General

Should Iran’s lobbyists be included in the Executive Order’s Ban?

Recently an Executive Order that bans nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for at least the next 90 days has prompted fierce debates, including arguments over who does or does not actually endanger the national security of the United States. 

Iran is one of the countries named, as it has been said that the Islamic Republic of Iran remains the number one state sponsor of terrorism.

Overlooked is the threat may be coming from the well-knit group of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s operatives or lobbyists, who are already in the US, and are determined to persuade US policy-makers that appeasement is the only peaceful means to contain the top state sponsor of terrorism.

Many, like Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist, and president of the International American Council, are of the opinion that although Iran’s lobbyists work in plain sight and have access to top officials at the White House and State Department.  He says, “they lobbied for the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, top state sponsor of terrorism, and subsequently lifting of sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), while demonizing Iranian-Americans who called for firmness against Iran’s ruling clerics and ayatollahs.”

In addition, Dr. Rafizadeh claims that some of pro-Iran lobbyists appear to have managed to ignore the US law, the lobbying disclosure act, that requires anyone who is lobbying and gaining money to register for the sake of transparency.

He also believes that there is another category of Iran’s lobbyists who are now embedded in almost every sector of the American society including academic, universities, and non-academic arenas such as think tanks. 

“They have their work cut out for them”, adding that this category include some of the former regime insiders, was pointed out by Ali, a policy analyst.

The former assistant director for counterintelligence for the FBI, Frank Figliuzzi, told Bloomberg “We have intelligence and cases indicating that US universities are indeed a target of foreign intelligence services.”

Dr. Rafizadeh wonders if one can, with any credibility, “defend their paymasters’ export of terrorism, military adventurism, meddling in other countries’ affairs, vicious abuses of human rights or persecution of religious and ethnic minorities.” He adds that over the years, sophisticated modus operandi, has been developed by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence whereby its advocates offer excuses for the ruling regime’s antipathy to democratic freedoms because of “cultural differences” or “Western preconceptions”.

The lobbyists and advocates for the Islamic Republic, Dr. Rafizadeh claims, dismiss those who suggest that the US should respond to this conduct with firmness as a warmonger.  He says that it seems that according to them, the way to improve Iran’s behavior, is to ignore the regional meddling, human rights abuses, arrests of activists and journalists, abuse of Sunni, Baha’is and other religious minorities, and mass executions.

However, they ignore the popular opposition, the organized resistance to the regime, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its main component, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

In 2009 millions of Iranians protested in the streets, calling for the regime’s overthrow.  The US and the rest of the world watched helplessly as unarmed protesters were killed. That massive popular movement was an expression of the sentiment of Iran’s people, coalescing in the NCRI, which serves as the parliament-in-exile from its headquarters outside Paris.

The NCRI’s main component, the MEK, has been described as “a legitimate resistance movement,” by bi-partisan majorities in the House of Representatives and a significant number of Senators, as well as “a prominent anti-fundamentalist organization adhering to a tolerant Islam,” and “a major player in confronting this ominous phenomenon and terrorism emanating from it.”

For 36 years the NCR has been the longest-standing political coalition in Iran’s history. It’s annual convention in Paris is attended by leading bi-partisan political, military and diplomatic officials from around the world, who speak to crowds that exceed 100,000.

In 2001, nearly three-dozen Senators wrote: “US policy should reach out to those working to establish a democratic and pluralistic system in the country. In this context, support for the democratic goals of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and its President-elect, Maryam Rajavi, whose objectives are supported by the majority of Iranians, can contribute to peace, human rights and regional stability.”

“Why haven’t our policy-makers listened?” asks Dr. Rafizadeh.  It may be because so-called Iran experts and scholars , who he calls subtle, often sophisticated, well- heeled and well trained, are likely working for the Islamic Republic of Iran, and he alleges, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry have been spoon-feeding them the Iranian regime’s gruel, adding that they “pose a real and present danger and they should be dealt with swiftly and decisively.” 

 

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