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.”

Pro-Peace Coalition Delivers Petition Urging Congress to Block Trump’s Path to War with Iran

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Contact: Mana Mostatabi | 202-386-6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

Washington D.C. – Today, NIAC Action, Win Without War, MoveOn, J Street, Daily Kos, and CODEPINK delivered 249,000 petition signatures to the House Armed Services Committee members ahead of tomorrow’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) markup. The organizations called for the addition of an amendment to the NDAA that would prevent funding for a war with Iran without Congressional approval.

[View photos of the petition drop here: http://bit.ly/NoIranWarJun11]

“Make no mistake, the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Iran deal and re-impose sanctions has brought the U.S. closer to war with Iran,” said Donna Farvard, NIAC Action Organizing Director. “Congress must set up legal barriers to block Trump’s ability to start another disastrous war in the Middle East.”

“Donald Trump and his War Cabinet led by John Bolton have taken us closer to war with Iran than we’ve ever been. After nearly two decades of disastrous military misadventures in the Middle East, only a fool would think a war with Iran would be anything but catastrophic. The Trump administration’s march to war is a five-alarm fire that Congress needs to put out as soon as possible,” said Stephen Miles, Director at Win Without War.

“Before we wake up to find that Trump has declared war on a sovereign nation via Twitter, it is time for Congress to go on the record and act to prevent a war with Iran,” explained Iram Ali, Campaign Director at MoveOn. “It was Congress, after all, that passed the hard-fought multilateral Iran Deal—a historic, bipartisan win for diplomacy between Iran and the United States. By walking away from the Iran Deal, increasing sanctions, and being belligerent in their rhetoric and actions, Trump and his administration are intentionally manufacturing a military confrontation with Iran that we can not afford.”

“Pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans want to see Congress do everything in its power to make clear that the president has no authorization to use military force against Iran,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. “If the Trump administration does launch a new war of choice with Iran it will have disastrous consequences for the region, for US interests and for the American people.”

“The last thing this country needs is to enter yet another costly war that will lead to thousands more senseless deaths. Daily Kos calls on Congress to speak up and push back against Trump’s violent and dangerous rhetoric concerning Iran,” said Daily Kos Communications Director Carolyn Fiddler.

“While the Trump administration is building a case for war with Iran, the international community is desperately trying to save the JCPOA and dial down the conflict. It’s time for the Trump administration to listen to American people, the Iranians and the world community. All want to find a peaceful resolution and prevent another disastrous war in the Middle East,” said Lily Tajaddini, Iran Campaign Coordinator at CODEPINK.

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64 Organizations to Congress: Halt a March to War with Iran

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, May 21, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

Washington, D.C. – In light of President Trump and John Bolton’s dangerous escalations against Iran and a forthcoming intelligence briefing on Capitol Hill this afternoon, 62 organizations – including J Street, Indivisible, NIAC Action and Win Without War – sent a letter calling on Congress to pass legislation to halt a march to war with Iran.

The combined groups, representing millions of Americans concerned about renewed threats of war with Iran, signals a strong desire for Congress to step up and block Trump from leading America into yet another war of choice.

“Last Fall, Americans voted for a new Congress to act as a co-equal branch of government that would finally serve as a check on this president and his reckless impulses,” said NIAC President Jamal Abdi. “Now Trump and his National Security Advisor John Bolton are taking this country to the brink of a completely avoidable military confrontation. It’s time for Congress to turn its words into action by passing legislation to stop Trump and Bolton from starting an illegal war.”

“President Trump’s chaos-first foreign policy centers around his penchant for turning challenges into crises,” said Win Without War Advocacy Director Erica Fein. “His Iran policy is no different: President Obama took us off the path to war, but now Trump and Bolton have put us back on it. It’s time for Congress to put the brakes on a Trump-Bolton war with Iran.”

“If the Trump administration were to launch a war of choice against Iran it would have devastating consequences for the United States, Israel and the entire region,” warned J Street head of government affairs Dylan Williams. “Congress must fulfill its constitutional responsibility by making absolutely clear that the president is not authorized to trigger a new conflagration in the Middle East.”

According to the letter, “As the drumbeat for war grows louder, Congress must fulfill its Constitutional duty and enact further constraints to unequivocally prevent the administration from launching an unauthorized war.” The letter concludes, “The American people do not want another disastrous war of choice in the Middle East. Congress has the chance to stop a war before it starts. Please take action before it is too late.”

