Posted tagged ‘Iran lobby’

Ex-Iranian Lobbyist at State Dept Moved After Conservative Pressure

April 23, 2017

Ex-Iranian Lobbyist at State Dept Moved After Conservative Pressure, Front Page Magazine (The Point), Daniel Greenfield, April 23, 2017

No one should assume that the election automatically changed everything. Much of the government is still under the control of the same folks who controlled it last year. And it will take pressure and scrutiny to change that. But pressure can and does work. Conservative activists can change things by focusing on people in government who should not be there.

This is progress.

A top State Department official who helped shape the Iran nuclear deal has reportedly been reassigned following criticism from conservative media outlets that questioned her loyalty to President Trump’s administration.

Sahar Nowrouzzadeh’s yearlong assignment to the secretary of State’s policy planning team was cut short earlier this month following critical stories from the Conservative Review and Breitbart News, Politico reported Friday.

A State Department official told Politico that Nowrouzzadeh did not want to be reassigned, and multiple officials in the State Department believe the media attacks were to blame.

“It puts people on edge,” an unnamed State Department official told Politico.

Good. The people being put on edge ought to be on edge. Especially since some of them are bringing us to the edge of nuclear war.

The State Department said in a statement that Nowrouzzadeh has returned to the Office of Iranian Affairs, but did not specify her new role or tell the publication why she was moved.

We’ll know soon enough.

The Hill story, predictably, makes no mention of why there were objections to her. That’s how you can tell it’s propaganda. It neglects to mention the Iranian lobbyist issue.

This Iran lobby, publicly represented by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), has become a staunch institutional ally of the White House selling the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear deal is known. .. Perhaps NIAC’s most accomplished alum is Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who is now National Security Council director for Iran in the Obama administration and therefore the top U.S. official for Iran policy, bringing together the various departments of government working on U.S. strategy toward the country. She is also, after the White House principals, one of the leading advisers to President Obama on Iran.

No doubt owing to the sensitivity (and influence) of her government role, Nowrouzzadeh has maintained a low profile, but her work at NIAC is publicly available. She drafted one of the organization’s annual reports for 2002-2003 and was referred to by Dokhi Fassihian, then executive director, as a “staff member” (DOC). The Obama administration insists that Nowrouzzadeh was only ever an intern with NIAC, and Nowrouzzadeh does not seem eager to play up her affiliation with the group. According to her LinkedIn profile, she has worked at the State Department and the Department of Defense. The profile doesn’t mention NIAC at all.

Neither does the Hill story.

Nowrouzzadeh should not be in any agency of the government. Let alone sitting pretty in the Office of Iranian Affairs. But there has been some progress. And this is part of draining the swamp.

Iran’s Spymaster Claims Pro-Regime Agents Operating in D.C., London, Canada

March 23, 2017

Iran’s Spymaster Claims Pro-Regime Agents Operating in D.C., London, Canada, Washington Free Beacon, March 23, 2017

(With which and how many pro-Iran Obama administration hold-overs are they in contact? — DM)

Iranian intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi, a candidate for the upcoming Assembly of Experts election waves during a campaign meeting in Tehran on February 23, 2016. / AFP / BEHROUZ MEHRI (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran maintains a network of spies and lobbyists who clandestinely push the Islamic regime’s agenda in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, according to the head of Iran’s ministry of intelligence, who touted the pro-Iran network’s ability to spread its ideology to the West.

Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s intelligence minister, in recent remarks independently translated by the Washington Free Beacon, bragged about the Islamic Republic’s ability to operate an unnamed “lobby group” in D.C. that helps to push the regime’s hardline agenda.

Alavi disclosed that Iranians with dual citizenship in the United States, Canada, and England, remain devoted to the “Islamic revolution” and are working to promote this agenda in their adopted homelands.

In D.C., Alavi claimed, a “lobby group for the Islamic Republic of Iran” is working to bolster the regime’s international status and help legitimize its nuclear endeavors.

“They have a lobby group for the Islamic Republic of Iran which does not cost us money,” Alavi said, without naming the specific organization. “We should not accuse them and say things that discourage them about the ancestral homeland, this is not good, and losing this capital is not good for the regime.”

Iranian dual nationals living in the West remain devoted to the Islamic Republic, he added.

“It is wrong to say that all dual nationals are traitors, spies, or foreign agents; many of dual nationals love Iran, are a capital for Iran,” Alavi said. “Many who live in Canada, London, or the United States [are devoted] to the [Islamic] revolution and the supreme leader … In those places some attend religious ceremonies. [Those people] love the [Islamic] Revolution.”

While the Iranian official did not name the lobby group in question, the Free Beacon has reported during the past several months that dissident organizations are pushing for a formal investigation into the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, which has long fought against charges that it lobbies on the regime’s behalf.

A group of nearly 100 prominent Iranian dissidents working to undermine the regime petitioned Congress in February to investigate NIAC’s ties to the Iranian regime and determine if it is actively helping to push a pro-mullah agenda.

“We write to request a congressional hearing on the efforts of Tehran’s theocratic regime to influence U.S. policy and public diplomacy toward Iran,” the dissidents wrote to Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), the heads of Congress’ foreign affair committees, according to copies of the letter first reported by the Free Beacon.

NIAC’s actions in favor of the Iran nuclear deal and increased diplomacy with Tehran also raised concerns in January, when the Free Beacon first reported that two high-level Iranian government backers, including a former Islamic Republic official and another accused of lobbying on Tehran’s behalf, had been hosted at the Obama White House for more than 30 meetings with top officials.

The meetings came at key points in the Obama administration’s outreach to Iran and efforts to push the nuclear deal.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, raised concerns about Alavi’s recent remarks. He noted that organizations pushing Iran’s agenda in Washington are obligated to disclose their work under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, even if no money is exchanging hands as part of the relationship.

“The question to ask is whether there is daylight between the foreign policy positions of the Islamic Republic and those of groups of which the Iranian intelligence minister refers,” Rubin said.

“At the very least, it is worth asking whether any individual who is making a couple dozen meetings to the White House and even more to the State Department is acting as what the Iranian intelligence minister might consider a lobbyist,” Rubin added, referring to the former administration’s outreach to pro-Iran interests in the United States. “It’s not a witch-hunt, it’s a matter of law.”

Given Alavi’s recent disclosures, U.S. officials would be wise to “ask the motivations of those fundraising for any group that seems more interested in defending Iran’s ballistic missile work than in human rights and cultural freedom,” Rubin said.

Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iranian dissident and associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that several years ago Iran implemented a formal plan to “strengthen its ties with anti-war and pro-regime lobby groups.”

This included bolstering ties with Iranian dual nationals in the West and certain organizations in Europe and the United States to help “change the unfriendly governments’ policies and actions regarding the regime,” according to Ghasseminejad.

This network is tasked with discrediting Tehran’s opponents and stopping efforts to foster regime change in Iran, Ghasseminejad said.

“They are specifically concerned about any prospect of regime-change and cooperation between the U.S government and Iranian opposition groups,” he said.

Iran also wants these organizations to promote policies that benefit Iran and will help it garner international legitimacy, according to Ghasseminejad.

Iranian Dissidents Demand Investigation Into Islamic Regime’s Secret U.S. Lobbying Network

February 20, 2017

Iranian Dissidents Demand Investigation Into Islamic Regime’s Secret U.S. Lobbying Network, Washington Free Beacon, , February 20, 2017

An Iranian flag flies in front of the building where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, July 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

An Iranian flag flies in front of the building where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, July 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

A group of nearly 100 prominent Iranian dissidents is demanding that Congress launch investigations into clandestine efforts by the Islamic Republic to influence U.S. policy using a network of lobbyists and propaganda pieces placed in Voice of America’s Persian service, according to a letter sent to leading lawmakers and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The group of dissidents, composed of prominent Iranian voices that oppose the hardline regime in Tehran, says that Congress is not doing enough to expose the Iranian regime’s lobbying efforts in D.C. and propaganda network, which is said to include some at VOA Persia.

Iranian-American groups claiming to represent American interests are said to be carrying water for the Islamic regime inside the White House and on Capitol Hill, according to these dissident voices.

The letter cites VOA’s Persian service as a source of pro-Iran corruption. The Free Beacon has reported multiple times on claims that VOA has been infiltrated by Iran regime loyalists who seek to spin coverage in a favorable way for Tehran. In one instance, an Iranian dissident was barred from appearing on VOA Persia for voicing critical opinions about the regime.

The letter comes at a time when the Trump administration is seeking a tougher approach on Iran for its repeated violations of international accords governing the nuclear deal. The dissidents maintain that U.S. officials have been too soft on the regime and ignored its surreptitious efforts to make American diplomacy more generous to Tehran.

“We write to request a congressional hearing on the efforts of Tehran’s theocratic regime to influence U.S. policy and public diplomacy toward Iran,” the dissidents write to Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), the heads of Congress’ foreign affair committees, according to copies of the letter obtained by the Free Beacon.

“We ask that you launch an investigation into any and all lobbying activities of Iranian-American groups, which ostensibly promote the interests of our community but whose real goal is to undermine long-term U.S. national security interests in Iran and its neighborhood,” the dissidents write.

Organizations such as the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, which played a key role in championing the Iran nuclear agreement and worked closely with the Obama administration, have long operated under a cloud of suspicion. Dissident voices maintain that NIAC in particular serves as a mouthpiece for Iran’s regime in the United States.

The group of dissidents—which includes foreign policy experts, university professors, interfaith leaders, prominent real estate developers, and human rights activists, among others—also requested that Congress shine a light on VOA Persia’s activities.

“We also ask that you launch an inquiry into the Voice of America’s Persian service, whose bloated budget is the largest of all language services under the VOA,” they write.

“There have been numerous instances of editorials by the VOA’s Persian service that have been lenient or favorable to Iran’s clerical despots. We consider this to be totally unacceptable and demoralizing for pro-democracy Iranians who watch these broadcasts.”

Such hearings would compliment past efforts by Congress to investigate corruption at VOA, including what many describe as its pro-Tehran bent.

Peter Kohanloo, a chief architect of the letter and president of the Iranian American Majority, told the Free Beacon that the missive represents an unprecedented effort by Iranian dissidents to expose the Iranian regime’s “influence-peddling agenda.”

