Trita Parsi in the Lion's Den


Trita Parsi in the Lion's Den
by Faramarz

On February 22, 2012 Trita Parsi of NIAC participated in a panel discussion at Woodrow Wilson Center about Iran, Israel and the Arabs. This was the first time that I had seen him in a not-so-friendly environment and I heard him say things that I have not heard him say before, like the Regime is repressive and will be toppled by the Iranians or the Regime’s influence in the Region has diminished. I thought that it would be interesting to share some of his comments here.

To set the stage, the 1:30 hour panel discussion was opened by Woodrow Wilson President, the ex-Congresswoman Jane Harman of Venice Beach, CA who is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and back in 2009 talked about dividing Iran along ethnic lines to reduce its threats!

The discussions were moderated by Aaron David Miller a veteran State Department Middle East expert and participated by Ephraim Sneh, the former Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, Ghaith al-Omari, the Director of American Task Force on Palestine and Trita Parsi of NIAC.

The opening statements starting at 0:15 minutes immediately made it quite clear that the Israeli and the Arab panelists clearly understood the threats posed by the Regime. The Israeli panelist argued that a nuclear-armed Iran will result in nuclear arms in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt which by the Islamist “Pakistani” tendencies of these countries will place the future Israeli generations under the nuclear threat by one Iran and three Pakistans! A prospect that is completely unacceptable to Israeli leaders.

The Arab panelist was quite blunt about the Arab-Persian, Sunni-Shia divide and the fact that Arabs and Iranians are not natural allies and how the “Arab Spring” has taken the wind out of the Regime’s claims about “Arab Street” leadership and the Regional dominance.

Trita (starting at 37:30) acknowledged the significant hit that the Regime’s influence has taken in the Arab world following the Arab Spring and the current situation in Syria. But he overplayed the current divergence between the US and the Israeli perspectives regarding Iran, and in general stuck to his talking points.

The best part of the discussions was the Q/A segment starting at 51:00. Trita stated that he does not foresee an Israeli attack on Iran in 2012. It is noteworthy that his opinion about the topic is in sharp contrast to the war-talk and hysteria that we have been seeing from NIAC/CASMII and other like-minded contributors on

In the last ten minutes (starting at 1:19:00) the Israeli panelist put Trita on the spot and asked him point-blank about the Regime in Iran and what should be done about it, Trita replied by saying that the Regime is repressive and the Iranian people will at some point get rid of it. But he quickly went back to his talking points of targeted sanctions and negotiations.

In my opinion, Trita and NIAC, given the realities of the time are beginning to see the light and the end of the Regime, but they are still struggling with their long standing stated policies and have not been able to articulate a clear message on how to go forward. That will ultimately make them irrelevant.



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To Rahmanian

by choghok on

Just what group other than MEK and thei paraply organisations have NIAC working against? And MEK is not like any other opposition group, they are religious fanatic and also non democratic organisation and not a party having killed many Iranian civilians and try to do it again with help of USA. It is not just NIAC who sees MEK as terrorists just take a look at the comments in Iranian sites when MEK is discussed to see peoples disapproval of this group.


If NIAC is for Regime Change

by Faramarz on

If Trita and NIAC are for Regime change, then they should put it on the top of their agenda and devote all their time, resources and energy to it.

The way they act right now, it looks as if they are being dragged into a shot-gun wedding against their will.

We are not stupid, you know!


It's not up to Ephraim Sneh

by Reality-Bites on

or any other Israeli to decide what Iran can or cannot have and under what regime, especially seeing as Israel itself is not even a signatory of the NPT and does not abide by many international conventions.

That said, I most certainly do not want to see Iran acquire nukes under the mollas. In fact, I don't want to see nukes in the Middle East at all and eventually the world, although this is looking more like an impossible dream with each passing year.

G. Rahmanian


by G. Rahmanian on

If what you have said is a fact, then why NIAC, as an organization, and Trita Parsi in his capacity as NIAC's president, have attacked other opposition groups and campaigned tirelessly against the delisting of PMOI from the US State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations?


