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Learn more about the NIAC staff here.

NIAC Statement on the Trump Admin’s “Public Charge” Regulation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, August 12, 2019 
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org 

WASHINGTON DC – Today, the Trump administration announced that it will penalize legal immigrants relying on programs such as food stamps and government-subsidized housing in its latest attempt to reduce legal immigration into the US.

In response, NIAC President Jamal Abdi said:

“NIAC is deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s public charge rule change, which is yet another step from this administration designed to target immigrant communities in pursuit of its discriminatory, white nationalist goals. This administration’s hostility toward immigrants began with the Muslim ban, which is still in force, and continued with its disgraceful raids and family separation. Unfortunately, Trump has not yet been sufficiently reined in by the courts or Congress, to the detriment of our nation. Bolder action is needed to stop this administration from continuing to implement its radical immigration agenda.”

NIAC previously drafted an FAQ and invited its members to oppose the public rule change in 2018.

NIAC Statement on the Imposition of U.S. Sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 31, 2019 
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org 

WASHINGTON DC – Moments ago, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that it was imposing sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The sanctions were imposed on Zarif, according to the Treasury, because he has acted on behalf of Iran’s Supreme Leader. The move comes after reports earlier this month that Trump had instructed U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on the Iranian diplomat, before reversing his decision.

In response, NIAC President Jamal Abdi said:

“Again, President Trump has chosen an action to push Iran away from the negotiating table, isolate America on the world stage, and take diplomatic options off the table. If Trump was serious about negotiating with Iran, he would appoint a credible envoy and direct them to negotiate with Iranian diplomats rather than subjecting them to a ridiculous sanctions designation. Instead, Trump is ensuring that there will be no serious negotiations with Iran during his tenure. Once again, without a clear line to Zarif or any other Iranian officials to de-escalate tensions, the next crisis that the U.S. or Iran precipitates will once again risk war.

“Regardless of any personal animosities Trump’s team felt toward Zarif, dealing with him has served U.S. interests on several occasions. Zarif assisted the U.S. in forming a government in Afghanistan after the 2001 invasion, credibly hammered out a nuclear accord with former Secretary of State John Kerry, and was pivotal in both freeing American sailors who strayed into Iranian waters and the prisoner swap that freed unjustly detained Americans in 2016. All the while, Zarif represented Iran’s interests and was able to convince the Supreme Leader and other Iranian officials to buy into the more moderate approach represented by the Rouhani administration. His sanctioning now by Trump plays into the hands of Iranian hardliners and forces on all sides that want to entrench U.S.-Iran hostilities.

“It is without a doubt that Zarif has deflected from the regime’s human rights abuses and other Iranian actions to escalate around the region. Yet, if that were a credible standard for imposing sanctions, the U.S. should also designate top diplomats in Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and countless other nations around the world.  

“The timing of this move, coming after Sen. Rand Paul reportedly was dispatched to meet with Zarif on behalf of Trump, underscores that hawks like John Bolton are trying to box in the administration and eliminate diplomatic off-ramps. Trump can’t simultaneously hold out the option of credible negotiations while implementing the path to war plotted by John Bolton. Only yesterday did we publish a letter in conjunction with prominent foreign policy practitioners outlining pragmatic steps that the U.S. and Iran can take to deescalate this crisis. The time is running out for Trump to shift tracks, lest he be locked into the inevitable result of his failing maximum pressure strategy leading to a disastrous war.”

Coalition of Foreign Policy Experts Outline 8 Recommendations to Deescalate Tensions with Iran

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, July 30, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON DC – Today, an expert group of foreign policy practitioners published a letter underscoring the dangerous new phase that has put the U.S and Iran on the path toward war. The signatories include prominent academics, such as John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, and Andrew Bacevich; foreign policy analyst Rula Jebreal; former Member of Congress John F. Tierney;  former ambassadors and diplomats, such as Thomas Pickering, François Nicoullaud, and Peter Jenkins; national security expert Edward Price; and Iran experts such as Jamal Abdi, Dina Esfandiary, and Farideh Farhi.

