Shahram Akbarzadeh

Shahram Akbarzadeh
Deakin University · Alfred Deakin Research Institute

BA, MSocSci, PhD

About

141
Publications
44,403
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981
Citations
Citations since 2016
69 Research Items
673 Citations
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2016201720182019202020212022020406080100120
2016201720182019202020212022020406080100120
2016201720182019202020212022020406080100120
Introduction
Shahram Akbarzadeh currently works at the Alfred Deakin Research Institute, Deakin University. He researches Middle East and Central Asia and has just published a book with Dr Kylie Baxter on the International Relations of the Middle East (Routledge, 2018). http://www.shahram-akbarzadeh.com/

Publications

Publications (141)
Article
Despite a significant body of scholarship exploring the impact of securitisation and racism upon Australian Muslims, comparatively little work has been undertaken exploring the specific socio-economic challenges facing Muslim communities and resultant impacts upon citizenship. Even less research has looked at this in the context of the ‘9/11 genera...
Article
This article explores the mechanisms behind the demobilization of the Feminist School, the self‐proclaimed ‘intellectual wing’ of the Iranian women's movement, which was established as an online forum in 2008. For a short time, the Feminist School was at the forefront of framing the Iranian women's movement and provided the conceptual tools for its...
Article
This article examines Iran’s ‘forward-defence’ strategy, in particular its deployment of proxy forces in the Syrian conflict. Iran’s expanded presence in regional conflicts is regarded by its adversaries as indication of hegemonic intent, while Tehran posits its regional posture as a defensive response to security threats. We argue that Iran’s ‘for...
Article
In the last decade, China's rapid economic growth has become a hot topic for politicians and intellectuals in Iran. Iranian views on China and its development model are ambiguous and contradictory, despite exponential growth in trade between the two countries. Three broad views have emerged in Iran about the Chinese way of progress. The pragmatic m...
Article
The concept of soft power was developed at the end of the Cold War to examine international influence through non-coercive means. In recent years, a growing field of research has drawn on this concept to examine the role of religion and culture in the foreign policies of Middle Eastern states. The existing research tends to view soft power from the...
Article
en States use elements of their culture to promote their influence in countries of strategic importance to them. Despite a growing body of literature on soft power, there is a shortage of literature on Iran’s influence in its neighbourhood. How is Iran viewed in Pakistan? This article is based on in-depth interviews and an online survey with inform...
Book
The dominant narrative of Iranian society and politics heralds the reformist movement as the epitome of Iran's transition to secularity, while conservative political forces are positioned as advocates of Islamization and a bulwark against secularization. Examining all the presidential elections since the revolution, Mahmoud Pargoo and Shahram Akbar...
Article
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Registered women’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the Islamic Republic of Iran occupy a critical space in the socio-political landscape. They are neither government insiders nor anti-regime activists, instead advocating for incremental change within the constraints of the system. Drawing on interviews with NGO leaders, this article sheds...
Chapter
President Hassan Rouhani came to office with the promise of bringing Iran out of the cold, to normalise Iran’s external relations. This agenda was primarily focused on US–Iran relations and hinged on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But there was also a regional angle to the agenda: presenting Iran as a responsible and reliable power that works for region...
Article
Pakistan claims to maintain neutrality in the Iran-Saudi rift. Sustaining this approach, however, has been problematic against a backdrop of intensifying Iran-Saudi rivalry. Pakistan's choices suggest a tilt towards Saudi Arabia. Based on extensive fieldwork in Islamabad, this paper focuses on the meanings and uses of neutrality in Pakistan's forei...
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Four decades after the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a wealth of scholarship exists detailing the failures and achievements of the ruling clergy. Such lines of inquiry explore not only the economic, political and foreign policies of the clerical establishment, but also the performance of the ruling clergy in the religious sphere. H...
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The ICC and R2P share the goal of ending atrocity crimes. Nonetheless, they operate quite differently. Recently, there has been increasing support for bringing the ICC within the R2P toolkits, hoping they will complement each other to achieve their shared goal. The Security Council put this idea into practice to deal with the 2011 crisis in Libya....
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Hybrid regimes have consolidated on the back of techniques that balance strong regime structures with tokenistic pluralism. This democratic veneer is performed through pseudo markers of democracy such as weak political parties and semi-competitive elections, which aim to ratify regime legitimacy. How public opinion polling fits into authoritarian l...
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Iran has pursued a highly contradictory policy towards Afghanistan. On the one hand, it became a significant beneficiary of the overthrow of the Taliban regime by the US-led military intervention in 2001 in Afghanistan. The new Afghan government established cordial ties with Iran, allowing it to expand its political, economic and cultural influence...