“Never before have so many Iranian dissidents of different political persuasions and backgrounds come together to speak with one unified voice,” Kohanloo told the Free Beacon. “This historic letter is a clear and unmistakable message to Tehran that we will no longer tolerate their influence-peddling agenda, which divides our community and demoralizes pro-democracy activists in Iran.”

The group of dissidents informed lawmakers that they are all willing to testify publicly at congressional hearings on both of these matters.

In trouble, Iran tries to discredit the MEK – dissidents

February 7, 2017

In trouble, Iran tries to discredit the MEK – dissidents, Iran Focus, February 6, 2017


London, 7 Feb – As President Donald Trump’s new US administration steps up pressure on Iran over its belligerent activities, Iranian opponents are arguing that Tehran is now targeting its main organised opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI or MEK), with disinformation in order to discredit its role as a potential alternative to the theocratic regime.

The MEK, established over 51 years ago, as an opposition movement to the Shah’s regime, soon fell out with the clerical government that took over with the 1979 revolution. Since 1981, the MEK has been considered as the ruling theocracy’s main nemesis. The MEK is also the leading force in the main opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Following the publication of articles by the Iranian ‘lobby’ targeting the MEK with ‘misinformation’, Farzin Hashemi, a Member of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote on Monday:

“Over the past week, once again policy on Iran was widely discussed in the media. Simultaneously, in recent weeks there has been more growing call for a new approach toward Iranian opposition, the MEK. The announcement by the US National Security Advisor that ‘Iran is officially on notice’ drew much attention. This position was followed by more Tweets from President Trump and a new round of sanctions, raising the prospect of a change of policy in the US approach towards Iran”.

Hashemi pointed out that both the NCRI and the MEK support sanctions against Iranian officials over their role in ballistic missile proliferation, a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231:

“As far as the Iranian Resistance, and its components including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK/PMOI), is concerned imposing sanctions against a number of individuals and companies affiliated to the clerical regime for their role in missile proliferation is a positive step in confronting the illegitimate and terrorist dictatorship whose record includes 120,000 political executions”.

Last week the Trump administration sanctioned 25 Iranian officials and entities for a recent ballistic missile test launch by Tehran. Hashemi argued, however, that in order to deal with the threats emanating from Tehran – which it described as the Godfather of state-sponsored terrorism – the world community ought to impose comprehensive sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the Ministry of Intelligence, and “other entities involved in suppression of the Iranian people and export of terrorism”.

“The IRGC and its affiliated militias and their commanders must be expelled from the countries of the region, in particular from Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Otherwise, the region would not witness peace and tranquillity”.

“The prospect of a shift of US policy, has already shaken not only the Iranian regime and its lobbies but also apologists and advocates of the old and failed policy of appeasement. In order to maintain the ‘golden era,’ a term used by the mullahs’ officials internally and sometimes publicly to describe the last few years of US policy on Iran, they have resorted to a two-pronged strategy”, Hashemi argued.

Through their “propaganda in the media”, under various covers, they are trying to create an “echo chamber” with which any suggestion of the need for a firm policy on Iran and its rogue behaviour, both at home and abroad, is described as “war mongering”, he said. “They are desperately trying to intimidate those calling for a change of policy to side with the people of Iran, through such false labels”.

“Simultaneously, they are engaged in a massive disinformation campaign to discredit the democratic opposition, the MEK and the coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by its President-elect Maryam Rajavi. By spreading fake news about the MEK/PMOI, originated from the Ministry of Intelligence of the mullahs’ regime and the intelligence section of the IRGC, their objective is to convey this false message that there is no viable opposition and the world must accept and deal with the religious dictatorship ruling Iran. Thus, the core of the issue is not their debunked allegations but their hidden agenda to maintain the policy of appeasement”.

“So, the choice is simply to opt between supporting the central banker of international terrorism with the record of having executed 120,000 dissidents for political reasons –ironically, the majority of them members and sympathizers of the PMOI/MEK – or to side with the Iranian people in their quest for a free and democratic Iran in which there would be no more executions, no more gender discrimination, no more supporting terrorist groups and destabilizing the entire region and no more nuclear weapons program”.

Iranian dissidents have also taken to social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to denounce Tehran’s ‘media propaganda ploy’ against the MEK.

On 9 January this year, 23 US prominent dignitaries, many of them with years of public service, urged the Trump administration “to adopt and pursue an Iran policy that recognizes the interests and inalienable rights of the Iranian people, and not just the clerical regime ruling over them.”

Highlighting the failure of the past policy that the nuclear deal might lead to a change of behavior from Tehran, the signatories stressed that the regime’s aggressive policy is part of their efforts on “preserving the vulnerable system of dictatorship”.

They also called for the voice of the Iranian people to be listened to through the NCRI and the MEK.

The former US officials also spoke out against Iran’s misinformation campaign against the MEK.

Pointing out that some “media and policy community continue to recycle defamatory allegations from decades past,” they wrote “We now know that these designations of the resistance as a terrorist group by Western governments were not made in response to confirmed terrorism; all were diplomatic gestures taken at the request of Tehran. Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security has for many years impaired the exiled opposition by covertly spreading false and distorted claims through third parties in the West. Other governments like Germany and the Netherlands closely monitor Iran’s influence operations on their soil; a thorough counter‐intelligence investigation by the US is clearly needed and long overdue”.

They concluded by recommending to Trump: “With a more enlightened grasp of the Iranian regime’s priorities and vulnerabilities, your Administration will be equipped to exert leverage enabling the US to oppose Tehran’s repression and adventurism while standing for the fundamental values both our peoples share”.

Hashemi added: “While, Tehran’s lobby and advocates of appeasement will desperately continue to allocate all their resource to discredit the resistance, and in particular the MEK (PMOI) and to preserve the failed old policy, their time is over”.


More about the People’s Mojahdin Organization of Iran (PMOI/ MEK) —– Source

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Also known as MEK, or Mujahedin-e-Khalq / Mujahedeen-e-Khalq), was founded on September 6, 1965, by Mohammad Hanifnejad, Saeed Mohsen, and Ali-Asghar Badizadgan. All engineers, they had earlier been members of the Freedom Movement (also known as the Liberation Movement), created by Medhi Bazargan in May 1961.1

The MEK’s quest culminated in a true interpretation of Islam, which is inherently tolerant and democratic, and fully compatible with the values of modern-day civilization. It took six years for the MEK to formulate its view of Islam and develop a strategy to replace Iran’s dictatorial monarchy with a democratic government.

MEK’s interpretation of Islam

The theocratic mullah regime in Iran believe interpreting Islam is their exclusive domain. The MEK reject this view and the cleric’s reactionary vision of Islam. The MEK’s comprehensive interpretation of Islam proved to be more persuasive and appealing to the Iranian youth.
MEK’s founders and new members studied the various schools of thought, the Iranian history and those of other countries, enabling them to analyze other philosophies and ideologies with considerable knowledge and to present their own ideology, based on Islam, as the answer to Iran’s problems.

MEK’s leadership’s arrest during the 70s.

The Shah’s notorious secret police, SAVAK, arrested all MEK leaders and most of its member’s in1971. On May 1972, the founders of the MEK, Mohammad Hanifnejad , Saeed Mohsen and Ali Asghar Badizadegan, along with two members of the MEK leadership, Mahmoud Askarizadeh and Rasoul Meshkinfam, were put before death squads and were executed after long months of imprisonment and torture. They were the true vanguards, who stood against the dictatorial regime of Shah. However, they are also recognized for their opposition to what is today known as Islamic fundamentalism.

The death sentence of Massoud Rajavi, a member of MEK’s central committee, was commuted to life imprisonment as a result of an international campaign by his Geneva based brother, Dr. Kazem Rajavi (assassinated in April 1990 in Geneva by mullahs’ agents) and the personal intervention of the French President Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand. He was the only survivor of the MEK original leadership.
Massoud Rajavi’s critical role in characterizing religious extremism

From 1975 to 1979, while incarcerated in different prisons, Massoud Rajavi led the MEK’s struggle while constantly under torture for his leading position.

Massoud Rajavi stressed the need to continue the struggle against the shah’s dictatorship. At the same time, he characterized religious fanaticism as the primary internal threat to the popular opposition, and warned against the emergence and growth of religious fanaticism and autocracy. He also played a crucial role when some splinter used the vacuum in the MEK leadership who were all executed or imprisoned at the time, to claim a change of ideology and policy. Massoud Rajavi as the MEK leader condemn these individual’s misuse of MEK’s name while continuing to stress the struggle against dictatorship. His efforts while still in prison forced these individuals to no longer operating under the name of MEK and adopting a different name for their group. These positions remained the MEK’s manifesto until the overthrow of the shah’s regime.

Release of Political Prisoners on the last days of the Shah

A month before the 1979 revolution in Iran, the Shah was forced to flee Iran, never to return. All democratic opposition leaders had by then either been executed by the Shah’s SAVAK or imprisoned, and could exert little influence on the trend of events. Khomeini and his network of mullahs across the country, who had by and large been spared the wrath of SAVAK, were the only force that remained unharmed and could take advantage of the political vacuum. In France, Khomeini received maximum exposure to the world media. With the aid of his clerical followers, he hijacked a revolution that began with calls for democracy and freedom and diverted it towards his fundamentalist goals. Through an exceptional combination of historical events, Shiite clerics assumed power in Iran.

Khomeini’s gradual crackdown on MEK in fear of their popular support

In internal discourses, Rajavi the remaining leader of the MEK, argued that Khomeini represented the reactionary sector of society and preached religious fascism. Later, in the early days after the 1979 revolution, the mullahs, specifically Rafsanjani, pointed to these statements in inciting the hezbollahi club-wielders to attack the MEK.

Following the revolution, the MEK became Iran’s largest organized political party. It had hundreds of thousands of members who operated from MEK offices all over the country. MEK publication, ‘Mojahed’ was circulated in 500,000 copies.

Khomeini set up an Assembly of Experts comprised of sixty of his closest mullahs and loyalists to ratify the principle of velayat-e faqih (absolute supremacy of clerical rule) as a pillar of the Constitution. The MEK launched a nationwide campaign in opposition to this move, which enjoyed enormous popular support. Subsequently, the MEK refused to approve the new constitution based on the concept of velayat-e faqih, while stressing its observance of the law of the country to deny the mullahs any excuse for further suppression of MEK supporters who were regularly targeted by the regime’s official and unofficial thugs.

Khomeini sanctioned the occupation of the United States embassy in 1979 in order to create an anti-American frenzy, which facilitated the holding of a referendum to approve his Constitution, which the MEK rejected.

