Institute of Political Science

Ali Fathollah-Nejad, PhD

Contact Information:

Melanchthonstr. 36

72074 Tübingen, Germany

Room 009


Dr. Ali Fathollah-Nejad (Ph.D. SOAS) is Senior Lecturer in Middle East and Comparative Politics at the University of Tübingen’s Institute of Political Science, where he is also Coordinator of the joint Master’s program with the American University in Cairo (AUC). He is also a Visiting Fellow with the Brookings Institution in Doha. In the fall 2018 term, he was an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Ph.D. program of Qatar University’s Gulf Studies Center. Previously, he was a post-doctoral Associate with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Iran Project and an Associate Fellow with the Middle East and North Africa Program of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) – acting as the latter's in-house Iran expert. Currently, he is also an honorary affiliated researcher with the Centre d’Études de la Coopération Internationale et du Développement (CECID) at Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Due to COVID-19, his March 2020 Visiting Professorship at the Centre for International Studies of the University of Economics in Prague was postponed.
Ali holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Department of Development Studies at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), with a dissertation on Iran’s international relations in the 2000s in a changing world order. He has also taught courses on globalization and development in the Middle East, contemporary Iran and the Arab Revolts among others at FU Berlin’s Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics, the University of Westminster and SOAS. His over 150 analytical pieces in English, German, and French have been translated into a dozen languages. A frequent speaker at political forums and academic conferences, he regularly contributes to international media outlets in English, German or French. Ali is fluent in German, French, English, and Persian and reads Dutch.
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Ph.D. in International Relations, Department of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London)

M.A. in European Studies, University of Münster

M.Sc. in European Studies , University of Twente

B.A. in Public Administration, University of Münster

B.Sc. in Public Administration, University of Twente

Intermediate Diploma, Sciences-Po Lille (Lille Institute of Political Studies)

Research Interests


Middle East Upraisings (Summer Term 2020)

Contemporary Iran: State, Society and Geopolitics (Summer term 2020)


Selected Publications

(for a full list, see 
fc.      Iran in an Emerging New World Order: From Ahmadinejad to Rouhani, New York: Palgrave Macmillan (Studies in Iranian Politics).
fc.     The Politics of Culture in Times of Rapprochement: European Cultural and Academic Exchange with Iran (2015–16), new forewords by Amir-Hassan Cheheltan & Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Wissenschaftsverlag WeltTrends {ISBN: 978-3-947802-29-6}.
2020  The Islamic Republic of Iran Four Decades On: The 2017/18 Protests Amid a Triple Crisis, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution & Doha: Brookings Doha Center, April (60 pp.) ▪ in Arabic translation.
2010 Der Iran-Konflikt und die Obama-Regierung: Alter Wein in neuen Schläuchen? [The Iran conflict and the Obama administration: Old wine in new skins?], Potsdam University Press. [Reprinted 2011.]
2007 Iran in the Eye of Storm: Backgrounds of a Global Crisis [online], Peace and Conflict Studies, Institute of Sociology, University of Münster [D], 3rd edn. ▪ republished by the Institute for Strategic Studies [SW]).

Translated monograph
2015  Wagner, Jens (ed.) Body Count: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of the »War on Terror« – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, transl. from German by Ali Fathollah-Nejad, 1st int’l edn., Washington, DC: Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) & Ottawa: Physicians for Global Survival (PSG) & Berlin: IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) Germany.

Peer-Reviewed Publications
fc.     “Look to the East”? Iran’s International Relations between West and East, Brookings Institution, Fall 2020.
fc.     (& P. Abdolmohammadi) Hybrid Authoritarianism in Post-Revolutionary Iran, CIRS Occasional Paper (Center for International and Regional Studies, Georgetown University – Qatar).
2019 (& A. Palm) MENA Spring 3.0: The Persistent »Triple Crisis« in Europe’s Neighbourhood, in: M. Sus & M. Hadeed (eds.) European Security 2030: The Results of the Dahrendorf Foresight Project, Dahrendorf Forum & LSE IDEAS (foreign-policy think-tank of the London School of Economics and Political Science), Sep., 50–53.
2018        Europe and the Future of Iran Policy: Dealing with a Dual Crisis, Brookings Institution, Oct. | Arabic.
2016 German–Iranian Relations after the Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical and Economic Dimensions, Insight Turkey, 18(1), 59–75.
2014        Why Sanctions against Iran are Counterproductive: Conflict Resolution and State–Society Relations,         International Journal, 69(1), 48–65.
2013 Iran’s Civil Society Grappling with a Triangular Dynamic, in: P. Aarts & F. Cavatorta (eds.) Civil Society in Syria and Iran: Activism in Authoritarian Contexts, Boulder, CO & London: Lynne Rienner, 39–68.
2013 Building Sustainable Security for Southwest Asia: A Regional Integration Process of the Highest Priority, Palestine–Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture, 19(1&2), 15–22.

