Professor Ali Ansari leads the Westphalia for the Middle East Programme at the Centre for Geopolitics and jointly hosts the Centre’s On Geopolitics Podcast with Suzanne Raine.

Ali is Professor in Modern History with reference to Iran at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where he is also the Founding Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies.

He is a Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI, has been widely published on the history of Iran and is a regular contributor to the international media on political developments in Iran.

Related

In the press

Are Iran’s leaders losing their grip on reality — and the country?

Sunday 21st April, 2024

Are Iran’s leaders losing their grip on reality — and the country?

Director of our “Westphalia for the Middle East” programme, Prof. Ali Ansari, pens an opinion piece in the Sunday Times about the Iranian people’s reaction to their government’s missile strike on Israel. Note: paywall protected.

In the press

How an ‘uncontrollable’ full-scale conflict sparked by Israel and Iran could look

Wednesday 17th April, 2024

How an ‘uncontrollable’ full-scale conflict sparked by Israel and Iran could look

Our Middle East specialists, Prof. Ali Ansari and Sir John Jenkins, contribute to this article on rising tensions between Iran and Israel, and the dangers of it escalating to war.

In the press

‘We have been living in a warm war between Israel and Iran for decades’, says Professor of Iranian History

Saturday 13th April, 2024

‘We have been living in a warm war between Israel and Iran for decades’, says Professor of Iranian History

Our Middle East North Africa programme director, Prof. Ali Ansari, speaks to Channel4 News about rising tension between Iran and Israel and the danger of escalation to a full-scale war.

History

Ancient Geopolitics: Iran

Friday 12th April, 2024

Ancient Geopolitics: Iran

In the press

The spirit of Nowruz is the real Iran

Tuesday 2nd April, 2024

The spirit of Nowruz is the real Iran

Our Middle East programme director, Prof. Ali Ansari, writes that for Iranians, increasingly suffocated by the cultural austerity of the Islamic Republic, the equinoctial celebration of Nowruz is a stubborn reminder of who they really are.

Podcast

Episode 45: Cyber

Tuesday 19th March, 2024

Episode 45: Cyber

Suzanne and Ali talk with Ciaran Martin, the former head of the National Cyber Security Centre.

Podcast

Episode 44: Sinjar – an arena for other conflicts?

Tuesday 5th March, 2024

Episode 44: Sinjar – an arena for other conflicts?

Ali and Suzanne are joined by Renad Mansour and Zmkan Ali of Chatham House to discuss their new report on cross-border conflict.

Podcast

Episode 43: Taiwan’s elections – what do the results signify?

Thursday 8th February, 2024

Episode 43: Taiwan’s elections – what do the results signify?

Professor Ali Ansari and Suzanne Raine are joined by Professor Bill Hurst, Director of the Centre for Geopolitics, to ask what we should conclude from the results of the Taiwanese elections on 13 January.

Podcast

Episode 42: Iran’s wars

Tuesday 30th January, 2024

Episode 42: Iran’s wars

Suzanne Raine and Ali Ansari start with Baluchistan, and then widen the lens to look at what is driving Iranian aggression in the Middle East. They examine how the threat of force becomes the use of force, and the extent to which apparent co-ordinated Iranian activity might not be quite as simple as it seems.

Podcast

Episode 41: Can Ukraine win?

Wednesday 20th December, 2023

Episode 41: Can Ukraine win?

Professor Phillips O’Brien joins Suzanne and Ali to discuss why enabling Ukraine to win is in the US’s strategic interest, and why limited assistance not only protracts the conflict but raises the risk of wider long-term instability in Europe.

Podcast

Episode 40: Taking Difficult Decisions

Tuesday 21st November, 2023

Episode 40: Taking Difficult Decisions

Recent events in Israel and Gaza have highlighted how hard it is to orientate in the absence of clear facts. At these times of crisis, how do political leaders decide what to do? Ali Ansari and Suzanne Raine are joined by the Rt Hon Charles Clarke, who was British Home Secretary at the time of […]

Podcast

Episode 39: Tensions in the Caucasus

Wednesday 18th October, 2023

Episode 39: Tensions in the Caucasus

Dr Charlie Laderman joins Ali and Suzanne to explore the origins of the dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the current situation, and the real and increasing risk of renewed violence in the Caucasus.

Peace building

The changing geopolitics of the Middle East and the prospects for peace

Podcast

Episode 38: A year of elections

Wednesday 27th September, 2023

Episode 38: A year of elections

In 2024, approximately four billion people will be involved in national elections, which in turn will shape how states take geopolitical positions and decisions. Suzanne and Ali consider key themes such as misinformation, manipulation and division which are likely to feature heavily in this major global electoral year.

