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Sanam Vakil

James Anderson Adjunct Professor

Adjunct Professor of Middle East Studies

Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow in the Middle East North Africa Programme, Chatham House


Sanam Vakil is the James Anderson Adjunct Professor of Middle East Studies at The Johns Hopkins University SAIS Europe and a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University associated with the Working Group on Islamism and the International Order. Sanam is alsoDeputy Director and Senior Research Fellow in the Middle East North Africa Programme at Chatham House where she leads the Iran Forum project focusing on future trends in Iran's domestic and foreign policy and follows wider Middle Eastern issues.  Before these appointments, from 2003-2005, Sanam was an assistant professor of Middle East Studies at SAIS Washington. She served as a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations also providing research analysis to the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa department. Sanam provides research, commentary and political risk analysis for companies and organizations working in the Middle East.  She has been consulted by high ranking government officials in the United States and Europe.  Vakil holds a PhD in international relations from SAIS.

Publications: Vakil's publications include: "Iran's Next Supreme Leader: The Islamic Republic After Khamenei," with H. Rassam, in Foreign Affairs, May/June 2017 and Women and Politics in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Action and Reaction (2011). She is the author of numerous monographs, book reviews, working papers and articles in U.S. and international journals on Middle East and U.S. foreign policy.



  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Middle East
  • Persian Gulf
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkey


  • American Foreign Policy
  • Governance
  • International Relations
  • Islamic Religion, Culture and Law
  • Oil Politics
  • Women's Rights


  • Arabic
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Persian

In the News

The changing Middle East landscape as Israel moves to normalize ties with Arab states.

Sanam Vakil interviewed on Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio, 9/18

The complexities of China–Iran strategic balancing.

Sanam Vakil wrote for East Asia Forum, 9/11

Progress or conflict? What to expect for U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Sanam Vakil participated in Middle East Policy Council webinar, 7/17

As Iran arrests Instagram influencers, some seek safety abroad.

Sanam Vakil quoted on Public Radio International, 7/13

How the private sector views Iran’s economy.

Sanam Vakil participated in Chatham House webinar, 6/24