Ephraim Sneh, the former Israeli Deputy Defense Minister said

by fanoos on

it unequivocally, succinctly and in no uncertain terms that Iran and Iranians have the right to all kinds of technologies but NOT under IRR regime. That's what Iranians have been saying all along. No nukes until and unless IRR regime is toppled. IRR regime must go!


NIAC changed

by choghok on

I think like sadegh B said earlier if you have read NIACs statements and interviews after the election fiasco in Iran you will see that they have been outspoken.

The issue is that before that NIAC tried to only be Iranian American community and not pick any enemies in Iran, they also tried to get IRI involved in talks with US and you can not do it if you take side.

Since election they know it is not possible to get IRI to table and also they could not continue to keep quiet on a bad situation. 

We must remember that NIAC is not an opposition group, their goal is different from some oppositions outside Iran who try to overthrow the government. That is why they do not use all their energy to attack the regime. And see opposition words has brought us closer to democracy... not. action counts, and NIAC does more than talk.


Good article

by Reality-Bites on

Framarz, thank you for taking the time to post your first hand thoughts on the panel discussion.

Regarding NIAC's condemnation of the Islamic Republic, yes I've also read the odd instance when the organization has done this. However, NIAC seems to condemn the IR, and even then grudgingly, only when under pressure to do so.

This panel discussion was one such example, as were a few NIAC statements condemning the IR crackdown of the democracy protestors in 2009 in Iran, when the entire world was criticizing the IR for its brutal repression. It seemed as if NIAC felt that at the time it had no choice but to join the chorus of disapproval directed at the actions of the regime or it would look very isolated.

NIAC's main preoccupation, in terms of public statements and expressions of its views, has come across as one of condemning Western policies towards the IR. The organization goes to great length and detail to berate the West for putting pressure on the IR and constantly urges Western countries, principally the US, to desist from this course of action.

Sadly, this vigour and firmness of resolve, not to mention constant application of pressure and flurry of activity by NIAC, is conspicuous by its absence when it comes to taking the IR to task over its repression of the Iranian people and detailing the regime's numerous crimes.

Sadegh Bozorgmehr

To the author

by Sadegh Bozorgmehr on

If you haven't heard him say those things about IRI, you probably weren't paying attention. Parsi has always opposed the IRI and said so.

It's funny that the tens of thousands of public documents showing his every communication didn't turn out a single line that proves he lobbies for IRI.  But as Daioleslam said, progressives like him must be destroyed for war to become acceptable. 


یا ایها الذین آمنو



اي كساني كه ايمان آورده ايد! سر جدتون ، جان مادرتون كاري به كار كساني كه
ايمان نياورده اند نداشته باشيد

ای کسانی که ایمان آورده‌اید، از هر کجا آورده‌اید برید بذارید سر جاش

ای کسانی که ایمان آورده اید. خودتان را جدی نگیرید. به بادی بندید

ای کسانی که ایمان آورده اید، آیا آنان که با تیغ، ریش می زنند، با آنان که با
ریش، تیغ می زنند برابرند؟؟؟

ای کسانی که ایمان آورده اید...آیا ایمانتان با دیدن تار مویی می لرزد؟ همانا
خاك بر سرتون!

ای کسانی که ایمان آورده اید ، گاهی باز گردید و به آنچه ایمان آوردید نگاهی
دوباره بیندازید

ای کسانی که ایمان آورده‌اید، بهتر است زندگی کنید

ای کسانی که ایمان آورده اید نمی خواهید بیندیشید به چی  ایمان آورده اید؟

اي كساني كه ايمان آورده ايد اگر سيمان آورده بوديد تا حالا مملكت آباد شده بود!


