Challenging NIAC to become an opposition group


Challenging NIAC to become an opposition group
by bahmani

Originally Posted on: //

Let me start by asking you to choose one of the following:

A- Would you prefer to have a free Democratic Iran with a limitless future?


B- Would you prefer to have more successful Iranian professionals in the
US, added to a glut of selfish, self interested, almost wholly
American-raised, Iranians who act like Republicans, spoiled brats?

If you chose A), then me too. Afarin (Good Job). Keep reading.

If you chose B), then Click Off! Boro Gom Sho (Get Lost!). Because
you're hopeless, lost, and you better go drink your Koolaid, no one can
help you, and you just won't listen.

As we all know, NIAC, whether you love them or hate them, is the most
active, organized, well-spoken, well-run, richest, most influential, and
most successful community / political tool / weapon / service /
organization that we've got, here in the good old US of A.

I posit that NIAC should shift from this path and become an honest to
God opposition group, instead of wasting time defending my rights as an
Iranian-American. Rights that I can affordably hire any lawyer willing
to stop chasing ambulances for 5 minutes, to take my case. We could
probably even get it taken care of by Judge Judy.

NIAC argues that it has to follow the direction of it's members. At last
500. Or that's the number that NIAC claims are polled periodically in
order for NIAC to get it's "direction". Based on NIAC's polls of usually
500 dues paying, or free NIAC members, NIAC asks it's members what they
want NIAC to do on a variety of topics.

And I have absolutely no problem with that. Using 500 NIAC members to
represent the dreams wishes and aspirations of, going with Dr.
Holakouie's recent estimate of 450,000 Iranians in the US, can be argued
as statistically valid, on some level.

I get that.

But what I don't get and am having a bigger and bigger problem with, are
the questions being polled of these 500 NIAC members that represent us.
Because I think the question is as simple as the times we live in. The
same questions you were asked at the beginning of this piece.

We are rightfully, justifiably, and inherently too afraid to ask the real questions that we should be asking.

I get that too.

NIAC has made a mission out of this poll-driven approach, which although
it naturally shifts and changes periodically, can be digested into
generally helping to better the lives of Iranian-Americans in America.
For the most part that is the kind of question NIAC asks it's 500

But we don't actually need any of that. I mean we seem to be doing just
fine here, aren't we? I mean as citizens of the number one terrorist
sponsor in the world, living right in the heart of Iran's number one
enemy in history, you'd think we'd have all been rounded up and I'd be
posting this from Guantanamo by now?

NIAC, on command by their mighty 500 members who respond to it's polls,
seem to be over-occupied, and protecting rights that I actually already
have, just as any American citizen does.

Thanks to the Iranian student visa ban that NIAC has not been able to
lift, the perceived NIAC target market, or the Iranian youth, is in fact
actually shrinking in the US. Since no one young is getting in anymore,
the Iranian population in the US is aging. And shrinking.

So there isn't really any sort of viable growing youth market,  or never
mind a need for what NIAC seems to think about polling their 500
members, as to what NIAC should be working on. For Iranian Americans.

It's like asking Iranians in the US, "Do you need to breathe?", then run
off and claim that NIAC is going to set up meetings and hearings with
Senators and Rudi Bakhtiar in DC, to ensure that all Iranians (in the
US) are allowed to breathe, and that no law is passed that might
prohibit an Iranian (in the US) from breathing freely. (in the US)

This is ridiculous, and I think part of the reason why even the NIAC
staff and especially Trita Parsi can't seem to resist attempting to
answer the real questions that I think everyone wants them to actually
delve into. Feet first, full force!

And that is to answer with some modicum of confidence and scientifically
verifiable data to back it up, the question on everyone's mind Iranian
or American these days, namely, "What's wrong with Iran?"

Every single speech or interview that Trita gives, and every book he has
written, and every press release he has issued, has at least a majority
of it focused on answering this question.

And he is very very very good at it! I love listening to him break it down.

