Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Iran In Context


Published on

Background on Iran, US-Iran relations and the Iranian-American perspective on Iran's nuclear program.

Published in: News & Politics, Spiritual
  • Be the first to comment

Iran In Context

  1. 1. Iran in Context National Iranian American Council
  2. 2. Topics <ul><li>Iran 101: Geography, key stats, historical highlights </li></ul><ul><li>The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) </li></ul><ul><li>A nuclear Iran </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion and Q&A </li></ul><ul><li>Other topics? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Iran Quiz <ul><li>To which ethnic group do the majority of Iranians belong? </li></ul><ul><li>What is Iran’s official language? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the predominant religion? </li></ul><ul><li>How old is the democracy movement in Iran? </li></ul><ul><li>What % of students seeking higher education are Women? </li></ul><ul><li>[easy] Which Mid Eastern country boasts the second highest Jewish population after Israel? </li></ul><ul><li>What % of Iranians want normal relations with West? </li></ul><ul><li>Persian (not Arab - neither good nor bad) </li></ul><ul><li>Persian (farsi), Indo-Iranian language. Linguistically closer to Swedish than to Arabic </li></ul><ul><li>Muslim Shia, strong Zoroastrian influence </li></ul><ul><li>Over 100 years </li></ul><ul><li>65%. </li></ul><ul><li>Iran. Indeed. </li></ul><ul><li>According to 2007 survey, 70% of Iranians said they favor normal relations with the West 1 </li></ul>1. “What do Iranians Really Think,” Ken Ballen, Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2007
  4. 4. About Iran <ul><li>Population: 70M (~2.6 times the pop. of Iraq) </li></ul><ul><li>Area: 650K sq miles (~3.7 times the size of Iraq) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Key Facts and Figures <ul><li>One of the oldest countries in the world and a former empire, thus a strong sense of national pride; </li></ul><ul><li>Many ‘firsts’ including first declaration of human rights by Cyrus the Great in 539 B.C. (Cyrus freed 50,000 Jewish slaves in Babylon and appears in the Old Testament); </li></ul><ul><li>Over 100 years of struggle to gain Democracy – Constitutional revolution in 1906; </li></ul><ul><li>A refuge for many (in 1990’s Iran hosted the largest refuge population in the world – 4.5 million of the 17.5 million refugees WW) </li></ul><ul><li>Role of Women- Women have a very complex role that cannot be characterized in a sound bite. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Severe social restrictions, yet women fully participate in all aspects of society </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For instance, at one point, more women in Iranian parliament than U.S. Senate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Highly educated population: 80% literacy rate roughly equal among men/women. Highest literacy rate in the Middle East. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Complex Relationship with U.S. <ul><li>In 1953 -- CIA coup ousted democratic government. Profound impact on national psyche. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Imagine Kennedy assassinated by the U.K. and replaced with Q. Elizabeth (very hard to imagine for us, but analogous to what the U.S. did in Iran) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Iran ‘hostages’ were a reaction to U.S. meddling </li></ul><ul><li>Nevertheless, a very favorable view of US, especially among young and Iranian middle class; </li></ul>
  7. 7. About IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) <ul><li>61% of Iranians openly admitted that they oppose Iran’s system of government over the phone to American pollsters </li></ul><ul><li>IRI is a supporter of anti-Israel (but not anti-American) terrorist organizations </li></ul><ul><li>President Ahmadinejad’s outrageous comments about Israel and the Holocaust not reflective of Iranian popular opinion </li></ul><ul><li>Iran is not a democracy and the President is not Commander-In-Chief </li></ul><ul><li>Iranian policy posture is Anti-Israel, not anti-Jew </li></ul>
  8. 8. Exaggerated Dangers of Iran with Nuclear Weapons <ul><li>Fallacy of the Mad-mullah argument (using nukes against US or Israel) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Iranian regime acts rationally in pursuit of it primary interest– namely its own survival. It is highly unlikely for IRI regime to commit suicide by instigating an attack </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>U.S. intelligence community also believes Iran is a rational actor per 2007 NIE report </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Giving nukes to terror groups that may use them against U.S. or Israel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If used, nuclear material can easily be traced to where they were made </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Again, very unlikely IRI would commit such suicide unless provoked </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. More Realistic Dangers of a Nuclear Armed Iran <ul><li>It is about energy not weapons </li></ul><ul><li>Will put U.S. in a less favorable bargaining/negotiating position </li></ul><ul><li>May upset the balance of power in the location of the world's largest oil reserves </li></ul><ul><li>May accelerate an arms race in ME </li></ul>
  10. 10. Other Important Points <ul><li>Iran is well-within Non-nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations which gives all signatories the right to peaceful nuclear energy including uranium enrichment </li></ul><ul><li>US National Intelligence Estimate indicates that nuclear weapons program was stopped several years ago </li></ul><ul><li>Iran had absolutely no involvement in 9/11 attacks and considers Al Qaeda to be an enemy (sound familiar?) </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike Al Qaeda, neither the Iranian regime nor people are interested in killing Americans. An American attack is likely to change this as it did for many Sunni Iraqis. </li></ul><ul><li>Once again, hawk elements claim Iranian people would welcome US attacks (could not be further from reality) </li></ul><ul><li>There is a diplomatic solution: Iran made an overture in 2003 by offering a comprehensive solution. Bush administration completely ignored the opportunity to negotiate. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Impacts of Bush Admin.’s Iran Foreign Policy <ul><li>Took out 2 of the worst enemies of the Iranian regime: Taliban and Saddam. Destabilized the Middle East by putting Israel and Iran on a collision course </li></ul><ul><li>Has virtually urged the regime to pursue nukes by creating a credible threat -- The Axis-of-Evil talk </li></ul><ul><li>Has helped popularity of that regime inside and outside Iran by continuing to play to its strength (e.g. the nuclear issue and the war rhetoric) </li></ul><ul><li>Other policies such as $70M “Democracy Fund” has devastated the pro-democracy movement inside Iran </li></ul>