Please see the full text below:

Letter No Iran War 64orgs

Memo: JCPOA Giving Way to Destructive Tit for Tat

One year after the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iranian officials are now signaling they may follow suit and halt compliance with aspects of the accord.

Any potential Iranian non-compliance with elements of the JCPOA would be profoundly unhelpful and escalatory. However, such steps would not occur in a vacuum, but in the context of months of pressure from the White House aimed at provoking Iran into leaving the JCPOA. It is President Trump’s drive to undo his predecessor’s signature foreign policy achievement that has put us on the brink of resuscitating the Iranian nuclear crisis.

Worse still, a forthcoming crisis might not be contained. As a senior Trump adviser recently stated, if Iran halts complying with the JCPOA “the military option comes back on the table.”

JCPOA’s Quid Pro Quo Giving Way to Destructive Tit for Tat

The nuclear deal was based on a quid pro quo in which all sides would obtain real benefits.

  • Under the JCPOA, Iran rolled back its nuclear program while enhancing the ability of international inspectors to monitor and verify its nuclear activities. In return, Iran was provided sanctions relief as a means of reconnecting with global financial and economic networks.
     
  • The text of the JCPOA makes clear that Iran has stated it will treat the reintroduction or reimposition of sanctions “as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.”
     
  • The Trump administration has not only reneged on the JCPOA and sought to deny Iran the U.S. and sanctions relief it was due, but it has taken unprecedented additional actions such as designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization and terminating sanctions waivers for importers of Iranian oil.
     
  • Recently, the Trump administration further boosted those in Tehran arguing for leaving the JCPOA by revoking waivers for shipping out surplus heavy water and enriched uranium, while limiting the extension of waivers for critical nonproliferation work at Arak and Fordow to 90 from 180 days. This signals a disturbing intent to obstruct the nonproliferation side of the JCPOA.
     
  • In the face of the administration’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign, Tehran has remained restrained for nearly a year and has sought to preserve the accord through cooperation with Europe and other global powers.
     
  • However, increased U.S. pressure has created an increasingly intolerable situation for Iran and has empowered hardline voices in Tehran who believe Iran should pursue a tit-for-tat strategy to raise the costs of U.S. actions against it.

The Looming Specter of War

Since taking over as National Security Advisor last year, Iraq-war architect John Bolton has been steering the U.S. closer to war with Iran.

  • On Sunday night, National Security Advisor John Bolton released a statement threatening “unrelenting force” in response to any Iranian attack against U.S. forces in the region.
     
  • Bolton’s alarmist statement comes in the backdrop of a routine deployment of a U.S aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf that was expedited and was reportedly based on vague intelligence regarding potential Iranian plots.
     
  • Last September, Bolton similarly asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for military strikes against Iran in the wake of alleged mortar attacks from Shia militias near U.S. compounds in Baghdad and Basra. Bolton’s request “definitely rattled people,” according to a former administration official. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”
     
  • The administration has since appeared to be repeating the George W. Bush administration’s playbook for war with Iraq—inaccurately tying Iran to al-Qaeda, baselessly stating that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, and politicizing intelligence assessments on Iran.
     
  • Bolton has long been bent on goading the U.S. and Iran into war and has a history of manipulating intelligence to advance his hawkish agenda. As the top arms control official for President George W. Bush, he claimed Iraq possessed WMD’s to justify the administration’s 2003 invasion.

Choice for the U.S.: Save the JCPOA or Follow Bolton’s Path to War

Rejoining the JCPOA is essential to blocking Iran’s paths to the bomb and addressing other U.S.-Iran disputes.

  • Due to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, Iran’s compliance with the accord is no longer ensured and the nonproliferation benefits from the agreement risk being lost.
     
  • The U.S. is isolated from allies and former negotiating partners that continue to support the JCPOA, has empowered Iranian hardliners and ensured a more rigid negotiating posture from Iran, and now is following the playbook of an Iraq-war architect intent on provoking another disastrous war with Iran.
     
  • The choice to the U.S. is clear: ensure Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal by resuming America’s sanctions-lifting obligations, or follow Trump and Bolton’s disastrous path to war.
     