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This paper examines the impact that cross-border contacts and ideals of transnational Kurdish community have on Kurds in Iran. Incorporating survey and interview data from Iranian Kurdish academics, journalists and activists, it analyses how events in the broader Kurdistan region, and the notion of Kurdayetî – pan-Kurdish identity – are perceived b...
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The Syrian conflict, now in its eighth year, is a bitter example where a sovereign state and the international community have manifestly failed in their responsibilities to protect civilians from mass atrocity crimes. What factors have prevented the international community from fulfilling its obligation under the principle of the Responsibility to...
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The effectiveness of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was challenged after the suspension of Syria's membership in 2012. There were already indications of Iranian–Saudi rivalry on the issue of Syria's membership, but the 2016 summit held in Turkey became the stage for a very public dispute between the two states. This was not the first...
Article
The Kurdish population in Iran feels disenfranchised and excluded from the political system. Based on an original survey of Iranian Kurds, it is revealed that Kurds lack trust and confidence in the central government and do not exhibit any emotional connection with Iranian identity or the Islamic Republic of Iran. Overwhelmingly, survey respondents...
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The proliferation of jihadist groups raises intriguing questions about their internal relationship. Drawing on Resource Mobilization Theory we explore this question by examining the relationship between the Taliban and the local incarnations of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syrian (ISIS) in Afghanistan. We conceive the Taliban and ISIS as parts of...
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Iran is expected to be one of the main beneficiaries of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China and Iran had a track record of cooperation long before the announcement of BRI, developing a highly asymmetric Great Power-Middle Power partnership over the course of three decades. This article asks whether BRI will enable China and Iran to transc...
Chapter
Although the Middle East has long been an outpost of authoritarianism, political oppositions have consistently acted as agents of change across the region. This chapter sets the theoretical frame for the remainder of the volume. Based on the work of scholars observing Contentious Politics, it notes the ways in which regimes and oppositions shape on...
Chapter
Iran’s Reform movement has been a central player in Iranian politics for more than two decades. Reformists have played roles both inside and outside formal politics, including as members of the Iranian parliament, as political leaders during the Khatami presidency (1997–2005) and as the vanguard of the 2009 Green Movement protests. However, the Gre...
Chapter
The Middle East went through a turbulent phase in 2009 and 2011 with very little movement on democratic governance. The reassertion of the rigid and unresponsive political orders across the region, even worse the nightmare of Syria and Yemen, point to the return of a familiar pattern. The conceptualisation of the Middle East through the prism of co...
Book
This book uses a Contentious Politics lens to examine patterns of contestation since 2009 and 2011 among the Middle East's most important opposition actors. The volume is comprised of seven chapters that ask questions in relation to the responsiveness of opposition groups to their political environments, the long-term legacies of authoritarianism,...
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The events of the 2016 summit of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Turkey demonstrate how Saudi Arabia’s role within the organization has been transformed from leadership into a hegemonic one, a process that has been unfolding over five decades. As a strong voice in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia has employed a range of diplomatic s...
Chapter
Some of the loudest calls for reform in post-revolutionary Iran have come from those closest to the regime. President Mohammad Khatami (1997–2005) and President Hassan Rouhani (2013–) were key players in Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, but were both later elected to the presidency on reform platforms. This chapter evaluates President Rouhani’s track rec...
Chapter
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, as in other highly restricted environments, there are major problems with employing human rights discourse to pursue change. Local proponents of human rights have been subject to intense harassment, intimidation and repression at the hands of the regime. They also face internal challenges around leadership, organisa...
Chapter
Agents of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran have attempted to influence change from both the top-down (through policy, programming and law reform) and the bottom-up (through projects, campaigns and grassroots movements). Both approaches have significant limitations. Vandenhole et al. have argued that top-down/inside-track and bottom-up/o...
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This article examines two approaches to the promotion of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran through a theory of change lens. One, the political reform movement of the late 1990s, which promoted the principles of pluralism, civil society, and the rule of law via a top-down and inside track approach. Two, the One Million Signatures Campaign...
