FYRP: Iran, So Far Away

This edition of FYRP is an experiment. Instead of a roundup on different subjects, it focuses on just one: Iran’s President-Elect Hassan Rohani and what his presidency might mean for the nuclear issue.  A regular FYRP will be published shortly.

This FYRP also ends with a special request to readers.

Meir Amit Center | Israel’s Terrorism Information Center published a report last May on Iran.  The interesting part is its review of President-Elect Rohani’s book, National Security and Nuclear Diplomacy, and its summary of an interview Rohani gave to commemorate the book’s release:

This response angered the president [Ahmadinejad], who said that this was none of Rouhani’s concern. Rouhani refused to comply with the president’s instructions and told him to speak to ElBaradei himself if that’s what he had in mind. He asked the president whether he had called him to hear his advice or to give his own advice on the nuclear issue. He told Ahmadinejad that, if he wanted to issue instructions without consulting him first, he had better appoint a new chairman for the Supreme National Security Council. At the end of the meeting, Rouhani informed Ali Larijani that he had better start preparing for his new position as secretary (Tehran Emrouz, May 10).

Hassan Rohani – Rahbord | Jeffrey dug up this speech Rohani gave a few years ago about Iran’s relations with the IAEA. (Paul Kerr points out that the speech was made in 2004, about a year before its publication.)

Ariane Tabatabai – ACRS-ME | Ms. Tabatabai of Arms Control and Regional Security for the Middle East (and a MIIS CNS intern) posits that Rohani may not have the power, or desire, to challenge Khameini’s overall policy, but can affect implementation of policy decisions, and consequently play a major role in directing the Iranian regime’s policies.  (The Economist doesn’t seem to share the same optimism. At least this article is better than the previous one.)

Luke Waggoner – Policymic | Just who is this Rohani guy anyway?  And how do you spell his name (hint: there is more than one right answer)?  Mr. Waggoner thinks he knows.  So does Ray TakeyhEmily B. Landau doesn’t really like him.  Neither does Bibi.  And remember, his slate isn’t exactly clean.  But recall this vintage post from the Master?  He seemed nice back then!

Jeffrey Lewis – ArmsControlWonk.com | Wonkporn. I did not create that term.  It was Jeffrey’s brainchild.  It also encapsulates the text he stumbled across in the Stone Age of 2005 (back when phones had a keypad).  The nice little interview he found discussed the Iranian nuclear negotiation decision-making process.

* * *

And now for that special request to readers. I am particularly interested in the writings and speeches of President-elect Rohani – so much so that I am attempting to write a scholarly paper of my own (or in collaboration – I am flexible) while his presidential negotiating strategy is still most timely and not defined. Could anyone or everyone who can help me with translated original source material* contact me, Harry the Wonktern, via the Contact page (linked here).  I would be most appreciative.

*Namely, I would like to find the articles listed below, but, as stated above, any and all help will be greatly appreciated.

National Security and Nuclear Diplomacy

Rahbord 52 | The Future of the Middle East: Any Shift in Western Views?

Rahbord 53 | An Introduction to the Theory of Cultural Capital

Rahbord 55 | An Introduction to Environmental Essential Elements in Iran’s Perspective

Rahbord 57 | Family, Family Capital and Challenges Facing Our Society

Rahbord 59 | Family Capital: the Cornerstone of Social Capital

Rahbord 65 | Imam Khomeini’s Discourse on National Security and Foreign Policy

This cultural reference is from before my time, but some of you were probably waiting for it.


  1. Rene (History)

    Thanks so much for this special post! I’m now in the middle of reading the first Rahbord document, the transcript of Rouhani’s speech to the Cultural Revolution council. It’s fascinating! What’s most striking to me is the way his attitude toward Europe differs from Ahmadinejad’s. In his first news conference after presidential victory in 2007, a reporter asked Ahmadinejad about the European Union’s threat to cut negotiations with Iran if Iran doesn’t respect human rights and if Iran doesn’t build trust in the nuclear issue. This is what he said: “The European party should get off its ivory tower and stop addressing the Iranian nation with arrogance/pride. The[se] threadbare topics are revolting.” !

  2. Olli Heinonen (History)

    Harry, thank you for the piece. Actually Iran is not far away, it is in your fingertips.Just go and navigate through the websites of various think tanks of Iran, which are flooded with contributions from talented people from pragmatists to hardliners. Amazing amount of views popping up. Whether think tankers or journalists; you will be surprised about the views on how to solve the current problems.

    • harry (History)

      Dr. Heinonen,

      Thank you for the comment. I have found a good number of third party views about Rohani and his possible future actions as President. I plan to incorporate these into my paper, citing them to support my own opinions, and also summarizing and citing them independently to demonstrate the broad range of predictions by other analysts. However, instead of using only these secondary sources, I hope to obtain primary material Rohani had written or delivered during interviews himself in the past (namely the articles listed above, but anything will help). I think that will allow me to refine my insights into his future policy positions and will make for a more useful and original work. I have searched for these primary sources (by Rohani) extensively in English translation and digitally in Persian (with a plan to use Google to get a rough translation where a professional translation does not exist). Any pointers on sourcing these writings and interviews with President-Elect Rohani would be sincerely appreciated.

      Best regards,
      Harry Halem
      ACW Wonktern