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Naysan Rafati

Senior Analyst, Iran
Washington DC

Crisis Group Role

Naysan Rafati is Crisis Group’s Iran Senior Analyst. His research is focused on the Iran nuclear deal and Iran’s regional policies. He joined the organisation in October 2017 and is based in Washington.

Professional Background

Prior to joining Crisis Group, Naysan was a Transatlantic Postdoctoral Fellow in International Relations and Security (TAPIR) at the RAND Corporation, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Institut français des relations internationales.

He holds MSt and DPhil degrees in Oriental Studies from St Antony's College, Oxford, where he was awarded the Albert Hourani and Jenkins Memorial Scholarships and taught various courses on Middle East politics and history. He received his BA magna cum laude from Yale.


  • English
  • Persian
  • Arabic
  • Hebrew


Naysan has written for a variety of publications including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Le Monde Diplomatique (English), and the Financial Times.

In The News

25 Jul 2019
What the Iranians do have are missiles and local allies, proxy groups. It's entirely possible that an escalation [between the U.S. and] Iran would manifest across regional flash points. Vice

Naysan Rafati

Senior Analyst, Iran
26 May 2019
What we've definitely seen is a response from Iran on the nuclear front ... and the risk has always been that there would be a response on the regional front. CNN

Naysan Rafati

Senior Analyst, Iran
6 Aug 2018
There is a fine line between politics and economics in a country [Iran] where the government plays such a major role in the economy. But you can’t say that every economic protest is a pre-revolutionary protest. Foreign Policy Magazine

Naysan Rafati

Senior Analyst, Iran
26 Jan 2018
Internally, [Iran's Prensident] Rouhani has been trying to clip the wings of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), on their military moves but also economic influence. Business Insider

Naysan Rafati

Senior Analyst, Iran
11 Jan 2018
Iranian government's opponents will focus on [Ayatollah] Khamenei's self-critical statements and appointment to what was intended to be a caretaker position, as evidence of inter-regime wheeling. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Naysan Rafati

Senior Analyst, Iran
2 Jan 2018
The scale and scope of the [Iranian] unrest as well as the varied demands raised by the protesters make it more difficult to make tangible concessions that would address their grievances. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Naysan Rafati

Senior Analyst, Iran

Latest Updates

Q&A / Multilateral Diplomacy

Behind the Snapback Debate at the UN

In mid-August, Washington notified the UN Security Council that it was launching a 30-day process to “snap back” UN sanctions against Iran. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts Richard Gowan, Ashish Pradhan and Naysan Rafati explain what this step implies for the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Also available in العربية, فارسی

U.S. Maximum Pressure Meets Iranian Maximum Pressure

Eighteen months after Washington quit the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, Tehran is proceeding with staggered steps away from its own compliance. The deal is unravelling against the backdrop of high regional tensions. A de-escalation along the lines developed by France provides an off-ramp.

After the Aramco Attack: A Middle East One Step Closer to Its “1914 Moment”

On 14 September, strikes of uncertain provenance hit Saudi Arabia’s largest oil facilities, taking some 50 per cent of the kingdom’s oil production temporarily offline. Crisis Group offers a 360-degree view of the attacks and their implications for Middle Eastern and international peace and security.

Europe Tests the Boundaries on Iran

A New Trade Vehicle Could Preserve the Nuclear Deal’s Core Bargain

Originally published in Foreign Affairs

Looking Eastward

The Islamic Republic faces a mix of challenges and opportunities. While its rivalry with the United States and its allies in the Middle East is increasingly harsh, Tehran’s regional influence is unprecedented in recent history

Originally published in World Energy