AIC's Kayvon Afshari recently completed working as a consulting producer for VICE on HBO for their upcoming documentary on US-Iran relations, the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, and the country's nuclear program. The piece was hosted by VICE founder Shane SmithRead More
Jason Reza Jorjani, PhD, is a philosopher and faculty member at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is author of Prometheus and Atlas.
Here he points out that the pre-Socratic, Greek philosophers came from portions of Greece that were then ruled by the Persian empire. This connection, he maintains, is not accidental – as the Persian Zoroastrian culture fostered the ideal of “truth” that was fundamental to the development of philosophy. Jorjani also points out that the Persian empire was the only one in the ancient world to outlaw slavery. In addition to exerting an enormous influence on Greeks and Egyptians, the ancient Persians also interacted extensively with and influenced the Jewish people.
Originally Published on LobeLog
By Amb. Robert E. Hunter
AIC Board Member
Former US Ambassador to NATO
President Barack Obama would surely not compare himself to a Biblical prophet. But by going this week to Riyadh to take part in a summit meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, he might as well be like Daniel in the Old Testament, thrown into the lions’ den. Although his hosts will no doubt be civil and courteous, they nevertheless cast themselves in the role of lions—with the exception of the Sultan of Oman, America’s only true friend in the region.Read More
Essentially, The Equal Protection in Travel Act would remove the clause that bars nationals of Iraq, Syria, Sudan, and Iran from participating in the visa waiver program. Notably, it would not remove the clauses that target individuals who have traveled to those four countries in the past five years.
The American Iranian Council welcomes the removal of the targeting on the basis of nationality, but continues to object to the unfair targeting of tourists, businesspeople, and visitors wishing to see their families in Iran. Moreover, the Council remains concerned about the impediment this poses for trade and economic relations with Iran. Indeed, according to the text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the EU, its member states, and the US were to “refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran.” This clause targeting travelers effectively disincentivizes businesspeople from visiting Iran and engaging in trade and economic relations with the country in a post-JCPOA era.Read More
Let us be direct in this letter: unless current trends change, a disastrous shift in US policy towards Iran is a real possibility. Given this, complacency and procrastination are no options if we want to see a better US-Iran relationship. Thus, we are seeking your active and full-fledged support now. Please also share this message widely with your friends and family.
The nuclear accord raised hopes that the direction set would lead to further opening on both sides for more cordial relations. Unfortunately this has not been the case. In Iran, the Islamic regime has toughened its position vis-à-vis the US, hoping to prove its autonomy and revolutionary legitimacy in the wake of an unequal deal with the US, which Tehran continues to call its “enemy.” Iran’s only reason for accepting the deal was to have sanctions lifted, but it now finds that the situation with the sanctions has not substantially changedRead More
In order to educate the public ahead of the consequential April 19 New York State primary election, the AIC and Marymount Manhattan College invited Dr. James Zogby, a surrogate for the Sanders campaign, and Mr. Richard Nephew, an advisor to the Clinton campaign, to speak at a major event. Each speaker outlined his candidate's Middle East foreign policy and took questions from the audience.
The topics they covered included the nuclear accord, sanctions, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, America's relationship with Saudi Arabia, the fight against ISIS, the Syrian civil war, and the prospect for normalized US-Iran relations.Read More
By Bradford Van Arnum, AIC Research Associate
In the middle of March, Iran’s Interior Ministry announced that runoff elections for nearly 70 parliament seats would occur on April 29. The first round of voting had taken place on February 26, when Iran held elections for both its parliament and Assembly of Experts. The former is a 290-member body that is elected every four years, while the latter is the group responsible for choosing a new Supreme Leader when a vacancy arises. The elections for the two institutions, both of which have been dominated by conservatives in recent years, were seen as key tests of President Rouhani’s time in office, and in particular, a referendum on the nuclear accord that was signed in July 2015.Read More
Obama has done something pretty significant in gaining agreement with Iran to put its potential for a military nuclear program “in the lock box,” to borrow a phrase from American politics, for at least a decade and more. This is no mean achievement. It ranks with Jimmy Carter’s Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel as the most important strategic achievements for US security, and that of everyone else concerned with the future of the Middle East. He does bow to the domestic and foreign opponents of this agreement – notably Israel and some of the Sunni Arab states—by noting that he does not see the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as ushering in a new era of relations with Iran, which he still sees as a major state supporter of terrorismRead More
In this 'Iran Chat' interview with former nuclear negotiator Richard Nephew, Kayvon Afshari discusses a host of issues concerning US-Iran relations, including the implementation of the nuclear accord, the recent changes to the visa waiver program, and how post-sanctions era Iran will affect global energy prices.
When asked about the visa waiver legislation passed by the US Congress late in 2015, Nephew said that while it does not violate the terms of the nuclear accord, it does make its implementation more difficult. He adds, "In my opinion, the original intent of the visa waiver changes was to deal with the issue of radicalized people coming back from Syria and from Iraq and I don't believe that we have the same risk of radicalized individuals coming from Iran to the United States as we do from Syria to the United States."Read More
Second round of Iran elections set for April 29
Iran will hold a second round of voting on April 29 to fill 69 parliamentary seats for which no clear winner emerged during last month's elections, state media said Monday.
The run-off is necessary because under Iran's election rules a member of parliament must win 25 percent of votes cast, but this only happened for 221 of the country's 290 seats.
The first round on February 26 saw allies of Iran's moderate President Hassan Rouhani make major gains against conservatives.
But neither group won a majority, meaning the outcome of the second round - which will involve only the top two contenders from the first vote for each seat left empty - could affect the balance of power in the legislature. (Al Arabiya)Read More
After missile tests, U.N. urges Iran to act with restraint
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reacted to Iran's recent ballistic missile tests by urging Tehran to act with moderation and restraint and to avoid increasing regional tensions, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Thursday.