The letter outlines a series of eight bold but practical recommendations to the U.S., Iran, and Europe that could widen the path to diplomacy that has narrowed considerably since the U.S. initiated a tit-for-tat ratcheting up of tensions with Iran. 

The signers urge the U.S. to suspend recent sanctions to provide space for deescalation and Iran to return to full compliance with its obligations under the nuclear deal. After these initial trust-building steps, the signers recommend further negotiations aimed at a prisoner swap and an Incidents at Sea agreement to calm tensions in the Persian Gulf. 

The full text of the letter and signatories is below and can be found on the web here.

Expert Letter on Deescalating with Iran

July 30, 2019

As foreign-policy practitioners with decades of collective experience in national security and diplomacy, we write to warn that U.S.-Iran tensions have entered a dangerous new phase that has put us on the brink of a disastrous and avoidable war. The administration’s decision to violate the Iran nuclear agreement in pursuit of a so-called maximum pressure strategy is damaging the accord and U.S. interests in ways that could be difficult to reverse. There remains a narrow path for the U.S. and Iran to avoid military conflict and resolve ongoing disputes through negotiations. Doing so, however, will require bold action and constructive steps from all sides, as outlined below.

The U.S. Should Suspend Recent Sanctions to Provide Space for Diplomacy

  • The U.S. should suspend sanctions imposed after its withdrawal from the nuclear accord with Iran in May 2018 to provide space for de-escalation and assurance that it is serious about pursuing and adhering to a negotiated solution.

Iran Should Return to Full Compliance with the Nuclear Accord

  • Iran’s recent decision to cease adherence with aspects of the July 2015 nuclear deal in response to U.S. sanctions feeds into a counterproductive escalatory cycle and could lead to an irreversible collapse of the agreement. Iran should welcome the suspension of U.S. sanctions by returning to full compliance with the nuclear deal.

The U.S. and Iran Should Pursue a Prisoner Swap

  • Iran has unjustly imprisoned at least five American citizens and dual nationals. According to publicized reports, at least a dozen Iranians are in custody in the U.S. on sanctions violation charges. Iran has publicly and privately offered to arrange a swap of American and Iranian prisoners held in each country’s jails. The Trump administration should pursue this overture and view it as the low-hanging fruit for negotiations that can build confidence for broader diplomacy.

Europe Must Take More Serious Steps to Address Challenges in Meeting Its Sanctions Relief Obligations

  • Due to U.S. extraterritorial sanctions, Europe has not been able to satisfy its obligations under the nuclear deal to ensure legitimate trade with Iran. To its credit, Europe’s development of a special financial mechanism to facilitate legitimate trade with Iran, known as INSTEX, is a constructive first step forward. Europe must now urgently take all necessary actions to ensure INSTEX is utilized to enable the trade and economic benefits promised under the nuclear deal.

The U.S. and Iran Must Reestablish Communication Channels 

  • The U.S. and Iran should reestablish a permanent and direct communication channel with Iran to de-escalate crises, such as the downing of the U.S. drone and the oil tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman. Absent a dedicated channel for deconfliction and deescalation, as existed under the previous administration, the chances of disaster remain far too high. 

The U.S. Should Appoint a Credible and Empowered Iran Envoy

  • To signal U.S. seriousness about negotiations and to facilitate the process, a new Iran envoy with the ear of the President and experience in diplomatically engaging Iran is needed. As long as John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are viewed as leading the administration’s Iran policy, concerns that the U.S. seeks regime change and military action – and is not serious about a negotiated solution – will undermine any hopes for talks.

Pursue an Agreement to Avoid Confrontations in the Persian Gulf

  • The U.S. and Iran came dangerously close to war following several incidents in the Persian Gulf and unverified accusations leveled by both sides. To avoid similar confrontations in the future, the two sides should negotiate an “incidents at sea” agreement to avoid collisions between their naval and air forces operating in close proximity.

U.S. Congress Should Pass Legislation to Prevent War

  • Congress was not consulted when President Trump came just a few minutes away from attacking Iran, which could have dragged the U.S. into a major regional conflict far more damaging than the Iraq war. Congress must assert its war-powers authority and uphold its constitutional duty as a coequal branch of government by passing legislation to ensure the administration cannot start an illegal and disastrous war with Iran.

