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NIAC Letter Regarding Etsy’s U.S. Sanctions Compliance Policies and Discriminatory Treatment Towards Iranian Americans

Photo Credit: yasmeenabedi / Twitter

The National Iranian American Council has sent a letter to Etsy concerning its apparently discriminatory treatment of an American vendor selling “Persian dolls” on its website. These dolls appear to have been made in America with American materials by an American, and under no circumstances should have been flagged as a prohibited item. No sanctions apply to American-made items celebrating Persian cultural heritage or antiquity. Etsy’s knee-jerk or automated reaction that led to the prohibition of the dolls is deeply concerning and smacks of discrimination.

At this time, many Iranian Americans are concerned that rising geopolitical tensions are triggering a new wave of xenophobia against our community. NIAC urges Etsy to publicly detail the reasoning behind this discriminatory treatment, take action to verify that it will not continue it and issue an apology to the vendor. NIAC also stand ready to discuss with Etsy the sanctions on Iran and how the company can avoid similar discriminatory action in the future.

The text of the letter is below:

January 18, 2020

SENT VIA MAIL

Etsy Legal Compliance Office
55 Washington Street, Suite 512
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Re: Letter Regarding Etsy’s U.S. Sanctions Compliance Policies and Discriminatory Treatment Towards Iranian Americans

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing on behalf of the National Iranian American Council (“NIAC”), the largest grassroots organization in the United States representing the interests of Iranian Americans, regarding Etsy’s decision to remove from its online store products made by U.S. persons in the United States solely due to the inclusion of the word “Persian” in the title of the product. While we understand that–as a U.S. company–Etsy must comply with all U.S. sanctions laws, Etsy must not implement these commitments in such a manner as to discriminate against users of Iranian descent or to render prohibitive all cultural items of or relating to Iran. We are deeply troubled by this incident and are concerned that–based on Etsy’s apparent sanctions compliance policies and procedures–other users of Iranian descent are likely to face similar discriminatory treatment from Etsy in the future. 

Recently, it has come to our attention that Etsy removed handmade dolls for sale on its online store because the items were described as “Persian dolls.” According to Etsy’s notice, Etsy removed the product because “Persian dolls” constituted a “prohibited item” under the company’s policies. This product, as NIAC understands it, was made by a user of Iranian descent in the United States using solely goods sourced from the United States. No U.S. sanctions laws or regulations appear to have been triggered by Etsy’s hosting of this item for sale on its online store. Etsy’s apparent compliance program has prohibited items from its online store that would raise no compliance issues under U.S. sanctions laws.

U.S. companies must narrowly tailor their U.S. sanctions compliance policies and procedures to the requirements of U.S. laws to ensure that these policies and procedures do not discriminate against and further burden affected communities, including the Iranian-American community. Identifying “Persian dolls” as a “prohibited item” pursuant to its internal sanctions policies and procedures does not qualify as a sanctions program narrowly tailored to the requirements of U.S. law. Such sanctions over-compliance has understandably caused much frustration and anger in our community, and actions such as Etsy’s raise persistent fears that the Iranian American community is the subject of discriminatory treatment. 

We trust that Etsy will review this matter and seek to mitigate the harm caused to any affected parties. We would like to speak further with representatives of the company regarding how they can engage in remediation to revise their sanctions program to ensure that it is strictly tailored to the requirements of U.S law and does not cause any undue impacts on Iranian Americans or other affected communities moving forward. We thank you for your consideration and look forward to your response. 

Sincerely,

Jamal Abdi
President, National Iranian American Council

Letter of Solidarity Standing with NIAC

[Sign the open letter here]

January 17, 2020

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and its sister organization NIAC Action, are American civil-society organizations working on behalf of members of the Iranian-American community and the broader American public. At a time when our nation is bitterly divided, NIAC is an important voice in our public debate on issues of enormous consequence for all Americans — and particularly for Americans of Iranian heritage — including heightened tensions in the Middle East and the risk of war, policies like the Muslim travel ban and extreme vetting, the rise in domestic hate crimes, and the protection of civil liberties.

