Alex Vatanka

Alex Vatanka is the founding Director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute in Washington D.CHe specializes in Middle Eastern regional security affairs with a particular focus on Iran. He was formerly a Senior Analyst at Jane’s Information Group in London. Alex is also a Senior Fellow in Middle East Studies at the US Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) at Hurlburt Field and teaches as an Adjunct Professor at DISAS at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.


Born in Tehran, he holds a BA in Political Science (Sheffield University, UK), and an MA in International Relations (Essex University, UK), and is fluent in Persian and Danish. He is the author of two books: “The Battle of the Ayatollahs in Iran: The United States, Foreign Policy and Political Rivalry Since 1979” (2021) and “Iran and Pakistan: Security, Diplomacy, and American Influence” (2015).


He has also written chapters for several books, including “Authoritarianism Goes Global” (2016); “Handbook on Contemporary Pakistan” (2017); “Russia in the Middle East” (2018), “Winning the Battle, Losing the War: Addressing the Drivers Fueling Armed Non-state Actors and Extremist Groups (2020); “Global, Regional and Local Dynamics in the Yemen Crisis.” (2020); “Routledge Handbook of Counterterrorism and Irregular Warfare Operations” (2021); and “Understanding New Proxy Wars” (2022). He is presently working on his third book Iran’s Arab Strategy: Defending the Homeland or Exporting Khomeinism?