NIAC Action

NIAC Action

Memo: Congress Must Clarify No Authorization for Iran War, Urge Deescalation after Saudi Oil Attack

President Trump is once again hinting that he will go to war with Iran via Twitter, this time over attacks on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities for which the Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed credit. At this time, there is no clear smoking gun to implicate Iran despite the Trump administration’s strident condemnations.

For lawmakers, it is imperative to reinforce:

1)   Congress has not authorized war against Iran, nor has the United Nations. Any strikes on Iran without authorization would be illegal.

2)   There is no clear evidence implicating Iran – but even if there was, a Trump-led war on a nation nearly four times the size of Iraq would be a costly, generational mistake. Iran has signaled it will retaliate forcefully against any attacks on its territory.

3)   If it was the Houthis who initiated the attack, as they have claimed, it is yet another clear sign that the Yemen war needs to end. Not only is the war a disaster for Yemen, but it is achieving the opposite of its goals by eroding the security of Saudi Arabia.

4)   If Iran is implicated as the sponsor of the attack, it would be yet another sign that Trump’s maximum pressure approach is a catastrophic failure. Far from ease regional tensions and Iran’s military footprint, Trump’s approach is ensuring the reverse.

5)   Regardless of the sponsor, now is the time for de-escalation. The skeleton for a deal is on the table – the international community would ease economic pressure on Iran in exchange for Iranian restraint and further negotiations. 

We are at this crisis point because of the convergence of two self-inflicted disasters spurred by our impulsive President: the decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and impose “maximum pressure” sanctions; and the refusal to pull out of the war on Yemen and seriously press for Saudi Arabia to deescalate there.

At this juncture, Trump can choose diplomacy and peace or repeat the mistakes that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq with Iran. With the region at a boiling point, all lawmakers need to be strongly urging restraint and reinforcing that there is no authorization for war.

Take Action: Tell Brad Sherman to Cut Ties with the MEK

Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-30) represents the second largest Iranian-American population in the country. Yet, he continues to take money from the MEK, a fringe group that John Bolton has hailed as a “political alternative” for the Iranian people, but that has no support among the Iranian people. Sherman’s link to the MEK has cemented his position as an Iran war hawk fighting for the very thing his Iranian-American constituents are fighting against: war and conflict. If we’re going to stop Brad Sherman from continuing to support the MEK, we have to speak up. This is why we’re calling on the Congressman to hold a town hall on U.S.-Iran relations.

If Brad Sherman is your congressman, sign the petition below to support our effort to hold Congressman Brad Sherman accountable to his Iranian-American community and our pro-peace allies.

 

NIAC Statement on Senate Vote on Udall-Kaine Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 28, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

WASHINGTON DC – Today, the Senate voted on a bipartisan amendment spearheaded by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) that would block President Donald Trump from using funds from the defense bill to launch a war with Iran without Congressional authorization. The amendment received 50 votes in favor to just 40 opposed, but fell short of the 60 vote threshold set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who opposed the amendment. 

In response, NIAC Action Executive Director, Jamal Abdi, issued the following statement:

“We applaud the majority of the Senate that supported today’s amendment to shut down an unauthorized war with Iran. Senators Udall and Kaine deserve particular credit for forcing a vote and convincing a majority of the Senate to go on record against a march to war with Iran. 

“The depths to which McConnell and his allies like Tom Cotton went to oppose this amendment and vote against Congress’ own Constitutional power to declare war is deeply concerning. Voters did not elect Trump king so that he could send our troops into harm’s way whenever he felt like it. Yet, the vast majority of Republicans are either so cowed by Trump or eager for war that they decided to play defense for him. Critically, if not for Mitch McConnell, there could have been a straight up and down vote that inserted this amendment into the defense authorization bill ahead of the House. 

“It is a dereliction of duty for those Senators to have looked at the past several weeks and done nothing. Trump and his deputy Bolton have routinely threatened Iran, taken major provocative steps designed to trigger Iranian reprisals, and barely stepped back from the edge of starting a major war with Iran. 

“Every single Democrat who cast a vote supported the amendment, and four Republicans – Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, and Jerry Moran – made clear through their votes that President Trump does not have authorization for war against Iran. The Iranian-American community, our allies, and all pro-peace and diplomacy advocates should take heart that there is a strong, bipartisan group of lawmakers determined to block an unauthorized Trump war on Iran. Yet, far more is needed.