Book
The contemporary Middle East has been defined by political crises and conflict. The interplay of internal and external factors have set the region on a path of turmoil and crisis with devastating outcomes for its people. The absence of political accountability and representation, and policies pursued by the United States to keep US-friendly regimes...
Chapter
Iran’s political system benefits from dual sources of legitimacy, which seemingly enables Iran’s ruling clergy to proclaim their system to be the ultimate representation of a perfect political system, one that brings Islam and democracy together. Questioning this propaganda-laden claim, we suggest that this duality has embedded an inherent contradi...
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There is a widespread assumption that, given the imminent threat of mass atrocities against the Libyan civilians – especially in Benghazi – and in the absence of non-military alternatives, military action against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi was a justified and necessary response. This paper challenges this widespread assumption. It argues that on...
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The rise and subsequent erosion of friendly relations between Iran and Turkey was a result of their regional ambitions. While Turkey had long seen its secular system as presenting an alternative to Iran’s Islamic ideology, the alignment of their regional interests facilitated a rapport between the two states in the first decade of the twenty-first...
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Islamophobia has become a significant problem across the Western world. Australia is no exception. The emergence of far right groups and a political environment that allows anti-Islamic discourse has created an increasingly unwelcome environment for Muslims, even though multiculturalism has long been a fundamental marker of Australian daily life. T...
Book
This book evaluates President Hassan Rouhani's foreign policy during his first two years in office, looking at the case studies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, the UAE, Turkey, and Syria, as well as the Iran-US relationship. President Rouhani came to power in Iran in 2013 promising to reform the country's long-contentious foreign policy. His top priorities...
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This article examines the role of corporate identity in Iran’s foreign policy making. Drawing on interviews with Iranian stakeholders and an analysis of Iran’s political developments, this article surveys the three key elements of Iranian nationalism that shape Iranian foreign policy: Iranism, Islam and Shi’ism. This article finds that each of thes...
Chapter
Iran and Syria have enjoyed one of the most enduring alliances in the Middle East, with the relationship surviving the Iran—Iraq war, decades of international sanctions, and the Iranian nuclear dispute. The alliance took on new significance after the outbreak of war in Syria in 2011 when Iran, led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, provided decisive...
Chapter
President Hassan Rouhani surprised onlookers in June 2013 by winning the first round of the Iranian presidential election outright. Rouhani had campaigned on a platform of moderation, promising to form a “government of prudence and hope,” and raising expectations of an imminent shift in Iran’s international engagement.1 On the campaign trail, Rouha...
Book
President Rouhani came to power in Iran in 2013 promising to reform the country's long-contentious foreign policy. This book evaluates Rouhani's foreign policy track record during his first two years in office, looking at case studies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, the UAE, Turkey, and Syria and the high profile Iran-US relationship.
Article
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The political and military commitment of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Hizbullah in Lebanon has gone through the baptism of fire once again. The Syrian crisis has become a critical theatre of war for the three way alliance between Iran, Hizbullah and Syria, celebrated as the ‘axis of resistance’ in Tehran. The Iranian leadership has used the Syri...
Chapter
Iran’s revolutionary history, antagonism toward the West, and threatening regional postures suggest a “constructivist” foreign policy interpretation, emphasizing irrational Islamist zeal. Yet Iran’s external actions are inconsistent. Iran had categorically defended President Bashar al-Assad as part of the “axis of resistance.” This chapter reflects...
Chapter
President Rouhani came to office in August 2013 pledging to return “rationality and moderation” to Iran, telling a reformist newspaper that, “What I truly wish is for moderation to return to the country. This is my only wish. Extremism pains me greatly. We have suffered many blows as a result of extremism.”1 Although Rouhani’s election victory endo...
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The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as Daesh in Arabic, has forced Iran into a corner. Iran is relying more and more on its Shia allies, vindicating the accusation of Iran as a Shia power.
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The current sectarian conflicts in the Middle East did not arise solely from renewed geopolitical rivalries between regional powers. They are also rooted in a solid, theological articulation proposed by classic Islamic political theology. The exclusivist approach, which is a decisive part of the political, social and religious reality of today’s Mi...