Worse, because NIAC won't be the opposition group we need, more than
anything else in the USA, these "kids" that NIAC thinks it needs to
"preserve" something for, (as well as the rest of us too! ) are being
deprived of the one thing that we all actually need even more than an
effectively organized opposition group. And that is Hope.

You see, NIAC can't fool me. Because I've actually read the books, and
press releases, and interviews and speeches, they've ever given. I've
defended NIAC to the brainless attackers, and even lost a few friends in
the process. NIAC is not really about helping Iranians in the US. NIAC
is a stallion that is straining to be let loose. But from reading things
here, I think I'm the only one that really wants to let NIAC loose.

I know in my bones, NIAC can do it if they got off this ridiculous
"Advocacy of Iranian Americans in America" mission, and instead, from
the safety of here, pose repeated, relentless thoughtful point by point
objections to the sheer lunacy being forced in Iran.

Point by point objections, backed up by reason and fact.

And don't even think to poll the 500 members first. They've already
drunk the "Advocate for us Here, forget about Iran" Koolaid. Even if we
all gave up hope we couldn't delude ourselves into thinking that we
don't care about what happens back home anymore.

I would actually be interested in the results of this polling question: (OK Fine, I'll even accept Zogby doing it!)

"Which would you prefer:

1) NIAC shift it's talents and focus and become a Peaceful Opposition
Group and directly challenges and points out each and every example of
the Iranian Government's oppressive, illegitimate, non-standard,
policies that go against every sense of what a modern governance method
ought to be, and any other failures it finds. And then, on a weekly
basis, accompanied by well thought out recommendations for reforming
them, publish the findings widely, including sending them to the top 30
key leadership in Iran (and the US) by email, fax, CD, DVD, Satellite
TV, and regular mail.

Including a human courier, if you can find anyone brave
enough to sit on a plane for 14 hours and deliver the package(s) each


2) Continue doing what it has been doing, which is to waste time
focusing on problems Iranian-Americans don't actually have, and subtly
and coyly pointing out minor foreign policy suggestions that the UN (not
the US) might consider considering to take to a committee, and if that
doesn't outright bury it forever, consider to consider it after 6 months
of more study by another committee that charges $180 an hour and then
actually buries it for good this time, all while Iran blatantly
continues to ignore any overtures at negotiating, then laughs a maniacal
laugh, and continues to brutalize it's citizens repeatedly. For fun and
prophet. Right in front of the kids and the family dog!"

I think you know (according to all of Trita's and NIAC's writings and speeches) which one they would choose.

Again, please understand, there is nothing wrong with what NIAC is doing
today. That's why I defend NIAC. It's ALL Good as they say, but it is
certainly the wrong thing to be doing, if you can choose what to do.

And if you prioritize what is more important to do, you cannot escape
that NIAC should be choosing to help find a way to create a free and
democratic Iran, out from under the thumb of oppressive religious rule.
Especially if you have the talent for it. Which again, I think, based on
NIAC's writing and speeches, is obvious, that it does.

Poll that from the 500 NIAC members and see if they would still deny
Iran the freedom that it has more than paid for. If they do, a a minimum
you have a huge sampling error, but more than enough blood on your


more from bahmani

In reply to Mash Ghasem

by bahmani on

I hear you and I wish change was as easy as organizing a few protests in the streets and campuses, but as you (and Libya) know, it isn't.

Given the right kind of oppressive government, you can't (ever) get there from here using that approach. Iran is that kind of government when it comes to street protests. Proof is the lack of any since the last crackdown, which appears to have been a really effective one, not even "the wave" of fire in the gulf seems to be able to get Iranians back onto the streets.

I would be the first to support protests and civil disobedience as the way, if I thought I could count on the folks back home to do it.

The reality appears that the protests appear to be merely to blow off of much needed built up steam, but not any real reform minded change focused effort. If it was, they'd march to Khamenei's house and sit there all day and all night whistling until he chickened out and resigned. (and you know he would!) Since they don't do that, one has to question their sincerity, commitment, and really, their lack of planning.