We are deeply disturbed by the letter from Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and Mike Braun insinuating that this Iranian-American organization has dual loyalties, is somehow less American than other organizations in this space, and should be subject to a Justice Department investigation. While these Senators may have profound differences in opinion with NIAC, particularly on the question of escalation and potential war with Iran, the Justice Department is not the forum to resolve those debates. These tactics have no place in our political process or our national discourse, and risk turning our Justice Department into a political tool to intimidate and silence voices that disagree with whichever administration is in power. We are concerned that everyone involved in contentious policy debates, regardless of political persuasion, will be at risk.

We are proud to stand with NIAC and commend its essential contribution to the public debate.

Signed,

Organizations
About Face: Veterans Against the War
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
American Friends Service Committee
Beyond the Bomb
CAIR-Texas DFW
Center for Constitutional Rights
CODEPINK
Daily Kos
Defending Rights & Dissent
Demand Progress Education Fund
Foreign Policy for America
Freedom Forward
Global Zero
Granada Center for Human Rights
Historians for Peace and Democracy
Immigration Hub
Indivisible 
Institute for Policy Studies
Irish International Immigrant Center
Japanese American Citizens League
Jewish Voice for Peace
Justice for Muslims Collective
JVP Action
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Montgomery County (MD) Civil Rights Coalition
MoveOn
MPower Change
Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)
Muslim Voters of America
National Immigration Law Center (NILC)
Oil Change International
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Peace Action
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Ploughshares Fund
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Static Free Films, Inc.
The Avalan Institute for Applied Research
United We Dream
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
VoteVets
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions

Individuals – Organizations Included for Identification Purposes Only 
Gordon Adams, Professor Emeritus, School of International Service, American University
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, CAIR Georgia
Salam Almarayati, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Reza Aslan, Renowned Author and Professor
Andrew Bacevich, President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Dante Barry, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice
David Barsamian
Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Bourse & Bazaar
Zahra Billoo, CAIR San Francisco Bay Area
Audrey Bomse, National Lawyers Guild
Salih Booker, Center for International Policy
Heather Booth
Yvette Borja, ACLU Arizona
Charles E. Butterworth, University of Maryland, Emeritus Professor
Abdul Cader Asmal
Manzoor Cheema, Project South
Juan Cole, University of Michigan
Holly Dagres
Kelsey Davenport, Arms Control Association
Hassan El-Tayyab, Friends Committee on National Legislation
David Emami, City Councilor, Happy Valley Oregon
Rahna Epting, Executive Director, MoveOn
Hadi Esfahani, Professor, University of Illinois
Prof. John L. Esposito, Georgetown University
Richard Falk, Princeton University
Farideh Farhi, Independent Scholar
Mateo Farzaneh, Northeastern Illinois University 
Jon Finer, Former Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning at the State Department
Dr. Eugene Fisher
Lara Friedman
Mark Gasiorowski, Tulane University
Prof. Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Princeton University
Jeanette Gottlieb, Peace Corps Iran Association
Cyrus Habib, Lieutenant Governor of Washington State
Morton H. Halperin, Open Society Foundations
Amir Handjani, Truman National Security Project
William Hartung, Center for International Policy
Nader Hashemi, University of Denver
Jaylani Hussein, CAIR-MN
Deepa Iyer, Solidarity Is
Mitra Jalali, St. Paul City Council
Maryam Jamshidi, University of Florida, Levin College of Law
Robert Jervis, Columbia University
Persis Karim
Hoda Katebi
Tara Kaveh, Alliance San Diego
Bijan Khajehpour
Dr. Fazal Khan, University of Arizona
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association*
Ahmad Kiarostami
Stephen Kinzer, Author, “All the Shah’s Men”
Paige Knappenberger, Climate Nexus
Lawrence Korb, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense
Daniel Larison, The American Conservative
George A. Lopez, Kroc Institute, Notre Dame
Firuzeh Mahmoudi, United for Iran
Robert Malley, Former Special Assistant to the President
Sarah Margon, Open Society Foundations
Edward Martin, Center for Interfaith Engagement, Eastern Mennonite University
John J. Mearsheimer, University of Chicago
Nicholas Miller, Dartmouth College
Ramin Montazeri
Melody Moezzi, Author, Attorney, Activist, & Professor
Bitta Mostofi, Public Servant & Advocate
Asieh Namdar, Journalist
Bruce D. Nestor, Former President of the National Lawyers Guild
Paul R. Pillar, Quincy Institute and Georgetown University
Mitchell Plitnick, ReThinking Foreign Policy 
Gobi Rahimi, Filmmaker 
Nasrin Rahimieh, University of California, Irvine
Ben Rhodes, Former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama
Mahsa Rouhi, International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS)
Muhammad Sahimi, NIOC Chair in Petroleum Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, USC
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Virginia Tech
Monique Salhab, Veterans For Peace
Susan Scott, National Lawyers Guild International Committee
Azadeh Shahshahani, Project South
Samer Shehata, University of Oklahoma
Annelle Sheline, The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Debra Shushan, J Street
Nahid Siamdoust, Yale University
Arjun Singh Sethi, Georgetown University Law Center
Barbara Slavin
Nader Soltani
Lakshmi Sridaran, South Asian Americans Leading Together
Yasmine Taeb, Democratic National Committeewoman
John Tierney, Council for A Livable World
Jim Walsh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stephen Walt, Harvard University
Stephen Wertheim, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State
Dylan Williams, J Street
Carolyn Yale, Member of Peace Corps Iran Association
Stephen Young, Union of Concerned Scientists
Nahal Zamani, Center for Constitutional Rights