  • Already, most 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have stated they would return the U.S. to compliance with the JCPOA. Lawmakers should follow suit by clearly stating that the U.S. should return to compliance with the accord.

Halt Bolton’s War Push

Congress must send a clear message that Trump and Bolton do not have authorization to start a war with Iran.

  • The Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act (S. 1039/H.R. 2354), introduced by Sens. Udall, Paul and Durbin and Reps. Eshoo and Thompson, would prohibit the Trump administration from using funds to launch a war against Iran without Congressional approval.
     
  • The Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force bill (H.R. 1274) from Rep. Barbara Lee would repeal the 2001 AUMF and prevent the Trump administration from exploiting the authorization to justify yet another war it was never intended to authorize.

Memo: Trump’s Iran Policy Evokes Iraq War Lead-up

It is increasingly clear the Trump Administration is taking the U.S. down a dangerous path with Iran that is reminiscent of the propaganda campaign that preceded the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.

President Trump’s latest decisions appear aimed at bating Iran into halting its compliance with the JCPOA in an apparent move to hasten the path to war. This is most likely the goal of Administration hawks like John Bolton, who has advocated for war both outside the administration and in the White House. A senior Trump official has also set the stage, telling the New Yorker that if Iran were to leave the JCPOA, U.S. military options will be “back on the table.”

Members of Congress must challenge the administration’s dangerous misinformation campaign and take steps to ensure that the Trump administration cannot lead the U.S. into an unauthorized and disastrous war against Iran.

Politicizing Intelligence on Iran’s Nuclear Program

A recent State Department report on international nuclear compliance raised strong concerns that the White House is politicizing assessments of Iran’s nuclear program.

  • The report strikingly makes no mention of continued Iranian compliance with the JCPOA, but instead uses a hypothetical to argue that Iran is at risk of violating the NPT. Last year, the same report both noted Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA and that its steps had resolved prior findings of NPT violations on the part of Iran.

  • “It’s piling inference upon inference here to try to create a scary picture,” a Congressional aide told Reuters about the report. A State Department source added: “There is significant concern that the entire sort of purpose … was to help build a case for military intervention in Iran in a way that seems very familiar.”

In January, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel confirmed that U.S. intelligence “continues to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device.”

  • Trump afterwards attacked the intelligence community, summoning Coats and Haspel for contradicting him and stating that “the Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran.”
     
  • Since that time, Sec. Pompeo refused to answer a question from Rep. Abigail Spanberger on whether Iran was adhering to its commitments under the JCPOA. Moreover, this month Pompeo warned Iran to “[e]nd your pursuit of nuclear weapons,” while in February Bolton claimed “Iran continues to seek nuclear weapons.”

The IAEA has consistently confirmed Iranian compliance with the JCPOA in 14 consecutive reports since the deal was implemented in 2016.

  • The JCPOA’s Joint Commission, comprised of the EU, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom, also “welcomed and acknowledged Iran’s continued implementation of its nuclear-related commitments” at their most recent meeting in March.

Iran, al-Qaeda and the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force

The Trump administration has falsely asserted that there are strong ties between Iran and Al-Qaeda, echoing the George W. Bush White House’s false allegations that Saddam Hussein had close ties to the terrorist organization.

  • There is a well-established track record of hostility between Iran and al-Qaeda. Ironically, Iran was accommodating towards the 2001 U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan and, according to U.S. officials, played an active and constructive role in the Bonn process that created a new central government in Kabul.
     
  • Nevertheless, The Washington Times reported in February that “the administration is focusing increasingly on the unlikely alliance between Iran and al Qaeda, with what some sources say is an eye toward establishing a potential legal justification for military strikes against Iran or its proxies.”
     
  • Secretary of State Pompeo declined to answer questioning from Sen. Rand Paul on whether the 2001 authorization to use military force (AUMF) enables the President to attack Iran in recent Congressional testimony, while alleging that there is “no doubt there’s a connection” between Iran and Al Qaeda.
     
  • Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and spokesman, said that the Al-Qaeda claim may be part of a wider campaign by the Trump administration to establish “a rationale for regime change” in Tehran. He underscored that the CIA has had a “longstanding understanding of the consistently tense, and occasionally openly hostile, relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda.”

