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March 12, 2009

NIAC President Trita Parsi Testifies Before House Financial Services Subcommittee

Washington, DC – Dr. Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, testified this morning before the House Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade.  The Committee’s chairman, Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), invited NIAC to share its expertise on US-Iran policy, economic sanctions, and the viewpoint of the Iranian-American community for a discussion on H.R. 1327, the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2009.  

 
“I have developed a tremendous appreciation for the work of the National Iranian American Council,” Chairman Meeks said in his opening remarks.  “This group is on the front lines, providing the infrastructure for building bridges between Iranian-American organizations and the peoples of America and Iran.”

Washington, DC – Dr. Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, testified this morning before the House Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade.  The Committee’s chairman, Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), invited NIAC to share its expertise on US-Iran policy, economic sanctions, and the viewpoint of the Iranian-American community for a discussion on H.R. 1327, the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2009.  

“I have developed a tremendous appreciation for the work of the National Iranian American Council,” Chairman Meeks said in his opening remarks.  “This group is on the front lines, providing the infrastructure for building bridges between Iranian-American organizations and the peoples of America and Iran.””I have developed a tremendous appreciation for the work of the National Iranian American Council,” Chairman Meeks said in his opening remarks.  “This group is on the front lines, providing the infrastructure for building bridges between Iranian-American organizations and the peoples of America and Iran.” 

 The hearing focused on the key question of whether imposing further economic pressure can effectively elicit a change in the Iranian Government’s behavior on issues such as human rights and the nuclear program.   “Sanctions have been effective in hurting the Iranian economy,” Parsi said in his prepared testimony, “but they have failed to change the Iranian government’s behavior.”

The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act would, among other things, authorize State and local governments to divest from Iran.  As of now, at least ten States have enacted Iran divestment legislation, but most legal experts agree that without federal authorization such measures violate the Constitution. 

ImageAppearing before the committee beside Parsi were Jason Isaacson, the Director of Government and International Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, State Senator Ted Deutch of Florida, and Prof. Orde Kittrie, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  All the panelists agreed that time is running out to resolve the situation with Iran, but there was disagreement about whether sanctions will ultimately help or hurt the prospects for a positive outcome. 
According to Parsi, “economic sanctions have undermined Iran’s pro-democracy movement by weakening Iran’s civil society and by hampering the emergence of a wealthy middle class.  As long as the lion’s share of the economy is controlled by the state, room for pushing for political liberalization will be severely limited.”
 
Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), a guest witness before the Subcommittee, spoke of the need to focus on the results of our policies, rather than viewing sanctions as an end in themselves.  “We cannot be married to our tools,” he said, adding “the ultimate measure of success is a change in Iran’s policies.” 
 
“After a decade-and-a-half of failed sanctions and economic pressure, and three decades of hostility, it is not sanctions or divestment that deserves another chance,” Parsi said.  “It is diplomacy…that should be given the space and time to succeed.”

Click here for Parsi’s full testimony

Click here for the full transcript

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NIAC is a Washington, DC-based 501 c(3) non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. NIAC is funded through donations from the Iranian-American community as well as grants from the Pluralism Fund, the Kenbe Foundation, the Ploughshares Fund, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, among others. For more information about the organization, please visit niacouncil.org, email us at [email protected] or send a fax to (202) 386-6409.

 

 

 

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