"In the current political atmosphere in the Middle East region, and so soon after the positive news of the lifting of sanctions against Iran, the secretary-general calls ... Iran to act with moderation, caution and the good sense not to increase tensions through hasty actions," Dujarric told reporters.
A series of ballistic missile tests this week conducted by Iran's Revolutionary Guard units drew international concern. The United States, France and other countries said that if confirmed, of launches nuclear-capable ballistic missiles would be a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution. (Reuters)Read More
The US Senate recently confirmed the appointment of the first Iranian-American US ambassador. Amb. Azita Raji was confirmed as ambassador to Sweden in February. Raji was born in Tehran, then became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1988, at the age of 27. Raji will be welcomed by Sweden’s 63,828 Swedish-Iranians, one of the country’s most successful immigrant groups.Read More
In an interview with a major Colombian daily newspaper, AIC's Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi discussed the recent Parliament and Assembly of Experts elections in Iran. He said "Khamenei allowed the engineered election in the hope of improving Iran's economy, more effectively controlling domestic politics, and reducing the external threat to the survival of his Islamic system." In order to move forward with its economic and political plans, Iran needs to alter the international community's perception of Tehran. Iran believes Tehran has been perceived as weak because many have interpreted the JCPOA as Tehran's "surrender" to American pressure and the status of Syria, Iran's ally, as that of a "failed state."Read More
In an interview with Al Jazeera America, AIC’s President Hooshang Amirahmadi discussed the recent parliamentary elections in Iran and their implications. Amirahmadi said the Iranian Parliament is becoming more moderate, but not influential. He said “elected officials are still underdogs; power remains largely concentrated among hardliners.” The most significant political bodies in Iran will always remain in the control of hardliners, such as the Supreme Leader. There is little the parliamentary elections can actually do in affecting Iran’s foreign and domestic policies. In response to whether or not Iran will become more open to the West, considering the success of the nuclear accord, he said “it depends.” If Iran feels secure, it will assume a tougher position. On the other hand, if Iran believes it is under pressure, it will be more open to improving its relations with the West.Read More
Iran’s elections have given moderates a boost – but not a free hand
On 26 February, Iranians voted to elect the new members of their legislative body and the assembly of experts. While the parliament’s resultant shift to the centre does not give the president, Hassan Rouhani, a free hand, it will help him in his efforts to engage Iran’s Gulf Arab neighbours.
Presidential elections are generally what draw the broader public to the polls in Iran, while parliamentary elections galvanise the Islamic Republic’s base. Candidates and camps fight for the soul of the Islamic revolution and the country’s future. This year, the struggle was more visible than usual. More than half of eligible voters showed up to the polls, and helped key reformist-backed candidates and moderates gain seats in parliament. (The Guardian)Read More
The United States can best navigate the post-nuclear accord era by understanding how the easing of tensions will shape Iran’s role in Asia. Opportunities may arise through recognizing that Iran’s economic needs can work within US frameworks for improving the region. Chief among these is the chance that economically integrating Iran could help stabilize violence in nearby Afghanistan. This may be achieved through acknowledging that China has already begun a similar strategy of connecting Iran with Central Asian trade networks for the same goal, as well as investigating China’s achievements and failures here. Doing so may improve Iran’s view of the United States and be an opportunity for Sino-US cooperationRead More
The Iran Election: What's at Stake
On Friday, Iranians will go to the polls to elect members of Parliament and the Assembly of Experts. Here’s why this matters.
Q. What’s at stake?
A. Iranians will elect a Parliament that passes laws and a clerical council that is technically in charge of naming a successor to the supreme leader when he dies. But analysts say that the choice of a successor to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 76, will in all likelihood be deemed too important to be left to the assembly — it will instead confirm preselected candidates. The assembly also monitors the supreme leader, but that function has minimal effect.
Q. Is Iran a democracy?
A. It’s a hybrid country with religious and civil institutions. It has an elected president and Parliament, with limited powers. It also has a Supreme Leader who wields civil and religious authority and a Guardian Council, which comprises six religious experts and six legal experts to interpret the Constitution.
Q. Doesn’t the supreme leader control everything?
A. Yes, and no. The supreme leader has final say on all matters of religion and state. But he also needs to balance the demands and interests of competing power centers like the Revolutionary Guards and the judiciary. Ayatollah Khamenei, according to the Constitution, cannot annul Friday’s vote. Parliament and the Assembly of Experts are officially independent powers, but parliaments — particularly the departing one — take their cues from him. (The New York Times)Read More
The new visa waiver restrictions are complicated and can be confusing to understand. In this video, I break it down by interviewing a lawyer from the ACLU, a former American nuclear negotiator, and an Iranian-German dual citizen who was recently affected by the law. Watch the video, then share it with your friends who need to learn about the issue.Read More
Amin Shokrollahi, the German-Iranian dual citizen and mathematics professor who was profiled in the AIC's video about the discriminatory visa waiver restrictions, was recently profiled in The Intercept.Read More
Iran election campaign kicks off as reformers seek comeback
The struggle to shake up a decade of conservative dominance over Iran’s two major political institutions has kicked off in earnest, as candidates officially begin their week-long campaigns before two important elections.
Over 6,200 candidates, including 586 women, are campaigning for a place in the country’s 290-seat parliament. In the capital Tehran, over 1000 candidates are competing for just 30 seats.
Earlier this week Iran’s interior ministry finalised the full list of approved candidates for the parliamentary election, due on 26 February, after the Guardian Council blocked a significant number of reformist contenders during the vetting process. (The Guardian)Read More