NIAC and US Policy toward Iran


arash Irandoost
by arash Irandoost

The White House is in the process of fine tuning its Iranian Policy. On the sidelines, various groups are positioning to shape the plan. Front and center is NIAC, the National Iranian American Council, an organization that presents itself as the Iranian-American voice for Iran. On the surface, NIAC’s statements sound very noble. However, if examined closely, NIAC is actually at odds with the majority of the Iranian-American community. NIAC’s recently published internal documents, which it had to furnish Mr. Hassan Dai, an Iranian expat, who was sued by NIAC for his claim that it is a lobbyist for the Islamic Republic, paints a very disturbing and troublesome picture of the organization. The following information supports these extensive claims:

1. Representation:NIAC does not represent a large constituency of Iranian-Americans. NIAC internal memos clearly show NIAC overstated the true number of its Iranian American members, altered in-house survey results, and mislead Congressional members. With estimates of one million plus, Iranian-Americans in the U.S., NIAC’s membership, as stated at the time of the documentation, is under five hundred members, a very insignificant number.

2. IRI as America's Friend:NIAC sees no fundamental clash of interests between Iran and US. According to Trita Parsi, there is no justification for US hostility toward Iran. Trita believes that the Iranian regime has always been ready to reach an agreement with the US. The main reason behind US hostilities and refusal to engage Iran, Trita Parsi says, is Israel. The problem with Parsi's assertion is that it contradicts the reality. For thirty years, the IRI has demonstrated a consistent characteristic, a passionate hatred of America. The most popular rallying cry of the Islamic Republic is “Death to America,” through its well financed and highly orchestrated street rallies. America is the “Great Satan” and nurtured enemy of Islamic Republic. It is “the kiss of death" for any Islamic Republic official to show any sign of befriending America. Likewise, seeking mullah’s friendship by the US is naive and foolhardy and worthless.

3. Dialogue and Diplomacy:Despite NIAC’s assertion that dialogue and diplomacy is the best approach, thirty years of dialogue by various US administrations has shown that the regime is interested in dialogue only to buy itself enough time in order to develop its weapon’s program. IRI uses its proxies within the United States to convince various American officials that the regime is desirous of a dialogue. The radical and irrational nature of the regime, intent on its expansionist ideology, makes any honest and meaningful dialogue with the regime an utter waste of time.

4. Use of Sanctions:NIAC has maintained that sanctions are counterproductive and ineffective and will inflict pain and suffering on the ordinary Iranians. Effectiveness of sanctions as a tool can be argued both ways. To those that see Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism and an International threat to world peace, targeted sanctions are a potent tool. On the other hand, for groups such as NIAC, sanctions are to be avoided at all cost to ensure the regime’s survival. NIAC’s campaign against sanctions is not to protect the ordinary Iranians, as it claims, but is an orchestrated effort by Oil Corporations seeking economic ties between Iran and America. Smart sanctions will hit hardest at the regime, and affect ordinary Iranians only incidentally. Targeted sanctions will deepen the divide between the public and the military-religious dictatorship.

5. NIAC as IRI Lobby:There is extensive evidence that NIAC engages with Islamic Republic’s top level officials, facilitating meetings between IRI and various US politicians, despite limits imposed on it as a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt organization. The governmental press in Tehran has called Parsi and his organization NIAC as the "Iranian lobby in Washington". Indictments of Bob Ney and Hassan Nemazie with close ties to NIAC clearly paint a disturbing picture of the organization. Recently, Senator Jon Kyl requested a full investigation of NIAC’s questionable activities, which if successful it might shed more light on NIAC‘s real intentions.

6. Islamic Republic is Rational and Pragmatic:When Ahmadinejad shoots off test missiles while engaged in uranium enrichment, or makes appalling statements about wiping Israel "off the map," one wonders how pragmatic and rational Islamic Republic really is?