  12. 12. Dangers of Attacking Iran <ul><li>Economic: Very likely to send the world economy into a depression </li></ul><ul><li>Iranian Regime: Likely to consolidate their power. Iranians will rally around their flag (even if they don’t support their leaders today) </li></ul><ul><li>US Security: Distraction from US war on terror </li></ul><ul><li>Create brand new sworn enemies of US where there isn’t one today (as in the case of Iraq) and fuel existing Islamic rage </li></ul><ul><li>Possibility of creating or accelerating Iran’s nuclear weapons program (recall Iraq in 1982) </li></ul><ul><li>A wounded regime would be far more unpredictable and dangerous; a range of non-conventional and destabilizing retaliatory responses available to Iranian regime </li></ul><ul><li>Humanitarian: An attack is estimated to result in loss of life in the millions and catastrophic damage to infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES??? REMEMBER 1953 </li></ul>
  13. 13. Beware of Iranian Versions of Ahmed Chalabi <ul><li>MEK (Mojahedin-E Khalgh): anti-IRI group designated by State Dept. as a terrorist organization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Attractive to neoconservatives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Richard Perle at MEK fundraiser </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fox News use of MEK members as political commentators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Numerous front groups in the US </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pro-Shah groups/individuals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The May/06 made-up story about the Iranian regime requiring Jews & Christians to wear colored badges! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Numerous Persian satellite TV Channels in US </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. What should U.S. do? <ul><li>Stop playing to IRI’s strength (e.g. the nuclear issue) </li></ul><ul><li>Start playing to IRI’s weaknesses (such as human rights and democratization) </li></ul><ul><li>Call off the very credible US & Israeli threats </li></ul><ul><li>Genuine diplomacy -- as opposed to the pretence of it </li></ul><ul><li>Stay away from any action that would weaken the Iranian middle class (such as blanket sanctions) -- Middle class is the engine of any democracy </li></ul><ul><li>Be mindful of Iranians’ strong sense of nationalism (ex: Bush’s message to Iranian people on June 19, 06) </li></ul>
  15. 15. What can you do? <ul><li>Write or meet with Congressman Larsen and Senators Cantwell and Murray with the following points: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>TRUE Diplomacy has not been tried despite the stated policy. We must remove pre-conditions and engage in dialogue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Without real diplomacy, we are on a path to war with Iran </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Now is the time to engage is real diplomacy given the NIE report that indicates Iranians put their weapons program on hold </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The majority of the Iranian population is pro-American, we need to change our policies and our rhetoric to stop benefiting the regime </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A diplomatic solution exists but it requires time and the willingness to talk to people we may not like (like we did with the USSR) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Finally, ask them to support ”Iran Diplomatic Accountability Act” (H.R. 5056) introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) requiring assignment of a senior envoy to Iran and good faith diplomacy </li></ul>
  16. 16. Slideshow
  17. 17. References <ul><li>Lack of specific evidence of Iranian clandestine nuclear weapons program; Intelligence cherry picking by President Bush ( LAST STAND , by Seymour Hersh – July 3, 2006): </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Jews in Iran Describe a Life of Freedom </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Richard Perle at fundraising event linked to MEK, anti-IRI group designated by State Department as a terrorist organization: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>MEK lobbying efforts in US: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>MEK member, a Foreign Affairs Analyst for Fox News: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. References - continued <ul><li>Disinformation campaign against Iranian regime in May 2006 (Note: Amir Taheri was editor of Keyhan, Shah’s main paper before the 1979 revolution, with links to Richard Perle as noted in this article): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yellow journalism and chicken hawks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bush Comments Boosted Hard-Line Votes (in Iran’s 2005 presidential elections): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>,2933,160070,00.html </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Iran requested to talk to US government in 2003 (with everything on the table) - Burnt Offering: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>President Bush’s message to Iranian People on 6/19/06 (a positive example of being mindful of Iranians’ sense of nationalism): </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Vafa, Omid. &quot;Refugees in Iran and International Security&quot;  Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA, 2006-03-22 <Not Available>. 2008-02-09 </li></ul>