Academic Publications, Media Appearances, Opinion Pieces, and Quotes:

Academic Publications:

  1. Alimagham, Pouya. Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.
  2. Alimagham, Pouya. “The Iranian Legacy in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution: Military Endurance and US Foreign Policy Priorities.” UCLA Historical Journal, Vol. 24, Iss. 1 (2013).

Opinion Pieces:

Middle East Eye: “The surprise was not Soleimani’s death, but the unity it fostered” (1/8/20)

The American Conservative: “Don’t Underestimate Iran’s Ability to Fight a Bloody War” (8.6.19)

Informed Comment – “Iran’s Green Uprising 10 Years Later: A Humanizing Legacy” (6.13.19)

LobeLog – “America’s Standard of ‘Normal Nation’ in the Middle East” (6.5.19)

The Fletcher Forum – “The Transnational Legacy of the Iranian Revolution on its 40th Anniversary” (2.13.19)

The Fletcher Forum – “The Geneoalogy of Protest in Iran: Lessons from History” (2.28.18)

The Huffington Post – “The Saudi Roots of Today’s Shi’ite-Sunni War” (6.23.14)

The Huffington Post – “Iran’s 2009 Protest Haunt Upcoming Elections” (5.26.13)

The Huffington Post – “Ben Afflect’s Argo and the Problem With Viewing Iran Through a Narrow Lens” (10.16.12) and published in Muftah under modified title – “Ben Affleck and Argo’s Narrow Lens” (10.20.12)

The Huffington Post – “Dangerous Misconceptions About Sanctions on Iran and Its Nuclear Program” (9.18.12)

Tehran Bureau (PBS) – “The Diplomatic Opportunity in Iran’s Dashed Hopes for the ‘Arab Spring'” (9.10.12)

The Huffington Post – “Revisiting the Flawed Policy of Sanctioning Iran: How Sanctions Hurt the Reformers” (8.28.12)

Tehran Bureau (PBS), UC Berkeley’s The Daily Cal, and University of Michigan’s The Michigan Daily“Depicting Iran: How Western Portrayals Justify Intervention” (3.4.12)

Informed Comment – “Alimagham: What Egypt and Tunisia Tell Us about Iran”. (2/21/11)

Tehran Bureau (PBS) – “The WikiLeaks Cables That Call for Attacks on Iran: An Alternative Analysis”. (12/7/10)

Tehran Bureau (PBS) – “Mousavi and Martyrdom: How the Regime Calculates the Personal Challenge”. (2/6/10)


On Pompeo and John Bolton’s book – The Independent (6/23/20)

“Bolton is gone now. But Pompeo is still Secretary of State and he still wants war and regime change, not diplomacy and negotiation. Pompeo pushed Trump to approve the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, which brought the two countries to the brink of war. And if Trump wants to negotiate with Iran, he needs a top diplomat who is onboard.

‘Pompeo is a major obstacle. He doesn’t want talks, doesn’t want a new agreement, and was a main force behind the assassination of Soleimani, but he’s not the only obstacle to talks — just a big one,’ said Pouya Alimagham, a historian of the modern Middle East at MIT.”

On Iranian American anxieties over Iran-US tensions after General Soleimani’s assassination – The Guardian (1/4/20)

“Pouya Alimagham, a lecturer and historian who was at home with his parents in Orange county when the news broke, noted that it was unnerving to watch US media programs feature rightwing thinktank heads and retired military personnel while largely excluding Iranian perspectives.

‘We’ve been on a rollercoaster ride for months,’ he added. ‘We’ve been talking about escalation for the past six months, and how this is going to lead to war … the war has already begun.’”

On President Trump’s green light for the Turkish invasion of northern Syria – The Independent – The Independent (10/23/19)

“Pouya Alimagham, a historian of the Middle East at MIT, says that Mr Trump’s framing of the troop withdrawal from Syria is far from reality. ‘Syria was never our war while Afghanistan was, and the Afghan war continues unabated. Furthermore, we have maintained our bases across the Middle East, and have increased our troop presence in Saudi Arabia’ he added.

Mr Alimagham believes that the US military presence across the Middle East has not helped stabilise the region but in fact added to its volatility in a dramatic way. ‘I am a critic of the US military presence in the Middle East based on the recent history of US interventions in the region, from the ill-fated invasion and occupation of Iraq, the reverberations of which continue until today, and the military support for human rights violating regimes such as in Egypt, to enabling the Saudi war in Yemen and our sabre-rattling with Iran,’ he told The Independent.

In his statement today, President Trump said that it was not possible to halt the Turkish incursion into northern Syria without deploying tens of thousands of US troops to that area. Critics however see the sudden US withdrawal as a ‘green light’ to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to move across the border and invade northern Syria. ‘In fact, it is a rare occasion for a US ally in the Middle East to commence a military operation without a US green light,’ Mr Alimagham said.”

