Panel discusses Iran as a rising power in the Middle East

The conference featured three panels that discussed Iran's rising power and its relationship with the United States. Photo by Zoe Baron

The conference featured three panels that discussed Iran’s rising power and its relationship with the United States. Photo by Zoe Baron

In commemoration of the anniversary of the Iran nuclear deal, the Center for Global Education hosted an international conference on Thursday about Iran’s rising power in the Middle East.

Created by Center for Global Education Director James Coyle, who specializes in Iran and U.S. national security issues, the event included a panel of seven experts in foreign politics and international relations from all over the country.

“I wanted the students to come away with an understanding of the issues that both separate and unite the United States and Iran,” Coyle said.

Freshman political science major Valeriya Lozovan said she attended the conference to learn more about the Iran deal. She hopes students learn that Iran is not as underdeveloped as stereotypes suggest.

“A very important thing that students need to know about Iran is that it’s not just another country in the Middle East,” Lozovan said. “When people think of the Middle East, they mostly think of poverty and underdevelopment and uneducated population, when in fact Iran and its population are far more developed and educated that people think.”

Coyle said many people focus on what separates the U.S. and Iran, but pointed out that there is some basis for cooperation. The two countries were able to reach an agreement, and that agreement set back the Iranian nuclear program from a decade to a decade and a half.

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The upcoming U.S. presidential election could be indicative of the country’s relationship with Iran. Photo by Zoe Baron

The conference was divided into three panels and each one looked at the topic from various perspectives, Coyle said. One panel discussed Iran and its region, and the other two covered topics of global relations and the interaction between the U.S. and Iran.

Panelist Ali Reza Nader, an international policy analyst at the RAND Corp., an organization that researches public policy, said that the outcome of the upcoming U.S. presidential election will have a large effect on relations between the U.S. and Iran.

Nader explained that Republican candidate Donald Trump hasn’t specified a detailed policy regarding Iran, although he has criticized the nuclear agreement. However, Nader said that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has come up with a very detailed policy, and said that Clinton repeatedly has claimed that she believes Iran could cheat on the nuclear agreement, and that she will be vigilant in enforcing it.

Nader believes that Iran’s ability to achieve global recognition is strongly hindered by the conflicted relationship between the U.S. and Iran.

“As long as Iran and the U.S. have hostile relations, I don’t think Iran can become an even regional or global power,” Nader said.

Lozovan said she appreciated that the panel discussed the countries that border Iran and the key aspects that have helped or prevented Iran from rising, rather than just focusing on Iran itself.

“I really enjoyed listening to Alireza Nader because he mentioned the Russia and Iran relationship, which, in a way, explained to me why the U.S. is preventing Iran from becoming a rising power,” Lozovan said.

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