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The Islamic Republic of Iran has pursued full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).1 In doing so, Iran has appeared to be unfazed by the prospect of allying with Russia and China, two countries which have systematically suppressed their Muslim minorities for decades. Similarly, the SCO's Central Asian member states are led by...
Book
Muslim Active Citizenship in the West investigates the emergence and nature of Muslims’ struggle for recognition as full members of society in Australia, Great Britain and Germany. What actions have been taken by Muslims to achieve equal civic standing? How do socio-political and socio-economic factors impact on these processes? And how do Muslims...
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The most recent national Census demonstrated that Australian Muslims continue to occupy a socioeconomically disadvantaged position. On key indicators of unemployment rate, income, type of occupation and home ownership, Muslims consistently under-perform the national average. This pattern is evident in the last three Census data (2001, 2006 and 2011...
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The fall of the Taliban in 2001 presented Iran with a complex strategic situation. On the one hand, the removal of the Taliban promised to open up new opportunities for Iran to expand its influence, based on historical and cultural ties between Iran and Afghanistan. On the other hand, the 2001 operation brought the United States (US) to the region....
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The Australian Government has tried to counter the threat of Islamic extremism by investing in mentoring and educational initiatives. Fearful of the potential for “home-grown” extremism, especially after the July 2005 London attacks, the Australian authorities seek to counter the narrow-minded narrative of extremism by sponsoring “moderate Islam”....
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In the past decade multiculturalism across Western nations has come under sustained critique and attack from its political opponents. It has been asserted that multiculturalism leads to the creation of ghettos and segregated communities, which undermine liberal democratic values and heighten the risk of attraction to extremist violence, particularl...
Book
The Middle East has been the centerpiece of American foreign policy for decades. As President Barack Obama faces continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the nuclear debate in Iran, and the ever-present Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the future of this region is once again firmly in the international spotlight. America's Challenges in the Greater Mi...
Book
Seizes a unique opportunity to reflect on the series of dramatic and unprecedented events that swept across the Middle East and North Africa, toppling several autocratic regimes that had held power for decades and ushering a new climate of dissent and democratisation.
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This concluding chapter analyses the various promises and challenges that were embodied in the Arab revolutions and face the region as it moves forward. It concludes by noting that if those who participated in these popular movements are patient, engage and invest in this period of change to make their own authentic and democratic future, then ther...
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This introductory chapter analyses the various debates and discussions that have been triggered by the Arab Revolutions. It seizes a unique opportunity to reflect on these seismic events, their causes and consequences, as well as on the core issues facing the region in the future. The central arguments and the key contributions of this chapter are...
Article
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Cultural diversity is the norm in Australia and the United Kingdom. Both states celebrate multiculturalism. But some populist politicians, commentators, and quasi-academics have recently portrayed Western Muslims as a “fifth column”, organized and intent on destroying the fabric of Western culture from within. Interestingly, extremist Muslim groups...
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US President Barack Obama has tried two very distinct policy options in dealing with Iran. The engagement policy was designed to make a break with the past experience and re-start US-Iran relations on a positive footing. This approach was consistent with the advice offered to the new administration by Iran analysts and leaders of non-governmental o...
Chapter
President Barack Obama inherited an unenviable legacy from his predecessor in the greater Middle East. At the time of his inauguration, U.S. troops were involved in two theaters of war. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had started well and allowed the United States to gain quick victories against incumbent regimes. Securing these victories, however...
Chapter
President Barack Obama faces a tough challenge to his efforts to steer away from the policies of his predecessor in Iran. Obama’s diplomatic charm offensive in the Muslim world, and more specifically in relation to Iran, was hoped to breathe new life into the tortured relationship between the United States and Iran. This was a marked departure from...
Chapter
The Obama administration has inherited a difficult case in Central Asia. Once shunned by successive U.S. administrations for its poor record on human rights and its geostrategic position that was assumed to be peripheral to U.S. interests, Central Asia was thrust on the U.S. foreign policy radar in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Securit...
Article
AZAR GAT. War in Human Civilization. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. xv, 822. $45.00 (us). Reviewed by William R. Thompson

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