The Future of the Iran Lobby
"NIAC beats AIPACLed by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and a coalition of peace and security groups, Iranian Americans from around the country called, emailed, wrote, and visited their members of Congress... NIAC and the coalition groups worked hard to make this a full-fledged media concern, placing op-eds in prominent newspapers like the Washington Times and providing expert commentary for media sources from around the countryAccording to Congressional sources, the bill was set to be placed on the House calendar on three separate occasions. In all three instances, it was removed at the last minute due to intervention by organizations like NIAC and its partners. In the end, the bill was never allowed to be brought up for a vote on the House floor, nor was it even considered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, thanks to groups like NIAC working behind the scenes with members of Congress to discourage consideration of the bill.."
"We here in the U.S. supported Mr. Ahmadinejad and his policy in any possible way we thought would help the Iranian people. Because we respected the Iranian's choice (electing Ahmadinejad as president, emphasize is mine), we confronted any and all disrespectful and unfair behavior aimed at him as the elected president during the past four years. We joined rallies in support of Iran.We met with our senators and representatives where we defended Iran and its president (and his speeches). We wrote many articles in his defense, including his New York City trip in September 2007 when he was attacked in many U.S. media and treated discourteously by the president of Columbia University. When he returned to the U.S. in September 2008 to attend the U.N. General Assembly, we applauded when he was interviewed on "Larry King Live" and we organized a respectful meeting for him with participation of many national peace organizations and activist groups to encourage and promote direct dialogue. We wanted to let everyone know that we do not support the U.S. government's policies of "threatening Iran."
The Iranian people's uprising and the regime's brutal repression, has taken the masks off their dictatorial rule. Consequently, a good part of the peace movement is disillusioned and feels abused and deceived. A simple review of the left magazines and websites demonstrates the depth of their disarray. There is no doubt that a good part of peace activists will desert any lobby in favor of the Iranian regime.9 This simply means that the grass root part of the Iranian lobby has lost its army of foot soldiers.
"The Iranian regime retains enormous capacity for control over society and appears to be firmly entrenched in power for the foreseeable future. ... The Islamic Republic is unpopular at home, but revolutionary change remains unlikely.
"The events in Iran: "have challenged all that we thought we knew about Iran... The Islamic Republic has entered a new and ultimately unpredictable phase of its perpetually gripping history. Iran and the regime is now forced to contend with an almost unprecedented array of internal challenges that are both complex and interconnected. ..The events since June 12th have changed Iran in profound and irreversible fashion, and it would be fruitless, even counterproductive, to precede as though this weren't the case. The United States must adjust both its assumptions about Iran and its approach to dealing with our concerns about Iranian policies.13
"The convergence of these two challenges -- mass mobilization and elite infighting -- has produced the most serious threat to the survival of the Islamic Republic since the early years of its existence. However the election turmoil plays out, it has irreparably shattered the Islamic Republic's most important underlying assets -- elite cooperation and popular participation -- and left the state dependent upon a vicious but inherently narrow power base."14
"On one side you have all the instruments of repression in Iran, gathering their forces for a crackdown. On the other you have unarmed protesters symbolized by the image of Neda Agha Soltan, a martyred woman dying helplessly on the street, whose last words reportedly were: "It burned me."Who's going to win? In the short run, the victors may be the thugs who claim to rule in the name of God: the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Basij militia and the other tools of an Islamic revolution that has decayed and hardened into mere authoritarianism. But over the coming months and years, my money is on the followers of the martyred Neda."15
"I've been hearing about Khamenei's fear of "velvet revolutions" for months now. There was nothing velvet about Saturday's clashes. In fact, the initial quest to have Moussavi's votes properly counted and Ahmadinejad unseated has shifted to a broader confrontation with the regime itself... Iran has waited long enough to be free."16
"With regard to the United States and the West, nothing would prevent them in principle from dealing with an illegitimate authoritarian government. But this election is an extraordinary gift to those who have been most skeptical about President Obama's plan to conduct negotiations with Iran... In their own paranoia and hunger for power, the leaders of Iran have provided an invaluable gift to their worst enemies abroad."
