Iran Digest: Week of November 18 - 25

Iran Digest: Week of November 18 - 25

Trump, Though Critical of Nuclear Deal, Could Offer Opportunities for Iran

At first blush, the election of Donald J. Trump would seem to be bad news for Iran. But there is a chance that on balance, things could work out surprisingly well for the clerics.

Publicly, Iran’s leaders stress that they pay little heed to what happens in the United States, that they pride themselves on their independence.

 “It makes no difference for Iran who the next U.S. president is,” the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a speech last week. (New York Times)

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Iran Should Be Worried About a Trump Administration

Iran Should Be Worried About a Trump Administration

Originally posted on The LobeLog
By Shireen T. Hunter, former AIC Board Member

Those observers in Iran who thought that a victory by Donald Trump in the US presidential race would be in Iran’s interests should by now have realized how wrong they were. It’s not just because President-elect Trump vowed during the election campaign that he would tear up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of action (JCPOA). More importantly, he has made key appointments that will have significant consequences for the future direction of American foreign policy.

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From AIC's Director of Operations: "Why I Am Passionate about AIC's Mission" #GivingTuesday

From AIC's Director of Operations: "Why I Am Passionate about AIC's Mission"  #GivingTuesday

Dear Friend, 

On this #GivingTuesday I want to thank you for your support and engagement with AIC over the years. Now more than ever, AIC needs your help to improve intercultural understanding and dialogue between the U.S. and Iran.

Nothing affirms my belief in the need for AIC’s work more than when I travel to Iran - as I did for my third time - this September.

My travels there are always a powerful combination of heartwarming and heartbreaking: Heartwarming due to the overwhelming outpouring of enthusiasm and love that the Iranian people express towards Americans, and heartbreaking because I know that this enthusiasm and openness is not understood or reciprocated by many Americans back home.

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Trump and Iran: Prospects for Trade and Investment

Trump and Iran:  Prospects for Trade and Investment

Professor Hooshang Amirahmadi will be visiting London on December 10-14 to speak at a private gathering and meet board members and friends. 

His talk on "Trump and Iran: Prospects for Trade and Investment" will take place on Tuesday, December 13, 2016, at 3-5 pm. 

The event is organized by the Targetfollow Group, Ltd. in collaboration with the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce (BICC). 

Participation is by invitation and location of the event will be announced to the confirmed participants only. The organizers are confirming the participants, but the AIC can also add a few to their list.  

If you are interested in joining the event or privately meeting Dr. Amirahmadi, please send him an email at hooshang@amirahmadi.com.  

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What Now for America in the World?

What Now for America in the World?

Originally posted on The Lobelog
By AIC Board Member, Robert Hunter

The surprise election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States has raised far more questions than it has answered about the nation’s future. It has also, not unnaturally, discomfited (or at least confused) friends and allies abroad. Except for the Los Angeles Times, the polls got it wrong, and so did virtually all the pundits, a large fraction of whom wittingly or not became cheerleaders for Hillary Clinton. But there is no point in lamentations, if such are, indeed, in order. Notably, both Trumpand Clinton demonstrated in their victory/concession statements the best of American political culture: the peaceful, even gracious, transfer of power.

To try judging what President Trump will do in foreign policy—the focus of Lobelog—we should return to “first principles.”

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Obama's Departure: More Difficulties for Iran

Obama's Departure: More Difficulties for Iran

Originally posted on The Lobelog 
By Shireen T. Hunter, Former AIC Board Member

Although disappointed about the economic benefits flowing from the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran’s political leadership feels fairly certain that at least the threat of a potential U.S. military strike has now disappeared. Also, even if the United States were to re-impose sanctions, in addition to those non-nuclear related sanctions already in existence, the Iranian leadership is confident that other countries, including European states, will not follow America’s lead.

Iran’s hardliners, in particular, are pushing this line of thinking as a way to prevent any further steps to move US-Iran relations in a more positive direction. They also argue that America has suffered setbacks in Iraq and Syria and will not risk becoming entangled with Iran. In short, at least judging by various statements and commentaries, especially by hardliners, the nuclear deal has created a false sense of security in Iran.