Signatories: 

Jamal Abdi, President, National Iranian Amerian Council

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies at SOAS, University of London and Fellow of Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge

Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, Founder and CEO, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)

Andrew Bacevich, Co-founder, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

Juan Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan

Michael C. Desch, Packey J. Dee Professor of International Relations, University of Notre Dame

Dina Esfandiary, Fellow, International Security Program, Belfer Center for Science and Security Studies, Harvard University; Fellow, The Century Foundation

John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion & International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University

Farideh Farhi, Affiliate Graduate Faculty of Political Science, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Nancy W. Gallagher, Director, Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland and Research Professor of Public Policy, University of Maryland

Mark Gasiorowski, Professor, Department of Political Science, Tulane University

Kevan Harris, Assistant Professor of Sociology studying development and social change in the global South, UCLA

Rula Jebreal, Professor, American University of Rome

Peter Jenkins, Former UK Ambassador to the IAEA

Bijan Khajehpour, Managing partner at Vienna-based Eurasian Nexus Partners,  a strategy consulting firm focused on the Eurasian region

Lawrence Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, former Assistant Secretary of Defense (1981-1985) 

Peter Kuznick, Professor of History and Director, Nuclear Studies Institute, American University

Joshua Landis, Sandra Mackey Professor of Middle East Studies and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma

Daniel Larison, Senior Editor, The American Conservative

John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

François Nicoullaud, Former French Ambassador to Iran

Rouzbeh Parsi, Visiting Research Scholar, Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, Princeton University; Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs -Stockholm; Senior Lecturer, Human Rights Studies, Lund University.

Trita Parsi, Co-founder, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft; Adjunct Associate Professor, Georgetown University

Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State and Ambassador to Russia, India, the United Nations and Israel.

Paul Pillar, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University and Nonresident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution

Edward Price, Director of Policy and Communications, National Security Action; former National Security Council Spokesperson; Former Special Assistant to President Obama for National Security Affairs

Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council

John F. Tierney, former Member of Congress and Executive Director of Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and of Council for a Livable World

Stephen Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Lawrence Wilkerson, Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William & Mary and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell

بانک‌ها در برابر ایرانی-آمریکایی‌ها تبعیض قائل می‌شوند – این اقدامی است که ما در مورد آن انجام می‌دهیم

,دوست عزیز

سال‌هاست که بسیاری از ایرانی-آمریکایی‌ها، تنها به دلیل تبارِ ایرانی‌شان، با بسته‌شدن حساب‌های بانکی خود مواجه می‌شوند. این نوعی تبعیضِ آزاردهنده است که می‌تواند فرد را در حالی که منتظر آزادشدن پس‌انداز و سرمایه‌ی زندگی‌اش است، با مشکلات مالی بسیاری روبه‌رو کند.

بانک‌ها در گفت‌وگو با ما توضیح می‌دهند که این کار، نوعی اقدام احتیاطی برای پیروی از تحریم‌های آمریکاست که اشخاص را از کار کردن با حساب‌های بانکی در ایران منع می‌کند. در حالی که قانون این اقدام را طلب نمی‌کند، بسیاری از بانک‌ها ریسک تبعیض علیه ایرانیان آمریکا را به ریسک نقض تحریم‌ها ترجیح می‌دهند.

به همین خاطر، امروز شورای ملی ایرانیان آمریکا (نایاک) تقاضانامه‌ای را تنظیم می‌کند که از وزارت خزانه‌داری می‌خواهد تا با تغییر رسمی قانون، به آمریکاییان اجازه دهد که بتوانند با حساب‌های بانکی در ایران کار کنند. این عمل، هزینه‌ای برای ایالات متحده ندارد و باید به کارکرد بانک‌ها در قبال بستن حساب‌های ایرانی-آمریکایی‌ها و شهروندان ایرانی ساکن آمریکا پایان دهد. علی‌رغم این‌که انتظار داریم بازبینی این روند طولانی و زمان‌بر باشد، اما بر این باوریم که در نهایت می‌توانیم این قانون را تغییر دهیم و به اقدام تبعیض‌آمیز بانک‌ها در قبال جامعه‌مان پایان بخشیم.