Book Chapters & Journal Articles
fc.     GCC–Iran relations, in: T. Yousef & A. Abdel Ghafar (eds.) The GCC in Transition, Brookings Institution Press.
fc.     Rouhani’s School of Thought: A Critical Discussion of its Developmental and Foreign Policy Doctrines, in: L. Zaccara (ed.) Foreign Policy of Iran under President Hassan Rouhani First Term (2013–2017), Palgrave Macmillan, ch. 3.
2020 Der Iran und der Golfkooperationsrat [Iran and the GCC], in: M. Baraki & F. Edlinger (eds.) Krise am Golf: Hintergründe, Analysen, Berichte [Crisis in the Gulf: Backgrounds, analyses, reports], Vienna: Promedia, pp. 73–82.
2020 The Revolution’s Broken Promises, in: S. Maloney (ed.) The Iranian Revolution at 40, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, ch. 2 (8–17), Feb. {online version}.
2019 Swamped in a Triple Crisis, Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Cairo: School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) at American University in Cairo (AUC), No. 33 (Spring), 120–125.
2017  Kritik der Iran-Analysen unter Präsident Rohani: Von Dämonisierung zu Glorifizierung [Critique of Iran analyses under President Rouhani: From demonization to glorification], in: O. Ernst (ed.) Iran-Reader 2017, Sankt Augustin & Berlin: Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), 9–24.
2016        Islam – der einzige Weg: Die politische und geopolitische Kultur der Islamischen Republik Iran [Islam – the only way: The Islamic Republic of Iran’s political and geopolitical culture], Wissenschaft und Frieden (W&F), 34(3), trans. R. Hagen, 13–16.
2014 Iran’s Policy Towards Post-Saddam Iraq, Orient: German Journal for Politics, Economics and Culture of the Middle East, Berlin: German Orient Institute, 55(IV), 29–37.
2014        Long Live the Tyrant! The Myth of Benign Sanctions – plus Epilogue on the Geneva Agreement with Iran, in: O. Ernst (ed.) Iran-Reader 2014, Sankt Augustin & Berlin: Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), 81–96.
2013 Les sanctions contre l’Iran : Les multiples impacts néfastes [Sanctions on Iran: Multiple nefarious impacts], Géostratégiques, Paris: Paris Academy of Geopolitics, No. 40 (3rd trimester), 155–161.
2012 Der internationale Konflikt um Iran und das Völkerrecht: Versuch einer Gesamtdarstellung [The international Iran conflict and international law: Towards a complete overview], in: E. Crome (ed.) Die UNO und das Völkerrecht in den internationalen Beziehungen der Gegenwart [The UN and international law in contemporary international relations], Potsdam: WeltTrends, 137–206.
2011  (& K. Yazdani) Das Verhältnis von Religion und Staat in Iran: Von den Safaviden bis heute [The relationship between religion and state in Iran: From the Safavids until today], Zeitschrift für Religion und Gesellschaft, Cologne: Forschungszentrum für Religion und Gesellschaft (forege), 1(2), 298–312.
2010 The Iran Conflict in an Interpolar World: The Case of China, in: R.-M. Luedtke & P. Strutynski (eds.) Kapitalismus, Krise und Krieg [Capitalism, crisis and war], Kassel: Jenior Verlag, 99–111.

