The Blog

Parsi: "NIAC Has a Good Name in Iran"

3:35 PM, Nov 18, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Earlier this month, when Rep. Mark Kirk accused Trita Parsi, the Iranian national who heads the oddly named National Iranian American Council, of being a "regime sympathizer," NIAC accused Kirk of making a "slanderous allegation." Yet internal emails reveal that Parsi certainly did not see himself as an opponent of the regime in Tehran. In fact, Parsi was confident that an affiliation with NIAC would be looked upon favorably by officials in Iran.

In an email exchange with Parsi, Mohammad Mansouri, listed as a project manager on NIAC's website, worries "how reasonable it will be to take the risk and actually go to Iran." It's not clear whether Mansouri's concern is the threat from regime officials or from American bombs -- the correspondence is dated March 17, 2006, and came as NIAC was warning of an imminent war between the U.S. and Iran -- and Mansouri explains that given "what's going on in the world, it might be very dangerous and we may be forced to cancel [the trip]."

Parsi reassures Mansouri -- "NIAC has a good name in Iran and your association with it will not harm you."

On 3/17/06, Trita Parsi wrote:

Re the Iran trip, I think it will be difficult to get out of this one. Since nothing extraordinary has occurred since we submitted the proposal (Ahmadinejad was already in office) we are going to have a tough time with this one. Nevertheless, we have to be careful and not put you in risk. I can tell you though that NIAC has a good name in iran and your association with it will not harm you. In fact, I believe two of our board members are in Iran as we speak!

How can NIAC have had a "good name in Iran" if it was working to promote human rights, to foster democracy, and to undermine the authoritarian regime? Simple: it couldn't, and it wasn't. While the left screams about AIPAC and the "Israel Lobby," they rise to defend a man who, by his own estimation, was in the good graces of the Ahmadinejad regime as recently as two years ago. Surely that was because the regime viewed NIAC as "sympathetic."

The full exchange after the jump...


Great! You know that I would love to go and pay a vist to the lovely homeland after 6 years. But as it goes forward, my concerns become more serious. Lately, I started thinking nonsense... I understand it's very Iranian to be scared and paranoid all the time. But if it's going to be safe, why not? Knowing that NIAC folks are there right now, is a good sign :) And I feel safer already...

Cheers,
Mo

On 3/17/06, Trita Parsi wrote:

Re the Iran trip, I think it will be difficult to get out of this one. Since nothing extraordinary has occurred since we submitted the proposal (Ahmadinejad was already in office) we are going to have a tough time with this one. Nevertheless, we have to be careful and not put you in risk. I can tell you though that NIAC has a good name in iran and your association with it will not harm you. In fact, I believe two of our board members are in Iran as we speak!

-----Original Message-----
From: Mohammad Mansouri [mailto:momansouri@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, March 17, 2006 6:21 PM
To: Trita Parsi
Subject: Congratulations...

Wow!

I got your message. I'm happy to hear that we nailed down NED and hope to get the other 70K so that we can run this for a while.You have my firm commitment, of course. The first couple of months (until I can go for the trip to Iran) is going to be hectic for me. We are going to launch our webzine in April and I can't just drop Noosheen's project now and for a while. I prefer to help her out until the system goes forward and becomes an organic entity. After that I will excuse myself for taking this trip to Iran and that will be the best time to say goodbye to HAND as I planned (she can't let me go for 3 or 4 weeks anyway and I am going to say that I will stay out of US more; so it will be done!). We say goodbye as friends and will remain friends if things go on as I imagine.

I don't know how reasonable it will be to take the risk and actually go to Iran, though. I have to do more research on this issue. From what's going on in the world, it might be very dangerous and we may be forced to cancel it. Don't you think so? We'll see in a couple of months anyways. I must also think about the time we want them to be in Turkey (is this the country we are going to go?) . First, we talked about Summer. Then the project stretched from 6 months to 1 year and you moved it to November or something like that in the proposal. Unfortunately, due to the cold season and school season related reasons, we might face some difficulties to invite people to Turkey (you know that Turkey can be very cold at that time.) My opinion is that we should push the conference to late Summer and at worst, early early Fall. This will need a re-plan since we should find enough things to take care of for the rest of 5 or 6 months.

Yes, that would be great to co-work with Alex. I will get to learn a lot for sure. Please introduce me to him and we'll keep in touch. I should also start talking to the NGOs in Turkey and start building some bridges.

I'm going to be out of town from 30th to April 3rd. I can start full force from 4th. There will be a lot of emails and calls to Iran and Turkey. I will also look again for effective courses on this subject. I don't even mind to go to Europe if they have some wonderful programs on my own budget. I will let you know soon.

Congratulations once more my friend. Feeling the progress is always joyful.

Take care,
Mo