MEK’s endeavors to participate in the political process avoiding an unwanted conflict with government repressive forces
The MEK actively participated in the political process, fielding candidates for the parliamentary and presidential elections. The MEK also entered avidly into the national debate on the structure of the new Islamic regime, though was unsuccessful in seeking an elected constituent assembly to draft a constitution.

The MEK similarly made an attempt at political participation when [then] Massoud Rajavi ran for the presidency in January 1980. MEK’s leader was forced to withdraw when Khomeini ruled that only candidates who had supported the constitution in the December referendum – which the MEK had boycotted- were eligible. Rajavi’s withdrawal statement emphasized the MEK’s efforts to conform to election regulations and reiterated the MEK’s intention to advance its political aims within the new legal system”. (Unclassified report on the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran(PMOI/ MEK) by the Department of State to the United States House of Representatives, December 1984.)

However, the MEK soon found itself in a direct struggle against the forces of the regime’s Supreme leader. The MEK’s differences with Khomeini dated back to the 1970s, and stem from its opposition to what is known today as Islamic extremism. Angry at the position taken by the MEK against his regime and worried about the MEK’s growing popularity, Khomeini ordered a brutal crackdown against the MEK and its supporters. Between 1979 and 1981, some 70 MEK members and sympathizers were killed and several thousand more were imprisoned by the Iranian regime.

June 20, 1981- Khomeini’s order to open fire on peaceful demonstration of half-a-million supporters of MEK

The turning point came on 20th June 1981, when the MEK called a demonstration to protest at the regime’s crackdown, and to call for political freedom which half-a-million supporters participated at. Khomeini ordered the Revolutionary Guards to open fire on the swelling crowd, fearing that without absolute repression the democratic opposition (MEK) would force him to engage in serious reforms – an anathema as far as he was concerned; he ordered the mass and summary executions of those arrested.

Since then, MEK activists have been the prime victims of human rights violations in Iran. Over 120,000 of its members and supporters have been executed by the Iranian regime, 30,000 of which, were executed in a few months in the summer of 1988, on a direct fatwa by Khomeini, which stated any prisoners who remain loyal to the MEK must be executed.

Having been denied its fundamental rights and having come under extensive attack at the time that millions of its members, supporters and sympathizers had no protection against the brutal onslaught of the Iranian regime, the MEK had no choice but to resist against the mullahs’ reign of terror.

“Towards the end of 1981, many of the members of the MEK and supporters went into exile. Their principal refuge was in France. But in 1986, after negotiations between the French and the Iranian authorities, the French government effectively treated them as undesirable aliens, and the leadership of the MEK with several thousand followers relocated to Iraq.” (Judgment of the Proscribed Organizations Appeal Commission, November 30, 2007.)

MEK Today

The MEK today is the oldest and largest anti-fundamentalist Muslim group in the Middle East. It has been active for more than a half century, battling two dictatorships and a wide range of issues. The MEK supports:

• Universal suffrage as the sole criterion for legitimacy
• Pluralistic system of governance
• Respect for individual freedoms
• Ban on the death penalty
• Separation of religion and state
• Full gender equality
• Equal participation of women in political leadership. MEK is actually led by its central committee consist of 1000 women.
• Modern judicial system that emphasizes the principle of innocence, a right to a defense, and due process
• Free markets
• Relations with all countries in the world
• Commitment to a non-nuclear Iran

The MEK remains a strong and cohesive organization, with a broad reach both worldwide and deep within Iran. MEK is the leading voice for democracy in Iran, supported by its interpretation of Islam that discredits the fundamentalist mullahs’ regime.

Threadbare Iran appeasement policy to be rescued with propaganda

December 2, 2016

Threadbare Iran appeasement policy to be rescued with propaganda, Iran Focus, December 2, 2016

(Please see also, Giuliani’s Ties to Iranian Resistance Group MEK Should be Viewed as a Valuable Contribution. — DM)


London, 2 Dec – Now that the end is in sight for the Obama administration, the Iranian regime, Iran apologists and Iranian regime lobbies are concerned about the continuation of the appeasement policy. Amir Basiri, an Iranian human rights activist, said in the Washington Examiner that those wanting rapprochement with Tehran are setting propaganda in motion.

This propaganda is in the form of inaccurate and “lopsided reports” and “hastily scribbled op-eds with enticing titles on highly viewed media outlets”. They are attempting to dissuade Trump from selecting anyone with a vocal criticism of the brutal Iranian regime for his cabinet.

One such op-ed was in the Washington Post. In this article Josh Rogin said that Rudy Giuliani has been involved with a dubious group. He was referring to the main opposition to the Iranian regime, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). This is not the first time he has attacked the PMOI, and he is known for using quotes from the Tehran lobbies in his work. In the op-ed in the Washington Post he called the PMOI “a shady Iranian dissident group”.

Last month, Politico published an article entitled “Giuliani Took Money From a Group That Killed Americans”. This provocative article warns Trump that Giuliani is a questionable choice for his cabinet.

These articles are similar in that they ignore the truth, are based on rumours and are “obtained from sources with economic and political ties to the Iranian regime”. Basiri said that a similar, low-level of reporting can been seen in a New York Times article in which “76 so-called national security experts” call on Trump to reverse his hostility with regards to the Iran nuclear deal, as they think the threat of War in the Middle east has been reduced because of it.

Basiri points out: “The article fails to clarify that the source of the report, which it describes as a group ‘that has advocated improved relations with Iran, even while sharply criticizing Iranian leaders over human rights issues’, is in fact a well-known Tehran lobby with deep economic ties to the Iranian regime.”

The article also fails to mention that billions of dollars worth of concessions have been given to Tehran, which in turn appends it in areas that “fuel mayhem and chaos in the region”.

So this is why the lobbies are “resorting to propaganda and dishonest reporting,” said Basiri.

The New York Times’ Dishonest Reporting on the Iran Nuclear Deal

November 18, 2016

The New York Times’ Dishonest Reporting on the Iran Nuclear Deal, Center for Security Policy, Fred Fleitz, November 17, 2016


You may have read that in response to criticism about its biased coverage of the Trump campaign, the New York Times has rededicated itself to honest reporting.

After you get up off the floor from laughing hysterically, consider this story that ran days after the Times’ renewed commitment to ethical journalism: On November 14, the New York Times ran an article with the headline: “76 Experts Urge Donald Trump to Keep Iran Deal.” In the second paragraph, the article claims this report was signed by “former officials from both major political parties.”

Not until the sixth paragraph does the story mention that this report was issued by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).

This is the kind of dishonest reporting we have come to expect from the New York Times.

NIAC, well known as the head of the Iran lobby in the United States, aggressively campaigned for the Iran nuclear deal. The Times misleadingly describes it as “a Washington group that has advocated improved relations with Iran, even while sharply criticizing Iranian leaders over human rights issues.”

The NIAC report reads like it was written by the Iranian foreign ministry. Not only does it call for President Trump to stick with the Iran deal and not impose new sanctions, the report ignores a sharp increase in belligerent behavior by Iran since the nuclear agreement was announced, suggests the U.S. should ignore Iran’s ballistic-missile program, and calls for close U.S.–Iran cooperation on Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

According to the report, U.S.–Iran relations have reached their highest point in 37 years due to the nuclear agreement. I don’t think the crews of U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea who have been harassed by Iranian ships and had missiles fired at them from Yemen would agree.

On Iran’s gross human-rights violations, the report essentially calls for the Trump administration to ignore them and instead makes the bizarre recommendation that President Trump take steps to show that America does not seek to harm innocent Iranians by speeding up the sale of civilian airliners to Iran.

The 76 “experts” who signed the NIAC report are mostly on the far left, including Noam Chomsky, Joseph Cirincione, Juan Cole, and John Esposito.

The article identified Lawrence Korb, Lawrence Wilkerson, Chas Freeman, and Gary Sick as experts who signed the report and served in Republican administrations. The Times did not mention that these men are now firmly on the left.

Korb may have been a Republican at one time but now works for the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress and was a surrogate for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Wilkerson, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff, joined the far Left as a fierce critic of the Republican party after Powell stepped down. He has called for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to be charged with war crimes over the Iraq War.

Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and assistant defense secretary for international affairs in Republican administrations, blamed the “Israel Lobby” for forcing him to withdraw from accepting a top intelligence post in the Obama administration.

And then there is Gary Sick, who the Times identifies as “a Columbia University scholar who served on the National Security Council under Reagan as well as Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.” Sick is better known for circulating a false story in 1980 that that the Reagan campaign persuaded the Iranian government to not free U.S. hostages until after the 1980 election to ensure President Carter’s defeat.

How could the Times fail to mention this report was issued by a group that is essentially Iran’s main lobbying arm in the United States? How could it ignore the strong pro-Iran bias in this report? How could the Times not mention the troubling backgrounds of the signatories like Wilkerson, Freeman, Sick, and others?

Most importantly, why did the Times article not admit the NIAC report has zero credibility and will be completely ignored by the Trump administration?

The answer to these questions is that the New York Times has no interest in changing its ways and doing honest reporting. It remains a propaganda organ of the Left. Fortunately, the Timeshas lost so much credibility that few take articles such as its NIAC-report story seriously.

For a fair and balanced discussion of how President Trump should deal with Iran, see my November 14, 2016, National Review article, “Yes, Trump’s Going to Dump the Iran Deal.”

Inside the Pro-Iran ‘Echo Chamber’

May 16, 2016

Inside the Pro-Iran ‘Echo Chamber’ Washington Free Beacon, May 16, 2016


A White House-allied group funded a private email listserv that pushed out pro-Iran talking points and anti-Israel conspiracy theories to hundreds of influential policy experts, government officials, and journalists during the Iran nuclear debate.

The contents of the invite-only listserv, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, could give a glimpse inside the “echo chamber” used by White House aide Ben Rhodes and allied lobbying groups to promote the administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Members of the list included an Obama White House adviser, senior officials at the State Department, journalists for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and fellows at prominent think tanks.

The email forum, known as “Gulf/2000,” was originally created by Columbia University professor and former Jimmy Carter aide Gary Sick in 1993.

Since 2010, Gulf/2000’s operations have been funded by the Ploughshares Fund, a group that worked closely with the White House to promote the Iran nuclear deal.