Jeesh Daram

by Faramarz on

Haleh Esfandiari is there sitting right next to the red-hair lady at 1:26:20

Jeesh Daram


by Jeesh Daram on


Thanks for your report and feedback, also thanks everyone else about their opinions. Do you know why Haleh Esfandiari was not there?

Artificial Intelligence

Great report!

by Artificial Intelligence on

And great analysis of Trita and gang. Where is shotor to defend him and post something about AIPAC and jooos?

Bahram G

Oon Yaroo jaan

by Bahram G on

AL GHALBO YAHDI ALA ALGHALB. I wanted to accomplish two objectives. First: KHAASTAM EZHAAARE FAZL BECONAM. YANEE BEGAM ARABI BALADAM VA MITAVAANAM AZ KALEMAAT VA GFTEHAAYE NOKHBEYE AAN ZABAAN FASEEH ESTEFAADEH KONAM :-). I hope that you are duly impressed and others may take notice that ALI ABAAD SHAHREEST:-). Second: I sincerely wished to convey the fact that I have no animosity toward anything Arab. In fact there are some aspects of Arab culture that are nice and even praiseworthy.

My experiences with Arab prejudice toward me and my people dates back to the time of my early youth when I attended Arab schools. And the kids were the ones who expressed their "love" for Iranians in sigsongs. The teachers, at times, looked the other way and implicitly encouraged them.

More than once, these insults got better of me and vicious fights ensued. I'm not sure who came up on top. A draw, maybe? And more than once I got bloody and bloodied the other guy.

But having lived through all that is rewarded amply by flowers like you. And by the way just in case you have difficulty understanding the Arabic saying, it means basically the same as its English counterpart: heart leads to heart.

Your kindness to me is but a reflection of your precious self and it is people like that I honor and hold in great esteem as my HMVATAN.

G. Rahmanian

Dear Faramarz:

by G. Rahmanian on

Excellent observations.

As for Trita Parsi, he says things on the spur of the moment without much thought.

If things go well with AIPAC, though, he may even have a change of heart and decide to give up the robe and crown of the Kingdom of NIAC for better deals.

In general, Trita says things to please his American bosses who helped him set up and "maintain" NIAC while being extracautious not to upset the "holy robes" in Tehran.

Oon Yaroo

Faramarz Jaan, Thank you for the very short but yet complete

by Oon Yaroo on


Where was Hooman Majd in this whole thing? 

Was he waiting for TP in the background?

Was he carrying TP's briefcase for him?

Bahram G. Jaan welcome back, Ostaad! No wonder IC was shining today! Your AhoorAAee light has illuminated this place! 


Bahram G

by Cost-of-Progress on

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I too do not hate anyone (at least I try not to), but acknowledge that hate is a natural human emotion much like love......, but in a negative way.

I must say that in all my stays and travels over in the land of Islam, I did not experince any blatant  bigotry although I made my ancestry clear from the get go. Part of it may have been due to the fact that those I interacted with are my colleauges and they may have felt that the demonstration of their inner feelings may have been inappropriate. 

Like you, I have strong emotions toward Iran and hope for a day when we Iranians learn about our shortcomings and downfall and better ourselves. If things stay the course, there's very good chance that Iran will change for the worse forever to something that most of us will not recognize in 50 years!

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

My responses ...

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


Regarding Arab Iranian: I don't think these are going away very soon. Nor are they because of dictator rulers. They go much deeper in the hearts of people. Not all Arabs feel this way but those who do feel it pretty strongly. 

The problem has been made worse by some such as Nasser and Saddam. So yes the leaders made it worse. But it isn't because they were dictators. It is because they played to the already existing racial and related divides.

Regarding representatives: anyone gets to pretend to be "our voice". Well they are not my voice for sure. But the problem is how media takes them serious. To average person Trita may appears to be our voice because he gets on tv and says it. The best solution I have is to contact the programming individually and tell them otherwise. After they get 10,000 phones they will realize this is not working and maybe invite some others. The voice we get is directly proportional to noise we make.


