Can Obama keep his promise?

Young Iranians hold the greatest hope for a democratic Iran


Can Obama keep his promise?
by jamal.abdi

The early verdict on the new Iran sanctions is that even the "smart" sanctions have proven to be, well, dumb. Instead of targeting Iranian government officials connected to the nuclear program or who are complicit in human rights abuses, the new sanctions are punishing young Iranians who have been the greatest allies of democracy, human rights, and accountability in Iran.

Late last week, it was revealed that young Iranians looking to attend college abroad are now facing serious impediments because of new sanctions. The Educational Testing Service--the US-based company that provides standardized tests necessary to apply for college, like the GRE and the TOEFL--announced that it was suspending tests for hopeful students in Iran in order to comply with recently passed UN sanctions.

Back in March, President Obama recorded a statement to Iran for Norooz--the Iranian New Year--in which he promised to "sustain our commitment to a more hopeful future for the Iranian people," which he said would include "increasing opportunities for educational exchanges so that Iranian students can come to our colleges and universities..."

But with the announcement that standardized testing has been suspended in Iran due to sanctions, President Obama has failed to live up to that commitment.

This President claimed that he could walk and chew gum at the same time. But in placing "pressure" at the center of his Iran policy, every other element of the President's Iran strategy is being subsumed by a singular focus on punitive actions, including the President's "outstretched hand" promises to the critical demographic of Iranian youth.

For those keeping score, the UN passed multilateral sanctions against Iran on June 9, which were then followed by more stringent, unilateral sanctions passed by Congress and signed into law by the President on July 1.

In the weeks that have passed, Iranian civilian jets have been denied access to European airports and, because Congress' sanctions specifically forbid companies from providing jet fuel to Iran, Iranian passenger planes are struggling to find ways to refuel, doubling the cost of travel for Iranians. Meanwhile, many of the same Iranians who were taking part in protests and fighting brutal government repression last year are now feeling the crunch of sanctions as the prices for most goods rise steeply.

And now, young Iranians who want to travel the world and study in universities in America and Europe are finding that US-led sanctions are denying them that opportunity.

President Obama seems to understand to the importance of connecting Iran's youth to the world, given that he has placed an emphasis in his outreach efforts on student exchanges and opening up the Internet. Iran is a country of young people--60% of Iranians are under thirty. All of these youth were born after 1979, post-Islamic Revolution, post-hostage crisis, and many even post-Khomeini. They have only lived under the broken promises of the Revolution and yearn for greater rights, more opportunities to express themselves, and increased interaction with the outside world. They are not moved by the Iranian government's propaganda and don't find relevance in the anti-Americanism that many in Iran's government claim as its raison d'être.

Young Iranians hold the greatest hope for a democratic Iran that has positive relations with the US and its neighbors. But by punishing these young Iranians and providing reasons to resent and distrust America, we play into the hands of those in Iran's government who are more comfortable with isolated, dejected young population than with a vibrant youth that is connected to the outside world and adamant about their rights and aspirations.

President Obama isn't the only one who understands the importance and power of Iran's youth. Ahmadinejad's government is increasingly exerting pressure on young Iranians, a continuation of the crackdowns at university campuses that has been central to Iran's efforts to suppress dissent over the years. There are instances of increasing cultural repression--such the policing of haircuts and nail polish, and new restrictions on movies and music. There are also expanding attempts to infiltrate and influence young Iranians through schools and universities, including a recent announcement that the government would be dispatching clerics to schools this fall to counter Western influence in classrooms.

Clearly Iran's government understands that Iran's young people are the locus for change in Iran. But the US will only alienate these young people by telling them they can't study in America or even take the GRE.

Obama Administration officials said for months that they only sought sanctions that would punish Iran's government, not its people. But it's unclear if any actions were actually taken in this regard. Sanctions are rife with unintended consequences--just look at how US sanctions last June blocked American communication software from being legally available in Iran, even as Iranians depended on Internet communication tools to broadcast their protests to the outside world. Those sanctions have thankfully been repealed, but not until the damage had already been done.

President Obama may not have intended to ban Iranian students from studying abroad. But until he reconciles his stated intentions towards the Iranian people with his Administration's prioritization of pressure, a pattern of contradictions will continue to emerge between what the President promises on Iran and what policies are actually being pursued.

