Category Archives: Middle East

Summary of the presentation on….

Iran’s Shia Expansionism in the Greater

Middle East

By Dr. Eliot Assoudeh

Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has been a political riddle. Its charismatic leader, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini – rejecting liberal democracy, communism, and theocracy alike – introduced the Islamic Republic as a ‘third way.’ The populist, authoritarian regime marked the departure of mass politics in modern Iran; not only unnerving both East and West with challenges to international norms, but unsettling regional neighbors with the export of its revolutionary ideology.

As with right-wing revolutionary movements of the 20th century, the Islamic Revolution ran counter to the legacy of the French Revolution and modernity; yet in a reactionary way it was revolutionary and modern, developing into a complex Shia nationalism that diverges from traditional interpretations of Islam and resetting the political stage. The Islamic Republic is guided by a political religion that holds various myths (Islamic justice, sacralization of politics, anti-imperialism, and rule of the jurist), which constitute its canon (the Imam’s Path) along with a charismatic leader (Ayatollah Khomeini), a messenger (Shia-Iranians), and sacred texts (Khomeini’s writings).

According to Ayatollah Khamenei, the current and second Supreme Leader, there are five goals of the Islamic Revolution aimed toward Shia cultural and geographical expansion: the revolution, the formation of the Islamic system, the Islamic state, the Islamic nation, and Islamic civilization. Stemming from Manichean philosophy, revolutionary elites of Iran generally believe there are only two political parties: the Party of God and the Party of Satan. With this in mind, the Islamic Republic’s initiation of the international movement of Hezbollah (which means Party of God), with its headquarter in Tehran, takes on new meaning.

To establish ideological and cultural strengths to fuel post-revolution expansion, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) established the “Office of Liberation Movements” to support oppressed Shia minority groups. Lebanese Hezbollah was the first militia group Tehran established in the wake of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The rise of a Shia government to power in Iraq after the US-led toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 resulted in a Shia awakening across the region. Iran’s support for Shia militias in Iraq strengthened after the US surge in 2006, and again following the outbreak of Syrian civil war.

Iranian elites identify Syria as a new front for opposition to the US-led West. The IRGC recruits Shia fighters for Syria from Hezbollah branches in Afghanistan and Pakistan, rewarding mercenaries with Iranian citizenship and social welfare. Mullahs also work to redefine Syrian demographics, repopulating formerly Sunni-dominated lands with Shia settlers. In 2015, Tehran added Yemen to its sights, an area hardliners believe is crucial to the return of the Mahdi—the Shia savior.

Identifying new Islamic civilization as the final product of the revolution, Khamenei emphasizes that the Shia-Iranian way of life is an epilogue to it, centered on a culture of sacrifice, martyrdom and loyalty to rule of the jurist. To achieve this goal, the regime has developed discourse centered on increasing awareness of Islamic principle, and confronting hegemonic forces that may arise to contend with the plan.

Iran’s clearly expansionist ambitions gave rise to sectarian violence and tit-for-tat Islamism between Shia militias and their Sunni rivals – Wahhabis and Salafists. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis has emphasized, unless its containment is given greater priority in our foreign policy, the Islamic Republic remains a major impediment to long-term stability for the Middle East.

Iranian-born Eliot Assoudeh was born in Iran and recently completed his PhD degree from the University of Nevada-Reno.

The link to Dr. Assoudeh’s presentation is below:

NSF_CultEng_May 2017 (Final)

Please join us for this timely presentation on….





Dr. Eliot Assoudeh

The Ramada, Thursday, June 29, 2017, 9:00 a.m.

Iran’s population is one of the best educated in the world, and certainly in the Middle East. No wonder then that the ruling elite continues to struggle in its desire to impose an Islamic political culture and system following strict Shia dictates. And that the Mullahs face more serious confrontations outside of Iran, especially against the Sunni Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Persian Gulf Emirates.

Dr. Eliot Assoudeh will discuss internal Iranian political conflicts, with a focus on Ayatollah Khamenei’s dictate to impose a “Cultural Revolution” in Iran. Assoudeh, who just received his doctorate from UNR, will discuss Khamenei’s vision of “Cultural Engineering” in Iran, and compare that to President Rouhani’s role in this attempt to impose more religious discipline. And, what is the stance of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), as well as the Basij?

Dr. Assoudeh was born in Iran and speaks Farsi fluently. He has written and spoken extensively on Iran’s regional policies and what he describes as “Shia expansionism”.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII Veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

Please RSVP by clicking HERE For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.

Why not an independent Kurdistan?


Following our presentation on ISIS/The Islamic State, many of you showed considerable interest in knowing more about the Kurdish people and prospects for an independent Kurdistan.