7. NIAC as Human Rights Advocate:Despite extreme brutality and crack down and stories of rape, torture and killing, NIAC issued a statement on June 16, 2009 asserting that United States “should not interfere” as its involvement would be counterproductive.” Parsi also took issue with a strong statement of support for the young Iranian freedom fighters expressed by Senator Joseph Lieberman when he urged the Obama administration to "speak out, loudly and clearly, about what is happening in Iran and unambiguously express its solidarity with the brave Iranians. Trita Parsi, unashamedly, has referred to Iran’s blatant human rights violation as “less than flattering human rights record,” and anticipated “a trend towards the improvement of human rights situation” in Iran. The reality is, human rights violations have gotten progressively worse. Iran is second to China on human rights violations and NIAC has never taken a real strong position in defense of human rights in Iran, except for occasional “feel good” and apologetic statements.

Iran has one of the youngest demographics in the world. Over 70% of the population is under the age of 35. On June 12th, they went to the streets, chanting “Where is my vote?” Demonstrations are getting more organized and are spreading to other parts of Iran to form a truly popular movement. Today, the protesters no longer are seeking democratic elections; they are demanding regime change. There are cracks appearing almost daily within the regime. About 27 Iranian diplomats have already defected. Many ayatollahs have declared the regime neither republic, nor Islamic. Any US policy towards Iran needs to seek input from a larger more diverse group of Iranians representing current thinking on Iran in order to develop a more robust, effective and sustainable foreign policy towards Iran. Trita Parsi left Iran when he was four years old. He is not even an Iranian-American which disqualifies him to speak for Iranian Americans. His experience on Iran is rather limited to personalities who are either regime supporters, seek economic ties with Iran, or are Islamic Republic high level officials. Limiting the discussion and input only to NIAC, and monopolization of the discussion by NIAC, and its proxies will have devastating results.

Mullahs are intent on developing nuclear weapons. With a nuclear Iran as a major power in the volatile Middle East and with oil price at 70 to 80 dollars a barrel, the Islamic Republic will expand its presence around the world. In collaboration with allies such as Russia, China and Venezuela, Islamic Republic will flaunt its military power in the Persian Gulf to demonstrate its regional dominance and superiority in the Middle East, challenging Israel into a direct and inevitable confrontation. If mullahs are allowed to realize their nuclear aspirations, its pernicious and disastrous impact will be felt far beyond the Middle East.

By supporting Iranian opposition groups, the world community not only canavert a regional and potentially global catastrophe, it will help establish a democratic system of government in the region. If Iranians are successful in shaking off the yoke of theocracy, their success could herald the failure of a political and militant Islam. Helping Iran become a democracy not only is a moral imperative, but should be considered an essential foreign policy priority. On December 7, Iranians demonstrators shouted loudly “Obama are you with us or with them?” It is time for the United States to place itself on the right side of history. President Obama has no logical alternative but to stand with the people of Iran or shoulder the responsibility for dangerous consequences of propping up a dictatorship bent on expansion of a religious and fanatical ideology.

Dr. Arash Irandoost is an Iranian-American researcher and a political activist who advocates for a regime change for Iran. He has been published in numerous e-magazines and has a blog at // He also serves as the international spokesperson for Iranian Students Solidarity Organization.


more from arash Irandoost

My 2 Cents

by Parvin on

As long as NIAC continues to mis-inform the Washington politicians about what is really good for the Iranian people, we will continue to speak up against them.  Like Apranik said, NIAC has tried to put a spin on the Iranian situation but everytime they come back to the same things: 1)remove the sanctions and 2) give negotiations more time (give IRI more time to complete their nuclear weapon program). 

By the way, speaking against NIAC is not the only thing we're doing.  We are doing a lot more to be the voice of the Iranian brave young men and women who are pursuing freedom and democracy and are willing to pay the ultimate price for it.  SHAME on NIAC for being the voice of IRI in Washington instead of the freedom loving Iranians!!!


2 Replies

by Apranik on

To A. Hojjati- 

Anahid Hojjati, "All those not liking NIAC, please form your own group and quit complaining about NIAC. You guys are becoming so boring with no positive effect in Iranian or American societies."  

Boring you say. We see it differently. NIAC continues to infiltrate and influence US Iranian policy, which perpetuates the inexcusible and horrific state our fellow Iranians must live within. As long as this situation continues, we feel it our duty to expose and debate NIAC and it's leaders.

