April 30, 2008

NIAC Welcomes Creation of First Iranian-American Lobby

Washington DC – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is pleased to welcome the launch of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), the first Iranian-American lobbying organization in Washington DC. Iranian-American political voices can only mature with the advent of more organizations focusing on the community’s concerns. Like NIAC, PAAIA aims “to build an influential voice for the Iranian-American community in the US political process.
“The problem our community is facing is not that we have too many organizations, but that we have too few organizations representing Iranian-American interests,” said Trita Parsi, NIAC president. “PAAIA, as the only Iranian-American lobby, is a welcome addition.”

While NIAC encourages participation in American civic society through advocacy and education, PAAIA is unique as an Iranian-American 501(c)4 lobby organization. It also has a 501(c)3 arm. Its central focus will be on domestic issues, particularly immigration and civil rights.

NIAC is particularly welcoming of PAAIA as an Iranian-American organization that is likely to lobby against aspects of US sanctions on Iran that “unreasonably and adversely affect Iranian Americans.” PAAIA’s website cites expert testimony emphasizing that US sanctions on Iran have a “disproportionately harmful impact on the Iranian people… [and] do not necessarily advance U.S. interests or foreign policy goals in the region.”

PAAIA’s lobbying course will be determined by a Zogby poll on the views of the Iranian-American community. Past polls, like the University of California at Berkeley’s January 2008 poll, indicate that Iranian Americans tend to oppose war, oppose US sanctions, and favor US-Iran diplomacy.

Beyond being a lobby, PAAIA aims to address negative images of Iranian Americans in the US, providing a much needed service to the community

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to help build the Iranian American image to one that accurately reflects who we are,” Rudi Bakhtiar, PAAIA’s Director of Public Relations and former CNN anchor, told NIAC.

As a result of efforts by NIAC and other Iranian-American organizations — and as a result of PAAIA’s future efforts — the Iranian-American community is poised to continue to leave a positive mark on Washington politics.




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