Selected Articles
2020 (& A. Naeni) Iran’s corona-diplomacy, Brookings Institution, 29/04.
2020 (& K. Shaar) Iran’s credit line to Syria: A well that never runs dry, Washington, DC: Atlantic Council, 10/02.
2019  What the killing of Qassem Soleimani could mean, PBS NewsHour, 03/01.
2019 Why Iranians are revolting again, Brookings Institution, 19/11.
2019 (& et al.) A Harmful U.S. Sanctions Strategy? Foreign Affairs Asks the Experts, Foreign Affairs, 11/06.
2018 The end of the Iran deal spells the end of Iranian moderates, The National Interest, 26/06.
2018 Iranians respond to the regime: »Leave Syria alone!«, Al Jazeera English, 02/05 | Arabic transl. by Brookings Doha Center, 02/05.
2018  Iran and Syria’s war: Fighting »terror« publicly, mourning the dead secretly, Al Jazeera English, 01/05 | Arabic transl. by Brookings Doha Center, 02/05. 
2018 There’s more to Iran’s protests than you’ve been told, PBS NewsHour, 03/04.
2018 (& A. Sarkohi) »Fürchtet euch!« Wenn Slogans für sich sprechen [»Be afraid!« When slogans speak for themselves], Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 16/01, p. 37.
2018 Causes behind Iran’s protests: A preliminary account, Al Jazeera English, 06/01.
2017  The Iranian–Saudi hegemonic rivalry, Iran Matters (a special research initiative of the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center’s Iran Project, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA), 25/10.
2017  Rouhani’s neoliberal doctrine has failed Iran, Washington, DC: Middle East Institute, 18/05.
2016 (& S. Sons) The Saudi–Iran Conflict Up Close, Handelsblatt Global Edition: The Voice of Europe’s Leading Economy, No. 357 (29/01), 32–34.
2015  Vom Atomdeal geblendet: Weshalb beschönigende Iran-Analysen nicht weiterhelfen [Dazzled by the nuclear deal: Why varnished Iran analyses are not helpful], ipg-journal (International Politik und Gesellschaft), Berlin: Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), 06/07 ▪ republished by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), 08/07.
2013 The Geneva Accords and the return of the »Defensive Realists«, LobeLog (U.S. foreign affairs blog of the international news wire service Inter Press Service), 05/12.
2013 Fallouts of Iran sanctions, World Policy Journal (online), New York: World Policy Institute, 31/07 ▪ republished on Oriental Review (Moscow), 01/08.
2013 Iran: Warum Sanktionen den Tyrannen helfen [Iran: Why sanctions help tyrants], Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 03/01, p. 28.
2010 Collateral damages of smart sanctions on Iran, Informed Comment, guest editorial, 12/03 |  Sanctions contre l'Iran, sanctions contre les Iraniens, Mediapart (France), 14/05.
2009 Playing nuclear politics: The Islamic Republic has little to gain from acquiring the bomb, The Guardian (online), 20/02.

2011  New insights into the Islamic Republic of Iran, Development and Cooperation (D+C), 52(5), 208–9. [Review essay on: A. Adib-Moghaddam, Iran in World Politics, 2007/08; H. Dabashi, Iran: A People Interrupted, 2007; E. Rostami-Povey, Iran’s Influence, 2010.]
2009 Wenn das Rationale den Blick für Lösungen frei macht [When rationality opens the way for solutions], WeltTrends: Journal of International Politics 68, Online Extra. [Books review of Ch. Bertram, Rethinking Iran: From Confrontation to Cooperation, European Union Institute for Security Studies 2008; V. Perthes, Iran: Eine politische Herausforderung, Suhrkamp 2008.]
2008 Book review of A. Adib-Moghaddam, The International Politics of the Persian Gulf, Routledge 2006, Die Friedens-Warte – Journal of International Peace and Organization, 83(2–3), 219–22 & inamo: Berichte und Analysen zu Politik und Gesellschaft des Nahen und Mittleren Ostens, 55, Berlin: Informationsprojekt Naher und Mittlerer Osten (inamo).

