"Kabriat" is the pen name of an Iranian-American community activist residing in Washington, D.C.
In the past week, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans has come under increased scrutiny for publishing a badly written report concerning the impact U.S.-Iran sanctions on Iranians and Iranian-Americans. The report implies that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and minimizes the impact sanctions have had on the Iranian people and the Iranian community in the U.S. Rightfully, many of us have now asked PAAIA to take a stand and to respond to two fundamental questions:
1) Do you, or do you not support U.S sanctions on Iran?
2) Do you, or do you not support military attacks on Iran?
So far, the organization has not responded to these questions. Forcing PAAIA to answer these questions is crucial. First, even though the organization has a policy against involving itself in foreign policy, it has clearly done so in this case and must now be forced to take a position so that we, the community, can decide whether or not to support the organization. Second, PAAIA's leaders have already taken positions on foreign policy. During a recent meeting at the White House, PAAIA leaders were asked whether they supported regime change in Iran. These leaders responded to that question. They didn't, as would be expected of an organization which claims to take no position concerning foreign policy, abstain to respond. How do we know this? Because PAAIA leaders have no problem gloating about the meeting in facebook posts. As a community, we have a right to know what that position was. Lastly, we know that PAAIA's Board of Directors is composed of at least one person who actively supports political opposition figures in the U.S. In particular, Nazie Eftekhari: a controversial figure in the community who is notorious for attacking other Iranian-American community leaders and an individual who has deep ties with the Pahlavi family. Her relationship with the Pahlavis makes it difficult to believe that PAAIA, an organization she is a leader is, is impartial on issues of foreign policy. Had PAAIA in fact wanted to be impartial, they would never had let someone with such dubious connections join their Board of Directors. Think about it, it's like letting a mullah join an organization that says it takes no position on religious matters.
PAAIA should be forced publicly to respond to the two questions above. And if in fact it chooses to not get involved in foreign policy, then it should stop publishing reports on foreign policy issues and, at minimum, remove elements within the organization that have political agendas or make remarks on foreign policy issue in private sessions with the government.
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