 

 

NIAC Receives Outpouring of Support After Outrageous “Dual Loyalty” Attack Leveled By Pro-War Senators

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, January 17, 2020
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington, DC – Over 100 organizations, experts and former officials rallied to the defense of the National Iranian American Council and its sister organization, NIAC Action, after three extreme partisan Senate war hawks questioned the organization’s allegiances. NIAC is an American organization that for nearly two decades has been a leading voice in the effort to prevent war with Iran and to protect civil liberties of Iranian Americans. Most recently, NIAC has been at the forefront of efforts to get answers after over sixty Iranian Americans, including young children, were held at the U.S.-Canada border overnight for up to 11 hours and questioned about political beliefs amid heightened risks of war with Iran. 

On Wednesday, amid these dangerous tensions and rising fears among Iranian Americans about threats to their civil liberties here at home, Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Mike Braun sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr urging for an investigation of NIAC for potentially acting as “foreign agents.” Organizations including Ploughshares Fund, VoteVets, Win Without War, and prominent experts and former officials like Iranian-American author Reza Aslan, former special assistant to President Obama Robert Malley, and Larry Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell signed onto a joint letter condemning this baseless attack. NIAC’s initial statement regarding the Cotton, Cruz, Braun letter, is available here.

The full joint solidarity statement is below and can also be found here.

January 17, 2020

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and its sister organization NIAC Action, are American civil-society organizations working on behalf of members of the Iranian-American community and the broader American public. At a time when our nation is bitterly divided, NIAC is an important voice in our public debate on issues of enormous consequence for all Americans — and particularly for Americans of Iranian heritage — including heightened tensions in the Middle East and the risk of war, policies like the Muslim travel ban and extreme vetting, the rise in domestic hate crimes, and the protection of civil liberties.
 
That is why we are deeply disturbed by the letter from Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and Mike Braun insinuating that this Iranian-American organization has dual loyalties, is somehow less American than other organizations in this space, and should be subject to a Justice Department investigation. While these Senators may have profound differences in opinion with NIAC, particularly on the question of escalation and potential war with Iran, the Justice Department is not the forum to resolve those debates. Such McCarthyite tactics have no place in our political process or our national discourse, and risk turning our Justice Department into a political tool to intimidate and silence voices that disagree with whichever administration is in power. The fact that three United States Senators would engage in such meritless, slanderous, and dangerous practices is deeply disturbing. We are concerned that this will not stop with their attack on NIAC and that everyone involved in contentious policy debates, regardless of political persuasion, will be at risk if such tactics succeed. We strongly urge that the three Senators retract their letter and apologize.
 
We are proud to stand with NIAC and fundamentally reject the letter from Senators Cotton, Cruz and Braun that represents an attack on our democracy.
 
