top of page

Alex Vatanka

Good color filter smile.png

I was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1975. Raised in Denmark and later moved on to England to pursue university studies in political science and international relations. I graduated with a BA in Political Science (Sheffield University, UK), and an MA in International Relations (Essex University, UK). 


My first job was as a country risk analyst at a small firm in Cambridge before joining Jane's defense and intelligence group in London in 2001. In 2006, I moved to join the Jane's office in Washington D.C. Later on I joined the Middle East Institute (MEI) in Washington D.C. where I became the founding director of MEI’s Iran program. 


I am also a Senior Fellow in Middle East Studies at the US Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) at Hurlburt Field in Florida and teach as an Adjunct Professor at DISAM at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.


My focus is on Middle Eastern regional security affairs with a particular emphasis on Iran. I have lectured widely for both government and commercial audiences, including the US Departments of State and Defense, US intelligence agencies, US Congressional staff, and Middle Eastern educational institutions, government agencies and energy firms. My most recent book is, The Battle of the Ayatollahs in Iran: The United States, Foreign Policy, and Political Rivalry (2021)

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon



Iranian regional and foreign policy

Trade, security, military and diplomatic relations with its neighbors and beyond 

Sheffield University, UK

BA Political Science

The politics of the energy sector in Iran

Tracking key personalities and issues that shape macro-policies in Iranian oil and gas sectors

Essex University, UK

MA International Relations

Regional geopolitical rivalry 

Including Iran-GCC, Iran-Israel and Iran-Turkey rivalries and its impact across the Middle East

US relations with the Caucasus & Central Asia

Strategic drivers behind US policy toward the region 

bottom of page