علاوه بر این، بیشترین شکایت‌هایی که تاکنون دریافت کرده‌ایم، به عملکرد بانک آمریکا باز می‌گردد. با وجود تلاش‌های متعدد از سال ۲۰۱۴ در جهت مجاب‌کردن بانک آمریکا برای تغییر سیاست‌هایش در قبال اشخاصی که عضو جامعه‌ی ما هستند، این بانک کماکان بدون هشدار یا با اطلاع رسانی کوتاه، به بستن حساب‌های ایرانی-آمریکایی‌ها ادامه می‌دهد.

به همین دلیل، ما بار دیگر نامه‌ای به بانک آمریکا فرستاده‌ایم تا برای این نهاد روشن کنیم که تحریم‌ها، آنان را به بستن حساب شهروندان معمولی مقیم آمریکا مجبور نمی‌کند و تصریح کرده‌ایم که برای حفاظت از منافع جامعه ایرانی در آمریکا، گزینه‌ی اقدام حقوقی را باز گذاشته‌ایم تا به رفتار تبعیض‌آمیز این بانک پایان دهیم.

اگر شما از جانب یک بانک با تبعیض مشابه روبه‌رو شده‌اید یا حساب‌تان مسدود شده، از شما می‌خواهیم که روایت‌تان را با ما در میان بگذارید تا بتوانیم پرونده مستندی تهیه کنیم برای اثبات این موضوع که این رفتار تبعیض‌آمیز باید خاتمه یابد. هر چه مثال‌های بیشتری داشته باشیم، پرونده‌هایمان برای تقاضای تغییر قانون در وزارت خزانه‌داری و پایان‌دادن به تبعیض‌های بانک آمریکا، محکم‌تر می‌شود.

داستان خود را این‌جا به اشتراک بگذارید

این را بدانید که ما از تلاش برای شما بازنخواهیم ایستاد؛ خواه در برابر وزارت خزانه‌داری دولت ترامپ باشد، خواه بانک آمریکا، یا هر کس دیگری که به جامعه ایرانی در آمریکا آسیب وارد کند.

با احترام،
جمال عبدی
رئیس شورای ملی ایرانیان آمریکا

گزینه کمک‌های مالی

NIAC Statement on Iran Surpassing Enriched Uranium Stockpile Limit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday July 1, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

In response to reports that Iran has surpassed the enriched uranium stockpile limit set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, released the following statement:

“The consequences of President Trump’s abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal continue to mount. Less than two weeks after the “maximum pressure” campaign nearly brought the U.S. into war, Iran has now exceeded nuclear stockpile limits that had been in place before Trump took office. President Trump inherited a successful nuclear deal and, with the goading of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, shredded that agreement with no serious endgame in place besides war.

“Thanks to Iran’s continued voluntary adherence to other provisions in the nuclear deal, Iran remains far from an undetectable nuclear breakout capability. Yet the further fraying of the nuclear deal is a setback for those who support diplomatic solutions to the standoff with Iran, and risks providing fodder for hawks like National Security Advisor John Bolton who are eager for military action.

“Make no mistake: the Trump administration’s approach towards Iran has senselessly and recklessly restarted the Iranian nuclear crisis. The goal of hawks like Bolton has from the get-go been to collapse the deal, and according to recent reports Bolton is now seeking even more aggressive sanctions to goad Iran towards this end.

“When you’re in a hole, the best advice is to stop digging. Returning the U.S. to compliance with the nuclear deal would be the best way to reverse the damage of Trump’s withdrawal. At minimum, Trump should suspend the “maximum pressure” sanctions in exchange for Iran suspending recent breaches of the nuclear deal and to allow space for negotiations. The top priority of the Trump Administration should be to reopen communication channels with Iran and engage in serious talks. Unless and until he does so, the U.S. and Iran will remain on the path to war.”

