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E Pluribus Unum

It’s no challenge trying to find an American flag and seal in the U.S. State Department. Almost every place you look, you can find our nation’s beautiful seal decorated with these powerful words, “E Pluribus Unum” meaning Out of Many One.

But the reason I went to the State Department was not just to admire the flags and phrases, but to attend a conference,  The Secretary’s Global Diaspora Forum.  As an Iranian American, I was interested to hear from Hillary Clinton about how diaspora communities like mine fit into the diverse American tapestry.

Kris Balderston opened the conference and noted that nowadays the meaning of our nation’s motto has transformed into a similar concept that we are one nation united under the precepts of being Americans working together towards common goals. No matter what country of origin, ethnicity, religion, or gender the citizens belong to, they are all striving towards the same things whether it is education, freedom, or peace. The purpose of this conference is to recognize and connect all the different Diasporas in the United States and provide them with a road map to the future full of success and achievement of common goals. Additionally, the conference encourages building bridges from the Diasporas in the U.S. to their countries of origin, via people to people interactions.

  • 26 March 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 2 Comments
  • About

A New Look

As of today, niacINsight has a new look.  We hope you like it!

This is just the beginning, though.  In a couple of days, NIAC will unveil a new and improved website over at niacouncil.org.  It’s taken months to get everything ready, but soon you will be able to access brand new resources, news and commentary, information about events and even a special section with added content for NIAC members.  Not a NIAC member yet?  Sign up quick to get all the benefits of our new website!

  • 30 November 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 0 Comments
  • About, Events in DC

The truth is incontrovertible

Here at NIAC, we’ve been focusing on doing our work rather than devoting all our time to responding to the flimsy allegations made against us by Eli Lake (with the assistance of an individual we’re suing for defamation, and parroted by neoconservative bloggers).

But since BBC Persian has done an actual investigation of the allegations against NIAC and the political motivations behind them, we felt like this video is worth sharing.  (Persian, and skip ahead past the first 20 seconds)

English readers who’d like more information can find our response to Mr. Lake’s *ahem* journalism here and a point-by-point response to the many insinuations (and outright falsehoods) in his article here.

And for those unfamiliar with the quotation this post’s title is taken from–it’s one of my favorites by Winston Churchill–here it is reproduced in its entirety:

“The truth is incontrovertible.  Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”

  • 9 October 2009
  • Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo
  • 1 Comments
  • About, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

Abdo: “The Rise of the Iranian Dictatorship”

Geneive Abdo, Iran analyst at the Century Foundation, wrote an article in the October 7, 2009 edition of Foreign Policy about the expanding power of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iran.

Abdo writes:

“The secretive paramilitary group became a dominant institution in Iran — socially, politically, militarily, and economically — during Ahmadinejad’s first term. He appointed IRGC members to positions as ambassadors, mayors, cabinet ministers, and high-ranking officials at state-run economic institutions. The IRGC returned the favor during the electoral campaign. Before the election, the chief of the IRGC, Mohammad Ali Jafari, encouraged the guards to “participate” — a not-so-subtle directive to do whatever necessary to guarantee Ahmadinejad’s re-election. They did so, both by intimidating opposition members and even, some in Iran allege, single-handedly rigging the vote.”

The newly appointed commander of the Basij paramilitary group under IRGC control is Mohammad Reza Naghdi, a senior military officer who was sanctioned by the UN for links to Iran’s ballistic missile program.  Adbo highlights his role as “a key player in organizing and financing Ansar Hezbollah, a militia that orchestrated the 1999 attack on student dormitories at Tehran University” among his other involvements with severe crackdowns on dissidents in Iran in illustrating what she refers to as the titular “Rise of the Iranian Dictatorship”.

Abdo’s views ring true with other analysts and scholars on Iran, as well as some current developments. Rasool Nafisi, professor from Strayer University, recently discussed the increasing military stronghold on Iran socially, politically, economically at a NIAC briefing on Capitol Hill as part of its US-Iran Policy program. Recently a company affiliated with the IRGC purchased a majority share of Iran’s telecommunications monopoly for nearly $8 billion. Kenneth Pollack of the Saban Center recently spoke of the silencing of more moderate opposition and reformist voices in Iran since the June election and the continuing rise of hardline elements in the Iranian government at a recent discussion on Middle East affairs.

Abdo also writes about how the militaristic expansion in Iran causing stirs on all sides of the political discourse:

“Khamenei’s appointments come amid a fierce debate inside Iran. Even conservatives are unnerved by the militarization of the state. They argue that the military’s intervention in Iranian politics is against the revolutionary ideals of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic in 1979. Khomeini established the IRGC to defend the revolution from internal threats after the fall of the shah. In 1988, he established the Basij forces on university campuses across Iran to ensure that students, long known for political dissent, would remain loyal to the republic.

Now, Khamenei has given the militias under his control unprecedented power. This will surely lead to a more restrictive society at the precise moment a broad-based opposition movement seemed to promise real change for the first time since the 1979 revolution.”

This trend has created fears of a descent into a Junta-like system in Iran.

  • 15 July 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 0 Comments
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NIAC on Twitter

NIAC is now on Twitter–check us out here: twitter.com/niacouncil.

  • 19 January 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 0 Comments
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Many thanks to our friends

I want to take a moment to say thanks to all of our loyal readers here at niacINsight.  It’s incredibly encouraging for us to see that you care about our work, so thank you. 

And a special note of thanks to our good friends Laura Rozen and Paul Kerr, who both run much more successful blogs than this one, and who have linked to these pages recently.  We are very grateful, so you should check them out as well over at The Cable and Total WonKerr.  Bookmark them, visit them daily, and comment on their posts, because they’re two of the best in the business.

Oh, and happy inauguration day!

  • 15 December 2008
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • 0 Comments
  • About, Culture, Diplomacy, Events in Iran

Disgruntled Iranian Students

“I hate three things,” said an Iranian student leader, “One, I hate Ahmadinejad.”

Do you know your neighbor?

Last night, NIAC held an informal meet and greet where members of the community were welcomed to come by to meet NIAC staff and ask questions and discuss any issues on their mind.  Between the hours of 7-9 pm, Iranian-American Denver residents dropped in at their own convenience to say hello and talk politics.

During the meeting I was amazed to find out that there are approximately 4,000 to 10,000 Iranians in Colorado!  The large difference in the numbers is mainly due to a lack of accurate data since the last census was taken.  The 2000 U.S. Census places the overall Iranian number far lower than what is commonly predicted and Iranians are constantly growing in numbers. Hence, speculation often tends to range from the very low to the very high.

My amazement at the discovery of the numbers in Colorado came at the fact that we don’t know we exist!  We all know about Tehrangeles and New York and some other key locations Iranian Americans have chosen to migrate to, but we’re not too sure about our own neighbors.

Regardless, I am impressed by the large numbers and the apparent vibrant community here.  The individuals that we had an opportunity to meet with are well informed and very much aware of the political environment.  All in all, our informal event was well received and well attended.  Thanks to all of those who chose to take an hour or two of their evening to join us for an informal chit chat session!

  • 4 July 2008
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 1 Comments
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HAPPY 4TH OF JULY

From all of us here at NIAC, happy Independence Day!

Day 1 with NIAC

One of the great aspects of America is that we have many different cultures and identities living together in relative harmony. As a democracy, the American political institution functions best when citizens participate. The Iranian-American community may be small, but as an important minority it is our duty as US citizens to engage in American civic life. Unfortunately, the Iranian community is largely politically inactive, but non-partisan organizations like NIAC have sought to encourage the community to engage in American civic life to a greater extent.