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An October Surprise with Iran? Calculations and Policy Implications

An October Surprise with Iran? Calculations and Policy Implications

Date and time: October 6, 2020, 11 am Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4)

Watch forum on event day here or watch via Facebook Live.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden are putting forward very different ideas about US policy toward Iran, which arguably makes the results of their contest very consequential for Tehran – though some in the Islamic Republic say otherwise. That raises the question of whether a last-minute dramatic development may arise between the two countries before the election, whether initiated by national leaders or subordinates. Such an “October Surprise” could include anything from cyber influence/disruption to clashes with Iranian proxies to a confrontation at sea, or even unexpected talks. If so, what might lead the two sides and other regional players to escalate or de-escalate?

To address these questions, The Washington Institute is pleased to announce a virtual Policy Forum with Ariane Tabatabai, Michael Eisenstadt, and Mehdi Khalaji, to be moderated by Ambassador Barbara Leaf.

Ariane Tabatabai is the Middle East Fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, which recently published her paper Iran’s Authoritarian Playbook: The Tactics, Doctrine, and Objectives Behind Iran’s Influence Operations. Her latest book is the soon-to-be-published No Conquest, No Defeat: Iran’s National Security Strategy (Oxford University Press).

Michael Eisenstadt is the Kahn Fellow at The Washington Institute and director of its Military and Security Studies Program. His recent publications include the in-depth Institute study Operating in the Gray Zone: Countering Iran’s Asymmetric Way of War.

Mehdi Khalaji, a former Iranian journalist and Qom-trained theologian, is the Institute’s Libitzky Family Fellow and author of its recent paper “Reading Trump in Tehran.”

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