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Posts Tagged ‘ Keith Ellison ’

  • 2 August 2013
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Congress, Sanctions

Thank the 20 Lawmakers Who Stood Up to the War Lobby

On Wednesday, House leadership ignored the Iranian peoples’ call for change and moderation and voted for new punishing sanctions on the Iranian people.

But twenty lawmakers showed courage and leadership by voting no, inviting attacks from the pro-war lobby.  Other representatives who share their views were unwilling to take that risk.  Those twenty representatives need to know that those who oppose war and unending sanctions appreciate their stand, and that we have their back.

Will you sign the petition thanking them for standing up for peace and diplomacy with Iran?


[emailpetition id=”4″]



Learn more about the vote and see the list of lawmakers below and watch the sanctions floor debate here:

  • 10 July 2013
  • Posted By Layla Oghabian
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Iran Election 2013, Sanctions

Escalating Iran Sanctions Could Damage Hopes for New Beginning

On Monday, July 1 new Executive and Congressional sanctions on Iran, put in place before Iran’s recent elections, came into force. These new sanctions target the shipping and automobile sectors, financial transactions involving gold, and holdings of Iran’s currency, the rial. These latest sanctions come amid a growing debate over whether sanctions could undermine diplomatic opportunities and moderates within Iran in the wake of Iran’s recent elections. However, there is little sign that the sanctions will abate, with the House of Representatives considering a floor vote on new, sweeping sanctions in the weeks before Iran’s President-elect, Hassan Rouhani, even enters office.

Rouhani’s ability to deliver and change the policies of the Iranian government remains a question mark. During his campaign, the former nuclear negotiator pledged to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace” with the outside world, release political prisoners, and potentially to make Iran’s nuclear program more transparent in order to ease tensions with the West.  But his political flexibility may be limited in the face of intensifying economic pressure and fear that the United States is only interested in regime change.

  • 1 March 2012
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • Congress, Diplomacy

Keith Ellison: We do not need a third war, engage Iran diplomatically

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Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) went on Morning Joe this morning to convey an important message: engage Iran.

“We just got out of one war, we’re trying to get out of another one, we do not need a third…diplomacy is the right option,” he said.  Ellison explained, “No one says diplomacy is easy, but going to war would be catastrophic,” and negotiations are the best way to prevent war and prevent nuclear Iran.

The Congressman discussed his bipartisan effort with Representative Walter Jones (R-NC) to call for the President to reinvigorate diplomacy with Iran:

“If you listen to Martin Dempsey, who’s the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the fact is that an attack on Iran would be destabilizing and the attack would not achieve the objectives of…stopping the nuclear program.  So we need to avert that possibility from the very beginning.  That’s why Walter Jones and I have come together and organized many of our colleagues on a letter to the President to really be strong on diplomacy. And to go back to that effort which the President very wisely started which is direct, bilateral engagement on Iran.”

The Ellison-Jones letter has been endorsed by groups including NIAC, FCNLJ Street, Americans for Peace NowJust Foreign Policy, Peace ActionCREDO, and ELCA.

Ellison said the President must be firm with our allies on the need for diplomacy to prevent war, explaining that many Israeli generals and military experts also believe “an attack on Iran would destabilizing for them and the wrong way to go”:

“What the President has to tell the Israeli leadership is: ‘Look, if you’re going to sign us up for a protracted military conflict that you can start but cannot finish, we’ve got to be in on it from the beginning.  And we say diplomacy is what we need to do now…The United States, the strongest military on Earth, should never be in a position where it is not in control of its own destiny.  The fact is, we cannot let even an ally, an important ally like Israel, drag us into war that we think diplomacy can serve better in.”

You can ask your Member of Congress to sign the Ellison-Jones letter by emailing them here or call them at 1-855-68 NO WAR.

  • 24 June 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • Congress, Sanctions

Congress moves forward with “crippling sanctions” (and misses opportunity to support Iranians)

On Monday, the latest version of Congress’ sanctions bill was unveiled just in time to be passed and sent to the President’s desk by July 4. The new sanctions bill comes on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the Iranian elections that sparked a massive protest movement and brutal government reprisals. But while lawmakers have attempted to reconcile the pain that these new sanctions will impose on ordinary Iranians with Congress’ claims of support for the people of Iran, this bill remains a blunt instrument that perpetuates the sanctions-only framework that has dominated the United States’ Iran policy for decades.

The sanctions bill is officially titled the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (H.R.2194), but it is better known by its shorthand moniker–“crippling sanctions”. This was the term popularized by Senator Hillary Clinton when she was campaigning for President, but which fell out of vogue in Secretary Clinton’s State Department following the violence and suffering that occurred in Iran over the last year.