 Regarding other groups, "we are in place and being productive". We work relentlessy and are seeing positive results despite NIAC's continual undermining of American policy and Iranian citizen's progress for a democratic Iran. Thank you"

To MM  "Déjà Vu all over again" moment."

Please read preceeding comment to Aanahid. Deja Vu - that's how we feel about NIAC exactly. The same message- over and over and over. Sorry 2  or 3 blogs sets your nerves off. NIAC tweeks the message occassionally to stay on top of the political game- but they always come around to the sanction issue, even when talking about human rights abuses. Just can't help themselves. Always has to get at least a comment or two in about sanctions. Talk about boringgggggggg. For years - the same old tired philosophy. I'm sure the only reason it has changed about 20% lately is because the whole world didn't agree with them. Excuse me, except AN and company.

Sorry MM- we all must get used to the tunes of the times- "sanctions" NIAC" "human rights abuses" and so on. You are going to need to dig deep and find the PATIENCE. This is going to be an evolving and sometimes repetitive situation for a long time. I appreciate your interest in this topic and I believe we share the same end goal- a free, Democratic Iran where the citizens decide who leads them.

 At least I hope we have this in common-



Anahid Hojjati

Why so much criticism of NIAC? Just form your own group

by Anahid Hojjati on


All those not liking NIAC, please form your own group and quit complaining about NIAC. You guys are becoming so boring with no positive effect in Iranian or American societies.  


We had 2 exhaustive blogs on NIAC. Thanks.

by MM on

We had two exhaustive blogs very recently, within a month, on regarding NIAC.  Please read: 

Setting the Record Straight On NIAC 

Calling for debate over NIAC

The answers to many, if not all of Mr. Irandoost's questions/issues can be found in the latter two blogs alone.  The second blog, Calling for debate over NIAC, resulted in the formation of a new International Iranian Counsil (IIC):

Please join International Iranian Council (IIC) 

International Iranian Council on Facebook,

because many thought that NIAC represented more of the needs of the Iranian-Americans living in the the US.

I am sorry to have sounded impatient, but Mr. Irandoost had a chance to address all those issues very recently in the last two blogs on NIAC instead of having a "Déjà Vu all over again" moment.  Thanks.

arash Irandoost

Dear MM:

by arash Irandoost on

As usual when folks like you are confronted with the agree but change the subject.  Which part of my artcile  (7 points) you did not agree?). 

My record speaks for itself.   I saw NIAC's letter an its Website about Barret's bill, but frankly I refuse to let NIAC to speak for me or represent me.  I did not join their letter campaign...instead I called his office directly and expressed my concern.

Let me ask you a question: Where has NIAC been with all these rapes in mullahs prisons?  Trita's reply:  Islamic Republic shows signs of impronement on human rights...with friends like NIAC...Iranian American do not need any enemies.

We have a petition going on human rights...where is NIAC's...or is he in denial that Iranians were not beaten or raped in Kahrizak?

FYI: Have read any of the comments?  Please do...except for you who gives NIAC lip service..everybody else seems to agree with my points.

Good day.


p.s.: If you are ready to discuss specific points regarding my artcile...lets talk.


MM- You insult

by Apranik on

MM- You insult Iranian-Americans with your comments calling them apathetic and self serving. You are obviously not connected to our community or you would know we are very active. Unlike top members of NIAC, who seem to feel no fear exposing themselves, the rest of us are caught in a difficult spot. If we become to high profile, we risk the safety of our families back in Iran. Did you ever question why Parsi and his top associates do not fear exposure? regarding Barretts bill- we knew he would be all over that bill. Trita Parsi is not an American citizen and would be booted out of our country. Of course he went into overdrive fighting that.

Hovakhshatare- Regarding NIAC's lack of influence in US politics and media, I beg to differ again. Just one of so many examples-John Limbert is Hillary Clinton's envoy for Iran. Before his recent appointment, he was on NIAC's board. Today,Obama  finished meeting to discuss sanctions with other world leaders. Prior to this meeting, the White House met with 4 senior Iranian experts, all NIAC members gathered by John Limbert. This is all we hear and read about in US- rarely a non-NIAC source of information, unless from someone outside of US. With media it is the same, as NIAC and NIAC affiliates are pretty much the only source of information on Iran, broadcast in American mainstream media. Parsi refuses to debate anyone and there are videos from meetings where Parsi is questioned and just up and leaves the room to avoid questions he doesnt like. He and his group quickly resort to name calling (ie neocons) if anyone questions them in an op ed. Most of the time our comments do not even get published, particuarly in the Huffington Post.