Sincerely,
 
Lawrence B. Wilkerson
Former chief of staff to Secretary of State
 
Dylan Williams​​​​​​​
J Street
 
Stephen Walt​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Harvard University
 
Paul R. Pillar​​​​​​​
Quincy Institute and Georgetown University
 
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani​​​​​​​
Virginia Tech
 
Juan Cole​​​​​​​
University of Michigan
 
Nader Hashemi​​​​​​​
University of Denver
 
John Tierney​​​​​​​
Council for A Livable World
 
John J. Mearsheimer​​​​​​​
University of Chicago
 
Lawrence Korb​​​​​​​
Former Assistant Secretary of Defence
 
Andrew Bacevich​​​​​​​
President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
 
Jon Finer​​​​​​​
Former Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning at the State Department
 
Morton H. Halperin​​​​​​​
Open Society Foundations

See the full list of signatories here.

NIAC Responds to Baseless Accusations by Senators Cotton, Cruz, and Braun

In response to a letter sent by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AK), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Mike Braun (R-IN) to the Department of Justice baselessly urging an investigation into NIAC and NIAC Action, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“At NIAC, we are proud of the work we do for our community. We will never stop working to advance peace and diplomacy or fighting for equitable immigration policies and the civil rights of all Americans. Unfortunately, in the current political climate, immigrant organizations and communities like ours are increasingly under attack by agenda-driven groups and individuals who often resort to baseless smears to try to discredit those who disagree with them.

“The slanderous accusations from Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Mike Braun have zero merit. It is yet another sign that warhawks are seeking to intimidate pro-peace voices, starting with Iranian Americans, from halting the push toward war, which Cotton and Cruz have long championed. We have already seen the coordinated efforts, such as the U.S. government funded “IranDisinfo” project that slandered groups like Human Rights Watch, as well as Iranian-American journalists, analysts, academics, and civil society organizations like ours who dared speak out against the Trump Administration’s Iran policies. This is the latest attempt to silence NIAC and other pro-peace Iranian Americans from having a voice in this debate that impacts us and our community. We will not let that happen.

“NIAC and NIAC Action are independent American organizations. We do not receive money from any government, are not agents of any government, and take great pride in our transparency. We are funded by reputable U.S. foundations, ordinary Iranian Americans, and American allies who support peace and civil rights. We routinely condemn the Iranian government for its gross violations of its international human rights obligations, including amid the November crackdown and this past weekend over protests following the government’s downing of a civilian aircraft.

“The Senators’ accusations of dual loyalty targeting our organization, particularly amid heightened risks of war, are disgusting and dangerous. We are just a few days removed from Iranian Americans being detained for questioning at U.S. ports of entry based on their national heritage. These incidents have only compounded an atmosphere of xenophobia, which have made Americans of all backgrounds feel vulnerable in their own country, and have no place within the civil discourse of the United States. In this period of heightened fears and trauma, it is shameful these Senators choose to slander NIAC and NIAC Action as we stand up for the Iranian-American community and work to protect our community’s civil liberties.

“We strongly dispute the mischaracterization of our work by the Senators in their hastily drafted letter. Both Senators Cotton and Cruz have made clear that they favor war with Iran over diplomatic solutions–and they have done nothing to halt this administration from banning our friends and family from Iran beginning in his first week in office. While we know little of Senator Braun, his joining in this McCarthyite targeting of an Iranian-American civil rights organization betrays that he knows little of our community and less about basic democratic liberties.

“It is unfortunate and telling that these warmongers have put NIAC in their crosshairs. Our organization has for years led the charge against war, reflecting the anti-war position of the vast majority of the Iranian-American community. Sens. Cotton, Cruz, and Braun recognize us as a threat to their plans and seek to slander us into silence. They will not succeed. Freedom, equality, and democracy are not just hopeful words, they are the foundations of a just world that we will continue to advocate for, starting here at home in the United States.” 