In a New York Times article earlier this month, President Obama’s foreign policy advisor Ben Rhodes said the Ploughshares Fund was part of the administration’s spin operation to sell the public on the agreement.

“We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else,” Rhodes said. “So we knew the tactics that worked.”

Gulf/2000 is still run out of Columbia University, where it is curated by Sick. Over the last two decades, Sick built the group into the predominant email list for Gulf State policy experts across the ideological spectrum.

The vast majority of posts on the forum are news articles, but occasionally members weigh in with their own comments. Posts are pre-approved by Sick or his assistants, and insiders say the forum is “dominated” by pro-Iran talking points.

One former member, who left Gulf/2000 several years ago because “90 percent of the traffic was either useless or promoting the official lines,” said the comments that were approved for posting seemed to follow an ideological slant.

“Gary [Sick] was the moderator, and the moderator is supposed to moderate,” said the former member. “And I learned after awhile, it was quite obvious, that Gary was filtering and navigating more toward his views of the world on all these issues.”

Sick said he was unable to discuss Gulf/2000 because he was traveling for the next few weeks. He declined to answer questions by email.

Joe Cirincione, the president of the Ploughshares Fund, did not respond to a request for comment. In a column last week, Cirincione disputed allegations that the Ploughshares Fund took orders from the White House about how to sell the Iran deal.

Gulf/2000 members said the forum posts, which are supposed to focus on Gulf State policy issues, often veer into defenses of the Iranian regime or conspiracy theories about Israel. Another member, speaking on background to theWashington Free Beacon, compared the group to a pro-Iran “info-op”—military jargon for a campaign to influence policy decisions.

“The most significant forum for scholars of Iranian studies to exchange ideas and views was dominated by apologists for the Iranian regime and was dominated by people who would reflexively push back on any argument that the Iranian regime was involved in what we would call ‘malign activities’ or ‘illicit activities,’” said the member, who added that the majority of his colleagues who work on Gulf issues belong to the forum.

The Ploughshares Fund said it finances Gulf/2000 in order to “inform the debate over Iran’s nuclear program in the media and among policymakers by assessing and reporting on events, generating viable solutions and refuting false stories,” according to its annual reports. The foundation has given the email list $75,000 a year since 2010.

Gulf/2000 is linked to a larger messaging effort on the Iran deal that has been reported on by the Free Beacon and other outlets.

In October 2014, the Free Beacon published audio recordings from a since-discontinued strategy meeting between the White House and activist groups lobbying for the nuclear deal. During the session, Rhodes stressed that the agreement was “the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy.”

Last summer, the Free Beacon posted tapes from a private conference call with progressive groups organized by the Ploughshares Fund that discussed how to sell the Iran deal to congressional Democrats.

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are calling on Rhodes to testify about his comments to the Times, which seemed to suggest the administration misled the public and created an “echo chamber” in order to get the deal through.

Members of Gulf/2000 include activists and writers who worked closely with the Obama administration on Iran issues. One is Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council, a lobbying group working to repeal Iran sanctions. Another is Al-Monitor reporter Laura Rozen, who a White House aide described as her “RSS feed” on Iran in the Timesarticle. Cirincione is also on the list.

Other members have included Puneet Talwar, a senior State Department official and former advisor to Joe Biden in the Senate and White House; John Limbert, Obama’s former deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran; and Tamara Cofman Wittes, Obama’s former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

Many of the email list’s regular contributors are bloggers and academics: Jim Lobe and Marsha Cohen, writers for the anti-Israel website LobeLog; Flynt and Hillary Leverett, authors of the book “Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran”; Truthout writer Gareth Porter; and Cyrus Safdari, a commentator at Iran Review. Gulf/2000 also includes a number of current and former Iranian scholars who work at state-controlled universities or think tanks.

The Free Beacon reviewed hundreds of posts sent to the listserv between 2010 and 2015. Many contain theories about the “Israel Lobby’s” destructive influence over U.S. foreign policy and politicians, defenses of the Iranian government, and comments downplaying news stories that cast the regime in a negative light.

Although some Gulf/2000 members are strong critics of the Iranian government, particularly on human rights, many of the most active posters are vocal defenders of the regime.

“Perhaps above all, one of the greatest benefits of this [Iran] deal has been to put some limits, at least for the time being, on the Israeli Lobby and their rightwing supporters in the Congress,” wrote Farhang Jahanpour, a former dean at a state-run Iranian university, in 2013.

Other posts talked about the necessity of “breaking the power of the domestic Israel lobby” and the “neo-con cabal” that were allegedly the main threats to the Iran deal.

“The Neo-Cons have convinced themselves that no costs of human life outweigh the moral benefits they see of ridding Israel of any perceived military threat by pre-active lethal military force,” wrote David Long in January 2013.

The forum is also littered with conspiracy theories about the Israeli government and foreign affairs. In one post, retired journalist Richard Sale claimed the CIA told him that pro-Israel Christian groups were “secretly funded by Mossad.” In another, Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich speculated that the Iranian-backed bombing of the 1994 AMIA Jewish community center was actually a false flag operation by the Argentine government to cover up its complicity with the Nazis.

Although Gulf/2000 is ostensibly a forum to discuss Gulf policy issues, the listserv’s fixation with “neocons” and the “Israel lobby” is not new. In 2003, a Lebanese columnist named Jihad Al Khazen published a series of lengthy posts on Gulf/2000 that purported to tell the “Biographies of the Neo-Cons.” His subjects included Bill Kristol, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, and Robert Kagan.

At the time, members also debated the correlation between “neo-cons” and Jews.

“It is certainly true that not every supporter of the [Iraq] war is Jewish, but it is definitely true that every supporter of the war with Iraq is a supporter of the most extreme Israeli right-wing. The coincidence is hard to ignore,” noted William Beeman.

Occasionally a contributor would push back on the forum’s general consensus.

“I am puzzled by the consistent tone of dismissal of any allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Iran by members of this list,” wrote one poster in 2003. “These charges are lumped together as either the baseless allegations of the US government, or worse, the product of a secret Jewish-neocon plot to discredit an Iran which would never, ever participate in terrorism.”

But a former forum member said Sick would often cut off conversations as “off-topic” when commenters tried to defend Israel against charges.

“There were clearly cases where there were things that were said about Israel, or written, posted about Israel, that were false, defamatory, absurd,” said the former member.

On March 5, 2014, the day the Israeli military announced it had intercepted an Iranian shipment of advanced rockets to Gaza, the news was greeted with typical suspicion in the forum.

“Call me a cynic, but it does seem like amazingly fortuitous timing: just when the IAEA have resisted Israel’s call to publish the claims (probably) Israel leaked, and while Bibi is tub-thumping to AIPAC in Washington ,” wrote James Spencer, a blogger for LobeLog.

“[S]omething did not jibe with this story. It is just a little bit too convenient,” agreed another poster.

“I can’t take that narrative at face value,” added Thomas Lippman, former Middle East bureau chief of the Washington Post.

“As James Spencer and Walter Posch noted the timing is suspicious, occurring as the AIPAC conference convened with Netanyahu in Washington,” wrote Charles Smith, a professor at the University of Arizona.

When the Iranian government weighed in on the arms seizure the day after the story broke, its response was similar.

“An Iranian ship carrying arms for Gaza. Captured just in time for annual AIPAC anti Iran campaign. Amazing Coincidence! Or same failed lies,” wrote Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Twitter.

Another common refrain in posts is that there is no evidence Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

“Like other counter-factual mythologies (President Obama’s birthplace, the identity of the Kennedy assassin, Jimmy Hoffa’s killer), this one seemingly will never die–at least as long as the neo-cons are alive to fan the last of its faint sparks,” wrote William O. Beeman, an anthropology professor at the University of Minnesota.

An official at an Iranian university, whose name was withheld, claimed the notion that Iran was seeking a bomb was driven by “Iranophobia.”

“Iran repeatedly has said that it doesn’t pursue the way of reaching to Atomic bomb,” said the poster. “What makes the US doesn’t believe this is exactly rooted to what Mr. Aboutalebi described it in his interview as Iranophobia.”

Posts also defend Iran against allegations of human rights violations by suggesting the claims are intended to undermine moderates or denying the charges altogether.

“[A]s the nuclear issue has become effectively – for now – insulated due to the support of Khamenei, critics are seeking to undermine Rouhani through other issues,” wrote Parsi in March 2014. “Human rights – due to the impact it has on Rouhani’s external image and the impact that can have on negotiations – appears to be one such issue.”

Other commenters were less subtle than Parsi.

“The Leveretts said it best: Ahmadinejad won those elections; get over it already,” argued blogger Safdari in December 2013.

One former member expressed concern that the influential listserv was being used to whitewash the Iranian government.

“If the Iranian regime wanted to push back on any assertion against it … it could not do a better job itself than the American academics and pundits who do it on Gulf/2000,” he said.

The Shady Family Behind America’s Iran Lobby

September 15, 2015

The Shady Family Behind America’s Iran Lobby, Daily Beast, Alex Shirazi, September 15, 2015

(The National Iranian American Council is the voice of the Iranian regime. It found great favor with the Obama administration while becoming a significant part of it. — DM)

How one enterprising Iranian expat family and its allies successfully pushed for U.S.-Iran rapprochement—and now stands to make a fortune from sanctions relief.

When the world’s major powers struck a deal over Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna in July, it represented a victory not just for the Islamic Republic, which has now been granted international legitimacy as a nuclear threshold state, but also for a small but increasingly influential lobby in America, one which has long sought rapprochement between Washington and Tehran and now seeks to leverage a successfully concluded nuclear deal as a means to that end.

This Iran lobby, publicly represented by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), has become a staunch institutional ally of the White House selling the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear deal is known. But while NIAC has done the heavy-lifting—the ad-buying, the leafleting, and Congressional meet-and-greets, all designed to sell lawmakers on the Iran deal—its political efforts also underwrite the economic interests of one very well connected but low-profile Iranian family, the Namazis, who played a key role as intellectual architects of NIAC.

Little known to the American press, the Namazis have rarely acted as spokespersons for their own cause. In fact, attempts to reach various members of the family for comment on this story were met with increasing levels of hostility and threats of legal action. Yet in many ways, the Namazi clan is the perfect embodiment of Iranian power politics, at least as it has played out among the Iranian diaspora. Those close to the Namazis say that they are savvy financial operators rather than ideologues, eager to do business with the West and enjoy all of its political freedoms and perquisites, and yet ever mindful that they’re straddling the delicate fault-line between cashing in with a theocratic dictatorship and being frozen out entirely. They have stayed on the right side of international law if not always on the right side of prevailing political interests in the Islamic Republic.