NIAC Applauds Open Letter Signed by Over 100 Iranian Human Rights Defenders Expressing Concern over U.S.-Iran Tensions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 27, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON DC –  The San Francisco-based human rights group, United For Iran, published a letter signed by over 100 Iranian human rights advocates expressing concern against further U.S. escalation with Iran. The letter expresses “grave concerns over the rising tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which risks a military confrontation that would cause massive human rights harms.” 

It further urges both countries to exercise restraint and emphasizes that war will only devastate Iran’s human rights defenders. The letter also underscores that “Only peace-focused policies that prioritize the rights and well-being of ordinary people in Iran and the region can provide meaningful, long-term benefits.” 

The full text of the letter and list of signatories can be found here.

In response to the letter, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“With conflict looming between Iran and the United States, Iranian human rights activists are emphatically joining the chorus of voices demanding that the U.S. refrain from abandoning diplomacy in favor of military action.

“Nothing can destroy Iranians’ quest to advance human rights in the country faster than war. Ultimately war is the biggest human rights violation. If the Trump administration is truly intent on supporting the Iranian people, it would do well to listen to those, both in and outside of Iran, who have dedicated their livelihoods to promoting an open society. The administration needs to adopt a pro-diplomacy approach to Iran, lest it continue to use human rights as a platform to push forth Trump’s dangerous maximum pressure campaign.

“The Iran nuclear deal was a platform that not only restricted Iran’s nuclear program. It was a platform for engagement that opened the door to progress within Iran and the easing of social restrictions. The decision by the Trump administration to violate the deal stifled this development and promoted confrontation. 

“That the Iranian government violates the rights of its citizens is without question. However, as these activists make clear, current U.S. policy on Iran can only exacerbate the devastating human rights situation in Iran. To choose human rights is to choose diplomacy–and any path forward with Iran must adopt engagement, including the lifting of sanctions and a return to the Iran nuclear deal, as its cornerstone.

“Rather than helping to advance the cause for human rights, war will destroy the lives of Iranians and create unforeseeable devastation that is far removed from the ideals of liberty or justice. As the prime defenders of human rights in Iran, it is incumbent upon us to heed their words.”

How to Deescalate the Dangerous Iran Standoff

The “maximum pressure” campaign, initiated by the Trump Administration under the stewardship of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, has brought the U.S. and Iran to the brink of war. While President Trump apparently reversed course on his decision to launch strikes following Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, the danger of the U.S. and Iran triggering an all out regional war remains imminent.

President Trump asserts he wishes to avoid a military confrontation with Iran. Yet his approach of piling on economic sanctions regardless of Iran’s adherence to the JCPOA lacks coherence or clarity and is highly unlikely to achieve its stated goal of Iranian surrender. Instead, it has led to an increasingly provocative Iranian response. 

If the Trump Administration stays the course on maximum pressure, war is all but inevitable. With both sides now engaging in dangerous brinkmanship, the U.S. must take concrete steps immediately to avert another catastrophic American military intervention in the Middle East.   

Abandon “Maximum Pressure” in Favor of Diplomatic Compromise

A new U.S. strategy on Iran that includes credible economic incentives must be pursued in order to convince Iran of the merits of negotiations. The U.S. should credibly signal that it will suspend sanctions imposed after May 2018 to provide space for de-escalation and credible incentive for negotiation. 

  • The Trump administration instigated a new escalation of tensions with Iran and isolation from its allies in May 2018 when it decided to abandon Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, and began its “maximum pressure” sanctions policy in violation of the multilateral accord.
  • After a year of upholding its nuclear commitments in spite of the U.S. withdrawal and “maximum pressure” campaign, Iran is now taking limited, reversible steps to halt compliance with aspects of the JCPOA. This includes a decision to surpass the JCPOA’s limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile on June 27th.
  • Iranian leaders have stressed that they won’t negotiate under pressure and, as recent actions show, have begun increasing their own leverage. Meanwhile, President Trump has exhausted all U.S. pressure tools short of war.
  • Trump must signal to the Iranians that he is prepared to exchange pressure relief in return for pressure relief if he truly wants to get a deal and avoid a disastrous war. To jumpstart negotiations, the U.S. should signal that it will suspend sanctions imposed in violation of the JCPOA. Once both sides have returned to their obligations under the JCPOA, negotiations can begin on building on the deal. 

