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MARCH 2015




The Iran Primer


hen he coined the phrase “a riddle, wrapped in

a mystery, inside an enigma” in 1939, Winston

Churchill was referring to the Soviet Union. But many

international relations scholars believe it an apt descrip-

tion of present-day Iran, referring to the richness and

complexity of the country’s cultural and political heri-


After 30 years of estrangement between Washing-

ton and Tehran, however, most Americans know very

little about the most basic facts concerning Iran and its

people. Happily,

The Iran Primer


org), self-described as “the world’s most comprehen-

sive website on Iran,” offers extensive information and

insights, food for thought for the expert and layperson


Launched in 2010 as a joint project of the U.S. Insti-

tute for Peace and the WoodrowWilson International

Center for Scholars,

The Iran Primer

is an ongoing online

compendium of essays by 50 of the world’s top Iran

scholars, representing 20 foreign policy think-tanks,

eight universities and senior foreign policy officials from

six U.S. administrations.

The site is centered on the book

The Iran Primer


edited by journalist, author and USIP Joint Fellow Robin

Wright and published by USIP in 2010.

The book is available in hard copy, and its individual

essays, as well as the new articles featured regularly on

the website, are available for download from the site.

A “living website,”

The Iran Primer

gives readers up-

to-the-minute analysis of current events that have major

implications for Iran, the United States and the world as

a whole, such as the ongoing nuclear negotiations, Iran’s

position on the Islamic State group, the power dynam-

ics of regional elections and what the recent drop in oil

prices means for the Iranian economy.

In addition, it has archived articles from 2010 onward,

making it easy to trace the evolution of both American

and Iranian policy.

The site brings a wide range of perspectives to the

table, and is a great source for background information

and a variety of analytical opinions. The site also has

sections devoted to U.S. policy, Iranian policy, profiles of

important Iranian government officials and religious fig-

ures, and interviews with American and Iranian scholars.

The Iran Primer

is an excellent resource for anyone

looking to untangle the complicated American-Iranian

diplomatic relationship and to understand Iran as a

country in greater depth.

—Shannon Mizzi,


Editorial Intern

mission is to oversee U.S. programs and

operations in Afghanistan, ensuring

that American tax dollars are being used


For the full report, go to the SIGAR

website (


—Susan Brady Maitra,

Managing Editor

Ebola Update: Grand

Challenge Winners


hough the rates of new Ebola infec-

tions in West Africa have slowed

dramatically, the U.S. Agency for Devel-

opment’s work to combat the crisis is not


In December the agency announced

the winners of “Fighting Ebola: A Grand

Challenge for Development.” USAID

launched the “Fighting Ebola” chal-

lenge in early October—in partnership

with the White House Office of Science

and Technology Policy, the Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention and the

Department of Defense—to seek ways