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.
As many of you know, the American Iranian Council (AIC) supported the nuclear deal that led to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). However, we also constantly and consistently warned that the gains from the JCPOA could be lost and relations could become even more hostile if the deal is not fully implemented or other issues in US-Iran relations remained unresolved. Throughout its 26 years, the AIC has been focused on the larger relationship and wanted to see it improved.
A main reason we were concerned about an imperfect implementation of the deal and reversal of the seemingly welcoming communication between the two governments was the way the two administrations in Washington and Tehran were engaging: in a partisan and even personal manner. We had particularly warned that isolating the US Congress, the Republican Party, and the “hardliners” in Iran would produce dangerous backlashes on both sides against the JCPOA and the relationship.
We are unhappy to report that the current trends suggest that our prediction might indeed come true. Specifically, we are concerned that the relationship is again deteriorating and that the situation will worsen under the next administration. Of the remaining presidential candidates, only one might be hospitable to a full implementation of the JCPOA and a better relationship. Others, we believe, will try their best to turn the clock back. Thus, we are reaching out to you to actively support the Council so that together we can help preempt the anticipated disastrous reversal.
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 changed.
In the US too, the positive environment that followed the nuclear deal has gradually dampened. Significantly, following the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 1, 2016, as reported by The Hill, President Obama criticized Iranian leaders for undermining the “spirit” of last year’s historic nuclear agreement, even as they stick to the “letter” of the pact. He noted that “Iran’s troubles even after the lifting of sanctions under the nuclear deal were due to its continued support of Hezbollah, ballistic missile tests and other aggressive behavior.”
In anticipation of this situation, we must act collectively and decisively now to preempt a disastrous shift in US policy towards Iran and sustain our efforts towards improving the relationship between the two countries. Moreover, the deteriorating situation in the Middle East also makes a better US-Iran relationship an imperative. The American Iranian Council is the only organization of its kind that has actively and consistently pursued better US-Iran relations, not only when the two sides were shaking hands, but also when times were extremely tough.
For example, we brought sitting Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to a major AIC event in which she reached out to Iran by expressing regret over the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and lifted certain sanctions. In 2000, we hosted Iranian Speaker of Parliament Mehdi Karroubi for a historic event at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Significantly, then-Senators Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel all participated in major AIC events.
You may ask: how could the AIC be so effective even while US-Iran relations were in a downward spiral? The answer is that we enlisted the support and services of many distinguished Americans including statesmen and women, diplomats, officials, experts and community leaders, and we worked hard with them to promote better understanding and meaningful dialogue as well as offer informed and balanced policy advice. While we engaged the Iranian-American community, we often relied more on the larger American society for support.
Moving forward, our success will continue to depend on thinking strategically, the support of high-level and influential Americans, you as someone who wishes to see relations improve, and on the effective programs that the AIC must implement. We are pleased to write that many distinguished Americans continue to be affiliated with the Council and that we plan to implement the following important programs, with your generous support.
First, we will revive the popular AIC Congressional Roundtable series to ensure that our policy work and analyses are heard on Capitol Hill and that we build key relationships with members of Congress. Second, we will organize high-level policy conferences so that influencers outside of Congress are heard and that our voice is effectively amplified.
Finally and most importantly, we will produce a 2017 AIC White Paper for the incoming president, outlining specific steps for him or her to take in order to advance the American national interest while securing peace and improving relations with Iran. We are honored to say that AIC’s 2009 White Paper became a roadmap for the Obama administration’s outreach to Iran. We need to repeat that same level of intellect, influence and efficacy in January 2017.
Preparing for and executing this long-haul effort requires strategic thinking and significant financial support. That is why we wish to begin our effort now and ask for YOUR support. Please make a tax-deductible investment in our mission and become a part of the AIC’s effort to preempt a disastrous shift in US policy towards Iran and help improve US-Iran relations.
This is NOT the time for complacency and procrastination. Please act NOW.
Alongside our online fundraising efforts, we will be announcing and organizing major fundraising events in cities across America in the coming weeks. We will also use the fundraising events to update the audience on US-Iran relations by featuring informed speakers and brief the audience on our future programs and ongoing efforts. If you wish to receive an invitation, please send an email to Kayvon Afshari <email@example.com>.
Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Chairman & Professor Hooshang Amirahmadi, President