Special Report: The Cast of Analysts

James E. Akins, 52, is a career Foreign Service officer, now retired, who was long a leading State Department Arabist and oil-policy expert. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1973 until late 1975, but was dismissed following policy disputes with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Akins felt Saudi Arabia, not Iran, should have been the prime focus of U.S. interests in the region.

James A. Bill, 40, is associate director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas and a top U.S. scholar on Iran, which he visits frequently. Bill forecast the Shah's downfall long...

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