Urge President Obama to keep his promise to Iranian students


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Ridivulous article

by i_support_khamenie on

Author says, educated Iranians hold out most hope for Iran.

Get real, western educated Iranians won't go back to Iran when given a chance.

Plus, there is now worldwide and not just US consesus that Iran is a danger to world peace.

Even African nations and Lebanon expressed doubt about Iran's nuke program.

So, when you have Iran and North Korea as two trouble makers, you have to get tough. This is about world peace. If Iranians are serious about change then they could start making life tough for the rulers in Iran. So far, they are still not serious enough.

pastor bill rennick

Brother Obama will do the same for Iran as his predecessor

by pastor bill rennick on

brother Bush did, nothing! Iranians need to realize that the only way forward is to "de-mullah-ize" Iran! Unfortunately, this is easier said than done!

Like when you want to buy a house they tell you three things you should ask for neighborhood, neighborhood, and neighborhood! When it comes to the mullahs, there are things you should ask for bomb mullahs, bomb mullahs, and bomb mullahs! So, the only practical solution is to drop high precision ordnance on sensitive targets all at once!

God bless America & Iran!



by jalaledin99 on

How would a democratic transformation help American interests?  The Iranian people have spoken, and they want a robust nuclear program along with independent foreign policy.  As you know, the US and Israel won't tolerate either of those.  It's only a matter of time before an attack is launched. 

This whole mantra of "Islam is bad" is a just a smoke screen for American Imperialism.  If you challenge American hegemony in the Persian Gulf you'll only wind being overthrown or killed.  It doesn't matter if you're a secular nationalist like Mossadegh, a Baathist like Saddam, or a religious guy like Khamenei.       

The US wants Iran (bearded or shaved) to be its protectorate, like South Korea, Japan, Pakistan or the Phillipines.

Masoud Kazemzadeh

For Fred and Amir

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on

Dear Fred,

I have not had time to follow NIAC. So the following are my perceptions of the little I have had the time to see.

In my opinion, the opposition to NIAC is quite widespread and intense.


Example One

When Trita Parsi wanted to speak in LA, large numbers of Iranians protested. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the tactic of booing a speaker or program is not germane to the discussion here. The point is the intensity of the opposition to NIAC and the widespread nature of the opposition to it. The intensity of opposition is obvious from the video. The individuals that booed Parsi included:

1. middle-of-the-road liberal democrats like Mr. Manuchehr Mohammadi (the brave pro-democracy student leader who was among those who led the mass uprising in July 1999, his brother had just died in prison and he himself had just escaped from Iran);


2. conservative monarchists;

3. It also appears that members of the left-wing Hezb Communist Kargari (Workers Communist Party) were present (but I am not sure).




Even Mohsen Makhmalbaf (one of the most prominent Green Movement leaders outside Iran) opposes Trita Parsi. Prominent Human Rights group, MEHR also has made criticisms of NIAC and Parsi. See //





Example Two

The following appears to be illustrating (and truly funny). It was when Saman posted his cartoon of the NIAC folks at Iranian.Com.




According to his own words, Saman had intended to poke fun of those who regard NIAC agents (or supporters) of the fundamentalist regime. What appears to be instructive is how most reacted, which appeared to be counter to Saman’s intention. It appears that those who oppose NIAC liked the cartoon and laughed. Those who were upset were apparently supporters of NIAC. Perhaps, one explanation might be that the perceptions of NIAC were so strong that these perceptions caused the intention of Saman to backfire.


Q (who is a supporter of NIAC) said:

"NIAC has been under siege from people calling them various forms of "Mullah lovers," after all."



In conclusion, in my opinion, you were right when you wrote: "And I am not the only one by a long shot."


With all the best wishes,


P.S. Please call me "Masoud."




Dear Amir,

Thanks for the info.

With all the best wishes,





jalaledin99 is dead wrong !

by bushtheliberator on

a democratic transformation in Iran would be PROFOUNDLY helpful to US interests,and is a recuring wet-dream for neo-cons. 