“Critically, by securing majority support, this has now built momentum for the House of Representatives to pass its own bipartisan Khanna-Gaetz amendment to restrict Trump’s ability to start a war with Iran when Congress returns from the July 4th recess and resumes consideration of its defense authorization bill.”

NIAC Applauds NDAA Amendment Aimed at Blocking Trump’s Path to War

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 25, 2019  
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, an amendment was offered to the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would block an unauthorized war against Iran. The amendment, introduced by Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), has wide support including from the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel and the Chairman of the House Rules Committee Jim McGovern. Many other legislators – including Reps. Anna Eshoo, Andy Levin, Barbara Lee, Seth Moulton and Anthony Brown – who have been champions in the effort to ensure Trump doesn’t lead us into an unauthorized war are already signed on as original cosponsors of the amendment.

In response to the amendment’s introduction, NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:  

“Congress may be all that is standing between Donald Trump and war with Iran. It is crucial that lawmakers summon the wherewithal to act as a co-equal branch of government to stand up against a disastrous war with Iran. 

“The Khanna-Gaetz amendment is a strong response to the growing risks of war with Iran that stem directly from President Trump’s disastrous maximum pressure approach. 

“After nearly two decades of endless war, the American people do not want another reckless war of choice with Iran. Congress must ensure that the defense authorization rules out war with Iran by passing the Khanna-Gaetz amendment in the House, the Udall-Kaine amendment in the Senate and protecting the provisions from pro-war legislators.

“Recent events have only underscored the importance of ruling out an unauthorized war with Iran. Our thin-skinned President lashed out on Twitter this morning in response to a mistranslation of an Iranian statement, and maintains that he does not need Congressional authorization to start a war. Other Members of Congress – including Mitch McConnell and Tom Cotton  – have shamefully played defense for Trump’s reckless actions in an attempt to keep the path to war with Iran open.”

An unprecendented win for the Iranian-American Community

Parisa celebrating her historic win during her election watch party with Governor Terry McAuliffe and NIAC staff members and supporters.

On Tuesday night, NIAC Action endorsee Parisa Dehghani-Tafti won her election in a highly contested race for Commonwealth Attorney of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, unseating the long-time incumbent prosecutor. Parisa’s candidacy gained national attention after receiving endorsements and unprecedented amounts of support from notable figures like billionaire philanthropist George Soros and musician John Legend!

A victory like this is rare, as prosecutors are rarely unseated and traditionally remain in their seats for their lifetime. But Parisa’s track record of success signaled the possibility of change, and NIAC Action was proud to support her candidacy from its earliest days all the way through her election win.

NIAC Action also congratulates its endorsee Yasmine Taeb, who ran an impressive campaign for Virginia State Senate against an establishment candidate that remained unchallenged for 40 years. Although being outspent 10-1 by one of Virginia’s top corporate fundraisers, her grassroots efforts brought her within a few hundred votes of achieving a historic upset victory. Like Parisa, Yasmine’s campaign also received national attention, forcing her opponent to campaign in-person for the first time in decades.

These political gains represent real power across the Iranian-American community. They also mark critical steps towards building a strong political pipeline for other Iranian Americans interested in securing a seat at the table of all levels of government.

NIAC Action supports and encourages Iranian-Americans to participate in the U.S. democratic process and run for office. As we approach 2020, we will seek a fresh wave of progressive Iranian-American civic leaders looking to represent this community.

NIAC Action Endorsee Unseats Incumbent in Virginia Primary Elections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 11, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x 103 | mana@niacaction.org

VIRGINIA— Moments ago, the Virginia Department of Elections polling results indicated that NIAC Action endorsee, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, has unseated incumbent Theo Stamos to become the state’s new Commonwealth Attorney of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, by a margin of 58.5% to 41.5%. Separately, NIAC Action is continuing to monitor the election results for NIAC Action endorsee and DNC delegate Yasmine Taeb in her race for Virginia’s 35th Senate District.

In response to Dehghani-Tafti’s win, NIAC Action Political Director Arzo Wardak said:

“Rarely are prosecutors unseated, and many find themselves in their seats for a lifetime. But that trend is changing–beginning with Parisa. Parisa is an extraordinary woman who now holds the honor of being the first Iranian-American ever elected to this position. Parisa’s influence was felt long before the election results came in. She is among a fresh wave of progressive Iranian-American leaders inspiring a new generation and nurturing civic engagement among a community that has historically shied away it.