"For the Obama administration, the developments of the past week in Iran represent perhaps the worst possible outcome... A win for the reformists would have added real energy to the effort, both within Iran and here at home, in the excitement over shifting ideological tides in Tehran and the inclusion of Iranian leaders who were both capable of and prepared to countenance serious negotiations. A plausible Ahmadinejad victory, while unwelcome, would at least have offered Washington the prospect of dealing with a consolidated conservative government that might have felt confident enough to pursue a historic shift in its relationship with an old adversary.Instead, Washington now faces a newly fractured Iranian polity... That does not bode well for Iran's capacity to undertake serious talks and eventually engage in historic concessions on its nuclear program and support for terrorism."
It's clear that the task of starting some kind of discussion or negotiations with Iran is going to be infinitely more complicated than it was before. It wasn't easy from the beginning-and anybody who thought it would be an easy task didn't understand the problem. But now after this internal coup and all the coverage it has received, those people in the United States and particularly in Israel who really opposed the idea of having negotiations with Iran-who favored a pressure strategy to build up more sanctions and so on-are now going to use their clout in Congress and elsewhere to slow down or stop the process."
"On the whole, West should prepare itself for facing two different behaviors from the Iranians: one is adventurous and intent to progress non-stop, even with closed eyes, and the other is a soft approach which avoids defeat and is ready to give and take.The circumstances testify to the higher possibility of the first option. Moderates are sidelined in Iranian politics and radical principlism is bearing its fruits. Negotiation-favoring ideas are rejected, repressive measures are adopted, preparations are made for a likely gasoline sanction, veto-wielding China and Russia have received economic bonuses, state-run media talk of velvet revolution supposedly supported by West, military forces stay alert to counter threats, media are controlled and information circulation is stalled; clear signs that the tenth administration is staging a confrontational policy."
5. Read my article: "Trita Parsi, Bob Ney, and Iran's Oil Mafia: Penetrating the US Political System"
6. Return from paradise, 9.20.2007
7. FOR (Fellowship Of Reconciliation) and CNAPI http://www.forpeace.net/tag/campaign-new-american-policy-iran
8. Leila Zand's declaration: http://forpeace.net/blog/leila-zand/irans-crisis-does-it-feel-velvet
9. For a cursory review of debate in the US left groups, you can read Reese Elrich article http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/8145
10. The Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution: "Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President"1 the third chapter of the book (34 pages) is "Pathway to Coexistence: A New U.S. Policy toward Iran". By Suzanne Maloney and Ray Takeyh
11. Read Trita Parsi's November 2007 report at http://www.niacouncil.org/images/PDF_files/seven%20myths%20about%20iran.pdf
12. Parsi's article, IPS, April 18, 2008 http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=42044
13. Suzanne Maloney's testimony before the House Foreign Affaire Committee, July 22, 2009 http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/0722_transcript_sadjadpour_hearing.pdf
14. Maloney's article in Foreign Affaires, June 19, 2009 http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/65163/suzanne-maloney/clerical-error?page=2
15. Davis Ignatius, Washington Post, June 23, 2009 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/23/AR2009062303318.html
16. Roger Cohen, New York Times, June21 , 2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/opinion/21tehran.html?ref=opinion
17. Gary Sick'e weblog: "Gary's Choice", June 13, 2009, Iran's political coup
18. Maloney's article: "An absurd outcome", June 2009 http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-06-13/an-absurd-outcome/full/
19. Sick's interview with CFR, June 14, 2009 http://www.cfr.org/publication/19622/
20. "Iranian Diplomacy"'s article on Ahmadinejad's foreign policy, "Moving on the Beaten Path" August 27, 2009 at: http://www.irdiplomacy.ir/index.php?Lang=en&Page=21&TypeId=12&ArticleId=5344&BranchId=28&Action=ArticleBodyView