Fred must be correct!!!!

by Bavafa on

NIAC is not pro Iranian students, and their current petition/campaign is just a front. but AIPAC for sure is, maybe that is why they are pushing to bomb them.




by shushtari on

how the bache akhoonds, and we know who she is, never mention the mullahs' role in the mess that it is iran today!!

it's always the writer of the article or obama, or>>>>>>>>>>>>

but anyone BUT THE MULLAHS themselves who were brought in by foreigners to rape, pillage, and provide cheap or free oil as well as push iran back a 1000 years.....

all the the lies, crimes, and thievery has left the iranian people sick and tired of being in a prison....where a dirty akhoond has to tell them what to wear, how to cut their hair, when to eat, etc.


I hope that we can finally be a free country soon....although I know that the akhoonds and pasdars know well that this is their last stand, and they won't let go of iran easy 


Great and Little Satans are Iran's biggest problems

by AMIR1973 on

if anything, he intends to hold iranians back.

As she is accustomed to doing, "Niloufar Parsi" has issued a fatwa on the IRI. In her judgement, Israel (in another fatwa) and the U.S. (in the current one) are holding Iranians back. The role of the IRI in holding Iranians back for the past 31 years is either non-existent or unclear, at least judging from Khahar Niloufar's periodic fatwas.

Niloufar Parsi

terrible mistake

by Niloufar Parsi on

to expect obama to do anything for the iranian youth. it is not his job. not his priority. not even his business really. if anything, he intends to hold iranians back.

the article betrays self-doubt and a servile attitude.



by AMIR1973 on

That's an interesting article you linked to. When Ahmadinejad visited NYC in Sept '08 to attend the UN General Assembly, he met with a number of "antiwar" activists, some of whom were from the group Code Pink. That meeting with Ahmadinejad helped facilitate Code Pink's acquisition of visas to later visit the IRI. One of the individuals who helped show Code Pink around Iran during that visit was none other than Rostam Pourzal. 


Dr. Kazemzadeh

by Fred on

 Were they upfront and open about their lobbying activities, I would have no problem with NIAC lobby and its conjoined twin CASMII lobby (they share many main members including Alex Petico). 

But when they claim concern for welfare of Iranians and at the same time do what they have been doing in defense of the Islamist Rapists who are abusing Iran and Iranians, then I’ve got a bone to pick with them.  


And I am not the only one by a long shot.  


IRI has been using young Iranians since its first years

by AMIR1973 on

The biggest example of the IRI's cynical exploitation of the young is its use of boys as young as 12 years old as human minesweepers during the war with Iraq and its glorification of this. And now, the IRI-friendly NIAC group is using "young Iranians" to hide behind its opposition to sanctions against the IRI.

Masoud Kazemzadeh

Pro-Democracy Student Leader in Iran on NIAC and CASMII

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on

Dear Fred,

This is how one pro-democracy student leader INSIDE Iran thinks about NIAC and CASMII.  He has been a political prisoner as well.  The article has been published at the official website of the Daftar Tahkim Vahdat.


In original Persian:



In English translation:




NIAC bible

by Fred on

The newest NIAC lobby front guy says:

“Young Iranians hold the greatest hope for a democratic Iran that has positive relations with the US and its neighbors. But by punishing these young Iranians and providing reasons to resent and distrust America, we play into the hands of those in Iran's government who are more comfortable with isolated, dejected young population than with a vibrant youth that is connected to the outside world and adamant about their rights and aspirations. “

One wonders how the same “young Iranians” think about a lobby organization dedicated to having Islamist Rapist Republic recognized as a legitimate regional power, it is all in the PhD thesis  turned into book turned into NIAC bible.  

One wonders how the same “young Iranians” think about all the cozying up to the “reformist” Islamist Rapists which NIAC is on the record as having done and what good it did for them.

One wonders how the same “young Iranians” think about a lobby organization whose chief lobbyist and irreplaceable lifetime president is on the record having friendly relations with the Ambassador of the regime which oppresses them.

One wonders how the same “young Iranians" think about NIAC lobby refusal to answer legitimate questions instead suing an Iranian for asking them.

One wonders how the same “young Iranians” would think about NIAC lobby’s tactic of branding any detractor as “warmonger”, “Neocon”, …

The relevant question which needs answering is not about an Obama promise, it is when NIAC lobby is going to come clean?


what promise? like the promise in 1953?

by jalaledin99 on

If history proves anything, it shows that the US doesn't care about Iran or Iranian democracy.  Obama is nothing but an uncle Tom and he wants Iran to be an uncle Mohammad.