“Her candidacy marks an important step forward for the Iranian-American community, and for all communities looking to secure a seat at the table. And her victory illuminates the growing trend of Iranian Americans not only casting off previously ingrained hesitation about civic engagement, but actually wholly leaning into the idea of building political power.

“Parisa is poised to reform the criminal justice system to the benefit of all Virginians–including for minority and immigrant communities who have traditionally found themselves disenfranchised by the system. With Parisa now steering the state toward the path to progressive politics, Virginia voters can now rest assured that there is a candidate in office who is driven by only one thing: the best interests of her constituents.”

Call Congress to Stop War with Iran

Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) are planning to offer an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would block funds for a war and clarify that no Congressional authorization exists. This is a good amendment, and there is a narrow path to get it signed into law. Unfortunately, there are many pro-war voices in Washington DC who are going to try to stop it. We need to be louder than them.

That’s why we need you to tell your Member of Congress to support the Khanna-Moulton amendment.

First step: Call 1-844-ACT-NIAC to reach the Congressional Hotline and ask to be connected to your Representative. (You can find out who your Representative is here)

Follow This Script:

“I am deeply concerned by John Bolton’s threat of ‘unrelenting force’ against Iran as well as President Trump’s ominous warning that he would ‘end Iran’ in a war. The American people do not want another disastrous war of choice in the Middle East. Will Rep. XXXX vote for the Khanna-Moulton amendment tomorrow to block an unauthorized war with Iran?”

If yes: “That is so great to hear. I am proud to hear that my legislator is standing up against an illegal and disastrous war against Iran.”

If no/noncommittal: “That is very concerning to hear. The amendment merely protects Congress’ power to declare war, while preventing the Trump administration from following through on its threats to start a disastrous war. Will you urge Rep. XXXX to vote yes on the Khanna-Moulton amendment?”

Donate to NIAC Action’s Emergency Anti-War Campaign

Emergency Anti-War Campaign to Prevent A Reckless War with Iran!

 

NIAC Statement on Introduction of NO BAN Act and Release of Muslim Ban Data

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 10, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the heels of new data revealing the widespread impact of the Trump Administration’s Muslim Ban, and as legislation to repeal the ban gained its 100th cosponsor in the House and support from every Presidential candidate in the Senate, new legislation is being introduced in both chambers of Congress today to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to prevent any future discriminatory bans. NIAC applauds Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and strongly supports the NO BAN Act (National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act).

In response, NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

“The introduction of the NO BAN Act presents a real opportunity for Congress to repeal the Trump administration’s reprehensible Muslim Ban—and help to prevent it from happening again by amending parts of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Democratic majority in the House and any Republicans who claim independence from President Trump have a golden opportunity to end this shameful Muslim Ban. If Congress chooses to squander this moment then they will find themselves complicit in one of the most discriminatory policies of our time. And the timing couldn’t be better. The act’s introduction comes on the heels of statistics on the Muslim Ban released by the State Department last week, which illustrated the vast impact of the ban and the sham waiver process used by the Supreme Court to uphold it.

“19,163 Iranians were rejected from securing a waiver due to alleged failure to prove that the rejection would cause ‘undue hardship’ or that approval would be in the ‘national interest.’ By contrast, only 413 secured a waiver—meaning for every 47 Iranians considered for a waiver only one is issued. Moreover, only 7 Iranian nationals considered for a waiver were rejected due to national security concerns. While the overall waiver issuance rate is advertised at 6%, the rate for Iranians—the nationality most impacted by the ban—is an abysmal low 1.6%. This more closely resembles a lottery than a genuine waiver process.”

Abdi continued:

“The Trump administration’s own statistics unequivocally prove the waiver provision is a fraud. There is a story behind every rejection—a grandparent hoping to see their grandchild for the first time, a student hoping to return to their studies and finalize their degree, or a partner hoping to reunite with their beloved. Now, these rejections are happening at consulates around the world, out of sight of U.S. cameras.

“We commend Senator Coons and Representative Chu for their commitment to repealing the Muslim Ban and preventing such discriminatory policies from ever materializing again. We also commend Senator Van Hollen for his and his colleagues’ tireless efforts to seek out data on the Muslim Ban in an effort to hold the Trump administration accountable. But now it is up to Congress to build on this new momentum and pass legislation ending the Muslim Ban once and for all.”

Tell Your Member of Congress to Clear the Path for Iran Aid!

 

NIAC Action is Now Accepting Nominations for our Board of Directors