Alireza Nader to Discuss New Study on Potential for U.S.-Iran Cooperation

Alireza Nader, senior international policy analyst with the RAND Corporation, will participate in a media conference call on Tuesday, June 2, to discuss his new study, “Iran's Role in Iraq: Room for Cooperation?” Highlights from the study:

  • The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, has led to arguments in favor of U.S.-Iran cooperation in combating the group. Currently, U.S. and Iranian interests in Iraq are very similar as both countries view ISIL and the broader Sunni jihadi movement as major threats to their national interests.

  • U.S. and Iranian military forces in Iraq are fighting the same enemy. On the surface, U.S. air power seems to complement Iran's on-the-ground presence in Iraq. While the U.S. and Iran ultimately have divergent long-term goals for Iraq, and face disagreements on many other issues, limited tactical cooperation in weakening ISIL in Iraq may be possible.

  • The study examines Iranian objectives and influence in Iraq, focusing on ties with Iraqi Shi'a parties and militias and the implications of Iran's sectarian policies for U.S. interests. It also examines the role of specific Iranian actors in Iraq — especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — as well as the clergy and the Rouhani government.

  • The study recommends that the U.S. explore discreet political agreements with Iran, aimed at finding ways to defuse and deescalate sectarian-driven warfare in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East. U.S. policy on Iran should not be based on normalization of relations or alliance-building, as the two countries are likely to remain rivals for years. Instead, efforts should focus on finding spaces in which the two countries can tolerate each other's respective influence while striving for some modicum of regional stability.


Conference call for foreign policy and defense reporters, with Q & A session


11 a.m. E.T., Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Nader is the author of “The Days After a Deal with Iran: Continuity and Change in Iranian Foreign Policy” and “Iran's Influence in Afghanistan: Implications for the U.S. Drawdown.” His research has focused on Iran's political dynamics, elite decision-making, and Iranian foreign policy.

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