Trump’s Escalatory Moves Risk Breaking the Nuclear Deal

Iran’s continued adherence amid sanctions pressure cannot be counted upon indefinitely, and unprecedented moves like seeking to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero create an increasingly intolerable situation for Iran that may compel it to leave the JCPOA.

  • On May 2nd, the Trump administration will have to decide to renew waivers to continue international efforts to remove significant proliferation risks at Iran’s Arak reactor and deeply-buried Fordow facility. Failure to issue these waivers would be a departure from denying Iran benefits from the deal to outright obstruction of the nonproliferation benefits of the agreement.
     
  • The designation of Iran’s IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization – the first ever for a foreign state’s conscripted military service – raises significant concern that the rules of engagement with the IRGC have been altered. When questioned on whether the head of the IRGC Quds Force – Qassem Soleimani – would be treated the same as ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Pompeo responded affirmatively.

Congress Must Act to Constrain Trump’s War Powers

Amid the administration’s dangerous escalation against Iran, Congress must act to prevent an unconstitutional war whose consequences for the U.S. and global peace and stability would dwarf the costs of the Iraq War.

  • The Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act (S. 1039/H.R. 2354), introduced by Sens. Udall, Paul and Durbin and Reps. Eshoo and Thompson, would prohibit the Trump administration from using funds to launch a war against Iran without Congressional approval.
     
  • The Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force bill (H.R. 1274) from Rep. Barbara Lee would repeal the 2001 AUMF and prevent the Trump administration from using it as legal justification to attack Iran 17 years after it was introduced.

NIAC Action Memo: IRGC Economic Exclusion Act (S. 925)

S. 925 — the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Economic Exclusion Act — would have minimal sanctions impact on the already heavily-sanctioned IRGC, Iran’s primary military force that has historically thrived amid broad sanctions on the Iranian economy. However, S. 925 would have a deleterious impact on the Iranian people while restricting a successor administration’s ability to de-escalate tensions with Iran.

The bill seeks to preempt efforts to return the United States into compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the nuclear deal between the U.S., other major world powers, and Iran—by sanctioning all sectors of Iran’s economy, which would have a significant harmful impact on the livelihood of the Iranian people. In addition, the bill has the effect of undoing any benefit to Iran from adhering to the nuclear-related limitations outlined in the JCPOA, thus incentivizing Iran to halt its compliance with the accord and generating a new nuclear crisis in the Middle East. Proponents of diplomacy and the judicious but effective use of U.S. sanctions should reject this bill.

Disproportionate Harm to the Iranian People

S. 925 would have a significant deleterious impact on the livelihood of the Iranian people, as U.S. sanctions turn the Islamic Republic into an effective “hermit kingdom.” This bill:

  • Sets the groundwork for the effective closure of Iran’s airspace to civilian airlines; and
  • Cordons off Iran’s entire economy to the outside world, depriving an entire generation of Iranians social and economic opportunities

Meanwhile, the bill imposes little direct cost to the IRGC–its ostensible target. The IRGC is the most heavily-sanctioned entity in the entire world, and the U.S. has used multiple sanctions authorities to target it. Recognizing this, the bill targets Iranian parties with indirect, if not entirely attenuated, connections with the IRGC in the hopes of imposing additional costs. This includes broad sectors of the Iranian economy.

In doing so, however, this bill creates ripe opportunities for the IRGC to thrive, at the same time that its commercial competitors inside Iran are targeted for U.S. sanctions; cut off from the outside world; and forced into collapse. Sanctions have historically empowered hardline forces in Iran who use their proximity to the Iranian state to win state contracts, engage in smuggling operations, and direct sanctions evasion activities. If the U.S. wanted to impose direct costs on the IRGC, it would lift sanctions on Iran’s private sector and ensure their competitive edge, while maintaining sanctions on the IRGC.

The bill sets the stage for the effective closure of Iran’s airspace to civilian airlines.