NIAC Statement on European Powers Triggering JCPOA Dispute Resolution Mechanism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 14, 2020
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

In response to European powers triggering a dispute resolution mechanism over Iran halting compliance with nuclear limits following President Trump’s violation and withdrawal from the deal, Ryan Costello, Policy Director for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), issued the following statement:

“Europe’s complete fecklessness in the face of Donald Trump’s pressure is once again on full display. Unlike the Trump administration that has orchestrated this nuclear crisis, Europe wants to keep the Iran deal alive and has exerted diplomatic energy toward that end, with little to show for it. However, this step is likely to be viewed in Iran and much of the rest of the world as a cave to the Trump administration’s maximum pressure after Europe has continually failed to deliver promised sanctions relief to Iran. This will further reduce Iranian appetite for accommodation with the West and adherence to the Nonproliferation Treaty. Moreover, hawks in the U.S. are likely to seize the dispute resolution mechanism to try to collapse the agreement on faulty legal grounds, even if that is not the intent of European powers.

“All powers need to tread cautiously, lest they risk playing into those intent on collapsing the agreement and all diplomatic pathways with Iran. Keeping the deal alive, and with it a diplomatic opening to resolve broader concerns with Iran, is in the national interest of the United States, Europe and Iran. This shouldn’t change as a result of Europe’s triggering of the dispute resolution mechanism, which risks doing more harm than good. The alternative scenario of a collapsed deal will rapidly escalate already high tensions and make a conflict increasingly inevitable. Europe will pay a high price for any increase in instability in the Middle East and renewed refugee flows.”

NIAC Statement on Iran’s Accidental Downing of Passenger Plane

WASHINGTON DC – In response to reports that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had acknowledged that it was responsible for accidentally shooting down a Ukrainian International Airlines passenger plane this week, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“Our hearts are with the families and friends still grieving over their lost loved ones. This has been a tremendous loss for Iran, the Iranian diaspora and all who lost loved ones on the flight.

“Today we learned this was an entirely avoidable and irresponsible error, which has already prompted large protests in Iran. It was also brought on by avoidable tensions between the U.S. and Iran that threatened to spill over into full-blown war. It underscores that when tensions rise, it is unfortunately all too common for mistakes to be made that lead to disastrous consequences. We urge the U.S. and Iranian governments to continue to deescalate, open up diplomatic channels and ensure there is no further loss of life from the reckless rush to the brink of war.”

NIAC Statement on Iranian Missile Attacks on U.S. Bases in Iraq

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 7, 2020 
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington DC – In response to reports that Iran had launched missiles targeting U.S. military bases in Iraq, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“NIAC is deeply concerned by reports of Iranian missile attacks against U.S. military bases inside Iraq. We condemn all military escalations by both the Iranian and U.S. governments that have led us to this tragic and avoidable point. It is not too late to pull back from a full-blown war. However, that window is closing rapidly. Congress must act immediately to halt hostilities and prevent Trump’s threats of massive retaliation, including bombing of Iranian cultural sites.

“Donald Trump owns this 100%. He inherited a working nuclear deal and a tense but stable situation with Iran. He has deeply wounded the first major diplomatic initiative between the U.S. and Iranian government in decades, and listened to ideologues who convinced him to assassinate an Iranian general. At every step of the way, he has been warned he risked moving back on the path to war. Now that day may be here.

“Our thoughts are with all the people who will be harmed by this senseless and needless conflict. It is ordinary Iranians, Iraqis, and people across the region who will bear a profound cost that can’t be justified. So too will American soldiers, and their families here at home, who will bear the consequences of yet another war that was thrust upon them by callous leaders.

“We call on the international community and the United Nations to do everything in its power to find a diplomatic resolution to these hostilities before the entire region erupts in war.

“We also remain deeply concerned about the Trump administration’s detainment of Iranian Americans at the border on the basis of national heritage and additional discriminatory actions against our community. We will remain vigilant amid the looming specter of war and safeguard our community’s rights.”

NIAC Statement on DHS Investigation into Detentions of Iranian Americans at U.S. Ports of Entry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 7, 2020 
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington DC – In response to reports that some 60 Iranian Americans were held for lengthy questioning by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at U.S. ports of entry, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) requested that the Department of Homeland Security open an investigation into the detentions and questioning.

NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement elaborating on the request:

“On Sunday, January 5, the National Iranian American Council requested that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties open an investigation into the detainment and questioning of Iranian Americans at the U.S. ports of entry. We are pleased that the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties has opened an investigation into CBP’s potential discriminatory targeting of Iranian Americans at the border following our formal complaint. We will be working to ensure that the investigation is thorough, timely and results in the halt of this discriminatory treatment targeting our community. Detaining individuals on the basis of their national origin is illegal, and the Iranian-American community will not stand for such outrageous and discriminatory treatment. 

