Biography

Dr. Payam Mohseni is the Director of the Iran Project and Fellow for Iran Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He is also a Lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard University where he teaches Iranian and Middle East politics and is a multiple recipient of the Harvard Excellence in Teaching award. Dr. Mohseni serves as a scholar and member of Harvard’s Iran Working Group, which he co-chairs with Professor Graham Allison, and manages the Belfer Center’s Special Initiative Iran Matters, a premier outlet for policy analysis on all aspects of contemporary Iranian affairs. Dr. Mohseni is also a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York.

Dr. Mohseni’s research focuses on Iranian foreign and domestic policymaking, ideology and sectarian conflict in the Middle East, and the politics of authoritarianism and hybrid regimes. Dr. Mohseni is fluent in Persian and travels frequently to Iran. His analysis has been featured in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Washington Post, The National Interest, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Bloomberg, U.S. News and World Report, and MSNBC, among others, including prominent international and Iranian media outlets.

Previously, Dr. Mohseni co-chaired Harvard’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies Study Group on the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe from 2014 to 2016. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Belfer Center's International Security Program, a Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, and a member of the Iran Study Group at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, D.C. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University, an M.A. in Conflict, Security, and Development from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, and a B.A. in Development Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Last Updated: Jun 22, 2017, 1:27pm

Featured Research

hassan rouhani reelection

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Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

In Iran’s elections, the hard-liners lost. What comes next?

| May 26, 2017

More than forty million Iranians surged to the polls and voted last Friday to choose their country’s future path: between one of engagement and diplomacy with the West and one based on a self-reliant economic populism. Although Iranians overwhelmingly chose the former option, the implications of these elections indicate that major battles over the fight for the next Supreme Leader and the political identity of the country loom on the horizon. In his latest article to the Washington Post, Payam Mohseni, Director of the Belfer Center's Iran Project, discusses the nature of the conservative campaign against President Hassan Rouhani and how, win or lose, it is the tenability and success of this conservative alliance that will significantly impact the future path that Iran takes—not simply the current re-election of Rouhani to the presidency.

Karbala Iraq Shia

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Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

Iran's Axis of Resistance Rises: How It's Forging a New Middle East

| Jan. 24, 2017

In 2006, in the midst of a fierce war between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice famously stated that the world was witnessing the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” She was right—but not in the sense she had hoped. Instead of disempowering Hezbollah and its sponsor, Iran, the war only augmented the strength and prestige of what is known as the “axis of resistance,” a power bloc that includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas in Palestine.

Report

The 2016 Iranian Parliamentary Elections and the Future of Domestic Politics under the JCPOA

| Dec. 10, 2016

Coming at a crucial juncture following the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the P5+1, Iran’s 10th parliamentary elections are significant for several reasons. The elections determine the makeup of the legislative branch for the next four years—four crucial years that will impact Rouhani’s ability to implement his domestic policies and his likelihood to win re-election in 2017. Significantly, these elections are the first Iran experienced since the signing of the JCPOA agreement and as such reflect the early impact of the nuclear agreement on domestic political change inside Iran.

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Iran and the Arab World after the Nuclear Deal

| Aug. 13, 2015

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1 presents significant implications for the future order of the Middle East. Just how it will impact that order remains uncertain. Will it shift Iranian foreign policy toward greater cooperation and reconciliation or produce greater Iranian regional empowerment and aggressiveness?

This report helps answer these and related questions. It includes views from leading experts in the Arab world to assess the impact of the nuclear agreement on Iran-Arab security relations.

Iranian naval vessels excercising during war drills.

(YPA.IR)

Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School The National Interest

Can Iran Stay Anti-American?

| January 22, 2016

The dramatic seizure of American navy sailors in the Persian Gulf by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards could have endangeredImplementation Day—when on January 16 Iranian compliance with the nuclear agreement so far was verified and the international sanctions against Iran lifted. Instead of derailing the deal, however, the Guards used the incident, as well as the highly publicized prisoner swap, as symbolic events to send the world a message.By detaining the vessels and broadcasting images of its crew to a global audience, the Guards used the opportunity to reveal the future path of Iranian foreign policy in the wake of the nuclear agreement—a path that can be best described as ‘pragmatic revolutionism.’

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Email: payam_mohseni@hks.harvard.edu

Phone: 617-495-4793

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Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs

79 John F. Kennedy Street, Mailbox 126

Cambridge, Massachusetts