Nor did they begin their rise to prominence as supporters of the Islamic Revolution. Mohammad Bagher Namazi, also known as Baquer Namazi, is the patriarch of the family and formerly the governor under the Shah of the oil-rich Iranian province of Khuzestan. Despite his relationship with the ancien régime, Baquer Namazi was not persecuted by the Khomeinists after they seized power in 1979, and he and his family were allowed to emigrate in 1983 to the United States. There he raised two well-educated and Americanized sons, Babak and Siamak, while his niece, Pari Namazi, married Bijan Khajehpour, another Iranian expatriate.

The 1980s were the years of the fiery-eyed Ayatollah Khomeini and Iran’s ferocious war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Iranian-backed terrorism in Lebanon included the bombing of the U.S. embassy and the Marine barracks there, while Iranian “hit teams” hunted down and murdered opponents of the regime in exile. Iran’s Hezbollah clients kidnapped Europeans and Americans, and in the Irangate scandal the Reagan administration was exposed trading weapons systems for hostages. Afterward it effectively went to war against Iran on the waters of the Gulf, and in the process blew an Iranian civilian airliner out of the sky. There seemed no possibility of improved relations between Washington and the theocracy in Tehran. But after the Iran-Iraq war ended in 1988 and Khomeini died in 1989, new possibilities for rapprochement—and huge deals for international companies—started to emerge.


Doing serious business in Iran has always required some measure of political protection. The Islamic Republic is a web of rival economic interests. Broadly speaking, the three largest are those tied through various semi-clandestine fronts to  Khomeini’s successor as “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; those linked to the regime’s praetorian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC); and those associated with Iran’s president, who may hold the most conspicuous position in the country’s political life, but whose official powers are limited. Typically, to get things moving in the mire of Iran’s notorious bureaucracy, businesses have to have connections in one or more of these groups.

From 1989 to 1997, the president of Iran was Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, known as “the Shark,” an Iranian reference to a beardless man. He was also famous for getting rid of his rivals and political competitors one by one, like a great white shark. In addition, Rafsanjani had a reputation for corruption and taking advantage of power.

In this environment of increased willingness to do business with the West, the stage was set for a return of the Namazis. In 1993, Pari Namazi and her husband Bijan Khajehpour founded a company in Tehran called Atieh Bahar Consulting (AB). It offered a range of legal and industrial services to foreign enterprises, most importantly the access it provided to the regime, and the advice it dispensed on how best to navigate the vagaries of the regime’s entrenched factions and competitive interests.

At the time, it looked like Iran might even be opening up to big American-based oil companies, then unencumbered by any sanctions regime on the Islamic Republic. But after an announcement in 1995 that Iran had given Conoco a contract to develop an offshore gas field, and an uproar in the U.S.  Congress, the Clinton administration imposed unilateral sanctions and barred U.S. companies from doing business there.

Eventually Siamak Namazi, who had worked from 1994 to 1996 at Iran’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, also joined AB. So did his brother Babak, a lawyer. And the AB client list just kept growing. Plenty of companies based outside the U.S. were more than happy to do business in Iran once they had the right connections. As Siamak eventually told Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper, “If oil companies want to operate in the Iranian market they need to link up with a local partner, and this is where we step in and help them to find the right partner.”

With the surprise election of the “reformist” presidential candidate Mohammad Khatami in 1997, political and economic enthusiasm for better Iranian relations with the West grew dramatically. Meanwhile the “pragmatist” Rafsanjani took other powerful positions in the regime. In those optimistic times, AB’s non-American clients—free from any sanctions regime—included the German engineering giant Siemens; major oil companies BP, Statoil, and Shell; car companies Toyota, BMW, Daimler, Chrysler, and Honda; telecom giants MTN, Nokia, Alcatel; and international banks such as HSBC.

But the political winds were shifting. A nuclear cloud darkened the horizon, and the United States, slowly but surely, found ways to broaden the sanctions against Iran, forcing many international companies to dial back on their investments there or pull out altogether.

The Namazis, of course, had every reason to want to bring them back.


Atieh Bahar Consultancy had aligned itself with Rafsanjani’s faction early on by forging an especially close relationship with Rafsanjani’s influential son, Mehdi.

From 1993 to 2005, Mehdi Hashemi was employed at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), the state-owned entity that controls almost all oil and gas production in a country that has the world’s largest gas reserves and third-largest oil reserves.

But Mehdi Hashemi brought some serious problems to the relationship. In 2004, Norway’s Statoil was caught paying bribes to a prominent Iranian official using the company Horton Investment, an entity run by a close Mehdi Hashemi confidant as intermediary. Hashemi would later be imprisoned for his complicity in the bribery, along with two other charges, and ordered to pay a total of $10.4 million; $5.2 million of the bribe money, plus an additional $5.2 million in fines. Abbas Yazdanpanah Yazdi, meanwhile, was allegedly kidnapped in the UAE in 2013 and has since “disappeared.”

The scandal came just as the elder Rafsanjani was plotting a presidential comeback in the 2005 elections, and it gave substance to the rumors of corruption that always swirled around him and his son. (Mehdi Hashemi denied the Statoil bribery allegation and said it was designed to hurt his father’s reputation.) He managed to make it into the second and final round, but finally lost to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who staked out a position as a “clean” populist who would give money to the poor and who didn’t give a damn about foreign business interests.

After Ahmadinejad came into office, the nuclear cloud grew much darker.

In 2003, the United States had led the invasion and occupation of neighboring Iraq, eliminating Iran’s old enemy Saddam Hussein in order to be sure that he had no weapons of mass destruction. And, as it turned out, by then he did not. A few months earlier in 2002, however, Israeli intelligence turned up evidence that Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, had developed a secret uranium enrichment operation at a site called Natanz. (The first public airing of this intelligence came from a militant Iranian dissident group that had been nurtured by Saddam Hussein.)

This did not distract from the march to war with Iraq, but a few months later Iran was declared in material breach of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and, under threat of heightened sanctions, a process of negotiations began between Iran and the European Union to limit the nascent enrichment program. At the time Iran had only 160 of the centrifuges needed to enrich uranium, and thousands would be required to get it to the point where it could produce fissile material for a bomb. U.S. intelligence estimates eventually concluded “with high confidence” that the Iranians also had a secret nuclear weapons program, in addition to enrichment, but shut it down in the fall of 2003.

When Ahmadinejad took over in 2005, he ditched all pretense of willingness to compromise over Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program, an intransigence that led Western countries to tighten sanctions, making foreign investment ever more difficult. And what was worse for AB and the Namazis, Ahmadinejad went after his political rivals, particularly the Rafsanjani faction, with a vengeance. Mehdi Hashemi, naturally, was a prominent target. Ahmadinejad barred him from conducting any business in relation to Iran’s oil and gas sector. Ten years later, the courts actually sentenced him to a collective 25 years—and 50 lashes—in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for all three charges against him including the Statoil corruption case. In reality, he will only serve 10 years.

AB needed to shore up some new alliances, and bide its time. Co-founder Bijan Khajehpour, worked for a leading Iranian politician named Hassan Rouhani who had served under the Khatami government as Iran’s nuclear negotiator. Rouhani also was the president of a think tank called the Center for Strategic Research (CSR). But relations with Iran in the middle of the last decade were almost as bleak as they had been after the 1979 hostage crisis and the grim terror and counter-terror campaigns of the 1980s.

By 2006, Iran, was in effect at war with the U.S. in Iraq. The Revolutionary Guards’ expeditionary Quds Force led by Qasem Soleimani had been training, financing, and arming Shia militias killing U.S. soldiers.

Moreover, the West was growing more alarmed about Iran’s nuclear program, which it seemed powerless to stop. Ahmadinejad had declared the resumption of uranium enrichment “irreversible” just as the country’s nuclear scientists had mastered the fuel cycle. He’d appointed conservative Ali Larijani as chief negotiator with the European Union (before Iran withdrew from talks altogether), and he said he’d “wipe [his] nose” on international sanctions.

A war with Iran, most likely started by Israel with the United States drawn in, began to seem possible, then probable, and almost inevitable. The International Atomic Energy Agency referred Iran to the UN Security Council for action forcing it to curtail its nuclear activities.

Out of this dark morass, the Namazis struggled to keep alive hopes of rapprochement and trade, while avoiding a war at all costs. And by then they had in place the architecture for convincing a war-weary U.S. policy establishment that not only was avoiding a military confrontation with Iran possible, but the Islamic Republic was really just a friend America had yet to make.


In November 1999, when Khatami was still president and, Siamak Namazi got together with a Swedish-Iranian expat named Trita Parsi at a conference in Cyprus. The conference, titled, “Dialogue and Action Between the People of Iran and America,” was convened jointly by the Centre for World Dialogue, a Cypriot non-governmental organization, and by Hamyaran, an Iranian non-governmental resource center for other NGOs, which was chaired by Mohammad Bagher Namazi, the family patriarch. Namazi fils and Parsi there presented an influential white paper (PDF), “Iran-Americans: The bridge between two nations,” which called for three steps to ameliorate U.S.-Iranian relations in advance of reconciliation:

1. Hold “seminars in lobbying for Iranian-American youth and intern opportunities in Washington DC.”

2. Increase “awareness amongst Iranian-Americans and Americans about the effects of sanctions, both at home and in Iran.”

3. End “the taboo of working for a new approach on Iran”—i.e., end the then two-decade-old U.S. policy of containment.

Namazi and Parsi wrote that “the fear of coming across as a lackey of the Iranian regime is still prohibiting many Iranian Americans from fully engaging in the debate on the future of Iran-U.S. relations.” The way around this, they submitted, was to mobilize the Iranian-American community and enlist “Americans of non-Iranian background” to lessen the adversarial posture of both nations.

The white paper led to the creation two years later, in 2001, of NIAC, a Washington, D.C.-based organization which Parsi founded and currently heads. During the formative period preceding NIAC’s launch, Parsi had sought advice and guidance from numerous sources, including and especially Mohammad Bagher, as was disclosed in documents (PDF) obtained during a defamation law suit brought by NIAC and Parsi against one of their most outspoken critics.

