revolution is facing a grave economic crisis and growing popular discontent. It continues to commit acts that deepen its isolation even as it benefits from the mistakes of its adversaries. US sanctions are more punishing than anticipated but will probably not cause Iran to alter policies of greatest concern to Washington, such as regional interventions and ballistic missile development, and are instead strengthening hardline elements as Iran approaches a key political transition. Meanwhile, society has already undergone a cultural counter-revolution that aging ayatollahs cannot reverse.

These were among the insights gleaned from a day-long conference at the Atlantic Council on February 12. Organized in conjunction with the Center for Strategic & Diplomatic Studies at the University of South Florida, it brought together veteran scholars and up and coming experts with recent field experience in Iran. Many of the speakers also wrote blog posts, which were collected on our IranSource site.

On Wednesday, January 9th, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center hosted a reception commemorating the Ten-Year anniversary of the Center. The occasion was marked by a ceremony honoring Shuja Nawaz, founding director of the South Asia Center and current Distinguished Fellow. 

Bharath Gopalaswamy, Director of the South Asia Center, began the ceremony with welcoming remarks. Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council, then offered his comments commemorating the tenth anniversary of the center and honoring Mr. Nawaz. The pair presented Mr. Nawaz with a token of appreciation for his substantial contributions to the South Asia Center as both a former director and current Distinguished Fellow.  

The ceremony closed with a brief address by Shuja Nawaz, who expressed his continued optimism in the future of South Asia. As Mr. Nawaz reflected on the work of the South Asia Center, he noted the extensive track record of the Center facilitating Track-II Diplomacy between countries of the greater South Asia region, creating ground breaking scholarship, and fostering new initiatives to promote interconnectivity between the U.S. and South Asia. In a region so often defined by uncertainty, Mr. Nawaz praised the South Asia Center’s efforts to change this narrative and expressed his continued confidence in the Center’s ability to carry on the mission of “waging peace.”

Iran’s Sunni minority is becoming increasingly strict in religious practice and could succumb to more Salafist influence, but has so far not been inclined to take up arms against the Iranian government.
Over the last three years, there has been enormous progress reached in the areas of regional connectivity in South Asia. Given Afghanistan’s geographic status as a land bridge between Central Asia and South Asia, and a catalyst for bulk energy transfers between these regions, it is possible that it can also serve a major role in shortening multiple Internet paths in the region. 
In the aftermath of demonstrations in more than 100 Iranian cities and towns in late December-early January, analysts have been divided over whether the Iranian system can profit from the protests to enact meaningful reforms or whether the system is too repressive and brittle to change through relatively peaceful evolution.

Speaking Feb. 12 at a discussion organized by the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative, Alireza Nader, an independent researcher on Iran and the Middle East, argued that the Iranian political and economic system is on the “verge of collapse” and mere reforms will not resolve its fundamental problems. Nader, who outlined his views in a new paper, Iran’s Uncertain Political Future, said that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “is positioning himself” to become Iran’s Supreme Leader after the death of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but that the powerful Revolutionary Guards would block Rouhani’s ascension.
In the aftermath of widespread protests in more than 100 cities in Iran, a new public opinion poll conducted by the Center for International Security Studies at Maryland, in conjunction with, suggests that the overwhelming majorities of Iranians agree with protestors’ critiques of government economic performance.

On Friday, February 2, the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative hosted a panel discussion on the results of the new survey to examine key issues including climate change, unemployment, economic mismanagement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the broader set of regional and international issues faced by the nation.
As implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) marks its second anniversary in a climate of uncertainty over continued US compliance, Iran has increasingly looked to Asia for trade and investment, while cementing a strategic partnership with Russia.

On Friday, January 19, the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative, in partnership with The Iran Project, hosted a half-day conference in Washington on these evolving relationships between Iran, Russia, China, India, and Japan.