Video: State Department Persian-Language Spokesman Addresses Iranian-American Community
Citing a poem written by Iran’s renowned Mohammad-Taqi Bahar about the Constitutional Revolution in Iran nearly a century ago, Alan Eyre, the U.S. State Department’s Persian-Language Spokesman said, “Either reform or progress, there are no other options for our homeland. Iran has grown thoroughly old; there is no other cure than becoming new again.”
On Monday evening of NIAC’s First Annual Leadership Conference, the esteemed Alan Eyre gave an enlightening talk on U.S. government efforts to reach out to the Iranian people, including the role of the Iranian-American community in shaping the future of Iran’s political decisions. He emphasized the value that Iranian Americans have in effecting policy change and giving a voice to friends and relatives living in Iran who are unable to communicate their concerns.
“It is indisputable that the United States’ government is making a concerned and sustained effort to communicate directly with the Iranian people…not surprisingly, U.S. officials have not been afforded uncensored access to Iranian state media, but we will keep knocking on that door till it opens.”
As the Persian-Language Spokesman, Eyre’s role allows the U.S. State Department to more routinely communicate with Iranians in a timely manner. Eyre discussed new mediums, specifically social media, used by the State Department in engaging Iranians and Iranian Americans. These new initiatives enable individuals to promote policy change, citing the example of how, in response to a cascade of Facebook messages from Iranians, the U.S. government quickly became aware of and changed government documents which used the term “Arabian Gulf” instead of the official US government term “Persian Gulf.”
Eyre highlighted the special role that the U.S. State Department serves in trying to “tear down the electronic curtain” erected by the Iranian government, by using diplomatic measures, provision of technology, and the use of public diplomacy. The U.S. State Department’s USAdarFarsi Twitter, Facebook and YouTube page, and the monthly-featured series, “Ask Alan,” address topics like U.S. visa policy, Iran trade sanctions, and Iranian foreign relations. More recently, with the new change in Iranian student visas, from single entry to multiple-entry, the State Department’s website, EducationUSAIran, informs and encourages Iranian students interested in studying in the United States.
“It is in the interest of both the United States and Iran to have an Iranian citizenry that is informed, connected to each other and to the rest of the world, and empowered relative to its own government,” said Eyre. Having an informed and well-connected Iranian citizenry will help bridge the “fundamental disconnect between the Iranian government and the Iranian people.” In addition, Eyre emphasized the importance of having an “Iranian Government that is responsive … [and]accountable to its own people.” Through the State Department’s initiative, the U.S. Government can reach out to the Iranian people to achieve these goals. It is important to note that the U.S. Government believes that in order for change to happen within Iran, it must start within the Iranian people. “Let us make no mistake, Iran’s future will not be decided by Washington or London… or by foreign hands, it is the Iranian people who must determine their own faith,” noted Eyre.