The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has long been sensitive about accusations that it acts as, at best, a de facto lobby for the Islamic Republic of Iran and, at worst, an unregistered foreign agent on behalf of the Iranian regime.
The reason for suspicion with regard to the idea that NIAC is a lobby runs deep, ranging from its formational documents to panels its members have sponsored about how to lobby to the fact that it seems always to stake out positions consistent more with that of Tehran than with that of the Iranian-American community. The reason for suspicion with regard to the idea that NIAC’s relations might be even more closely center upon founder Trita Parsi’s emails with former Iranian UN ambassador (and current Foreign Minister) Mohammad Javad Zarif. They show the NIAC founder seeking to arrange meetings and perhaps coordinate on strategy.
Now it seems the Islamic Republic is becoming less discreet about it efforts to leverage a lobby inside the United States. An Iran watcher and Iranian citizen recently alerted me to this clip showing Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s intelligence minister, on Iranian national television suggesting there are Iranians in the West who have a lobby for the regime.
Alavi does not mention NIAC, but the number of politically active groups that focus on issues of sanctions, defending Iran’s ballistic missile program, and Iran’s nuclear program can like be counted not only on one hand but rather on one finger. If Iran’s intelligence minister believes that Tehran can leverage a specific lobby in the West on behalf not of Iranians but rather of the Islamic Republic, perhaps it is time for American counterintelligence authorities to take a far harder look at whatever lobby to which Alavi might be referring.