On behalf of everyone here at the American Iranian Council, we wish you a warm Nowruz greetings! Nowruz is the first day of spring and also the first day of the new Iranian calendar year, which will be 1396 on March 21 (2017). Nowruz has been celebrated for over 3000 years, and Iranians of all religious and ethnic orientations share in the joys and prosperity it promises. We sincerely hope that this Nowruz will usher in better US-Iran relations.
The closure of 1395 was admittedly a rocky period in US-Iran relations, with increased rhetoric on both sides, the imposition of a blanket travel ban on Iranians, ballistic missile testing by the Iranian government, and the new Trump administration putting Iran “on notice.” Of course, rocky times are not new. As a long-standing organization with nearly three decades of experience in this field, we recognize that US-Iran relations have always been challenging. And yet, with time and effort, real progress has been made in the past and can be made moving forward.
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Open Letter to the People of Iran:
We, the American People who disavow President Trump’s executive order denying you entry into our country, are writing to say that we stand with you.
We, who oppose this order, are American citizens of all backgrounds, races, religions and creeds. We are old and young, rich and poor, and work in all professions. We are government officials who are refusing to implement this order. We are lawyers who are contesting this order in court. We are journalists who are sharing the stories of those affected. We are ordinary citizens protesting on the streets. We are Americans who believe in democracy and the values enshrined in our Constitution, and we stand with you.
President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order this week banning immigration to the US from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries. The American Iranian Council considers this order as inappropriate and ineffective in the fight against terror. It is only unfortunate that a very small minority among the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world should be engaged in terrorism, giving Islam a tarnished name. While we must protect our people and the Council is fully for acts that improve our national security, we believe targeting entire countries for the action of a few is unjust and counterproductive to U.S. interests and the “America First” directive of the new administration.
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a cleric who served as president of Iran from 1989 to 1997, died on January 8, 2017, at age 82, in a hospital in northern Tehran after suffering a heart attack. A US State Department official described Rafsanjani as a "prominent figure" and said in a statement, "We send our condolences to his family and loved ones."
Rafsanjani was a towering figure in Iranian post-revolutionary politics. In addition to serving as the Islamic Republic’s president, he was a former speaker of the Parliament, chairman of the Assembly of Experts, chairman of the Expediency Council, and head of Iran’s military forces during the Iran-Iraq war.
Let us begin by sending you a warm New Year greetings from everyone at the American Iranian Council. As we predicted back in April in a statement entitled “Staying Ahead of the Curve," and given the expected composition of President-Elect Trump’s upcoming cabinet, US-Iran relations could deteriorate in the months ahead despite the fact that Iran has implemented its commitments in the JCPOA (the nuclear deal). Even more daunting are the challenges that come with a new US Administration, the upcoming Presidential elections in Iran, and a Middle East in serious disarray.
However, and notwithstanding this concern for a possible decay in US-Iran relations, we strongly believe that, with your support, we can make 2017 a year of substantive achievements.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The American Iranian Council joins all peace-loving and anti-violence people of the United States and the world in condemning, in strongest possible terms, the horrifying and cowardly terrorist attack on the LGBT night club in Orlando, Florida. The AIC also sends its deepest condolences and sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured.
We also express our deepest regret that the Orlando murderer was a radical and hateful Muslim and that his religious affiliation is used by certain politicians and members of the media to tarnish Islam, the religion of well over 1.4 billion people around the world, by prefixing it with the word “radical.” The truth is, Islam is neither radical nor moderate; it is just a religion, with one Prophet and one Holy book!
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.