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Iran: What Matters Now?

On June 26, Sir Richard Dalton, the former UK ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran and an associate fellow with the Middle East & North Africa Program at the Chatham House, joined Steve Clemons at the New America Foundation to shed light on current events in Iran and what the long term effects of the Iranian election will be.

Before beginning the discussion, Dalton emphasized that he would rank scenarios by likelihood but would not be predicting outcomes in Iran.  He explained that while the recent protests in Iran have been significant, the coalition necessary for sustained change has not been formed and, consequently, the "people who want change are not going to have the stomach for continuing the fight for very long."  In Sir Richard Dalton's opinion the Islamic Republic is not unraveling, the Supreme Leader's power has not been diminished, and the government will not hesitate to suppress the street protestors.

Dalton went on to lay out three main scenarios that could occur.  The first, and the one that Dalton considers the least likely, is that fundamental reform to the system will occur under President Ahmadinejad's rule.  The second scenario, which Dalton believes is distinctly possible, is that things will simply continue as they were before.  President Ahmadinejad will not admit that any mistakes were made and will continue to claim that the elections were fair and foreigners are bad. The third scenario is one of slight adjustment, a middle ground between the first two scenarios.  In this case, the majority of President Ahmadinejad's policy will remain the same but there will be recognition of his diminished power and a slight move towards more moderate economic policy.

As for U.S.-Iran relations, Dalton suggested that there is a considerable wall of distrust that the two countries must overcome.  Keeping Russia and China on board and avoiding any concrete deadlines are essential for improved engagement with Iran.  Dalton warns against delaying engagement, considering a non-proliferation treaty of utmost importance for long-term security.   

--Event summary written by Caroline Esser, Intern, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation


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featured speaker
Sir Richard Dalton
Former UK Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran (2002-2006)
Associate Fellow, Middle East & North Africa Program, Chatham House

Steve Clemons
Director, American Strategy Program
Publisher, The Washington Note

Event Time and Location

Friday, June 26, 2009 - 1:30pm - 2:30pm