Congress, however, never abandoned the concept of “crippling” Iran through sanctions. Now that the Obama Administration has passed UN sanctions, and protests and government brutality in Iran no longer dominate the news, Congress has free reign to pass sanctions that would “cripple” Iran’s economy by cutting off gasoline to Iran that is used by ordinary Iranians for everything from heating their homes to producing food and transporting medicine.

Continue reading at Foreign Policy

  • 3 January 2010
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Sanctions

U.S. Decides to Punish Iranian Regime, Not People

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post

Last week countless protesters across Iran made yet another brave stand against their government, in an event that had political reverberations across the world. The continued demonstration of strength by the Iranian opposition has not only showed the increasing isolation of Iran’s ruling elite, but also helped cement a dramatic policy shift that has been quietly taking shape in the White House. Rather than pursuing “crippling sanctions” against Iran’s entire economy — and crushing the middle class that makes up the backbone of the opposition movement — the White House has decided to instead focus harsh sanctions on specific elements of the Iranian government, according to senior administration officials speaking to the Washington PostLA Times, and Reuters. This is the culmination of a dramatically changed debate in Washington, and comes in stark contrast to the indiscriminate approach many in Congress favor. But it is exactly the approach that prominent leaders in the green movement and groups like the National Iranian American Council have supported for months.

  • 28 October 2009
  • Posted By Matt Sugrue
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Sanctions

Divided House Committee Passes Iran Sanctions

A divided House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA) today by voice vote. The lead sponsor of the bill and Chairman of the committee, Howard Berman (D-CA), said his overriding concern is preventing Iran from “acquiring the capacity to acquire nuclear arms.”

IRPSA would expand unilateral, extraterritorial sanctions and target companies exporting refined petroleum to Iran or helping to develop Iran’s oil refining industry. Before the hearing, Rep. Berman amended the legislation to make lifting the sanctions in it conditional on Iran ceasing all uranium enrichment.

The bill received vocal support from much of the committee, including the ranking Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). “Unless we impose the maximum pressure on Iran, and this bill is a major step forward in that direction, the regime will continue its march towards acquiring nuclear weapons,” said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.

However, a bipartisan group of representatives voiced their opposition to the legislation.

It was pointed out by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) that many human rights defenders inside Iran, such as Shirin Ebadi, are against additional economic sanctions. Quoting Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, he said that “sanctions would not actually act against the government; rather they would only hurt the people.” Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) echoed those concerns, and Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said he did not support IRPSA because unilateral sanctions are ineffective and punish American allies.

Committee members who supported IRPSA frequently stated their belief that the bill would be an effective deterrent for Iran’s government. “Since Iran imports forty percent of its refined petroleum, this legislation will have a significant impact on Iran’s economy, and will send a clear message that Iran must stop its nuclear enrichment program,” said Rep. Mike McMahon (D-NY).

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) said he would vote for the measure, but made clear he felt it was less than ideal. Meeks argued that sanctions should be targeted at Iran’s leaders, not the general population. According to Rep. Meeks, “We need to find sanctions that are going to affect those few who, in effect, have hijacked the entire country.” Meeks also emphasized that President Obama’s diplomatic efforts should be given time to succeed.

The Senate Banking Committee will consider a more expansive Iran sanctions bill tomorrow.

  • 23 October 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Sanctions

Opposition Building Against Sanctions Legislation

Rep. Ellison has laid down an important marker the week before the House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to vote on new unilateral sanctions against Iran. He’s against it:

Fifteen years of sanctions on Iran have taught us one important lesson: They have not produced the intended results. More sanctions are unlikely to produce results now. In fact, additional sanctions, while satisfying some, are more likely to produce results that we do not intend. If we impose increased sanctions, we will likely strengthen President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hand and risk snuffing out the emerging democracy movement in Iran.

Rep. Ellison reiterates his concern about the Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon and says the United States “must stand firmly on key issues like human rights.” But, he concludes:

Congress needs to give President Barack Obama’s diplomatic efforts a chance before increasing sanctions. So far, President Obama’s disciplined diplomacy is working. There is finally some progress in dealing with Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

The timing of the Committee hearing, coming as it does in the midst of the P5+1 talks, has concerned many. The Obama administration has not requested these sanctions and has not said that they would be helpful. In fact, when Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg was asked for the administration’s position on the sanctions bill, he said:

“We still have not reached a firm judgment on whether that would be the best way to go.”1

House sources tell us there will be additional opposition to the Iran sanctions legislation at the hearing.

[1] Senate Banking Committee Hearing: “Minimizing Potential Threats from Iran: Administration Perspectives on Economic Sanctions and Other US Policy Options,” Oct. 6, 2009 –

Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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