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AIC Statement on the U.S. Election

AIC Statement on the U.S. Election

The American Iranian Council congratulates Donald John Trump for winning the historic election and becoming the 45th President of the United States.

As a long-standing non-profit, non-partisan and educational organization, AIC has nearly three decades of experience working with administrations on both sides of the political aisle.  We are well-positioned and well-prepared to work with the new Trump Administration to achieve meaningful results towards improved understanding and better U.S.-Iran relations.  

The election of a new American president is always a crucial juncture in foreign relations.  AIC was established in 1990 just after President Bill Clinton took office, and our very first conference, U.S.-Iran Relations in the Clinton Administration, addressed some of the challenges ahead for the two countries, and offered AIC's recommendations moving forward.  In 2009, shortly after President Obama had taken office, Congressman Dennis Kucinich delivered AIC’s 2009 White Paper to the President. Many of the recommendations put forward in that White Paper were ultimately implemented.

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AIC's Emad Kiyaei on the U.S. Elections

AIC's Emad Kiyaei on the U.S. Elections

Trump Means Business
Originally published on The Cipher Brief
By Emad Kiyaei, Director of External Affairs; American Iranian Council

The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election is fraught with uncertainty, for the electorate and political establishment. It is no surprise, then, that even as Americans are fumbling their way through this election labyrinth, the rest of the world is lost in the same maze. With the U.S.’s major military, economic and political presence in the Middle East, the elections cannot be ignored. Hence, the Iranian political establishment is closely observing the contest, as it will impact Iran’s own and regional security. The Iranian Government’s primary interest in the outcome of the U.S. elections is concerned with how a new U.S. administration under either candidate would affect four key areas.

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Clinton's Foreign Policy: The Known Unknowns

Originally published on LobeLog
By AIC Board Member, Robert E. Hunter

Despite the further stresses introduced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week into this most stressful of modern campaigns, Hillary Clinton is still the odds-on favorite to be elected US president. If that judgment is validated on the morning of November 9th, America’s friends and allies abroad can begin to exhale. Whatever opponents have said about Clinton in the presidential campaign, no one can honestly deny that she is smart, savvy, articulate, experienced, and, more-often-than-not, levelheaded.

But true friends of America abroad shouldn’t return to normal breathing patterns just yet. 

First the good news. Despite presidential campaign turmoil and disharmony not seen since the American Republic’s early days—and politics was even rougher back then—after the votes are counted and despite whatever Donald Trump says or does, the American ship of state will, as always, soon right itself. There is also no doubt that, intellectually and temperamentally, Clinton will be a steadying influence on American politics and US engagements abroad.

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It's Difficult to Keep Allies in Line in the Post-Ideological Era

It's Difficult to Keep Allies in Line in the Post-Ideological Era

Originally published on LobeLog
By Former AIC Board Member, Shireen T. Hunter

In the last several years, the United States has found it increasingly difficult to gain the support of all of its allies, especially those in the Middle East, for its regional plans and policies.

A dramatic example was the disagreement between the United States and its Middle East allies over the decision to reach a negotiated settlement to the Iran nuclear file. Key American allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia openly and vehemently campaigned against the prospective agreement. The late Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud Bin Faisal, even went to Vienna in the last hours of the nuclear negotiations in order to prevent its successful completion. The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, used the UN podium and a joint session of the US Congress for his campaign against the nuclear.

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AIC Board Member Sir Richard Dalton on The Iran Nuclear Negotiations

AIC Board Member Sir Richard Dalton on The Iran Nuclear Negotiations

AIC Board Member, Sir Richard Dalton, delivered the Lord Denman Memorial Lecture to the Royal Society for Asian Affairs on June 15 2016.

Introduction

It is an honour to be asked to deliver the fourth Charles Denman memorial lecture to the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. You have chosen a lecturer who knows a little about West Asia, but nothing about East Asia. Though I can claim a great grandfather who was a Governor of Hong Kong.

It’s 29 September 2016: the Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency reports that President Rouhani has returned from New York where he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations and met numerous Heads of State and Government. Unfortunately, he has had to tell the Iranian people that the US and its partners have not done, and will not do, enough to enable Iran’s reintegration into the world economy. 

