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Vali Nasr

Vali Nasr



Vali R. Nasr is an adjunct senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor of international politics and Associate Director of the Fares Center of Eastern Mediterranean Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University. He is a specialist on Middle East politics and political Islam, and has worked extensively on political and social developments in the Muslim world with a focus on the relation of religion to politics, social change, and democratization. He also serves as a senior fellow for the Dubai Initiative at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Dr. Nasr is the author of five books: The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future (W.W. Norton, 2006); Democracy in Iran (Oxford University Press, 2006); The Islamic Leviathan: Islam and the Making of State Power (Oxford University Press, 2001); Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism (Oxford University Press, 1996); and The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: The Jama`at-i Islami of Pakistan (University of California Press, 1994). He is editor of The Oxford Dictionary of Islam (Oxford University Press, 2003); and the author of numerous articles in academic journals and encyclopedias. His works have been translated into several languages.

Dr. Nasr has briefed the White House, the Congress, the U.S. Department of State, the National Security Council, and the U.S. Department of Defense on Middle East issues. He has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, The New Republic, La Repubblica, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and was profiled on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. His interviews and expert commentary have also been used in newspapers and new programs around the world, including Al-Jazeera, Der Spiegel, CNN, BBC, and 60 Minutes. He has appeared as a guest on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, The Charlie Rose Show, Meet the Press, Larry King Live, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

He was recently named a 2006 Carnegie Scholar by the Carnegie Corporation. He has also been the recipient of grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dr. Nasr received his BA from Tufts University in international relations summa cum laude and was initiated into Phi Beta Kappa in 1983. He earned his MA from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in international economics and Middle East studies in 1984 and his PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology in 1991.



By Date



November 24, 2008

"The Sunni-Shia Divide and the Future of Islam"

Media Feature

By Vali Nasr

Vali Nasr was interviewed by Krista Trippet for the NPR show, Speaking of Faith, on the Sunni-Shia Divide and the Future of Islam.

Listen to the program here.



AP Photo

October 13, 2008

"Obama Is Right About Talking to Iran"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Vali Nasr

"Many have assumed that Russia can help solve the Iran problem, but few have considered that the reverse is also true. Iran is important to Russia's game plan and how Moscow weighs its options going forward. That makes talking to Iran an essential part of America's plans for containing Russia."



June 19, 2008

"Iran on Its Heels"

Op-Ed, The Washington Post

By Vali Nasr

Iran still has considerable influence in Iraq. It may reconstitute the Mahdi Army and pick up the fight against America, using special groups of the type suspected in the Baghdad car bombing Tuesday. It may also try to use nationalist opposition to the U.S.-Iraq "status of forces" agreement to its advantage. But Tehran will find it difficult to regain lost turf in Baghdad or Basra, or to go back to happily supporting Shiites both at the center and in the militias. It will have to choose whether it is with the state or the sub-state actors.



June 18, 2008

Vali Nasr Discusses Iraq on Charlie Rose

Media Feature

By Vali Nasr

DI Senior Fellow Vali Nasr tells Charlie Rose about his recent trip to Iraq. The Council on Foreign Relation's Stephen Biddle and the New York Times' Michael Gordon also weigh in.

Watch the full program here.



April 2008

The Implications of Military Confrontation with Iran

Working Paper

By Vali Nasr

This paper is premised on the assumption that an "Iran War" could still be in the cards and that there are conceivable scenarios in which it may happen. The aim here is to explore the hypotheticals, the "what ifs." What might be the aftermath of a war? Will the scale and scope of the conflict make a difference? How might Iran react in the advent of war -- in the short run as well as the long run? Similarly, how might Iran's neighbors and the broader Muslim world react? How might these factors impact the course of the Global War on Terror? And how will they affect America's interests and capacities to protect and safeguard those interests? How should the United States think about war with Iran? The goal here is not to advocate a course of action but to probe the possible (if not necessarily probable) ways in which conflict can occur and escalate. Similarly, this paper will consider the broader implications of an Iran War -- what it will mean for Iran, the Middle East, and the United States, and how the series of events that may ensue will shape the context of U.S. policy in the years that follow.

Click here to access the full text.



AP Photo

January 8, 2008

US-Iran Relations

Media Feature

By Vali Nasr

Vali Nasr discusses current tensions between the United States and Iran on The World.



January/February 2008

"The Costs of Containing Iran: Washington's Misguided New Middle East Policy"

Journal Article, Foreign Affairs

By Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh

The Bush administration wants to contain Iran by rallying the support of Sunni Arab states and now sees Iran's containment as the heart of its Middle East policy: a way to stabilize Iraq, declaw Hezbollah, and restart the Arab-Israeli peace process. But the strategy is unsound and impractical, and it will probably further destabilize an already volatile region.



December 29, 2007

Effect of Bhutto's Death

Media Feature

By Vali Nasr

CNN's Drew Griffin talks to Vali Nasr about the death of Benazir Bhutto and its effect on Pakistan.



December 18, 2007

"How Iran's president is being undercut"

Op-Ed, Christian Science Monitor

By Vali Nasr

Because the theocratic regime now feels immune from military retribution and is confronting a fragmented international community, it is likely to be fortified in its efforts to complete the fuel cycle. Meanwhile, Iran is cooperating with inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency and is judged by the CIA to have suspended critical components of its nuclear network. It has no reason to cease any of its activities.



AP Photo

December 9, 2007

"Meet 'The Decider' of Tehran. It's Not the Hothead You Expect"

Op-Ed, The Washington Post

By Vali Nasr

When most Americans think of Iran, they probably think of its incendiary president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Since his election in 2005, Ahmadinejad has gleefully shocked the world with his defiance over Iran's nuclear programs, his ravings about a Shiite messiah, his jeremiads against Israel and his denial that the Holocaust occurred. But while Ahmadinejad is surely the regime's face, he's not its boss. Since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death in 1989, the real power in Tehran has belonged to the country's supreme leader and top cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Ahmadinejad makes all the noise, but Khamenei pulls all the strings.

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