Understanding NIAC’s agenda, with activist Heshmat Alavi

By | Rachel Brooks

February 3, 2021 

Above image shared as fair use illustration. See Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act. 

The lobby of NIAC and various other Iran-politically sympathizing organizations present their demonstrations similar to this one in American cities. The American public may not be aware that these lobbies do not represent the interests of the Iranian people, who are at severe odds with the Iranian political regime, an apartheid state controlled by the chauvinism of a small Persian faction of Shiism, which oppresses all non-Parthian Iranians. 

To get a better understanding of how the U.S. and western world misunderstands the behaviors of the IRGC regime’s political bias, we spoke with Iranian activist Heshmat Alavi. Alavi is active on social media, and has referenced his work via Twitter throughout this interview’s text. 

Interviewers comments are in bold, responses are in plain text throughout.  

How have you been censored by Twitter and other western social outlets for commenting on the harmful policies of the NIAC, and Iran regime planting in the western world?

It is a known fact that Iran has established a significant network of apologists and lobbyists across the U.S. and Europe to whitewash its crimes and justify its malign policies. One major element in this network is the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Iran’s lobby arm in the U.S.

For many years, especially during the Obama tenure, this network enjoyed unprecedented access to both the Obama White House and a long list of politicians who favored a pro-appeasement approach vis-à-vis Tehran’s regime. Mainstream media networks that also promote the pro-appeasement policy have long provided platforms to these Iranian lobbyists to parrot Iran’s talking points.

It is quite obvious that this network of Iran apologists/lobbyists do not appreciate the fact that activists like me shed light on their measures and links to the Iranian regime. As an activist, I have used various social media platforms and different websites to publish content revealing the links of these apologists/lobbyists to Tehran.

I have been approached by many individuals expressing gratitude for the work I do and saying how I must definitely be censored or shadow-banned, as they say, due to the nature of my work. I have seen my social media accounts suspended and then reinstated, indicating a heavy push from Iran’s lobbyists, and thus efforts by myself and friends and supporters to get my accounts back online. The very fact that this effort continues to this day further indicates how vital this work is and how sensitive Iran’s network is to any revelations about their true natures.

Perhaps you can tell me more about your work on highlighting the shared rhetoric of NIAC and Tehran, as well as how Tehran is the technical founder of NIAC. 

Iran’s regime has a long history of human rights violations and support for terrorism, along with other malign activities. Tehran understands that it needs a vast lobby network to justify its measures and policies. Therefore, the pattern is quite simple. Once a specific talking point is established from senior Iranian regime officials, one needs only to follow this narrative in the media to see which reporters pick up the storyline and promote it in a manner that boosts Tehran’s agenda.

Former Iranian intelligence minister Ali Fallahian said in an interview that the Iranian Intelligence Ministry uses “reporters” for its espionage work abroad. From there it spreads to think tanks, political institutions, and even professors in various universities in the West. 

There is no doubt that NIAC was established by Tehran and the regime’s current Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif himself. Hooshang Amirahmadi, a professor at Rutgers University and President of the American Iranian Council, an Iranian lobby arm, specifically said in a Persian interview that Zarif launched NIAC.

A court hearing shed light on emails from 2006 between NIAC founder Trita Paris and Zarif, then Iran’s ambassador to the UN. Parsi described himself as: “Few analysts in Washington have the access of Dr. Parsi to decision-makers in Iran.”

This thread provides more evidence on Parsi & NIAC’s direct ties with Tehran. 

What is your gravest concern with NIAC now that the Biden administration, expected to be far more lenient with Tehran than the Trump administration was, has taken power in the United States?

I believe all Iranians who yearn for a free and democratic Iran are concerned about NIAC influencing the Biden administration on Tehran’s behalf to adhere to the regime’s demands as much as possible with the aim of providing sanctions relief to the mullahs and their terrorist-designated Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). This would not benefit the Iranian people at all.

In the three years following the 2015 nuclear deal with Obama, Iran stepped up its support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s slaughter of his own people; boosted funding for proxy militias in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen; and sped up its ballistic missile programs.

NIAC will argue that there are “moderates” in Iran that the U.S. should engage with. This farce has been proven during the eras of former regime presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997) and Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), and current President Hassan Rouhani. The regime’s human rights violations at home, support for terrorism abroad, and their development of ballistic missiles and a clandestine drive for nuclear weapons have all intensified during these periods of “moderates” being in power in Iran.  

What must the western world understand to prevent the Iranian Islamists from building their own militant enclaves in the U.S. in the same way that they have influenced the production of intellectual affiliations? What must the western world understand about the disinformation tactics of Tehran in influencing, bating, and confusing western media into producing a narrative that is the spun-sugar of precisely what Tehran and its associated western political elites want the public to hear?

The western world should first understand that the regime ruling Iran is very deceptive. “Moderates” in Iran are nothing but puppets in an ongoing masquerade show directed by the regime dictator Ali Khamenei. And these “moderates” have used their network of apologists and lobbyists in the West to portray an acceptable image of the regime, pushing this argument that there is no solution other than war or accepting (read appeasing) the current regime ruling Iran.

While the truth is that there is a third option for Iran and that is ending the policy of appeasement and standing alongside the Iranian people and their organized resistance, represented by the coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). There is no need for a single dollar or euro to be spent by western governments, no need for boots on the ground, and most definitely no need to launch a new war. End the appeasement of Iran’s regime, adopt a firm policy based on sanctioning the regime’s human rights violations, support for terrorism, and its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (including ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons in the guise of a civil nuclear program), and the Iranian people and their organized resistance movement will do the rest.

How do Islamist outlets, such as Al Jazeera, build validation of these spun narratives? What is the answer to invalidate the commonly accepted misconceptions and narratives produced by mainstream media on the Iranian regime, and the “ruling class” apartheid within the Iranian state? 

I believe this explains it quite well.

What Happened to the New York Times’ Man in Tehran?

The Iranian diaspora has coined a term for this kind of news management, hashtag-beest, or “80/20,” meaning that 80% of the reporting focuses on the obvious and unavoidable, including mild or implied criticism of the regime, in order to establish credibility among foreign readers. According to Iranian political activist Heshmat Alavi, “The remaining 20 percent of their published material focuses on pushing Iran’s talking points, such as justifying Zarif’s arguments, praising Soleimani as a popular figure, and criticizing Iranian opposition groups.” And so the regime-friendly gaslighting produced by the Times’ man in Tehran highlighted a consistent array of topics pleasing to the ayatollahs and irritating to the U.S. administration: the Yemeni humanitarian disaster (always laid on Riyadh’s doorstep, never the Houthis’ or Iran’s), Brett Kavanaugh Bad, anti-refugee attacks in Germany, Israel bombing Hezbollah convoys in Syria (Bad), Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman visiting the United States (Bad), Pompeo replacing Tillerson (Bad), John Bolton (Worse), Apple closing its App Store to Islamic Republic consumers (Apocalypse), and predictable logrolling between Erdbrink and Vali Nasr and Al Jazeera’s favorite Iranian-American, Yara Elmjouie. 

And it was quite interesting to see how my comments in the Tablet Magazine caused quite a stir among members of Iran’s network of apologists/lobbyists. I explained in this thread.