Reestablish Communication Channels with Iran

The U.S. and Iran must reestablish the permanent communication channel that existed under the previous administration. Doing so is important to guard against a spiraling tit for tat and enable a dedicated channel for deconfliction and deescalation.  

  • The Trump administration eliminated the bilateral communication channels that were established during the negotiation of the JCPOA. These channels, which existed at the level of secretary of state, helped contain tense episodes under the Obama administration—including securing the speedy release of U.S. sailors that had strayed into Iranian waters.
  • The U.S. should appoint a senior special envoy for engaging Iran to focus on confidence-building and decreasing mutual distrust and animosity. The envoy should have a proven track record of successful diplomatic engagement, a deep understanding of Iran, and the confidence of the parties that negotiated the JCPOA.
  • A direct U.S.-Iran channel for dialogue will reduce tensions in the overall relationship, enable a mutual understanding regarding each side’s intentions, and allow both sides to talk quickly should an incident occur–such as dispute over violating territorial boundaries or threats to Persian Gulf stability.
  • Additionally, establishing a permanent emergency deconfliction channel between the U.S. and Iranian militaries will also help prevent misunderstandings and avoid dangerous escalation of accidents.

 

UN Investigation into Drone Downing & Other Recent Incidents

The global and U.S. public skepticism to the administration’s claims regarding the drone downing and sabotage of oil tankers reflect the erosion of American credibility. Any response to an alleged violation of international law and norms should be rooted in those established rules rather than perpetuate lawlessness. 

  • Iran’s shooting down of the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone came one week after the sabotage of two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, which the Trump administration blamed on Iran. Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton also blamed Iran for an attack on four commercial ships in the same area one month ago.
  • The bar for the evidence for the allegations should be extraordinarily high. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Bolton both have track records of manipulating intelligence. 
  • Much of the international community, including U.S. allies in Europe, have viewed with suspicion U.S. claims that Iran was behind the oil tanker sabotage.
  • Rather than further isolate itself internationally, the Trump administration should allow for an impartial international investigation spearheaded by the UN into the tanker and drone incidents.

 

Congress Must Act Now to Prevent War

Congress must uphold its responsibility as a coequal branch of government and the only party with the authority to declare war by sending a clear message that Trump and Bolton cannot make an end-run around Congress to start a war with Iran.

 

  • Congress should pass legislation to block funds for the Trump administration to launch a war on Iran without Congressional approval. The Senate can do so by voting on and passing the Udall-Kaine amendment to the annual defense authorization bill. Stand alone legislation in each chamber, the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act (S. 1039/H.R. 2354) – introduced by Sens. Udall, Paul and Durbin and Reps. Eshoo and Thompson – also exists to bar such funding.

Congress should pass legislation to repeal the 2001 AUMF that some in the Trump administration claim provides authorization to wage war on Iran. The Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force bill (H.R. 1274) from Rep. Barbara Lee would repeal the 2001 AUMF from using it as legal justification to attack Iran 17 years after it was introduced. The AUMF Clarification Act (H.R. 2829) from Reps. Massie and Levin would clarify that neither the 2001 AUMF nor the 2002 AUMF can be twisted to greenlight a war with Iran.

NIAC Statement on Trump’s Imposition of New Iran Sanctions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 25, 2019 
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON DC – Moments ago President Donald Trump signed off on an executive order imposing a new wave of sanctions on Iran following increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran last week. The sanctions target Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei and senior commanders from the Revolutionary Guard’s Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces, and aim to block Iran top leadership’s from accessing the international financial system. 

In response, Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“Sanctions are what got us into this mess, more sanctions will not get us out of it. Donald Trump needs to put his ego aside and abandon the ‘maximum pressure’ strategy that John Bolton and Mike Pompeo have foisted on the world. After coming within ten minutes of military strikes on Iran that could very well have triggered an all out regional conflagration, Trump should have fired Bolton and Pompeo on the spot. Instead, he is staying the course and driving us further towards the brink of a completely avoidable crisis of his administration’s making.