Another rumor that Parsi has started is that Hassan Dai is a MKO member. Dai claims he has never been and is not currently a member of this organization. When Parsi filed his lawsuit against Dai for defamation of character, NIAC also hired a Washington D.C. PR firm. All of a sudden, Parsi claimed Dai was a MKO and everyone else who questioned him was a "neocon." I can't tell you how manty times I read NIAC member articles and they call Dai a MKO member. Where is the evidence? I have personally been called a neocon in oped's when I question comments inconsistent with NIAC policies. Sort of ridiculous, since I campaigned and voted for Obama and hate war. The name-calling is pervasive throughout the NIAC community. It is immature and counterproductive. The only other group name-calling is the IRI. 

We, in America, have watched Parsi over the years. It is only recently that he shows any interest in the human rights abuses in Iran. I am certain it is from pressure within his group, not his own conscience.  In time the US courts will decide whether Parsi/NIAC has committed a federal offense by claiming his group is only an education group without any political actions. They have never filed as a lobby nor payed federal taxes. The IRS and our court system will be mighty upset if they decide NIAC is a lobby.

Ultimatedly, the brave citizens in Iran will determine their future, not a small group of people in the US.



Dear Arash Irandoost

by Ahura on

Thank you for the accurate and timely article. Like our friend MasoudA has been correctly saying NIAC is a nonissue among the majority of Iranian expatriates in USA.

On IRI nuclear arms development problem, USA and Allies should heed the call of help from the opposition movement in Iran and impose sanctions on IRI even without the participation of China and Russia. Targeted sanctions, as a first step, on IRGC terrorist group and IRI leaders weakens the regime and encourages the secular democratic opposition movement in Iran telling them that “free world is with you.”

The cost of sanctions to USA and Allies is a small investment that produces huge dividend of replacing IRI menace with a secular democratic regime by Iranian people.


Well said

by masoudA on

But I also agree with Hovakh - NIAC has been exposed - no longer a factor.   When they confront US Congress or Senate - and after they present their suggestions and insights as what the majority of Iranians think - they are always asked:  What do the Iranian minority want?????!!!!!!


here we go again

by MM on

Arash is partly correct.  NIAC does not represent the majority of the Iranian-American community.  However, that is because most Iranian-Americans are too content to go to work, come back home, a little dinner, a little visit, maybe a little party w/ "beshkan", and hardly any political activism.  I know because that is the way of was before 9/11/2001.

NIAC is action oriented, looking after the affairs of the Iranian-Americans who are active in politics and in the community.  I went into your website, Mr. Irandoost.  Did you do anything about rep. Barrett's anti-Iranian bill?  Of course, NOT.  That is because you were completely ignorant of the real issues that grip the Iranian-American community. 

Let's see.  NIAC, last week, took a stack of 3600 letters from the activist Iranian-Americans to rep.Barrett's office (and others) and called for meetings to discuss this issue.  Where the heck were you, my good friend?  Giving lip service, or I should say, keyboard service bad-mouthing others with alternative views.

My views and NIAC's views on IRI are clear.  If you do not want to get a grip on them, that is too bad.  As far as lip service, I called the networks to see if they listen to a folks like you?  They said: sure, tell him to be ready, as soon as hell freezes over.



Well articulated piece.

by benross on

Well articulated piece. Thank you. But I tend to agree with Hovakhshatare that NIAC is overstated in its policy making influence... as much as AIPAC.

U.S should now look at Iranians. Not Iranian-Americans. 

Sargord Pirouz

Gimme some mayo on this baloney sandwich

by Sargord Pirouz on



NIAC is not as important or influential as projected

by Hovakhshatare on

They are visible thanks to the mentor/supporters (Brezinski et al) already pushing the same policies. U.S. has long since lost Iran & its own interests for poor advice. They can listen to Brezinski et al to ensure the loss is not recoverable.