Podcast

Episode 37: Realpolitik

Monday 25th September, 2023

Episode 37: Realpolitik

Suzanne and Ali discuss the origins of the term and ask how states navigate between pursuit of their interests and being true to their values and ideals.  

Podcast

Episode 36: China and BRICS

Tuesday 12th September, 2023

Episode 36: China and BRICS

Professor Bill Hurst joins Suzanne to explore what — if anything — the expansion of the BRICS signifies for those countries joining and for China, and look at how to interpret indicators about the current state of the Chinese economy.  

Podcast

Episode 35: Heroic leadership

Thursday 17th August, 2023

Episode 35: Heroic leadership

Suzanne and Ali are joined by Air Marshal (Retd) Ed Stringer to look at what defines heroic leadership, whether it can be taught and whether the idea of the genius leader is fit for today’s challenges.  

Podcast

Episode 33: Rethinking authoritarian resilience

Monday 7th August, 2023

Episode 33: Rethinking authoritarian resilience

Ali and Suzanne discuss the idea of ‘authoritarian resilience’, the broader relationship between theory and practice, and how we should avoid becoming prisoners of paradigms.

Podcast

Episode 32: The battle for global resources

Friday 16th June, 2023

Episode 32: The battle for global resources

Ali and Suzanne are joined by Richard Williams of Bunker Hill Mining Corporation to explore global competition for resource, and look at how and whether the US aim to ‘de-risk’ global supply will work in practice.  

Podcast

On Geopolitics Episode 31: Japan, South Korea and the US

Monday 22nd May, 2023

On Geopolitics Episode 31: Japan, South Korea and the US

Ali and Suzanne are joined by Centre Affiliate Dr John Nilsson-Wright to consider this trilateral relationship in the run-up to the G7.  

Podcast

Episode 29: What is the deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

Thursday 11th May, 2023

Episode 29: What is the deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

The Centre’s Iran-China expert Bill Figueroa joins Ali and Suzanne to look at the dynamics of the new triumvirate of Iran, Saudi Arabia and China.  

Podcast

Episode 28: Knowing your enemy (Part 2 of 2)

Thursday 13th April, 2023

Episode 28: Knowing your enemy (Part 2 of 2)

The second part of Suzanne and Ali’s discussion on the difference personal relationships between leaders can make at critical geopolitical moments.  

Podcast

Episode 27: Knowing your enemy (part 1)

Thursday 30th March, 2023

Episode 27: Knowing your enemy (part 1)

Suzanne and Ali ask how much difference personal relationships between leaders make at critical geopolitical moments.

Podcast

Episode 26: The State of Europe

Wednesday 15th March, 2023

Episode 26: The State of Europe

Professor Brendan Simms gives Ali and Suzanne his impressions of the key themes from this year’s Munich Security Conference and what this means for European security and Russia’s war in Ukraine.  

Podcast

Episode 25: Can we escape history? (Part 2 of 2)

Wednesday 8th March, 2023

Episode 25: Can we escape history? (Part 2 of 2)

Does learning lessons from history do more harm than good?  

Podcast

Episode 24: Can we escape history?  (Part 1 of 2)

Friday 3rd March, 2023

Episode 24: Can we escape history? (Part 1 of 2)

Ali and Suzanne ask whether we are trapped by history — and how we might use it better to approach today’s challenges.  

Podcast

Episode 22: How ‘revolutionary’ are the protests in Iran?

Friday 23rd December, 2022

Episode 22: How ‘revolutionary’ are the protests in Iran?

Suzanne and Ali discuss the current protests with Dr Anahita Arian, from the Centre for Geopolitics.  

Podcast

Episode 21: Protest in China

Wednesday 7th December, 2022

Episode 21: Protest in China

Professor Bill Hurst and Suzanne Raine examine the significance of the recent outbreak of protests in many cities in China, and the CCP’s response.  

Episode 19: China – taking stock

Wednesday 9th November, 2022

Episode 19: China – taking stock

What happened at the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party and what does it mean for China’s future direction? Ali and Suzanne are joined by Professor Bill Hurst, who talks us through personalities, drama, and the new Chinese focus on persistence and security.

Podcast

Episode 18: The single narrative

Thursday 27th October, 2022

Episode 18: The single narrative

Suzanne and Ali discuss how the anti-Western case is made by leaders from Putin to Bin Laden (and everyone in between)  

Podcast

Episode 17: What is going to happen next?

Wednesday 19th October, 2022

Episode 17: What is going to happen next?

After an eventful summer, Suzanne and Ali discuss the role and limitations of predictions and forecasting in geopolitics.