The strategy of maximum pressure is not designed to induce negotiations, but rather to push Iran away from the negotiating table while triggering further Iranian provocations that could serve as a pretext for war. We’ve already seen the fruit of this approach—a fraying nuclear accord, heightening tensions in the Persian Gulf, and a last second decision from Trump to put the brakes on a major war. Sanctions on the Supreme Leader may feel good, but they are purely symbolic. Yet, diplomacy is about signals and optics and today’s action seems intended to trample on any hopes for talks. 

“The Trump administration triggered this escalatory cycle by unilaterally exiting and violating the nuclear deal. Instead of getting caught up in what is the ‘proportionate’ response and perpetuating a deadly tit for tat, Trump needs to consider what is the right response to get us off the path of war through negotiations. Piling symbolic sanctions on Iran’s leadership isn’t it.

“This was Donald Trump’s chance for a do-over, he may not get another opportunity to take us off the war path. The Iranian government is keeping the door open to negotiating with Trump. And If Trump’s bottom line is truly to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, now is the time for him to pause the pressure campaign, bring on officials who can negotiate with the Iranians, and pursue negotiations based on mutual respect and realistic concessions.”

NIAC Urges That U.S. and Iran Practice Restraint as Tensions Escalate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 20, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington DC – Following Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone, the Trump Administration, flanked by National Security Council Advisor John Bolton, are reportedly exploring retaliatory measures the U.S. could take, including military options.

In response to the latest escalations between the two countries, NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

“At every fork in the road with Iran, Trump has allowed warmongers like John Bolton to direct his Iran policy. This has brought the United States to the precipice of a war that Trump claims he wanted to avoid. This administration needs to take a step back and dramatically rethink it’s Iran policy, and the officials guiding that policy, before it is too late. Moreover, Congress needs to step in and make clear that Trump does not have authorization to start a new war

“There is still time for Trump to defuse tensions with Iran and put to rest this manufactured crisis. Rather than opt for the military options that Bolton will undoubtedly propose, Trump should seek out third party mediators who can help de-escalate and bring the U.S. and Iran back to the negotiating table. Moreover, the UN Security Council should convene in order to ascertain the facts behind the crisis, including the allegations surrounding the recent tanker attacks and the downed U.S. drones, and chart out exit ramps for both the U.S. and Iran.

“Both Trump and his inner circle and Iran’s leadership should recognize that the U.S. and Iran have entered an escalation spiral. Adding fuel to the fire risks stoking this crisis to the point of no return. For the United States, any military retaliation is likely to be matched in kind by Iran. For Iran, any provocations risk further isolating the country and giving fodder to warhawks who won’t stop at a few retaliatory strikes.

“The night is always darkest before the dawn. We urge all leaders to put their countries’ best interests in mind and firmly step away from the path to war.”

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Hiring: Office Administrator

NIAC’s Office Manager provides overall administrative and financial support to the organization and its staff to help advance our mission of strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people. S/he reports to the Director of Finance & Administration.

Hours & Rate:

We require the Office Manager to be present, in-person at our headquarters, Monday-Friday, from 8:30am-1:30pm. The hourly range for this position is $22-$25/hour. The rate offered will be commensurate with the applicants experience. Please note that this is a part-time position.

Responsibilities:

  1. Financial & Accounting: Coding and entering expenses/revenues in QuickBooks Online. Process invoices and reimbursements for payment. Prepare checks for signature to pay bills/invoices as needed. Maintain an organized filing system for financial records. Reconciling all accounts on a monthly basis. Other duties as assigned by the Director of Finance & Administration.
  2. Handle Phone and Email Inquiries: Working in tandem with the Advancement Associate to route or respond to incoming calls and email inquiries as appropriate.
  3. Recruit, Manage and Onboard Interns: Place ads as needed to recruit for internships; maintain correspondence with applicants; interview and screen intern applicants. Onboarding of all interns, once hired.
  4. Office: Maintain inventory of supplies and order office supplies and equipment as needed. Maintain office space appearance and maintenance. Making our daily pot of coffee.
  5. Travel Logistics: Book airfare and lodging accommodations for traveling staff, while ensuring best practices and pricing for NIAC
  6. IT Support: Assisting staff with basic IT needs (phone setup, computer setup, digital setup for meetings, etc…)
  7. Event Support: May provide occasional assistance with NIAC events if additional staff support is required
  8. Staff Support: Provides support to all NIAC staff with additional administrative duties as required and assigned by the Director of Finance & Administration