Bahram G., Welcome to America!

by Faramarz on

Your baggage is arriving on Carrousel 2.

I am not up on NIAC's finances, but I am sure Fred is.

There is a trough out there somewhere that wets his beak!

Bahram G

C. O. Progress

by Bahram G on

I truthfully don't hate the Arabs and last I checked my mailbox I had not received any checks from AIPAC. To me Arabs and Israelies are human beings who deserve to be treated fairly and they, in turn, must treat others fairly. I'm Iranian by birth and my ancestry goes back to the revered Zoroaster. Admittedly, I have a soft spot for the greater Iran with all it's diverse religious and ethnic people.

I have also, like you, experienced first hand the virulent longstanding disease of hatred that exists between the Arabs and Iranians, in general. During my long visits to Arab lands such as Iraq, I was repeatedly treated by the locals with anti Iranian epithets. I often would be serenaded with them. I'm not going to post them, since it serves to perpetuate and further flame this hatred.

Im also sure that we all know the existence of the anti Arab epithets that we Iranians have.

I believe that the criminal mullahs and their henchmen beating their chests for the Palestinians has a broader motivation than championing the cause of an oppressed people. These islamist goons must first stop their criminal treatment of Iranian people before venturing out to fend for others.  


COP aziz: You were certainly NOT the target of my critic...

by Bavafa on

And while I agree with your general sentiments about Arab/Iranian as [lack of] allies, I am hopeful that one day people can set those differences aside.  I am well mindful however that this hope will never materialize as long as we have dictatorS in ME and ruling over those people.  This coupled with the misuse of religon in creating those animosities.


 Faramarz jaan:

Amen to what you said. 

I only like to clarify that my backing is not for any one “person” but for an idea and that is a voice for Iranian-Americans in the US politics.



'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 


Bahram G


by Bahram G on

Thanks for your short lecture on civics -- informing me that the U.S. being an open society where various people with different views can speak up. I didn't just get off the boat to need to know that. What I wanted to hear your views on: how this fellow has become a representative voice of Iranian Americans; how is it that he gets a great deal of access to Washington's corridors of power; and who is bankrolling him and his outfit? Is NIAC operating on nickels and dimes contributions from the rank and file or some big commercial/political interest group (s) are bankrolling it?

But, thanks for the brief refresher on civics :). It's been a while.


مهرداد جان، همبستگی از روی ناچاری چاره کار نیست


The last time that we Iranians lined up behind a person without asking questions and without knowing well what that person was up to, we got the Islamic Republic and the tragedy that we are in right now.

You do as you wish with your money and energy, but I am more dilligent this tme around!


chest beating

by Cost-of-Progress on

I have never regarded you as a chest beater in that sense although I think you called me a bigot below. I am just confused about your priorities .....

As for the west promoting the division; I do not believe that cultures of the middle east need much encouragement from the west to be hateful and divisive. We do a good job of that on our own.

In ANY case, fact remains that WE are NOT allies with any of the arab nations - never been, never will be. If that is against the non-existent notion of we are all brothers and those kind of nonsense, then it is even more unrealistic.

This is not to say we cannot have political or economic relations with them, we should and must, but culturally, we are NOT the same.


Faramarz jaan: I am glad you are following your own conviction…

by Bavafa on

There is one thing to be opposed to any given group based on informed opinion and another based on hearsay and poplar theme.

Your observation about his view on the regime and its [lack of] popularity by the Iranian people, in my opinion, is nothing at all new and he has been expressing them frequently.  It is just that, I believe, sometimes those views are not expressed as pronouncedly as some of us like to hear it and/or when it gets mixed with anything that resembles as a critic of US policy, then we will completely dismiss them all together (you are either with our or against us theme)

Anyway as I have often said, no single group is prefect or can cater and satisfy every single view.  Absent of a better and more credible organization that can give us a voice in Washington, they are my choice till such group is born.