Parsi was extremely well-placed to front the Iran lobby. He had obtained a doctorate at Johns Hopkins on a subject intimately tied to the lobby’s central thesis—the relationship between Israel and Iran and how the former hindered the latter’s acceptance in the U.S. He even studied under Francis Fukuyama, a onetime neoconservative policy intellectual who abandoned his ideological comrades when the Iraq war went south. Finally, Parsi had gained valuable political experience on the Hill by working for Republican Congressman Bob Ney, a connection he has not included in his curriculum vitae and official website. (Ney went to jail in 2007 for accepting bribes from mega-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s Native American casino clients.)

While serving as president of NIAC, Parsi also wrote intelligence briefings as an “affiliate analyst in Washington, D.C.” for AB, focusing on such topics as whether or not the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) would revive its anti-Iran campaigning on the eve of the Iraq war, or on efforts by the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MeK), the militant Iranian opposition group that exposed Natanz in 2002 would get itself de-listed as a terrorist entity by the U.S. State Department. Parsi was paid for his work for the consultancy, as disclosed by an email sent from Bijan Khajehpour to him, dated Sept. 22, 2002, an employment that Parsi did not mention when fulsomely praising Khajehpour in the Huffington Post as an ideal Iranian businessman.

Although it has only 5,000 dues-paying members, a mere one percent of the estimated 470,000 Iranian-Americans, NIAC’s network of activists and event attendees is said to extend into the tens of thousands. In June of this year, as the Iran deal looked likely, NIAC inaugurated an official “lobbying” arm called NIAC Action registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(4) organization, but for years, internally, the group has described its activities (PDF) as lobbying. NIAC Action is explicitly meant to counter the influence of AIPAC, which has spent millions to block the Iran deal’s passage in Congress by securing a veto-proof bipartisan majority of senators opposed to it—an effort that now appears close to failure.

Since its founding, NIAC has also proved a useful finishing school for rapprochement-minded Iranian-Americans, many of whom have either come from positions in U.S. government or graduated into them. Its current research director, for instance, is Reza Marashi, an Iranian-American dual national, who worked for Atieh Bahar until 2006 when he landed a  job at the U.S. government’s Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, which acts as a research center for the Pentagon. Marashi then went to work for the Office of Iranian Affairs at the U.S. State Department as a desk officer overseeing Iran democracy and human rights programs.

Marashi is very outspoken on social media against any critics of NIAC’s agenda. Along with the rest of his organization’s staff, he has accused Jewish opponents of the Iran deal of being dual loyalists. “Shame on Chuck Schumer for putting #Israel’s interests ahead of America’s interests,” he tweeted after the New York senator’s decision to come out as the senior-most Democrat against the deal.

Given the obvious connection between NIAC and the Namazi family, Marashi makes no mention of his job at AB in his biography on NIAC’s official website. Nor did he respond to The Daily Beast’s repeated requests for comment on this story.

Perhaps NIAC’s most accomplished alum is Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who is now National Security Council Director for Iran in the Obama administration and therefore the top U.S. official for Iran policy, bringing together the various departments of government working on U.S. strategy toward the country. She is also, after the White House principals, one of the leading advisors to President Obama on Iran. No doubt owing to the sensitivity (and influence) of her government role, Nowrouzzadeh has maintained a low profile, but her work at NIAC is publicly available. She drafted one of the organization’s annual reports for 2002-2003 (PDF) and was referred to by Dokhi Fassihian, then executive director, as a “staff member” (DOC). The Obama administration insists that Nowrouzzadeh was only ever an intern with NIAC, and Nowrouzzadeh does not seem eager to play-up her affiliation with the group. According to her LinkedIn profile, she has worked at the State Department and the Department of Defense. The profile doesn’t mention NIAC at all.

Such inconspicuousness stands in notable contrast to how other Obama administration officials who emerged NIAC’s nemesis—the pro-Israel lobbying establishment—tend to invoke their past credentials as a means of establishing their diplomatic bona fides.

But then, Israel is a longtime and “sacrosanct” American ally, as Obama has stated. Iran, on the other hand, has been a pariah state where crowds are encouraged to chant “Death to America.”

On NIAC’s website, in its mailings and in media interviews, NIAC rarely criticizes the IRGC or the Quds Force, a U.S.-designated terrorist entity. Parsi characterizes the Iranian regime, of which the Quds Force is the main military enforcer, as a U.S. ally in the war against the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS.  But neither he nor NIAC has discussed the Quds Force’s military role in Syria where it plays a key role in targeting U.S.-backed rebels deemed the best bulwark against both Assad and the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS and, more broadly, organizing the savage defense of the Assad dynasty, for which several of the Quds Force’s personnel have been sanctioned by the U.S. government.

NIAC publicly opposes designating the IRGC as a whole as a terrorist entity because doing so would only conform to part of a pattern of failed sanctions, “further entrenching U.S.-Iran relations in a paradigm of enmity.”

Instead, campaigning against any U.S. sanctions on Iran has been the mainstay of NIAC’s endeavors, and this held even when the Obama administration thought sanctions the most effective way to bring the Iranians back to the negotiating table. NIAC has maintained (PDF) that sanctions have cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of job opportunities.

Parsi’s activism won him praise from the Iranian regime during the very dark days a decade ago. Former ambassador to the United Nations Javad Zarif, who is now the heavily spotlighted foreign minister, wrote to Parsi in 2006, “Your help is always welcome,” and, after catching part of a Parsi interview on the BBC the same year, Zarif called his performance “Great.”

In March 2006 (at the height of the covert Iranian war with the U.S. in Iraq), Parsi told a colleague not to worry about a trip to Tehran, “NIAC has a good name in Iran and your association with it will not harm you.” When the colleague was briefly questioned by the regime, then released, he reported back (PDF) to Parsi that he’d been told the reason he was let go was “that they knew NIAC had never done anything seriously bad against the Islamic Republic.”


In 2009, Sen. Mark Kirk called NIAC Iranian “Regime Sympathizers” (PDF), stating “they came to Capitol Hill urging members of Congress to cut off U.S. funding for democracy programs in Iran.” NIAC had sought to eliminate the Bush administration’s “Democracy Fund” for programs in Iran, which it saw as nothing more than a vehicle for attempted regime change. NIAC responded to Kirk by calling the $75 million fund a “brainchild” of the Bush administration’s “disastrous Middle East policy,” which aimed to finance Iranian NGOs seeking overthrow the government of Iran.

And NIAC does some name-calling of its own, calling organizations it doesn’t like (i.e., those too critical of the Islamic Republic) “neocon puppets,” and warmongers. Indeed, it has also tried to define the parameters of acceptable Iranian civil society groups (i.e., ones that never really undermined the regime) by partnership with Hamyaran, described by NIAC as an “NGO umbrella organization” (PDF). In reality, however, it was conceived as more of a governmental non-governmental organization and launched by those close to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami—its board member was Hossein Malek Afzali, a deputy minister in Khatami’s government). By NIAC’s own admission, the organizatiom (PDF) “operates independently, but with the implicit permission of the Iranian government.” (Emphasis added.) Hamyaran’s board of directors was also once chaired by Namazi paterfamilias Mohammed Bagher.

Hamyaran obtained support from the congressionally funded National Endowment for Democracy—as did NIAC, which received Endowment funding in 2002, 2005, and 2006 in the collective amount of close to $200,000. NIACdescribed Hamyaran to the Endowment in 2004 as its “main partner in Iran.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, among those civil society groups selected for NIAC and Hamyaran’s “Digital Film Production Workshop Report,” a training program for Iranian activists to learn how to use digital media, were those described as having been “contracted by the Iranian government” or “worked closely with the Iranian government.”

As for NIAC, Carl Gershman, the president of the National Endowment for Democracy, told The Daily Beast, “We’re not supporting NIAC now and we have nothing to do with them.”

“Back then there were people arguing, ‘Try to get into Iran’ and we thought this was a way forward,” Gershman said. “We weren’t aware when these grants were made that NIAC were presenting themselves as a lobby. We didn’t know that. Our effort was to work with emerging space in Iran. We were trying something that might be a way to help people on the inside. But that quickly became unworkable; the grant didn’t work. Then NIAC showed itself as a lobby organization, so we have nothing to do with them anymore. Not every grant works out the way you want it to.” Asked if that meant that NED regretted working with NIAC , Gershman answered: “Yes, I think that’s true.”

At the same time it was taking U.S. taxpayer money, NIAC wanted to end U.S. government support for NGOs which categorically opposed the Islamic Republic. In April 2007, NIAC held a strategy meeting with international human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW). The HRW representative was himself a former NIAC board member, Hadi Ghaemi, who had (PDF) worked for NIAC in Iran, and then served HRW from 2004 to 2008. During the meeting, according to an email sent by Parsi afterward, Ghaemi “noted that certain groups being funded by the state dept [sic] are covers for regime change and that we need to be careful. Many groups misrepresent themselves as wanting to improve human rights and democracy in Iran.” Ghaemi did not specify which groups. When The Daily Beast contacted Ghaemi via email, he replied that he could not confirm the meeting in question. He was unavailable for further comment after The Daily Beast showed him Parsi’s email asking if that refreshed his memory.


In 2008, NIAC made a strategic mistake, waging a not-so-quiet campaign against the Voice of America’s Persian service, a U.S. government-funded broadcast medium. Both NIAC and the Namazis were aggravated by the frequent appearances of Hassan Dai, an Arizona-based Iranian exile, who lambasted NIAC as a regime mouthpiece.

Siamak Namazi (PDF) called for Dai to be banned from VOA in February 2007. NIAC chief lobbyist Emily Blout petitioned (PDF) Congress in September 2007 for an “independent review” of VOA Persian. After Dai appeared again on VOA in 2009, Parsi (PDF) remarked that its hosting of a NIAC critic “won’t change until the VOA leadership changes.” He was right. Today the editor-in-chief of VOA Persian is Mohammad Manzarpour, a former employee of Atieh Bahar Consultancy.

But serious damage to NIAC’s reputation was done, and much of it was self-inflicted. In 2008, Parsi and NIAC had brought a defamation suit against Hassan Dai, alleging that he had made “numerous false and defamatory statements that characterize plaintiffs as agents of the Iranian government.” Parsi and NIAC lost the case in 2012, with the judge rejecting their self-portrayal as critics of Tehran. “That Parsi occasionally made statements reflecting a balanced, shared blame approach is not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the regime,” U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates (PDF) wrote in his judgment. “After all, any moderately intelligent agent for the Iranian regime would not want to be seen as unremittingly pro-regime, given the regime’s reputation in the United States.”