Section 5 of the bill would add Section 315 to the Iran Threat Reduction Act so as to require the President to report on Iranian state-owned enterprises that engage in activities subject to sanctions under Executive Order 13224—the U.S.’s counter-terrorism sanctions authority. The bill notes that the Iran Airports Company—which is the holding and operating company for Iran’s civilian airports—is reported to facilitate activities for Mahan Air, an Iranian civilian airline that is sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13224. As such, the bill argues that the Iran Airports Company is engaged in activities sanctionable under E.O. 13224 as a result of its support to Mahan Air and mandates the President to make a determination as to whether the Iran Airports Company should be designated under E.O. 13224. If designated, the effect would be the closure of Iran’s airspace to civilian air travel as foreign airlines would be at risk of sanctions for flying into civilian airports operating under the ownership or control of an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Restraining a Successor Administration

The bill would undermine efforts for the United States to restore its credibility on the world stage by returning to compliance with the JCPOA. Specifically, the bill would impose terrorism-related authorities on broad sectors of Iran’s economy, all for the purpose of constraining a future administration from reaching diplomatic solutions with Iran.

The bill would block the President from being able to lift sanctions on certain designated Iranian parties, thereby negating the purpose of U.S. sanctions which is to effectuate a change of behavior.

Section 2 of the bill amends Section 301 of the Iran Threat Reduction Act so as to bar the President from waiving the application of sanctions with respect to a designated person unless the President makes certifications on IRGC activities. Unless the President certifies that the IRGC is reducing its material support to the Government of Syria or Hezbollah’s operations in Syria, the President would not be able to waive the sanctions. By amending the waiver provision in this manner, the bill conditions the lifting of sanctions with respect to a designated Iranian person not on the behavior of the sanctioned person itself but rather on the behavior of the IRGC. For instance, if an Iranian entity is determined to be owned or controlled by the IRGC and forces the divestment of the IRGC’s interest or control so as to remove the basis for its designation, this bill would prevent the President from lifting sanctions with respect to the Iranian entity unless the IRGC–as a whole–had reduced its material support to the Government of Syria. The likely effect of this amendment is not only to bar the President from waiving the application of sanctions but also to disincentive sanctioned parties from changing their behavior in ways that are otherwise consistent with U.S. interests.

The bill seeks to close off Iran’s telecommunications, mining, and manufacturing sector from the outside world.

Section 2 of the bill amends Section 301 of the Iran Threat Reduction Act to require the President to determine whether major operators in Iran’s telecommunications, mining, and manufacturing sectors are owned or controlled by the IRGC. If determined to be so, then such parties would be designated pursuant to multiple U.S. sanctions authorities and foreign parties and banks would be subject to U.S. secondary sanctions for dealing with them. In making such a determination, the bill permits the President to consider persons in which the IRGC has an ownership of less than 50 percent. The 50 Percent Rule—i.e., where sanctioned parties have a 50 percent or greater ownership interest—has long been OFAC’s governing standard as to whether a sanctioned party has a sanctionable interest in an entity, and adopting a new standard with respect to the IRGC threatens the judicious use of U.S. sanctions in the future.

The bill seeks to impose an effective boycott on any business—U.S. or foreign—with Iran.

Section 4 of the bill would add Section 313 of the Iran Threat Reduction Act, which requires the President to publish annual reports identifying (1) all foreign persons listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange, as well as a determination as to whether or not the IRGC or its officials, agents, or affiliates own or control the person; (2) foreign persons operating business enterprises in Iran valued at more than $100 million, as well as a determination as to whether or not the IRGC or its officials, agents, or affiliates own or control the person; and (3) Iranian financial institutions valued at more than $10 million, as well as a determination as to whether each Iranian financial institution has facilitated a significant transaction for or on behalf of the IRGC or whether the IRGC or its officials, agents, or affiliates own or control the Iranian financial institution. This bill is consistent with recent actions by the Trump administration in which Iranian parties have been designated for highly-attenuated connections with persons alleged to be affiliated with the IRGC. By requiring this report to be made public on U.S. government websites, the bill would also signal to foreign parties that all business with Iran is subject to sanctions risk, rendering Iran a no-go zone for the international business community.

New reporting requirements would limit the President’s discretion to impose sanctions in ways that undermine the Executive’s foreign policy prerogatives.

Section 3 of the bill requires the President to submit reports to Congress on a biannual basis regarding foreign persons determined to engage in transactions with designated Iranian persons. Sanctions are to be imposed with respect to any parties identified in the report. This reporting requirement is consistent with the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy under which the success of U.S. sanctions policy with respect to Iran is predicated on the total number of Iranian parties added to U.S. sanctions lists rather than whether U.S. sanctions have caused the Government of Iran to abandon policies deemed anathema to U.S. interests. This is a myopic view of U.S. sanctions that threatens the effective use of the sanctions tool in the future.