“Unfortunately, we continue to see discriminatory targeting of the Iranian-American community from this administration, which began on week one when it instituted a Muslim ban and spread fear and chaos across the country. Three years later, we are still battling to safeguard our community’s rights and won’t stop until everybody in our community and country is safe from discrimination on the basis of their national heritage.

“We will continue to work closely with other allied community organizations, many of whom helped in flagging these abuses. Moreover, we greatly appreciate the leadership of Rep. Pramila Jayapal who has been at the forefront of halting these discriminatory practices and bringing the truth to light.”

NIAC Statement on Iran’s Decision to Reduce Compliance with Nuclear Deal

In response to reports that Iran would continue to reduce compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“The catastrophic ineptitude of President Trump’s maximum pressure strategy is yet again on full display, this time with Iran’s nuclear program. From the assassination of Iran’s IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani to now a further reduction in Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement Trump has worked to unravel, this president’s policies have accelerated the prospects of war, the specter of nuclear proliferation, and instability in the region. At every crossroad where a diplomatic offramp was possible, Trump has chosen self-defeating conflict and inexplicable escalation.

“Despite Trump taking the U.S. very nearly to a point of no return, it appears Iran is still keeping open the prospect of saving the nuclear deal that remains the best vehicle to impose limits on Iran’s nuclear program.  

“Even as it ceases application of its commitments, and amidst threats from the U.S. president that he may bomb Iranian cultural sites, Iran’s announcement appears to be a deliberate step to ensure that the nuclear agreement can remain at least in life support. While nuclear safeguards have been downgraded with this final step, Iran’s professed willingness to continue providing IAEA nuclear inspectors access to its nuclear sites and its continued implementation of the Additional Protocol suggest that even at this reduced state, the JCPOA is still an option on the table for the international community – and perhaps Trump’s successor – to salvage.”

NIAC Statement on Soleimani’s Death in Airstrike in Iraq

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 2, 2020
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON DC – In response to reports of Qassem Soleimani’s death as a result of airstrikes in Iraq, NIAC President Jamal Abdi released the following statement:

“The last thing the world needs is yet another disastrous American military adventure in the Middle East. The assassination of IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani is a profoundly reckless move that will be viewed as an act of war in Tehran. The most aggressive hardline elements inside Iran have just been given a massive opening to consolidate influence internally and respond violently externally. 

“Iran is a nation of 80 million innocent people, most of whom do not want war and oppose the actions of their own government. Similarly, Iraq is a nation of 38 million who deserve peace after lives filled with war. And the American people have seen enough of wars in the Middle East that have no end, only new beginnings. Yet many thousands of innocents in each country will be the victims of a conflict that will be difficult to confine within any one nation’s borders.

“There is no Congressional authorization for a war with Iran, and the legal authority for this assassination on Iraqi soil is dubious at best. Soleimani himself has blood on his hands, yet that is neither an authorization for a war nor a just cause for starting one. Moreover, there is a fierce nationalist streak in Iranian politics, and Soleimani himself polled as one of the most popular figures within his country. 

“We call yet again on leaders in Washington and Tehran to halt the escalation spiral, invite in intermediaries and negotiate their differences before it is too late and a regional war is upon us. There is no singular decision that necessitates a bloody and costly war that will have no victors. Millions across the region are praying and hoping that this reckless assassination does not open pandora’s gate.”

 

NIAC Condemns Iranian Government’s Harassment of Journalists Abroad

In response to reports that the Iranian government has continued to intimidate and harass Iranian journalists based abroad, particularly those in the United Kingdom, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“NIAC is deeply disturbed by reports that the Iranian government is threatening reporters of Persian-language news outlets and their families. We believe in the free flow of information and strongly condemn any intimidation tactics against journalists aimed at suppressing this basic principle. The Iranian government must abide by its international human rights obligations, cease its assault on the press at home and abroad, and free all those arrested for their beliefs and political activism.”