Nor did NIAC do itself any favors in during the trial and on appeal. Three circuit judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals found its behavior (PDF) “dilatory, dishonest, and intransigent” and accused it of engaging in a “disturbing pattern of delay and intransigence. Seemingly at every turn, NIAC and Parsi deferred producing relevant documents, withheld them, or denied their existence altogether. Even worse, the Appellants also misrepresented to the District Court that they did not possess key documents [Dai] sought. Most troublingly, they flouted multiple court orders… A court without the authority to sanction conduct that so plainly abuses the judicial process cannot function.”

Unsurprisingly, then, NIAC and Parsi lost their appeal and were ordered to pay $183,480.09 in monetary sanctions in February 2015.

“NIAC and Parsi filed the lawsuit to break me under the financial burdens and silence other critics but they totally failed,” Dai told The Daily Beast. “The lawsuit, which lasted nearly seven years, showed the deceptive character of an organization that lobbies in favor of the mullahs’ theocratic regime but represents itself as a defender of peace.”


The fortunes of the entire Namazi clan waned after 2009, when a popular uprising against Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent re-election was met with murder, mass arrests, and torture.

Bijan Khajehpour was imprisoned because of the struggle raging in the regime between the Supreme Leader and the IRGC on one side, and the Rafsanjani camp on the other. And while praising the Obama administration for not speaking up on behalf of those who resisted the stealing of the 2009 election, the so-called Green Movement, on the grounds that doing so would have only given the regime an excuse to murder and torture more people, Parsi rushed to the defense of his friend and former employer Khajehpour, “who neither participated in the protests nor had any involvement with the opposition” but was instead a “self-made man” and “top-notch consultant drawing the attention of multinational and local firms to investment opportunities in the country.”

In The Huffington Post Parsi wrote as an acquaintance or friend of Khajehpour, nowhere disclosing his past business relationship writing reports for Atieh Bahar Consulting.

Khajehpour subsequently was released from prison and he and his wife, Pari Namazi, moved to Vienna.

Siamak Namazi also faced harassment after the 2009 election and the subsequent unrest. He left Iran for the United Arab Emirates and is currently the head of Strategic Planning at the UAE-based Crescent Petroleum, an oil and gas company based in Abu Dhabi.

Business in Iran was drying up. Ahmadinejad may have held onto power after he broke the Green Movement, but his drive toward nuclear “self-sufficiency” raised so many alarms that the Obama administration was able to persuade the four other members of the UN Security Council to impose draconian sanctions on the regime. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of assets were frozen, and international commerce ground toward a halt.

Then, in 2013, Khajehpour’s former employer Hassan Rouhani, the former nuclear negotiator, the Rafsanjani-style “pragmatist,” was elected Iran’s new president. The ever affable-seeming former UN ambassador, Javad Zarif, was appointed foreign minister. Suddenly the door looked like it was open wide to a new relationship with the West of just the sort the Iran Lobby had worked for so hard and for so long. Rouhani was avuncular, good-humored, and had made it his goal to open Iran for business, if only the nuclear issue could be dealt with.

By the time serious talks with Washington were opened, Ahmadinejad’s nuclear program had built almost 14,000 centrifuges, and Iran was within a year, by some estimates within months, of producing enough fissile material to build a bomb, at least in theory.

Although there was talk in Washington about compelling Iran to dismantle the whole program, there was never really any question of that, and the deal as finally signed merely buys time—pushing Iran’s possibility of producing a potential nuclear weapon back from months to as many as 15 years.

As these pieces fell into place in the age of Obama, Parsi and NIAC found themselves in the unlikely position of power brokers. One prominent faction of the Iranian regime—Rafsanjani’s—sees them as convenient conduits for disseminating a pro-Iranian line in U.S. politics, while the “hardline” Iranian security services have classified their activities as benign to the interests of the Islamic Republic.

The U.S. government, meanwhile, has adopted many of NIAC’s talking points. Both Parsi and Atieh International, one of the companies in the Atieh Group, were fixtures on the sidelines of the Geneva and Vienna negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran. In fact, Atieh International held a joint briefing with NIAC at the Marriott in Vienna on June 29 to discuss a most pressing topic—renewed economic possibilities for the West once a deal was inked. The speakers were Bijan Khajehpour and Trita Parsi.

The Namazis’ alignment with Rafsanjani and Rouhani can now pay off. Because they were attacked so often and sometimes so viciously by “hard liners”—the very Iranian officials the Obama White House claims constitutes the only Iranian opposition to the nuclear deal—the Namazis and NIAC, the think tank and lobby they helped create, have gained great renewed credibility in the West, even promoting the idea that they can liberalize what remains by and large a fanatical theocracy and a fiercely competitive kleptocracy. At the same time, they can present themselves in today’s Iran as the best go-betweens with, well, with the not-so-Great Satan, who loves to listen to their advice.

— Alex Shirazi is a pseudonym for a well-known Iranian dissident who requested that The Daily Beast keep his identity concealed for fear of what might happen to his family in Iran in retaliation for this article.

Meet the Iran Lobby

September 1, 2015

Meet the Iran Lobby, Tablet MagazineLee Smith, September 1, 2015

In part, Parsi and NIAC’s relative anonymity is the work of a White House that would rather pretend that there is no Iran Lobby, in accordance with the standard Beltway wisdom that a “lobby” is any group of people who advocate things that you are opposed to (lobbies that advocate things you are for are known as “supporters”). But the White House surely knows better, in part because so many friends and graduates of the Iran Lobby now staff key Iran-related government posts. The White House’s Iran desk officer, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, for example, is a former NIAC employee. NIAC’s advisory board includes two former U.S. diplomats, Thomas Pickering, a former ambassador to Israel, and John Limbert, who was held hostage by the revolutionary regime in 1979. 

Most important, of course, Parsi found common cause with a White House that believed the same things he did: The United States and Iran should be closer, and all that was preventing rapprochement was Israel and AIPAC. “NIAC didn’t really need to write their talking points anymore,” said Dai. “Because they were coming from the White House.


Trita Parsi, the Iranian-born émigré who moved to the United States in 2001 from Sweden, where his parents found refuge before the Islamic Revolution, should be the toast of Washington these days. As I argued in Tablet magazine several years ago, Parsi is an immigrant who in classic American fashion wanted to capitalize on the opportunity to reconcile his new home and his birthplace. And now he’s done it: The founder and president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), the tip of the spear of the Iran Lobby, has won a defining battle over the direction of American foreign policy. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action not only lifts sanctions on Iran, a goal Parsi has fought for since 1997, but also paves the way for a broader reconciliation between Washington and Tehran across the Middle East.

In Washington, to have the policies you advocate implemented with the full backing of the president counts as a huge victory. Winning big like this means power as well as access to more money, which flows naturally to power and augments it—enhancing reputations and offering the ability to reward friends and punish enemies. And yet, Parsi (who declined comment for this story) has got to be frustrated that very few in the halls of American power—either in government or in the media—are celebrating the Iran lobby for its big win. It seems the only thing people can talk about is the big loser in this fight over Middle East policy—the pro-Israel lobby, led by AIPAC. It’s as if Parsi and NIAC had nothing to do with the Obama Administration’s decision to move closer to Iran while further distancing itself from Israel.

“It’s a huge win for NIAC,” said one Iranian-American analyst who requested anonymity. “Every other part of Iranian-American advocacy—from the Mujahedin-e Khalq, to the washed-up old monarchists—is useless, and then in comes Trita and he’s slick, presentable, and knows how to build an impressive network.” So, why is the rise of the Iran Lobby both Washington’s biggest and also its least-heralded success story of the past six years?

In part, Parsi and NIAC’s relative anonymity is the work of a White House that would rather pretend that there is no Iran Lobby, in accordance with the standard Beltway wisdom that a “lobby” is any group of people who advocate things that you are opposed to (lobbies that advocate things you are for are known as “supporters”). But the White House surely knows better, in part because so many friends and graduates of the Iran Lobby now staff key Iran-related government posts. The White House’s Iran desk officer, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, for example, is a former NIAC employee. NIAC’s advisory board includes two former U.S. diplomats, Thomas Pickering, a former ambassador to Israel, and John Limbert, who was held hostage by the revolutionary regime in 1979. Past speakers at NIAC leadership conferences include Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Colin Kahl, and the White House’s Middle East Director Rob Malley. Other past speakers from the political realm include: Robert Hunter, former U.S. ambassador to NATO; PJ Crowley, State Deptartment spokesperson under Hillary Clinton; Hans Blix, former director general of the IAEA. Other reputable names include figures like Aaron David Miller from the Wilson Center, Robert Pape from the University of Chicago, and Suzanne Maloney from the Brookings Institution.

Indeed, the impressive roster of speakers at NIAC events is evidence of Parsi’s assiduous cultivation of friendly contacts, both here and in Iran. The biggest NIAC booster in academia is the author of The Israel Lobby himself, Harvard University’s Steven Walt. The in-house portion of Parsi’s network also includes public intellectuals, like Iranian-American authors Hooman Majd and Reza Aslan, as well as figures from Iranian business concerns, like Atieh Bahar, who are reportedly close to the Iranian regime, especially former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

According to a deeply informed video series posted earlier this month by Iranian-American activist Hassan Dai, Parsi has partnered with Atieh Bahar since the very beginning of his career as an Iran lobbyist in order to promote a pro-trade agenda, which of course will inevitably help the regime. (In 2008, Parsi sued Dai, claiming he had “defamed them in a series of articles and blog posts claiming that they had secretly lobbied on behalf of the Iranian regime in the United States.” The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found in 2012 the work of NIAC, which wasn’t registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, “not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the regime.”) “Parsi believed that what stood between U.S.-Iran trade and dialogue,” said Dai, “was AIPAC.”

NIAC not only modeled itself after AIPAC, Dai said, it waged a crusade against it. “Back in 2004 Parsi gave a talk to European ambassadors saying that Israel and AIPAC stood between better relations between the United States and Iran. That turned into his dissertation at Johns Hopkins and later his [2007] bookTreacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the US.”

As it happens, Parsi was able to tap into a pool of support for his ideas. According to NIAC’s financial statement, the majority of the organization’s money comes from community support, while a portion comes from foundations, like the Ploughshares Fund, which has spent lots of money to influence U.S. policy toward Iran—“millions of dollars,” according to Michael Rubin writing for Commentary, “to pro-administration groups to support whatever Iran deal came out of Vienna.”