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Effective Sanctions Relief on Iran for Sanctions' Sake

Effective Sanctions Relief on Iran for Sanctions' Sake

Originally published in The Hill 
By Honorary Board member Thomas R. Pickering and Ali Vaez

The one year anniversary of Iran nuclear agreement’s entering into force on Oct. 18, 2015 was buried in the noise and news of U.S. electoral campaign, operation to liberate Mosul and tragic agonies of Aleppo. This in itself is a testament to the accord’s remarkable success in addressing a major threat to global security. But in this success lies a peril: a “done deal” mentality that diverts attention to other priorities, treats implementation as a mere technical or bureaucratic exercise, and fails to remedy its inevitable hitches. Ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful and opening the door a crack or two for new opportunities to build balance, stability and security in the Middle East are worth fighting for.

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AIC's President Interviewed about New OFAC Guidelines

AIC's President Interviewed about New OFAC Guidelines

Originally Published by Trend News Agency

US Treasury's recent decision easing deals with Iran will not reduce the fear that large banks have of dealing with Iran, believes Hooshang Amirahmadi, president of American Iranian Council.

"Major global banks can't absolutely make certain that they will be able to isolate completely US dollars coming out of commercial transactions with Iran and the banks cannot guarantee that those dollars will not enter the US banking system and so the banks will not want to risk losing their banking licenses if their monitoring systems fail them - so they will avoid the transactions," Hooshang Amirahmadi told Trend.

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Iran Chat: Interview with Comedian Maz Jobrani

Iran Chat: Interview with Comedian Maz Jobrani

Our latest Iran Chat is with comedian and actor, Maz Jobrani.  A founding member of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, his comedy covers a wide-range of issues, but often focuses on race and the ways that Middle Easterners are misunderstood in the U.S.  He performs stand-up live around the world, including in the Middle East.  Recently he published a book about his experiences,  I'm Not a Terrorist But I've Played One On TV.  He also co-wrote, produced and starred as the title character in the award-winning indie comedy film, Jimmy Vestvood - Amerikan Hero.  Maz Jobrani regularly guest stars on popular television shows and appears as a panelist on NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.  You can find more about Maz, including upcoming tour dates, on his website mazjobrani.com, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @Mazjobrani.

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Iran Digest: Week of October 7 - 14

Iran Digest: Week of October 7 - 14

It's Time to Release the Real History of the 1953 Iran Coup

Sixty-three years ago, the CIA and British intelligence fomented a coup d’état that toppled the prime minister of Iran, restored a cooperative shah and strengthened a regional buffer against possible Soviet aggression. It also unwittingly set Iran on a course toward dictatorship and helped inject the 1979 Iranian revolution with an anti-American cast that continues to animate hardline elements within the current regime.

More than six decades later, the coup against Mohammad Mosaddeq and its aftermath are still haunting U.S.-Iran relations. Yet amazingly, Americans do not have access to the full historical record of U.S. involvement in the event, even though much of that record (at least the parts the CIA has not destroyed, by its own admission) is unclassified.

Most recently, John Kerry’s State Department, which has shown real acumen in dealing with Iran, has decided not to release its long-overdue official compilation of internal documents on U.S. diplomacy covering the coup period, basing its reasoning on a concern for the fragility of relations with Iran. (Politico)

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AIC's Director of Operations did a Reddit AMA about her recent travel to Iran

AIC's Director of Operations did a Reddit AMA about her recent travel to Iran

Our Director of Operations, Stephanie Lester, recently traveled to Iran and answered questions about her trip for curious Redditors.  See excerpts from her AMA below.

Click here to see the full conversation on Reddit.

Q:  Would you want to live in Iran and what do the people really think of the USA?

