Dr. Ali Fathollah-Nejad

Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Program

Areas of Expertise

  • State–society relations in Iran; foreign policy (schools of thought, relations with neighbors and great powers); the Iran sanctions regime and its impacts (domestic, geopolitical, and geo-economic)
  • Globalization and development in the MENA region; socio-economic roots and geopolitical impacts of the Arab Revolts; policies of great powers (Western and non-Western) in the MENA region
  • The 21st-century world order and its implications for foreign policy and diplomacy
  • Right-wing populism in the West and in the MENA region


English, French, Persian (Farsi)


Email: fathollah-nejad@dgap.org


If you are interested in an internship in the Middle East and North Africa Program, please contact Laura Lale Kabis-Kechrid: kabis@dgap.org.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad has been an Associate Fellow with the DGAP’s Middle East and North African Program since June 2015. In November 2016, he was appointed an Associate with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Iran Project. An Iranian-German political scientist educated at universities in France (Sciences-Po Lille), Germany (Münster) and the Netherlands (Twente), Ali earned his PhD in International Relations from the Department of Development Studies of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is also a Research Associate at the Centre of International Cooperation and Development Research (CECID) of the Université libre de Bruxelles and a Research Fellow at the German Orient Institute. In 2015/16, as an Expert in Culture and Foreign Policy with the Institute for International Cultural Relations (ifa), he wrote a major study on Germany’s foreign cultural and educational policy toward Iran after the nuclear deal.

In 2016, Ali taught courses on “Globalization and Development in West Asia and North Africa” at Freie Universität Berlin’s Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics as well as on “The Arab Revolts” at the University of Duisburg–Essen. In 2014/15, he offered Berlin’s only university course on contemporary Iran, hosted by the same FU Berlin Center. Previously, he had taught at the University of Westminster (Visiting Lecturer in Globalization and Development with a focus on the Middle East) and SOAS.

He has written two acclaimed monographs: Iran in the Eye of Storm: Backgrounds of a Global Crisis, published in 2007 by the University of Münster (Germany), and The Iran Conflict and the Obama Administration (in German), published in 2010 by Potsdam University Press.

He is a frequent speaker at political forums (including the European Parliament, the House of Commons, the French National Assembly, the University of Law in London, and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna) and academic conferences, and contributes regularly to international media. In addition to two monographs on the post-9/11 US-Iran conflict, he has written over 80 analytical pieces in English, German, and French, with translations into almost a dozen languages. His work has been published worldwide, e.g. in The Guardian, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, openDemocracy, World Policy Journal, Huffington Post (France, Quebec & Germany editions), Géostratégiques, Insight Turkey, Iranian Diplomacy, and the Palestine–Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture.

Website: fathollah-nejad.eu

Twitter: @AFathollah-Nejad


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Selected Publications

Foreign Policy and the Next German Government
Experts from the German Council on Foreign Relations offer case studies
by Josef Braml, Claire Demesmay, Dina Fakoussa, Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Wilfried Jilge, Laura Lale Kabis-Kechrid, Stefan Meister, Christian Mölling, Jana Puglierin, Henning Riecke, Claudia Schmucker, Daniela Schwarzer, Svenja Sinjen, Sebastian Sons, Sarah Wohlfeld
DGAPkompakt 7, Summer 2017, 42 pp.
Foreign Policy and the Next German Government
A new German government will take office after the elections on September 24, 2017. DGAP experts outline in 12 separate areas the foreign policy goals Germany should pursue (and with which partners).
Category: International Policy/Relations, Germany
The Saudi-Iranian Conflict
What are the roots of the rivalry and what are its consequences?
by Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Sebastian Sons
DGAP Five Questions (January 2016); published in Handelsblatt Global Edition (January 29, 2016), pp. 32-35.
The Saudi-Iranian Conflict
What effect will the escalation between the two regional powers have on the Middle East’s multiple crises? How much influence does the West have, and where does it position itself between its recent rapprochement with Iran and its “business-as-usual” approach toward the Saudis? DGAP associate fellows Ali Fathollah-Nejad and Sebastian Sons discuss geopolitical goals, domestic power considerations, and the exploitation of religion. Translated by Imogen Taylor.
Category: Security, Iran, Saudi Arabia
Russia and China’s Interests Lie in Bringing Iran into the Shanghai Bloc
Interview with DGAP associate fellow Ali Fathollah-Nejad in Tehran Times
by Ali Fathollah-Nejad
External publication, originally published by the Tehran Times on July 23, 2015 (In English).
In a July 23 interview the Tehran Times, DGAP associate fellow Ali Fathollah-Nejad explains why both Russia and China should be interested in bringing Iran into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Category: Security, Iran, China, Russia
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