Iran in a turbulent region: Does the Rouhani presidency offer new opportunities?

Gary Sick, Dr Nasser Hadian and Wadah Khanfar discuss President Rouhani's election, which offers new openings in nuclear negotiations, however, coincides with a time of regional turmoil. How will his election affect Tehran's regional role and diplomacy? 


Dr Nasser Hadian, Professor of Political Science, University of Tehran 

Wadah Khanfar, Former Director General, Al Jazeera Network

Gary Sick, Senior Research Scholar, Columbia University

Chaired by

Daniel Levy, Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, ECFR

The election of President Rouhani has offered a new opening in nuclear negotiations. However, what does this opportunity mean for Tehran's regional role, and for diplomacy across a range of critical Middle Eastern issues in which it is an active player, from Syria and the Levant to Yemen and the Gulf? Rouhani's coming to power has coincided with a time of signiciant regional turmoil, dominated by the fault line between Saudi Arabia and Iran. To what extent can this fault line be shifted, and how genuine is Rouhani's recent outreach to the Gulf States? To what extent will the West engage with Iran beyong the nuclear file, and do options exist for transactional diplomacy? And where does power lie within the Iranian system when it comes to these regional files? 

Gary Sick will look at America's reading of Iran and current policy options, including the potential for engagement; Dr Nasser Hadian will give us an inside view from within Iranian political circles; and Wadah Khanfar will consider whether and how the rest of the region is re-examining its relations with Iran. 


Dr Nasser Hadian is a Professor of political science at the University of Tehran. Dr Hadian was a Visiting Professor and Research Scholar at the Middle East Institute, and Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures Department at Columbia University (2001-2004). 

Wadah Khanfar is the President of the Al Sharq Forum. He previously served as the Director General of the Al Jazeera Network. He was ranked by Foreign Policy Magazine in 2011 as number one Global Thinker and he was named as one of the most 'Powerful People in the World' by Forbes Magazine (2009). 

Gary Sick is a Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University's Middle East Institute. Mr Sick served on the staff of the National Security Council under President Carter and was the principal White House aide for Persian Gulf affairs from 1976 to 1981. Sick is also the Executive Director fo the Gulf/2000 project at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University. 

Daniel Levy is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at ECFR.