About Banafsheh


Banafsheh is the author of Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes? Her latest book was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, February 2016). The Arabic (Beirut: Dar AlSaqi, December 2016) and Persian (Tehran: Zarir Publishing, August 2017) editions of her book were released at the Beirut, Jeddah and Tehran International Book Fairs in 2017.

A non-resident fellow at the International Institute for Iranian Studies (IIIS) in Saudi Arabia, Banafsheh was recently a visiting scholar at Princeton University in the Fall of 2018 and earlier in the Spring of 2017. In 2011, she was a visiting fellow at the King Faisal Center for Islamic Studies and Research in Saudi Arabia, and earlier a visiting researcher at the Institute for Political and International Studies in Iran.

As president of a woman-owned international geopolitical consulting company, MidEast Analysts, Banafsheh previously advised major top-tier global energy, financial, media and high-tech companies on current world affairs. She advised the White House in an informal capacity on Iran’s nuclear program from 2010 to 2013. She worked as a consultant for the World Bank, and was a development officer at The Asia Foundation. In Iran, she worked with the Swiss Academy for Development to generate employment for and resettle Iraqi, Afghan and Kurdish refugees, and offered advocacy services to over 50 women NGOs in preparation for the Beijing NGO Women's Forum in 1995. She also offered humanitarian services to human rights and at risk activists, and led grassroots strategic meetings for environmental activists in the littoral states of the Caspian Sea . 

Banafsheh is fluent in Persian/Farsi, Dari and Tajik, and has very basic knowledge of Arabic, Kurdish and Urdu. An accredited interpreter with the European Commission, she has worked in high-stake diplomatic initiatives for over two decades at the United Nations, and at numerous international conferences. She is sought as a content writer and commentator with major news outlets including with NPR, CNN, NBC, Fox, Boston Globe, France 24, and media groups in the Middle East.

In her spare time, Banafsheh writes creative and academic stories, novels, articles and book manuscripts. An assistant and adjunct professor for thirteen years, she works on foreign affairs and policy issues. She is the translator of a book for the United Nations entitled Refugee Rights in Iran authored by Peace Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi (London: Dar AlSaqi, February 2008), and the editor of five volumes of a book of poetry entitled Five Treasures of Ferdowsi (Tehran: Iranian Calligraphy Society, 1998).

Banafsheh received her PhD in international relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. The recipient of several fellowships in the United States, Banafsheh grew up in London, Bonn, Islamabad and Tehran, and has lived and worked in 27 other countries across Asia, Europe, South America and Africa.  She currently lives with her family in San Francisco, California.