 

To be considered for this position, please send a copy of your resume, cover letter and references to nataei@niacouncil.org. No phone calls or drop-ins, please.

Critical Committee Debate Examines Trump’s Lack of War Authorities on Iran

Washington, DC – In the early morning hours of June 13, the House Armed Services Committee debated an amendment seeking to block an unauthorized war with Iran. It constituted one of the most meaningful Congressional debates on Iran and war powers to date, and will likely lead to a full House vote when the annual defense authorization bill hits the floor later this summer.

Here are some topline takeaways from the debate:

Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) promised to support an amendment on the House floor that will rule out an unauthorized war with Iran:

The amendment – sponsored by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Anthony Brown (D-MD) and other Democrats – was rigorously debated, with Democrats voicing their support and Republicans largely objecting to the amendment as unprecedented and overly restrictive. While united on the goal of blocking an unauthorized war, some Democrats voiced concern on some of the language in the amendment. Chairman Smith eventually recommended that the amendment be withdrawn, telling Rep. Khanna that he “has my absolute commitment that I want language in this bill that makes clear that there will not be an unconstitutional war on Iran and we will be committed to doing that on the floor.”

While a positive vote in committee would have been the best possible outcome, Smith promising that there will be an amendment on the House floor – likely in July – is a fair alternative. The NDAA is Smith’s bill, and those concerned about an unauthorized war with Iran will be well-positioned for winning a vote on the floor.

Legislators confirmed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo linked Iran to al-Qaeda in his closed-door briefing before Congress, raising the specter of the administration invoking the 2001 authorization for strikes on Iran:

While Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) stated that the Trump administration has never asserted it could attack Iran with the 2001 authorization to use military force (AUMF), Rep. Matt Gaetz – a conservartive Republican – corrected the record. According to Rep. Gaetz, “the notion that the administration has never maintained that there are elements of the 2001 AUMF that would authorize their hostilities toward Iran is not consistent with my understanding of what they said to us.” Similarly, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) – a Democrat and former intelligence officer – stated “We were absolutely presented with a full formal presentation on how the 2001 AUMF might authorize war on Iran. Yes, I’m sorry sir. Secretary Pompeo said it with his own words.”

Legislators on both sides of the aisle sounded open to a straightforward statement that the 2001 authorization does not apply to Iran:

The Khanna-Moulton-Brown amendment would have blocked funding for an unauthorized war, and also clarified that there is no existing authorization for a war. While Republicans raised numerous objections to funding ban, some of the legislators appeared open to a formulation that merely clarified that the 2001 authorization cannot be applied to Iran. Whether their sentiments could lead to support for a future amendment, however, remains uncertain.

When questioned by Rep. Slotkin, the committee’s ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) acknowledged “I do not believe – for what it’s worth – the 2001 AUMF authorizes military force against the state of Iran.”

The debate moved us a step closer to blocking Trump and Bolton’s march to war with Iran, but many more steps are needed – and the risk of war remains far too high.

To ensure that there is a vote, legislators need to agree on final language, rally their colleagues, and help protect a potential amendment from would-be saboteurs. However, a vote on the House floor is unlikely to happen until July, and it is unclear whether Senators will be granted time for a floor debate on a similar measure in the meantime. Moreover, as demonstrated by today’s attacks on oil tankers – which some policymakers have been quick to pin on Iran without concrete evidence – there remains a growing risk of war as a result of Trump’s maximum pressure policy. NIAC Action will continue to underscore the importance of legislation to rule out an unauthorized war with Iran, and will keep you posted as this important campaign unfolds.