Other Publications
>150; in English, German & French; with translations into a dozen languages; published in:
The Guardian, PBS NewsHour, Al Jazeera English, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (D), Süddeutsche Zeitung, openDemocracy (UK), World Policy Journal (New York), Huffington Post (France, Quebec & Germany editions), Jadaliyya (Washington, DC & Beirut: Arab Studies Institute), Iranian Diplomacy (Iran), Informed Comment (U.S.), Blätter für deutsche und international Politik (D), (D), Development and Cooperation (D+C) (German Society for International Cooperation, GIZ), Eurozine, Géostratégiques (Paris Academy of Geopolitics), Die Friedens-Warte: Journal of International Peace and OrganizationWissenschaft & Frieden (the leading German peace research journal), Mediapart (France), Palestine–Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture (Jerusalem), Fair Observer (U.S.), Europe’s World (Brussels), WeltTrends: Journal of International Politics (D), inamo & Zenith (Germany’s leading publications on Middle East affairs), Iran Review (Tehran, an English-language Iranian international affairs website), etc.

Talks by Invitation

>150; in English, German & French; delivered at: Harvard Kennedy School, SOAS, Imperial College London, Seoul National University Asia Center, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, University of Economics (Prague), Doha Institute for Graduate Studies (DI), Texas A&M University at Qatar, Kadir Has University (Istanbul), various universities in Germany (e.g. Humboldt University of Berlin, FU Berlin) and the Netherlands, European Parliament, House of Commons, German Federal Foreign Office, MED – Mediterranean Dialogues, College of Law (now the University of Law, London), Vienna School of International Studies (Diplomatic Academy of Vienna), Iranian Foreign Ministry think-tank IPIS, Qatar Armed Forces, etc.

Media Appearances

~180 in 2019 and 2018 respectively • Ali has been featured by The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, TIME, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, AP, Reuters, BBC World Service, Al Jazeera English, ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Atlantic Council, Le Figaro, Majalla: The Leading Arab Magazine (London), Gulf News, The Arab Weekly (UK, UAE & U.S.), Alsharq Al-Awsat, The Independent, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS), Deutschlandradio (Germany’s national public radio), Handelsblatt,, Deutsche Welle (TV & radio, English, Arabic & Persian services), CGTN (China Global Television Network), The Paper (China), Asia Times, Russia Today, SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation), Valor Econômico (Brazil’s largest financial daily), BBC Persian TV, La Stampa (Italy), Die Presse (Austria), Tehran Times, Shargh (Iranian reformist daily), Resalat (Iranian conservative daily), Radio Farda (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Persian service), Rádio Česko, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (Poland), Global News (Canada), Expresso (Portugal), Channel S, Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF), Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), The Real News Network (U.S.), etc.

Selected Grants

2009–14          Academic conference grants, SOAS, University of London
2009               (declined) £2,000 academic grant from the Iran Heritage Foundation (IHT) for a film symposium entitled »Films from the Iranian Diaspora: Perspectives on Migration, Politics, and Acceptance« – together with S. Raji (Department of Media and Communications, LSE). I stepped down as co-curator as I was taking up the position of Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster during my PhD studies.
2001–02          Mobility Aid from the Franco−German University, Saarbrücken [D]
spring 1999     Alfried Krupp Foundation (Essen, D) for a Practical Training Abroad

Other Academic Roles

Academic Advisory Board member: WeltTrends: Das außenpolitische Journal (Journal of International Politics) | multipolar: Zeitschrift für kritische Sicherheitsforschung (Potsdam: WeltTrends-Verlag, 2017)
Peer-Reviewer for: International Journal: Canada’s Journal of Global Policy Analysis (Canadian International Council & Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History), SAGE | Strategic Analysis (New Delhi: Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses), Taylor & Francis | inamo: Berichte und Analysen zu Politik und Gesellschaft des Nahen und Mittleren Ostens (Berlin: Informationsprojekt Naher und Mittlerer Osten [inamo]) | Democracy and Security, Routledge | International Relations and Diplomacy, New York.

Consultancies & Outside Evaluator

On Iran-related issues – for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the German Bundestag and the European Commission.
On Middle East geopolitics – for the International Crisis Group, Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) & for global risk consultancies, such as Control Risks (London).
On media-related issues – for the Office of Performance Review, International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) (now the U.S. Agency for Global Media).


German Middle East Studies Association (DAVO) | International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs), London & New Delhi | Terrorism and Political Violence Association (TAPVA), UK | Working Group »Common Security« of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East (CSCME) civil-society project | Honorary Member, The Eurasia Studies Society.