Iranian lobbyist omits important details of NIAC group’s history

Hooshang Amirahmadi, the Iranian-American academic, and political analyst

In this excerpt from an interview with the Iranian ‘Aparat’ news site, Hooshang Amirahmadi, the Iranian-American academic and political analyst who was amongst the original founders of the Iranian regime’s US-based National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), talks about the council’s supposed objectives.

Amirahmadi, a long-time propagandist for Iran’s regime, claims that the NIAC, now headed by Trita Parsi, is a non-profit body dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people. He claims that the council, established on the suggestion of Iran’s current Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, was established to lobby in favor of the Iranian regime’s interests, especially in matters such as the 2015 nuclear deal and the lifting of US sanctions on Iran. Amirahmadi says that the NIAC did little real work before the last three or four years saying, “It came since the arrival of Javad Zarif and Hassan Rouhani, and in fact, it was founded by Javad Zarif. Mr. Zarif believed that they [the regime] should organize a use the Iranians living in the United States to serve the Islamic Republic.”

It should be explained that the NIAC, which is officially primarily dedicated to sanctions-busting and advocacy on behalf of the Iranian regime, was actually unofficially founded in 1997, five years before its official 2002 launch, in partnership between Amirahmadi and major U.S. oil companies keen to establish ties with Iran’s regime and gain access to the country’s massive oil resources.

In several interviews since then, Amirahmadi has referred to the NIAC as a “prominent lobby in the U.S that strives to defend Iran’s interests and to oppose the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC.”

In 2009, the incoming Obama administration decided that it could use the NIAC’s help in rebuilding previously strained ties with the Iranian regime’s leaders, working closely with Trita Parsi, the current NIAC director, to mend the rifts between the two nations. The NIAC also helped to endorse and legitimize Obama’s friendly attitude to the theocratic regime, especially after the Iranian popular uprising of 2009-10 was viciously crushed by the regime with the world watching on TV; Obama chose to disregard the regime’s brutal repression in order to focus on building closer ties with Tehran’s leadership to advance his legacy deal. As a result of this warm relationship, the NIAC gained a significant degree of influence in the Obama administration, becoming effectively a White House partner. Even Parsi, formerly a fringe player in Washington, was elevated to the status of a semi-legitimate ‘expert’, who was depicted as a representative of the Iranian-American community with no acknowledgment of his longstanding close ties to the Iranian regime leadership.