Most important, of course, Parsi found common cause with a White House that believed the same things he did: The United States and Iran should be closer, and all that was preventing rapprochement was Israel and AIPAC. “NIAC didn’t really need to write their talking points anymore,” said Dai. “Because they were coming from the White House.”

To push through the Iran deal, the White House, including the president himself, waged a brutal campaign against the prime minister of Israel and the pro-Israel community, even, some have argued, accusing JCPOA opponent Sen. Chuck Schumer of dual loyalty. Parsi, some of whose anti-Israel sentiments have previously been documented, followed suit. Most recently, he suggested that the Associated Press had printed an Israeli forgery of an IAEA agreement with Iran that allowed the Islamic Republic to self-inspect its Parchin military base. When AP reporters and others on Twitter challenged Parsi’s absurd allegation slandering a trusted Western news source, the Iran lobby chief backed down—but not before he’d put his obsession with Israel and Jewish power on full display.

NIAC, whose direct expenditure of a little over a million dollars is a tiny fraction of AIPAC’s Iran deal campaign budget, won because it was aligned with the White House. And instead of boasting and posturing about his power and top-level access, as AIPAC is wont to do, Parsi understood his role. Like J Street, NIAC was cast to play second banana to the President’s star turn and stay close to the White House and make the case to journalists and other intellectuals who weren’t already sold on the idea of rapprochement with Iran—and on the idea that Israel is a big problem for the United States.

The paradox is that Parsi deserves lots of credit for his victory, but he can’t cash his checks too publicly—because the American public doesn’t like Iran. Which in turn points up a major difference between the pro-Israel lobby and the pro-Iran lobby—both of which, I want to add, contrary to critics on both the left and the right, make entirely legitimate use of the American democratic system to advocate for their respective points of view.

Where NIAC differs from AIPAC is in its relation to American public opinion. AIPAC has never been about selling access to the Israeli economy: In fact, AIPAC piggy-backed on the huge well-spring of affection that the American public has for Israel in order to establish itself as a power in Washington. If Americans want to invest in an IT firm in Herzliya, or a gift shop in Tzfat, donating money to AIPAC is unlikely to be of much help: They’re free to take their chances and fight through the red tape. Nor is it clear that pursuing exciting economic opportunities in Israel has ever been a particular motivating force for pro-Israel activism. The pro-Israel lobby never sold anything except the opportunity for Americans—Jews, evangelical Christians, and mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike—to feel even better about supporting something they already felt good about, for personal, ethnic, ideological, religious, sentimental, and other such reasons.

The pro-Iran lobby on the other hand has no real base of popular support in America: Many Iranians in America are in fact deeply opposed to the regime in Tehran, and see NIAC as a regime tool. What NIAC has to offer instead, like the Saudi lobby before it, is access, which is a big reason why Parsi has been fighting sanctions for nearly two decades. For an Iran Lobby to have any heft, it needs to be able to deliver the goods to its supporters. With sanctions, the Iran Lobby has been largely crippled, because it has very little to offer: It was able to accumulate the power it has now only because the Administration clearly signaled its desire to do business with Iran, thereby offering NIAC supporters at least some mathematical expectation of a future payout. Now, if the JCPOA gets through Congress, that payout is likely to be tremendous, as the Iran Lobby will be able to help broker access to anything and everything in Iran—from industry, to schools, to opportunities for journalists and academics, etc.—which will in turn make NIAC and the Iran Lobby that much more powerful.

One of the chief ironies of the ongoing debate over the Iran deal is that both defenders and detractors of a supposedly all-powerful “Israel Lobby” have been wasting their breath over an entity that has notably failed to affect U.S. policy on a single issue of major concern over the entire course of Obama’s 6-year Presidency—a record of unmitigated failure that would clearly condemn it to the black hole of Beltway irrelevance if not for the bizarre imaginative hold, and political utility, of the myth of a powerful conspiracy of Jews who secretly rule the planet. Or perhaps it’s not an irony at all. Some of the loudest detractors of the “Israel Lobby” are in fact paid staffers and partisans of the Iran Lobby—an entity that, unlike the Israel Lobby, has succeeded in radically altering U.S. foreign policy, with the help of the President and his advisors. Seen from a certain angle, the Iran Lobby has pulled off the neat trick of using the specter of the Israel Lobby to shift U.S. policy away from Israel and toward Iran—while actually succeeding at the same dark arts that it blames the Jews for employing. The Iran lobby used a combination of lobbying, donations, propaganda, and back-door personal connections to top policy-makers to radically alter American foreign policy, and align the United States with an oppressive authoritarian regime that is destabilizing the Middle East.

Traitor senators took money from Iran lobby, back Iran nukes

August 25, 2015

Traitor senators took money from Iran lobby, back Iran nukes, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, August 25, 2015


Senator Markey has announced his support for the Iran deal that will let the terrorist regime inspect its own Parchin nuclear weapons research site, conduct uranium enrichment, build advanced centrifuges, buy ballistic missiles, fund terrorism and have a near zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb.

There was no surprise there.

Markey had topped the list of candidates supported by the Iran Lobby. And the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) had maxed out its contributions to his campaign.

After more fake suspense, Al Franken, another IAPAC backed politician who also benefited from Iran Lobby money, came out for the nuke sellout.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the Iran Lobby’s third Dem senator, didn’t bother playing coy like her colleagues. She came out for the deal a while back even though she only got half the IAPAC cash that Franken and Markey received.

As did Senator Gillibrand, who had benefited from IAPAC money back when she first ran for senator and whose position on the deal should have come as no surprise.

The Iran Lobby had even tried, and failed, to turn Arizona Republican Jeff Flake. Iran Lobby cash had made the White House count on him as the Republican who would flip, but Flake came out against the deal. The Iran Lobby invested a good deal of time and money into Schumer, but that effort also failed.

Still these donations were only the tip of the Iran Lobby iceberg.

Gillibrand had also picked up money from the Iran Lobby’s Hassan Nemazee. Namazee was Hillary’s national campaign finance director who had raised a fortune for both her and Kerry before pleading guilty to a fraud scheme encompassing hundreds of millions of dollars. Nemazee had been an IAPAC trustee and had helped set up the organization.

Bill Clinton had nominated Hassan Nemazee as the US ambassador to Argentina when he had only been a citizen for two years.  A spoilsport Senate didn’t allow Clinton to make a member of the Iran Lobby into a US ambassador, but Nemazee remained a steady presence on the Dem fundraising circuit.

Nemazee had donated to Gillibrand and had also kicked in money to help the Franken Recount Fund scour all the cemeteries for freshly dead votes, as well as to Barbara Boxer, who also came out for the Iran nuke deal. Boxer had also received money more directly from IAPAC.

In the House, the Democratic recipients of IAPAC money came out for the deal. Mike Honda, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Iran Lobby backed the nuke sellout. As did Andre Carson, Gerry Connolly, Donna Edwards and Jackie Speier. The Iran Lobby was certainly getting its money’s worth.

But the Iran Lobby’s biggest wins weren’t Markey or Shaheen. The real victory had come long before when two of their biggest politicians, Joe Biden and John Kerry, had moved into prime positions in the administration. Not only IAPAC, but key Iran Lobby figures had been major donors to both men.

That list includes Housang Amirahmadi, the founder of the American Iranian Council, who had spoken of a campaign to “conquer Obama’s heart and mind” and had described himself as “the Iranian lobby in the United States.” It includes the Iranian Muslim Association of North America (IMAN) board members who had fundraised for Biden. And it includes the aforementioned Hassan Nemazee.

A member of Iran’s opposition had accused Biden’s campaigns of being “financed by Islamic charities of the Iranian regime based in California and by the Silicon Iran network.” Biden’s affinity for the terrorist regime in Tehran was so extreme that after 9/11 he had suggested, “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran”.

Appeasement inflation has since raised that $200 million to at least $50 billion. But there are still no strings worth mentioning attached to the big check.

Questions about donations from the Iran Lobby had haunted Kerry’s campaign. Back then Kerry had been accused of supporting an agreement favorable to Iran. The parameters of that controversial proposal however were less generous than the one that Obama and Kerry are trying to sell now.

The hypothetical debates over the influence of the Iran Lobby have come to a very real conclusion.

Both of Obama’s secretaries of state were involved in Iran Lobby cash controversies, as was his vice president and his former secretary of defense. Obama was also the beneficiary of sizable donations from the Iran Lobby. Akbar Ghahary, the former co-founder of IAPAC, had donated and raised some $50,000 for Obama.

It’s an unprecedented track record that has received very little notice. While the so-called “Israel Lobby” is constantly scrutinized, the fact that key foreign policy positions under Obama are controlled by political figures with troubling ties to an enemy of this country has gone mostly unreported by the mainstream media.

This culture of silence allowed the Iran Lobby to get away with taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times before the Netanyahu speech asking, “Will Congress side with our President or a Foreign Leader?”

Iran’s stooges had taken a break from lobbying for ballistic missiles to play American patriots.

Obama and his allies, Iranian and domestic, have accused opponents of his dirty Iran deal of making “common cause” with that same terror regime and of treason. The ugly truth is that he and his political accomplices were the traitors all along.

Democrats in favor of a deal that will let a terrorist regime go nuclear have taken money from lobbies for that regime. They have broken their oath by taking bribes from a regime whose leaders chant, “Death to America”. Their pretense of examining the deal is nothing more than a hollow charade.

This deal has come down from Iran Lobby influenced politicians like Kerry and is being waved through by members of Congress who have taken money from the Iran Lobby. That is treason plain and simple.

Despite what we are told about its “moderate” leaders, Iran considers itself to be in a state of war with us. Iran and its agents have repeatedly carried out attacks against American soldiers, abducted and tortured to death American officials and have even engaged in attacks on American naval vessels.

Aiding an enemy state in developing nuclear weapons is the worst form of treason imaginable. Helping put weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists is the gravest of crimes.

The Democrats who have approved this deal are turning their party into a party of atom bomb spies.

Those politicians who have taken money from the Iran Lobby and are signing off on a deal that will let Iran go nuclear have engaged in the worst form of treason and committed the gravest of crimes. They must know that they will be held accountable. That when Iran detonates its first bomb, their names will be on it.