NIAC Action is Now Accepting Nominations for our Board of Directors

 

We’re Proud to Endorse Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Virginia’s Commonwealth Attorney of Arlington and the City of Falls Church

NIAC Action is thrilled to officially endorse Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Virginia’s Commonwealth Attorney of Arlington and the City of Falls Church!

Parisa, a Democrat, announced her candidacy for the Commonwealth’s Attorney seat in December, after 20 years of experience as an attorney and public defender. Currently, she’s an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University Law Center and George Washington University School of Law. She also serves as a senior attorney and legal director of the Mid Atlantic Innocence Project, where she successfully won the first DNA exoneration case in Washington, DC. A dedicated criminal justice activist, Parisa has also been part of several other wrongful conviction cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Parisa’s criminal justice ambitions are largely shaped by her experiences working as a defense attorney for clients facing unjust criminal justice practices. She’s uniquely aware of the race and class bias in the criminal justice system, which often unfairly disenfranchises minorities and immigrant communities.

Her campaign is also endorsed and backed by former Governor Terry McAuliffe, Indivisible – Arlington, Arlington Action Group, Our Revolution – Arlington, New Virginia Majority, IBEW Local Union 26, Blue NoVA and Delegate Marcus Simon.

Parisa attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied Philosophy and Comparative Literature, and the New York University School of Law. She has lived in Arlington for 11 years with her husband, who is a civil rights lawyer and law professor. They have two children who attend Arlington Public Schools. Parisa serves as Press Chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee and she is a member of the Arlington branch of the NAACP and will be serving on its Criminal Justice Committee.

If you live in Arlington County or the City of Falls Church, you can vote for Parisa on June 11th!

If you’d like to support Parisa’s campaign by making a contribution, you can do so here. If you’d like to get involved with Parisa’s campaign by attending a debate between Parisa and her opponent, canvassing or hosting a meet and greet, visit this link.

Find out more about Parisa on her website and follow her on facebook!

Build Iranian-American Power With Us

From Sunday, March 24th through Tuesday, March 26th, the notoriously hawkish AIPAC will be hosting at their annual conference a cohort of officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who shamelessly promote the most destructive Iran policies seen to date.

At the conference, AIPAC is expected to announce the launch of a new PAC aimed at steering political donations toward candidates that will support AIPAC’s regressive priorities: escalating the demise of the Iran deal, upholding sanctions that suffocate the same Iranian civil society they claim to support, and driving the U.S. closer to war.

But we can combat them, with your help.

NIAC is aiming to raise $10,000 to establish a PAC that will support progressive candidates who will prioritize diplomacy, equitable immigration policies, and civil rights.

We’re excited to announce that one generous individual has offered to match dollar-for-dollar the amount raised, up to $10,000. But we need your help to reach our goal. Please consider making a donation, as this match ends tomorrow night.

 

NIAC Action Joins Coalition to Call for AUMF Repeal

Washington, D.C. — NIAC Action joined a coalition of organizations to call for repeal of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in response to recent reports stating that Trump officials were considering using the authorization to greenlight a war with Iran.

In a letter sent today, 42 organizations called on leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to pass legislation (H.R. 1274) from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) to repeal the 2001 AUMF, which was used by the George W. Bush administration to invade Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks. 

The 2001 authorization is still alive more than 17 years later and has proven tremendously broad. As noted in the organizational letter, the 2001 authorization “has been used by the Executive Branch as authority for 41 operations in 19 countries.” Moreover, Trump administration officials have taken pains to fabricate links between Iran and al-Qaeda while suggesting that the 2001 authorization could be exploited as Congressional authorization for military strikes against Iran. While such arguments are highly dubious, the fact that they are being discussed highlights the importance of repealing the 2001 authorization before it can be further abused.