COP Jaan:
As a chest beater of crimes against Palestinian people, I am not under any illusion that Arabs are friends of Iranians, to the contrary.  This animosity has been there for some 1400 years but I believe it is based on ignorance and it is exploited grandly by the Western powers to divide and rule.  To participate blindly with those animosity is to be part of it and no different than what they are, a bigot and racist.

'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 




by Faramarz on

One of the reasons that I do not trust him at all is because he never mentions Khamenei by name and he never places the blame for the detention, torture and killing of the thousands of Iranians at Khamenei's doorstep.

He just stays out of that conversation and shifts the discussion to Israel and AIPAC and the usual list of suspects.


A Few Comments and Observations

by Faramarz on

Ramin J.

Trita did not kick anybody’s ass but rather showed that he is an academician stuck in his own theories and analysis. I hope that you take the cue from him and start talking about the repressive Regime that needs to be toppled and set aside all the nonsense war-talk and hysteria.

The Israeli guy is a member of the left leaning Labor party and not a right-wing nut. He was clear about his desire for peace with Palestinians under a new Israeli government, and his support and respect for Mahmoud Abbas.

Put your cat back in the bag!

Roozbeh Jaan,

To me NIACies are a bunch of confused people with no clear direction on where to go. While their charter is to be an advocacy group for the Iranian-Americans, their orientation, because of Trita’s affinity towards AIPAC is all about the Regime-Israel confrontation, and they ultimately find themselves on the lap of the Regime.

Bahram G.,

Part of the American democratic exercise is to allow people with other opinions to participate in the discussions and the hope is that at the end one is able to change opinions through dialog and reasoning. I believe that the intent in inviting Trita Parsi was to have another point of view represented.

But in other settings, people like Abbas Milani or Karim Sadjadpour are head and shoulders above Trita and people like him and truly provide deep insight into the situation in Iran and the true nature of the Regime.


dont' buy it....

by shushtari on

this guy is deep in bed with the akhoonds.......maybe he got a paycut, and he's a bit pissed off :) who knows!


but one thing is clear- he has NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT THE thousands of innocent iranians rotting in evin or the ridiculous death penalties handed down on innocent people!

as someone else said, he's another rat jumping off the sinking ship 



by Faramarz on

You are 100% correct and your real life experience working in Saudi Arabia adds a lot of credibility to your opinions.

The Arab panelist made it very clear about the “Arab Gulf”, the issue of the three disputed islands and the Iranian hegemony both under the late Shah and now under the Islamic Regime.

There is no ambiguity about their views towards Iran and Iranians. And when in doubt, always look to the sporting arena to see how people really feel about each other. Case in point, last week in an important match between Esteghlal of Tehran and Al-Ettifaq of Saudi Arabia, when the Saudi player scored the tying goal, he pulled up his shirt and flashed his under shirt that said “F 16”, as in F-16 fighter jet!

The Perspolis legend, Ali Parvin was also in the stands to lend his support to Esteghlal, and as he put it, “to beat the Arabs!”

Esteghlal won 3-1 and advanced to the next round of Asian championship.


Bahram G

Question Faramarz

by Bahram G on

How did this fellow and his group get to be the voice of Iranians in the U.S. and who is bankrolling them? A fellow up questin. Are these NIAC boys and girls are simply a bunch of do gooders who out of the goodness of their humanitarian hearts are sleeplessness, tirelessly, and selflessly serving the best interests of the Iranian people?

Somehow, I have a very uneasy about this fellow Trita and his group. Would you help relieve me of my trepeditions about them. Many thanks.


"Parsi kicks the Israeli guys ass!!!!"

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

Wow, the  Islamist Shaban-bi-mokh mentality of "kicking ass" of whoever you disagree with, albeit cyber style lives on.

Now go on, "kick my ass" too as hard as you can using your keyboard, frankly that is all you can do these days, as you watch in utter anger and frustration how your beloved islamist regime is collapsing right in front of you own eyes. :) 

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."