William Galston at the Council on Foreign Relations has advocated for U.S. recognization of an independent Kurdistan, arguing that, “The Middle East is being remade, and the U.S. needs all of the friends it can get”. Galston argues that multi-ethnic democracy is a noble idea, but it doesn’t seem feasible in current circumstances. For the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, he argues that having large multi-ethnic countries inevitably will lead to dictatorship or anarchy. He said there is nothing sacred about the post Ottoman State system in the Middle East, “and no good reason why the U.S. should be worshiping at it’s alter”.

Of course constructing an independent Kurdistan would be extremely difficult, as the Kurdish people live in four major countries and have a presence in several others. Still, the Kurds are clearly one of our few friends in the Middle East, and maybe it is time to look more closely at what an independent or semi-autonomous Kurdistan might look like. This is more feasible considering the improved relationship between Turkey, where the majority of the Kurds live, and various Kurdish political entities.

We asked Larry Martines, our resident expert on the Kurds, to prepare a background paper on the Kurdish situation in view of the changing relationship with Turkey, driven largely by the ISIS advances. Click Here to Download

I think that you will find the attached paper on the Kurds to be of great interest and worth a serious look.


August 7th Forum (Final Reminder)


Radical Islam at War with the World


John Jandali, Lawrence Martines, and Richard Hobbs

The Ramada     Thursday, August 7   9:00 am

The “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (ISIS) emerged as an off-shoot of Al Qaeda (which has disavowed it) and has become one of the major jihadist groups fighting government forces in Syria and Iraq. The militant group has secured significant territorial gains in a surprisingly short period of time, as well as seizing enormous caches of money in the regions it has occupied. ISIS, now known as the Islamic State, is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has proven his talents as a battlefield commander, leading ISIS/IS in taking key Iraqi cities such as Mosul.

This session will bring three experts together to discuss the historical origins of ISIS, its relations with Al Qaeda, its current military strengths and financial resources, and its battlefield successes. They will analyze the nature, mode of operation, and ultimate goals of ISIS, its resources and bases of support, and the challenges it poses to existing regimes in the region. The group will also analyze the movement’s ability to gain popular support, particularly in Sunni areas, as well as its stated objectives in the Arab Middle East (and beyond). Attention will also be given to what the rise of ISIS/IS means for the Kurds (significant shift to separate nation?), Israel, and the West. Finally, they will address the question of what the region would like under an ISIS Khalifa regime

Larry Martines is a retired LE executive and CIA contractor who was involved in both domestic and international counter terrorism investigations. He was also a member of a RAND Corporation think tank on International Terrorism and has been published in several CT journals and professional LE magazines. Syrian-born Dr. Jandali received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and taught at both UNR and Wisconsin. More recently, he has spent many years in the restaurant and entertainment business. Col./Dr. Richard Hobbs is a retired combat infantry officer, professor, and businessman. He has worked, taught, and written in the international arena for over fifty-five years, including assignments at the Pentagon, the State Department, and in global operations in the private sector.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

To RSVP, please click here You may also RSVP e-mailing Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking here. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.


The National Security Forum presents


 Power and Violence in Iran, Syria & Beyond


With Eliot Assoudeh

PhD Candidate, University of Nevada, Reno

The Ramada, Thursday, January 9, at 9:00 am

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) maintains a major role not only in Iran’s politico-military areas, but is a dominant factor in the economy as well. The Revolutionary Guards oversee the Quds force and its activities in neighboring countries, directs the Basij in domestic oppression, conducts religious indoctrination internally, and owns a significant part of the Iranian economy—including the agro, industrial and military sectors.

How powerful is the IRGC in Iranian politics? Can they sabotage the temporary agreement with the West halting the Iranian nuclear weapons program?  It would seem that while the Guards are enormously powerful, and indeed oppose the nuclear agreement, President Rouhani seems to have the overwhelming support of the populace who want relief from the impact of sanctions, from the incessant propaganda, and from the “national fatigue” after eight years of rule by Mahmoud Ahmandinejad. Can the IRGC and its allies continue to hold the “commanding heights”? Can the U.S. influence events in Iran?

Iranian born Eliot Assoudeh is focusing his research as a PhD candidate on the structures of Iranian political, religious and military elites.

Assoudeh will analyze the current role of the IRGC in Iranian society, the economy, intelligence agencies and the politico-military sectors. A key question will also revolve around the relationships between the IRGC and President Rouhani, and more importantly with the Supreme Ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $5 for students with ID; free for WWII veterans), so recommend you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some coffee and conversation.

Kindly RSVP on our website by clicking here or you may RSVP by phone (775) 746-3222 or email We are also now accepting credit cards at the door for your convenience.