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Middle East Focus is a weekly podcast featuring talk and analysis on U.S. foreign policy, contemporary political and social issues in the Middle East, and the arts and culture of region. It is produced by the Middle East Institute, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C. For more information visit

Jun 24, 2024

Alex Vatanka (Director, MEI's Iran Program) and Ali Afshari (Iranian political analyst and pro-democracy activist) discuss Iran’s snap presidential elections, set to be held on June 28th, following the sudden death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month. The 63-year-old regime loyalist was widely viewed as a leading potential successor to the Islamic Republic’s 85-year-old supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The elections come as Iran faces a number of challenges both at home and abroad, ranging from long-running domestic economic troubles and preparations for an eventual leadership transition to the regional reverberations of the ongoing war in Gaza and the tit-for-tat exchange of missile and drone strikes with Israel in April.