National security decision-making in Iran

UCSTComparative Strategy 34.2 (May 2015)

This article reviews national security decision-making in the Iranian context by focusing on institutions, formal process and individuals. It specifically examines the Supreme National Security Council, which formalizes and embodies the decision-making process, as well as the Revolutionary Guards, which epitomize both the influence of institutions as well as the centrality of the agent-individual. Despite the plurality of formal institutions and the existence of process, decision-making remains heavily centered on a small group of largely unelected individuals driven as much by ‘regime expediency’ as by mutual give-and-take along informal, microfactional lines. While he may have the last word, even Iran’s current Supreme Leader is constrained by these ideological, negotiational and structural factors. These key figures are closely affiliated either with the politico-clerical founding kernel of the 1979 Revolution, or the powerful Revolutionary Guards—mainly the hardliners in any case—and are instrumental in determining the discursive boundaries of national security, the scope of which this article confines to defense and foreign policy. Finally, how all this coheres in the realm of strategy has as much to do with regime survival as with the art of reconciling ends and means.

For the link to the site, click here.


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Bibi’s upset comeback

BibiopenDemocracy, 19 March 2015

Benyamin Netanyahu, already Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, is about to put together his fourth government. Two hours before midnight on 17 March 2015, exit polls by Israel’s three main television channels indicated a tie of roughly 27 seats each between his party, Likud, and the opposition Zionist Union.

By the next morning however, Continue reading


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Iran: The Ayatollah Succession Question

KhameneiThe Diplomat, 11 October 2014

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei recently underwent prostate surgery, following recurrent rumors that he suffers from some form of cancer. At 75, the Mashhad-born Khamenei, who is half Azeri-Turk and hence only half Persian, has been the Islamic Republic’s top arbiter and ultimate enigma ever since he replaced its founder in 1989. Although he has managed to go hiking following his surgery, questions about his health reinvigorates debate over the single most important question in Iran. Continue reading


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Gaming the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty

eu3iran

Open Briefing, 10 October 2014

The tensions surrounding the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1/EU3+3 continue unabated ahead of the November 2014 deadline, with the eventual outcome inevitably carrying implications for international relations and the future of non-proliferation.

As such, it is worth reviewing the strengths of the existing Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its executive arm, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as the flaws that have attended the pageant of past proliferation crises. Beyond that, in order to strengthen the NPT and the IAEA in the longer run, there are seven areas that the non-proliferation regime needs to take into account. Continue reading


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Q&A session with Robert D. Steele on big data and the intelligence process

Robert Steele

Here’s the link to a recent Q&A chat I had with Robert D. Steele, CIA and Marine Corps Intelligence veteran, a leading proponent of OSINT, and something of an intelligence establishment iconoclast. I asked him how big data fits in within the intelligence process in terms of methodology, how it complements traditional subject matter expertise (SME), and other things.

See link.


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