No, I think that from the safety of here, we can lob attack upon attack on the ill-suited system of governance they have been trying to sell/shove since 1979, that has not worked, is fraught with flaws and inconsistencies, and is a 30 year living proof of the failure of the experiment.

Digeh it's done. There is no question that this system ain't gonna work. Because it never could. No religion-based governance has ever worked in the history of the world, Islam claimed no one would let it try, OK so now we have, and all we needed was a mere 30 long years to prove that an Islamic one can't either.

But enough is enough, it's time to point out each flaw, offer a better idea and solution in it's place, and keep at it until something or someone argues back. You know, kind of like the unending letter writing campaigns that NIAC mobilizes when a bad movie comes out or someone says something bad about Iranians on FM radio, or if they try to change the name of the Persian Gulf, or if they need to adjust a small insignificant Visa ban.

I want NIAC to re-direct their gaze towards Iran for a change. There's a lot more work to do over there than here, it's far more fun, and besides, there isn't anything NIAC can do for me here, that I couldn't pay or Pro-Bono an anti-defamation or civil rights lawyer to do just as well, if not better.

We don't actually need NIAC to help us be better (more annoying?) Iranian-Americans, we need help being better Iranians, for a change.

(did you get that last pun? I hope so, because it was written entirely for you! :)


In reply to Soosan Khanoum

by bahmani on

The whole point is to get the IRI to change or reform. Otherwise if we keep pushing the US to change, they will eventually change the IRI for us, or for themselves, as they have done in Iraq, Afghanistan, and hopefully Pakistan, before they get to Iran.

However with the current path Iran is hellbent on, namely getting a nuke, (I know there's no proof) the clock is ticking unless we (via NIAC) do something about it.

Mash Ghasem

Substitutionalism at its worst!

by Mash Ghasem on

With all due respect to ostad Bahmani aziz v gerami, one of my all time favourite writers in here. Dude some day's Salman Rushdi got nothing on you, so I dig you and all but ..

Since the IA in the middle of NIAC signifies our residence in the northern part of this hemesphere (atazoni), wouldn't it be a bit peculiar for an organization three continents away  to claim  a leadership position in Iran. It kind of reminds one of all those student  groups and leaders, back in the days, in  Paris, London and Berlin waiting to take the helm, and...

All NIAC needs to do and should do is to have 100% transparency in all its actions, finance and meetings.

The time for all these 'opposition' groups and parties has gone by, it has been exhausted, we have an over-accumualtion of 'opposition' groups, an inflation of some sort if you will.

In Iran today, what matters most and is actively pursued, are the social movements and their demands. What happens on a single university campus, or one instance of workers taking to the streets and fighting it out with the police,  or a petition drive by women for their rights , is a thousand times more profound and effective that any long-distance solidarity: as genuine, and comradely as that solidarity is or might be.

Make a long story short: NIAC can't be substititue for something which it is not and shouldn't be.

Anyone in mood for activism? Taking a look into our contemporary social movements in Iran: Women, Student, Labor,.. might be worth your while: these movements are the future of Iran. Understanding, and helping them still remians a noble endeavor, some might even say it's very urgent, as well.

I really do enjoy your writings, kudos.


Soosan Khanoom

I agree Bruce

by Soosan Khanoom on

If all you are saying is what you just mentioned below then you are right and I am agree with you.  I,however,think it is very hard to convince IRI of any change and it is much easier to convince U.S.  These people here are sometimes very logical and they actually listen well especially if AIPAC is not around. But IRI and by that I mean the Akhoods have no logic and they are deaf ..... Still I hope things will change for better for both countries peacefully ..... 


In reply to Soosan Khanoum

by bahmani on

I never thought that you were mad at me. :)

I hear what you are saying, but come with me juts one more step this way, and think this, since you are supportive of helping Iranians, why not help all Iranians, and focus on those problems the affect ALL.

Again, all I am saying is that I think that with their qualifications organization and proven abilities, I want NIAC to use those smarts and point out the same flaws they point out in the US, at Iran too.

Who knows, maybe the same tactic of respectfully addressing and objecting to policies in the US will work on addressing and objecting to policies in Iran.

