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Posts Tagged ‘ White House ’

  • 10 July 2013
  • Posted By Layla Oghabian
  • 0 Comments
  • 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.

  • 13 February 2013
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy

Reading the Iran Tea Leaves at the State of the Union

“The leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon,” said the President in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

The brief sentence in the hour-long speech was fairly consistent with Obama’s remarks on Iran from previous addresses, but  may offer clues in its emphasis on a “diplomatic solution.”

In his 2010 and 2011’s speeches–years that the White House focused largely on ramping up pressure on Iran–Obama focused his remarks on how diplomacy had been utilized to isolate Iran, and ramp up tougher sanctions.

In 2010 he said:

These diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of these weapons. … That is why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran’s leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences.

In 2011:

Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher sanctions, tighter sanctions than ever before.

In 2012, with serious concerns of a looming military confrontation and pressure on the President to draw a “red line,” Obama stated clearly that prevention was his policy but peaceful options remained:

And we will safeguard America’s own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before. Its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions. And as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.

But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better. And if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.

The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our iron-clad commitment — and I mean iron-clad — to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.

Whether or not this year’s comments suggest the White House is looking to invest political capital in negotiations that promise few quick fixes and may ultimately require a showdown with Congress over sanctions flexibility remains to be seen. The U.S. and P5+1 will enter a new round of negotiations with Iran on February 26 in Kazakhstan.

  • 24 July 2012
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 7 Comments
  • Legislative Agenda

Will you sign our thank you card to the White House?

Last week, the White House hosted the first ever Iranian-American roundtable.  This was a historic moment for our community to be recognized as a distinct and important constituency.

But some would prefer Iranian Americans to be locked out of the White House and punished for the actions of the Iranian government.

Just days after the meeting, prominent neoconservative outlets Commentary and Washington Free Beacon slammed the White House for opening their doors to Iranian Americans, and called this moment of pride “a slap in the face to the pro-Israel community.”

In reality, it’s the pro-war crowd that is threatened that our community’s voice is becoming louder and more organized.  They will use every trick in the book, even outright racism, to try to silence us.

That’s why we need you to help show the community’s appreciation to the White House.

We’re sending a thank you card this Friday to President Obama’s top advisor, Valerie Jarrett, expressing our appreciation for the historic White House meeting and to support continued meetings in the future.   Please take a moment to sign the thank you card and to send the message that a handful of neoconservatives will not silence us.

 

Will you sign our thank you card to the White House?

Thank you, Valerie Jarrett, for inviting us to the White House! The Iranian-American community looks forward to working with you.

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Want to learn more?

>> Read NIAC’s response to the attacks
>> Learn more about the first ever Iranian-American Community Roundtable

  • 18 April 2012
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Human Rights in Iran, Neo-Con Agenda, Nuclear file

Washington and Tehran’s Vicious Spin Cycle

The crux of negotiations between the U.S. and Iran is that, at some point, in order to succeed, each side will have to take a deep breath and shake hands on a deal. But thirty years of mutual demonization and fear mongering, means it takes serious political courage to come to the table, and even more courage—and a major investment of political capital—to actually accept a deal and sell it at home.

One way each side builds such political capital is to spin the talks as favoring the home team. This zero-sum approach—building capital at the expense of the other side—is dangerous and can create a precarious back and forth.

After modest success in Istanbul this past weekend, we’re seeing this back and forth play out as the sides prepare for the next round of talks in five weeks in Baghdad. Tehran has portrayed Washington as having softened its position and backed down from previous demands—particularly on the issue of whether Iran has the right to enrichment.

As Robert Wright speculates in the Atlantic, “If Iran’s leadership thinks it may do a deal with a government it has long framed as the great Satan, it needs to tell the Iranian people that it’s bringing Satan to his knees.” He points out that, as Tehran spins one way to build domestic support and to perhaps insulate the negotiations from political backlash at home, the opposite happens among opportunists in the U.S.

The Washington Times, for instance, takes Fars News at its word that the U.S. is granting Iran concessions, seizing on Tehran’s domestic spin to attack the talks. The very same groups that dismiss positive news like Khamenei’s fatwah against nuclear weapons as religious dissembling are, ironically, the most eager to treat Iran’s anti-U.S. spin as gospel–so long as it can be used to attack the Obama Administration’s diplomacy.

For its part, the U.S. is doing the exact same kind of spinning. In Haaretz yesterday, an unnamed U.S. official pushed back against criticism from Bibi Netanyahu that the Istanbul talks were a “freebie” for Tehran. Such an attack from Netanyahu–delivered with Senator Joe Lieberman at the Prime Minister’s side–is politically damaging for the White House and for the talks. Bibi may not technically be a domestic political opponent of the President, but nobody has bothered telling that to Congress.

  • 3 January 2010
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 2 Comments
  • 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.

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7,349 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.

Sincerely,

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