On how President Trump’s subversion of the Iran nuclear dear undermined Iran’s moderates – The Independent (9/25/19)

“Pouya Alimagham, historian of Middle Eastern at MIT, thinks Rouhani and his foreign minister Javad Zarif have risked their entire political careers on this nuclear agreement. He says the Iranian electorate voted for Rouhani in 2013 on the promise with engagement with the world, and again in 2017 on the promise that they will enjoy the economic relief promised under the 2015 nuclear agreement. Alimagham told The Independent: ‘All the while, Iranian conservatives had been saying that the nuclear agreement is a fool’s errand – that the US government’s signature is not worth the paper on which its written. With President Trump subverting the agreement, the conservatives feel vindicated, and Rouhani and Zarif have been undermined.’

He added that for Rouhani to now reward Trump by giving him what he wants, a photo-op, without the promise of anything tangible in return, is for them to further undermine themselves.

Trump wants a strong foreign policy victory ahead of the 2020 election. But the Iranians have every reason to distrust him and do not want to give him a victory without anything in return.

Alimagham says ‘confidence-building measures, especially with the power that holds almost all the leverage, is necessary. The US can reinstate the waivers so that Iran can sell some of its oil and not obstruct the French offer of $15 billion credit line.’ Since Trump was the one who scrapped the nuclear deal and imposed unilateral, crippling sanctions on Iran, the goodwill should also begin with him.”

On Japan’s role in de-escalating Iran-US tensions – Newsweek (9/19/19)

“Pouya Alimagham, a historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also told Newsweek that ‘Japan can indeed play a constructive role in mediating between Iran and the U.S. It has longstanding ties with both Iran and the U.S. Iranians in general view Japan in a very favorable light,’ alluding to Japan’s 1905 victory over czarist Russia, which had long intervened in Persian affairs.

Like Azizi, Alimagham explained that ‘there’s more than just friendly relations or history that drives relations’ between the two.

‘Japan imports Iranian oil and does extensive business with Iran, and U.S. sanctions are hurting those endeavors,” he told Newsweek. “Consequently, Japanese businesses have been pressuring their government to resume oil imports and to put in place protections in support of companies wanting to return to Iran.’

Still, there were major challenges ahead, even with an ambitious diplomatic effort on Japan’s part. Alimagham said that ‘the departure of Bolton helps make de-escalation more likely, but many barriers exist,’ such as Pompeo, who readily blamed Iran for Saturday’s attacks and appeared enthusiastic to paint the Islamic Republic as a rogue actor, and regional U.S. partners such as Saudi Arabia, which was also building a case against Iran.

‘That said, and despite the bluster, neither Trump nor the Iranians want a conflict to break out between the two countries, so there’s room for hope,’ he added. ‘Japan, along with France and others, can use their ties with both countries to find common ground.'”

On de-escalating Iran-US tensions – Al Jazeera (9/16/19)

“Firing war hawks like John Bolton is a step in the right direction, but if the Trump administration is interested in de-escalation, it needs to stop pursuing hawkish policies and pressure campaigns that ultimately force Iran to choose between submission and confrontation,’ Pouya Alimagham, a historian of the modern Middle East at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told Al Jazeera. ‘After all, it is not hard to imagine what path a nation with a modern history of resistance to western intervention would take under such circumstances.’”

On the Arab uprisings in ’11 – The Michigan Review (2/22/11)

“While the events unfolded, the Obama administration and the State Department tried to find the right diplomatic tone. However, reaction to the uprisings hasn’t really shown a great shift in U.S. Foreign Policy according to Pouya Alimagham ‘the real shift came after the first gulf war when the U.S. established a permanent military presence in the region.’ Alimagham believes that U.S. policy had become more aggressive in the region since then and leading to the latest Iraq war. ‘But,’ he said, ‘the country [the US] learned something from the 1979 Iranian Revolution and as a result did not hold strong in their support of Mubarak in order to preserve the Egyptian military’ and through it ‘maintain ties with the future order.’ It remains to be seen whether any of these other protests will amount to any significant change, but because “most regimes are loathed and despised by their people,” said Alimagham, it is expected that they [the protests] will continue.”

On the Iranian uprising in ’09 – The Harvard Crimson (6/21/09)

“‘My medium of protest has been online, so I’ve been spending most of my time gathering information,’ Alimagham says. He adds that he believes the massive media coverage of the election in the West, though not always accurate, is ultimately a good thing, considering that a lot of democratic movements in the Middle East are not reported at all.”

On Palestine in ’08 – CNN (8/18/08)

“Other Americans, such as Harvard graduate student Pouya Alimagham, 26, have also developed their political opinions after spending time in Lebanon. ‘For me, being here has heightened the issue of Israel and Palestine,’ Alimagham said. While in Lebanon, Alimagham visited a Palestinian refugee camp. ‘That was a testament to six decades of bad policy,’ Alimagham said. ‘When I went to the refugee camp I realized that no one cares about the Palestinians.'”

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