In the weeks ahead, NIAC Action will be rolling out new efforts to impose political and legal restraints on the administration’s ability to start an unconstitutional and disastrous war with Iran. Please see the letter below:

 

March 13, 2019

Dear Chairman Engel and Ranking Member McCaul:

We, the undersigned, are a diverse group of organizations with a range of missions and perspectives from across the ideological spectrum. We share a common view that the Executive Branch has expanded its interpretation of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) (PL 107-40) far beyond Congress’s original intent, in order to justify an ever-increasing number of military operations around the world. We therefore write to express our support for H.R.1274, which would repeal the 2001 AUMF eight months after enactment, and to ask that the Foreign Affairs Committee bring the bill up for prompt consideration.

The Framers of the Constitution, recognizing the Executive Branch’s inclination to war, wisely and deliberately assigned to Congress the power to decide whether, when, and where the United States goes to war. As James Madison wrote, “The constitution supposes, what the History of all governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has, accordingly, with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legislature.”

Three days after the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the 2001 AUMF to authorize military force against the groups responsible for those attacks and those who harbored them. Now, after more than 17 years, three successive administrations have cited the 2001 AUMF as authority for the United States to use lethal force around the world against a growing number of groups, including some that did not exist in 2001. According to a 2018 Congressional Research Service report, the 2001 AUMF has been used by the Executive Branch as authority for 41 operations in 19 countries. This expansive and legally dubious use of the 2001 AUMF has come at the expense of a thorough examination of a security challenge that does not have a solely military solution.

This sustained use of military force is the longest in U.S. history, having lasted longer that the Civil War, World War I, and World War II combined. The U.S. military is now conducting operations in 80 countries around the world.3 The post/9-11 wars have cost more than $5.9 trillion4 and resulted in the deaths of approximately 500,000 people, including nearly 15,000 U.S. military personnel and contractors, and 250,000 civilians.

Yet Congress has never debated and voted on the uses of force, outside of Afghanistan, that the Executive Branch claims are authorized by the 2001 AUMF. The vast majority of members of Congress were not in office when this authorization was passed. Of the 435 current members of the House, only 67 of them (15.4 percent) voted for the 2001 AUMF, and only 35 sitting Senators voted for it. Indeed, more than 80 percent of current members of Congress have never voted on this authority.

The Founders vested in Congress the authority to make the hard decision about whether, when, and where to go to war as the branch most accountable to the people of the United States. Congress should repeal the 2001 AUMF and hold a public debate as to whether endless war actually serves the American people. It should not sit idly by while the Executive Branch continues to expand the use of lethal force around the world at immense cost to U.S. national security, the lives of civilians and U.S. service members around the world, and our national treasure.

H.R. 1274 would sunset the 2001 AUMF after eight months, leaving Congress plenty of time to debate and vote on whether to authorize continued participation in any current conflict. Congress has a constitutional duty to determine and vote on when the United States goes to war. We urge you to consider and pass H.R. 1274 in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Sincerely,

About Face: Veterans Against the War
Action Corps
Action Corps NYC
American Civil Liberties Union
American Friends Service Committee
Amnesty International USA
Antiwar.com
Center for International Policy
Chicago Area Peace Action
Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
CODE PINK
Common Defense
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
Council for a Livable World
Council on American-Islamic Relations
CREDO Action
Defending Rights & Dissent
Demand Progress
FreedomWorks
Foreign Policy for America
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Human Rights First
Indivisible
Institute for Policy Studies, National Priorities Project
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
Just Foreign Policy
Justice for Muslims Collective
NIAC Action
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Peace Action
Peace Action New York State
Peace Corps Iran Association Board of Directors
Ploughshares Fund
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Project on Government Oversight
South East Asian Faith Initiatives
The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
VoteVets
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
Yemen Peace Project

Congratulations to David Emami, City Councilor of Happy Valley

We are excited to announce that NIAC Action endorsee David Emami has been officially appointed as City Councilor of Happy Valley in Oregon! We were proud to endorse Oregon’s first ever Iranian-American City Councilor in this competitive race. See what David had to say on his appointment:

“I am humbled, appreciative and thankful for this opportunity to serve as Oregon’s first ever Iranian-American City Councilor. I hope to inspire others out there to achieve their dreams and It is my absolute goal to represent ALL people of Happy Valley. I want to especially thank NIAC for their support and endorsement. Without organizations like NIAC that work to promote a greater understanding between the American and Iranian Community, appointments such as mine may not have been possible. Thank you all for your support!”

We look forward to seeing all that David Emami accomplishes as City Councilor!