A:  Re: Perceptions of the US -- Americans are treated like rock stars in Iran. With my first visit in 1999 I was constantly asked for my autograph. On my last two visits, the request was for selfies. People love America; I cannot emphasize that enough. With something like 70% of the population having been born after 1979, the population is young; they love American culture and many have family who emigrated to America after the revolution. Many want rapprochement with the West; they want to study here and live here. And while the revolutionary line is officially anti-American, I can say that the viewpoint doesn’t even seem to touch the military. I met a member of the notorious “Basij” on my latest trip, and when I told him where I was from – he was so excited he gave me a free jar of honey (which he was selling), to express his affection for the United States and hope that I would view Iran more positively.

 

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Sign of Thaw With Iran: American Cellphones Ringing in Tehran

Sign of Thaw With Iran: American Cellphones Ringing in Tehran

Published in the NYTimes, by Thomas Erdbrink

Rushing for a plane to Tehran because of a family emergency, the Iranian-American businessman stuffed his mobile phone into his carry-on, forgetting to turn it off.

It was useless in Iran anyway, he knew. American mobile phones never worked in the country, and even after the recent nuclear deal, many economic sanctions remain in place, frustrating foreign businesses interested in cracking the Iranian market.

So it was something of a shock when, having fallen asleep after arriving at his sick grandmother’s house in Tehran, the businessman, Faryar Ghazanfari, an intellectual-property lawyer, heard a buzzing coming from the bag.

At first, he thought it was an alarm. Then he picked up. “I couldn’t believe what was happening,” he said. “It was San Francisco. A colleague wanted an update on a patent case.”

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Longtime UVa professor Ramazani, an expert on Iran, dies at 88

Longtime UVa professor Ramazani, an expert on Iran, dies at 88

By Derek Quizon
Originally published in DailyProgress

R.K. Ramazani, the University of Virginia professor known as the “dean of Iranian foreign policy studies,” has died at age 88. Courtesy of Dan Addison/The University of Virginia R.K. Ramazani, who taught at the University of Virginia from 1953 until 1998, has died.

Ramazani, who taught at UVa from 1953 until 1998, passed away at the UVa Medical Center early Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after suffering a fall in his house.

The Iran native and Ivy resident is best remembered as an expert on Iranian history and politics — especially the turbulent relationship between the U.S. and Iran.

His death comes about a year and a half after the United States reached a deal with the Iranian government over its nuclear program — a development that gave Ramazani great hope for the future.

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Iran Digest: Week of September 30 - October 7

Iran Digest: Week of September 30 - October 7

Iran’s Take on U.S. Presidential Election

Emad Kiyaei, executive director of the non-partisan and non-profit American Iranian Council, visited Hamilton on Oct. 5 to speak on the recent geopolitical history between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that history’s significance with regard to the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

The icy, and often officially non-existent, diplomatic relationship between the United States and Iran since the onset of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis is one of seemingly endless nuance and complexity, said Kiyaei. However, he claimed, particularly with regard to the efforts since 2003 to address the nascent Iranian nuclear program, many of today’s most prominent American politicians have played key roles in determining the current state of relations between the two nations. Most notably, he said, are former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

While U.S.-led economic sanctions on Iran have existed since the aforementioned 1979 hostage crisis, it was the Clinton State Department that most forcefully pushed for a more comprehensive international sanctions regime through the UN Security Council during the early years of the Obama White House. Said sanctions began to push large segments of the Iranian economy underground as the nation became more and more isolated from the outside world and, notably, unable to sell its vast reserves of oil and gas on the international market. (Hamilton)

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Late AIC Honorary Board Member, Professor Ruhi Ramazani

Late AIC Honorary Board Member, Professor Ruhi Ramazani

The American Iranian Council is deeply saddened to announce the passing of its Honorary Board Member, Professor Ruhi Ramazani. 

Dr. Ramazani joined AIC at its inception, first as a Board Member, and later becoming a member of our Honorary Board.  Dr. Ramazani was a strong advocate of improved relations between the United States and Iran and spoke passionately at many AIC conferences.  He is widely credited for being "The Dean" of Iran's foreign policy and for training numerous scholars and diplomats who have served the United States government, universities and private think tanks in the U.S. and throughout the world.  While clear-eyed about the challenges in overcoming years of animosity between the two nations, he was convinced that rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran was instrumental to resolving many of the Middle East’s outstanding regional issues.  

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