I'd like to see NIAC try at least.

Soosan Khanoom


by Soosan Khanoom on

Arezoo bar javanan eyb neest : )

Why not think big like an iranian-American for U.S president and that is only possible if we get our voices heard in this country. Of course not just politics but every where ... for example universities ...   and although I am not planning to go back to Iran and live there but still I have some roots there and I feel for that country.  That is why I am iranian-American not just American ... so anything this organization does that helps I admire...... I once was a student here myself .....  not long time ago so why should i have no sympathy for them anymore? 

We need an organization inside the U.S to put politics aside and work for the sake of the people  .....  We are no longer dealing with first generation Iranians who are dying to go back to Iran . We are facing a huge increase in the number of second generation Iranians who born in this country but have been really discriminated against just because of these unjust policies. SO these policies concern every one directly or indirectly ....

by the way thanks for the  cool aid ... it really cooled me down ..... see I am not mad at you anymore : ) 


In reply to Soosan Khanoum

by bahmani on

Boy! You are certainly willing to live with a lot of Maybes!

So explain to me this, if you are interested in having your (already constitutionally guaranteed) rights in the US re-protected for you by NIAC, How does NIAC's project to help non-Iranian-Americans (Iranian Students in the US) go back home to an Iran you have absolutely no intention of visiting ever again, help you?

Because according to your obviously passionate support for NIAC's mission, this isn't what NIAC did in this case.

Again, a valiant cause and I applaud them for doing it, I just wish they would pick even more valiant and even more obviously important causes than this one.


Reply to MM

by bahmani on

Shifting to what a majority of Iranian-Americans idealistically want, namely to reform current Iran peacefully (without US invasion or interference) into a free and democratic Iran will most likely get NIAC far more funding than the drips and drabs they get from the one or 2 big millionaire donors today.

Contrary to the other delusion, Iranians don't make tax deductible charitable contributions that raise your chances of being audited, in numbers that raise an Iranian eyebrow.

By shifting the more popular wishlist of most Iranians and Iranian-Americans NIAC can not only achieve more, it will have more cash, with which it can afford to achieve even more.

The common denominator is as I just stated it; "To reform current Iran peacefully (without US invasion or interference) into a free and democratic Iran"

I think that is something that every rational Iranian or Iranian-American can agree on.

Or am I wrong?


In reply to bavafa

by bahmani on

I am trying to shift my path and get involved. It's not like there is any organized opposition group as well set up as NIAC that I can join. As it is today, NIAC's current mission doesn't fit my goals and interests. That's why I'm trying to suggest they change it.

This isn't an individual sport either. I am sure you know all too well the traditional outcome of a "lead and they will follow" approach. I believe that this is our moment to prove we can play as team in this team sport.

The first step is to define and agree on the best common goal. I am suggesting that NIAC working on this side of the aisle isn't a really good use of their abilities and a waste of time if they do not engage Iran head on as well.

I want NIAC to point out political and policy inconsistencies and problems in Iranian politics just as eagerly as they watchdog Capitol Hill.

I am trying to nudge them with these pieces.

Also don;t get me wrong, if you would red my piece carefully instead of knee-jerk reacting to it automatically in defense of NIAC, you would get that I'm not attacking NIAC as you are used to reading. I LOVE what NIAC has done and how they have done it. NIAC has shown me that they have the chops (and now the money) to become an effective force for change. In IRAN!!!!

The US is comparatively easy to change, you fax a few letters and show up repeatedly outside the doors of congressman's office and boom, you're in and can get your point across and as you have seen, the visa ban is Poof! gone.

OK it;s not that easy, but my point is why not put in the same effort and lobby the Iranian government from the safety of here, politely, constructively and with the ultimate purpose of improving Iran's many current problems, flaws, and fallacies of their governance method.

I am talking about a high level objective analysis of what;s wrong with Iranian internal and foreign policies that create the very dangerous dynamic we have today.

NIAC has the luxury of freedom, the right, and above all the technical competence for this. More so than any other group. As I have said many times, just read any one of Trita's brilliant books on the issues the US and Iran (and Israel) face today and you will see this.

