Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Iran and Its Friends

While the mullahs, apparently, have many friends in American universities and plenty of mileage to be gained out of NIAC, they also have the benefit of eager spinners who seem to be intent on creating a sort of Journo-list for the pro-Iranian-regime position. A series of e-mails has come my way that makes clear just how politically active some think-tank members are as they plot to “educate” American opinion makers:

—–Original Message—–
From: Trita Parsi

Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2005 3:45 PM
To: ‘Siamak Namazi’; ‘Hadi Semati’; ‘Karim Sadjadpour’;
Subject: RE: Our Group Meeting
Sounds good to me

—–Original Message—–
From: Siamak Namazi
Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2005 3:38 PM
To: Hadi Semati; tparsi XXXX; Karim Sadjadpour; molaviXXX;
sanamvakilXXX; rtakyeh XXX
Subject: Our Group Meeting
Lady and Gents,

If you all agree, let’s gear up for the second discussion session.
Hopefully this time Sanam and Afshin will also be able to attend. (Sanam
jan, my apologies on behalf of all of us for forgetting to ask you to
attend the first session.)

Trita is out to Mexico and Afshin is back in a few days. Perhaps we can
mark our calendars now for the second week in Dec.  How about Wed 14
December, 2:00-4:00 pm?  Venue: whatever works best for the group. I can
try to reserve a room at NED, if you like.

Topics for discussion in our signature informal, chaotic way:

1- Iran-US: what did Burns try to say with this speech?  After so much
anticipation, why was there nothing new?

2- Nukes: this is going to be staple diet for discussion for a while to
come, I suppose.

3- Latest on the domestic side: Maybe we can think about the politics of
selecting the oil minister and what it all means.

Of course, all the above is a suggestion.

Best,
Sia

—–Original Message—–
From: Siamak Namazi
Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2005 3:27 PM
To: Hadi Semati; tparsi XXX; ksadj XXX
Subject: tomorrow

Gentlemen,

So, here’s the plan for tomorrow.  We meet at 1:30 sharp (even for you Karim).  Regarding the venue, Trita and Karim to decide whether they prefer NED or Wilson Center, since Hadi and I would obviously prefer to stay put.  In general, Hadi’s office is bigger and the Wilson Center has nice couches where we can also sit and talk, if you prefer.  But, NED is closer to you two…

Format:  I suggest we discuss two issues tomorrow, each for roughly 30 minutes: (1) The nuclear file; (2) the domestic struggle for power – Is the system really worried about A-N?

After this discussion/update, we move to think through, collectively, what we think the US/EU should do in response to these issues?  Again, we might have disagreements, which is fine. But, if we can develop a list of 3 main points that we all believe in, it would be great; we can all make sure to make these points at various venues.

Hopefully, if this small study group continues, we could meet once a month to update one another on news of Iran and fine tune our policy recs.  The first meeting is a bit tricky since there are so many topics. In the future, perhaps we can come up with one single issue, and one person can assume the responsibility of giving a 10 min brief on it, then others enter the discussion by taking time.

Over all, I would think that these meetings have 3 main purposes:

1-       To get this group to bring to the table their various pieces of the puzzle so that we all see a clearer picture of what is happening in/about Iran;
2-       To develop a common list of policy recommendation to enhance our ability to influence decision-makers;
3-       To help “train” people like Haghighatjoo
who will get a lot of attention but don’t nec have a good understanding of how things work in the USA

With due respect to seniority, I hope Hadi accepts to Chair the session tomorrow and basically kick-start the discussions.

If you like, we can take 10 mins in the beginning to discuss the best format too.

So, Trita, Karim – please confirm the preferred venue.

Hadi – please see if Haghighatjoo is interested in joining in.

Cheers,
sia

Siamak Namazi
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

So here we have “experts” Karim Sadjadpour (of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) and Afshin Molavi (of the New America Foundation), who are treated as independent gurus by the likes of NPR and CNN, spending their time consulting and plotting with NIAC to spin American public opinion in the direction of the mullahs’ party line. Nor is the effort to hush up or “train” Fatemeh Haghighatjoo (a prominent reformist who resigned from the Iranian parliament in protest and who has spoken of the need for U.S. assistance to the democracy movement) anything new. But what is new, perhaps, is an increased appreciation for how much coordination is going on to project the spin of the Iranian regime.