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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically-grounded solutions to enduring geopolitical problems
Director of the Westphalia for the Middle East project

Ali Ansari is Director of the Westphalia for the Middle East project at the Centre for Geopolitics, and the Professor in Modern History with reference to the Middle East at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where he is also the founding director of the Institute for Iranian Studies. He is Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI and currently AHRC/ESRC Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the FCO. Professor Ansari is a regular contributor to the international media on political developments in Iran, and has widely published on the history of Iran.

Dr Michael  Axworthy
Founding Director of the Westphalia for the Middle East project

Dr Michael Axworthy (26 September 1962 - 16 March 2019) was the founding director of the 'A Westphalia for the Middle East' project at the Forum on Geopolitics.
Michael was a historian of Iran, and published widely on this subject, in the form of both important books and articles. He was also a frequent contributor to print and broadcast media. His books include The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant; Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran; Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic; Iran: what everyone needs to know; and as editor, Crisis, collapse, militarism and civil war: the history and historiography of 18th century Iran.
After years at the FCO, including two years as head of the Iran section, he switched to an academic career, teaching Middle East history at Durham and Exeter, where he became Director of the Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies. In 2017 he was a Visiting Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and in the following year became a Senior Research Associate at that college. From late 2015 onwards he launched the Westphalia for the Middle East project at the Forum on Geopolitics, together with Prof. Brendan Simms and Dr Patrick Milton, and remained a crucial intellectual and practical driving force behind that undertaking, co-writing the project’s chief output, the book Towards a Westphalia for the Middle East at the end of 2018.

Director, Cambridge Initiative on Religion & International Studies (CIRIS)
Director, Transatlantic Policy Network on Religion and Diplomacy
Affiliated Lecturer, Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University
 Timothy   Less
Lead Researcher, Disintegration in Europe
Member of Darwin College

Timothy Less is the lead researcher at the Centre for Geopolitics’ project on Disintegration Studies. His research focuses on the breakdown of the existing political order in Europe, the forces driving this process and the new political order. He is currently launching a programme of research into the Balkans as the current settlement in the region comes under growing stress. This builds on his doctoral research into the question of Bosnia’s survival as a state.

Outside CfG, Tim works as a consultant specialising in the politics of eastern Europe and speaks and writes frequently on European politics in the media. Prior to this, he spent a decade working as an analyst, diplomat and policymaker at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office where, among other things, he ran the British Embassy Office in Banja Luka (Bosnia) and the EU Institutions department in London. He is also a former lecturer in Eastern European Politics at the University of Kent and a former risk analyst for the financial sector.

Dr Patrick   Milton
Research Fellow, Peterhouse

Patrick Milton is a Research Fellow at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, as part of the Westphalia for the Middle East project, and an Affiliated Lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Studies. He co-teaches an MPhil course on the History of European Geopolitics, 1453-1871, together with Prof. Brendan Simms. His research interests include the history of intervention for the protection of foreign subjects in early modern central Europe, the political and constitutional history of the Holy Roman Empire, early modern international relations, and the impact of the Peace of Westphalia with an emphasis on its guarantee. At the Forum on Geopolitics, he works on the Westphalia project, which seeks to draw lessons from the treaties of Westphalia (1648) for a new peace settlement for the Middle East. He was previously a visiting fellow at the Leibniz-Institute of European History, Mainz, and a postdoctoral fellow at Freie Universität Berlin. He holds a PhD and a BA in History from the University of Cambridge, and an MA in International Relations from the University of Warwick. His work has been awarded the German History Society/Royal Historical Society Postgraduate Essay Prize.

 Suzanne   Raine
Affiliated Lecturer, Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University

Suzanne Raine is an Affiliate Lecturer at the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University. She served for 24 years in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on foreign policy and national security issues.  This included postings in Poland, Iraq and Pakistan.  She specialised in counter-terrorism, holding a number of senior domestic appointments including Head of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre from 2015-2017 and was  a senior member of the UK government assessment community.  She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Imperial War Museum and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).