It just seems to me that NIAC is putting it's energies into the wrong side of the equation.

There is far more work to be done to fix bad legislation and policy that affects the day to day lives of Iranians (and Iranian-Americans!) on the Iranian Capitol Hill, than in the US.

My question and challenge is why not do the obvious?

Soosan Khanoom


by Soosan Khanoom on

I am going to have the cool aid

now you keep cross your finger for  Israel/ U.S  help to topple IRI !!

meanwhile I , the brat , Iranian- American will at least get less discriminated against and have my voice heard and treated like I should rather than as a terrorists ..  may be our community will be recognized as a minority with many possible funding and scholarships for young generations  of Iranian-American  .... may be then these young educated ones find their way to the politic and who knows may be one day we witness an Iranian- American president who can bring peace to world ......Yes I need a organization for my rights here ..... I am not living in Iran and I am not planning to go back ...

Now feel free to set up your own organization. Give it different priorities like asking U.S to get rid of the regime because you can not and people in Iran also can not and also because those assholes over there have stopped demonstrating.  And of course because  you are not in the mood to fight for anything and you do not even care about those Iranians who are here ..... 

Why should you ?..... you have already asked them to get lost and drink cool aid  ...

by the way, can I have ice tea instead ?  thanks !!!




by mahmoudg on

dont waste your time, this groups is just like IRI, and should only be abolished just like the regime it supports.



by MM on

Shifting to a full opposition force will require a major re-organization of NIAC's focus since they can only devote 20% to political advocacy without losing their 501(c)(3) status.  And, probably a lot more $$$ support from Iranian-Americans.

However, there is nothing that prevents you and me from suggesting to NIAC that they should use that 20% to organize  meetings of freedom-loving opposing voices, mediated by folks like Shirin Ebadi or Shadi Sadr.  In my opinion, finding a common denominator that binds the freedom-loving Iranian opposition groups, and connecting them to the voices in Iran is a much more needed task than having another opposition group in Diaspora.

Anahid Hojjati

Thanks Bavafa jan, I may just do so

by Anahid Hojjati on

I have been a member of NIAC for several years. My membership expired couple months ago and it is possible that I join again.


Challenging Mr. Bahmani to become an opposition member

by Bavafa on

Instead of one focus and one focus only, that being a NIACer, perhaps Mr. Bahamani can actually try to do some thing rather then what seems to be just nagging.

"I get that"

I don't think you do

"I posit that NIAC should shift from this path and become an honest to
God opposition group, instead of wasting time defending my rights as an

If you did, you would try to get involved and shift the path by your active participation rather then sitting on the fence, writing blogs and/or waiting for an opportunity to bash NIAC.  I don't doubt your sincerity in helping Iranians, but I seriously doubt your approach.

Anahid jaan,

I agree with your view but I also believe that the only way possible is to join and demand what we members will feel would be the correct direction. I believe we are far less effective by just sitting on the fence and trying to poison the environment against NIAC (not suggesting you do, but certainly some are just aim in doing that)


Anahid Hojjati

Vildemose jan, It seems there has been a turn to right

by Anahid Hojjati on

The e-mails from NIAC and all the articles against sanctions make me think that there has been a turn to right in NIAC. I remember in summber of 2009, NIAC correctly asked US government not to negotiate with AN's new government. There were also other positions by NIAC that made sense but in recent months, they are just writing against sanctions. I wonder how much of this shift is because of Dabashi. In any case, this is rather unfortunate.


I concur Anahid jan...This

by vildemose on

I concur Anahid jan...This is a very important post given the controversial nature of this organizaiton.

Anahid Hojjati

Admin, Why is this not featured? This is an important blog.

by Anahid Hojjati on

This blog is far more important than many blogs that are featured now.

Anahid Hojjati

I prefer, NIAC shift its talents and focus and become a

by Anahid Hojjati on

Peaceful Opposition group.

I think those of us who think this way should write to NIAC and demand that they do so.