The Trump administration has been taking a long overdue hardline stance against Iranian terrorism and subversion. However, a shadowy Washington-based, pro-Iranian lobbying group is working under the radar with leftist Democrats to undermine the president's policies.
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is working to elect sympathetic congressional candidates and seeking to influence presidential candidates to benefit the Iranian regime.
While NIAC maintains that it works independently of the Iranian government, many credible commentators beg to differ.
"Spearheaded by a de facto partnership between the National Iranian-American Council, the Council on American Islamic Relations and other organizations serving as mouthpieces for the mullahs’ party line, the network includes well-known American diplomats, congressional representatives, figures from academia and the think tank world."Founded in 2002, NIAC has been described in the Iranian state-run media as “Iran’s lobby” in the United States since at least 2006.
Political InfluenceWhile the 400,000 to 1 million Americans of Iranian birth and descent are among the richest and best-educated immigrant groups in the country, their political footprint has been comparatively light until recently.
Most Iranian immigrants are nominally Shia Muslim but tend to have a high secularization and conversion rate compared to other Muslim-American groups. There are also significant Jewish, Christian, Ba’hai, and Zoroastrian minorities in the Iranian-American diaspora. Many older-generation Iranian immigrants supported the late Shah of Iran and are opposed to the hardcore Islamist regime now running their former country.
However, as can be observed in the Cuban, Chinese, and Vietnamese communities that fled communism, the second and third generations tend to be less ideologically opposed to the regimes in their ancestral countries. Third-generation Cubans, Chinese, and Vietnamese are far less anti-communist and more likely to vote Democrat than their anti-communist, Republican-voting elders. They are also far more susceptible to ethnic, cultural, economic, and, in the case of Iran, religious pressures to support their ancestral home’s current rulers.
Political WinsIn June 2015, NIAC launched a new 501(c)4 called NIAC Action, which “aims to direct money from the Iranian-American community, which is relatively well-off compared to other immigrant groups, toward more concerted political activism,” according to Politico.
“We’ve got all this money on the table, all this political influence that’s not being utilized,” NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi said. “Now, we can actually start playing the full political game.”
In 2015, NIAC claimed some 5,000 dues-paying members and about 45,000 Iranian-Americans on its mailing list, and the group was aiming to establish 30 chapters nationwide. At the time, it was estimated that NIAC supporters gave about $1.4 million each election cycle to political candidates.
Abdi told Politico, "While we may not be able to match the largesse of [pro-Israel donors] Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer, our side is for the first time bringing serious resources to the playing on the field."
Another accomplishment was "[helping to] elect four new champions of our community to the new Congress."
Four out of five NIAC-backed congressional candidates won their races in 2018—all Democrats taking formerly Republican-held seats
All four serve districts with significant Iranian-American populations. All have supported to some degree former President Barack Obama’s disastrous “Iran nuclear deal,” and all worked to overturn President Donald Trump’s travel ban imposed on certain Islamic majority countries, as well as North Korea and Venezuela.
"Porter supports the Iran nuclear deal struck under President Obama as an alternative to war and will oppose efforts to destroy the vital diplomatic accord.
"Porter is no stranger to the Iranian-American community. Her district is home to over 20,000 Iranian-Americans—the second-largest Iranian-American population of any congressional district.
Presidential CandidatesA third accomplishment was listed as "[launching a] campaign to return US to the JCPOA and begin briefing 2020 Presidential candidates." (JCPOA is the acronym for the Iran nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew the United States.)
NIAC’s campaign to “brief” presidential candidates on the need for a return to the Iran nuclear deal is also apparently working.
On March 19, 2019, reports emerged that 2020 presidential contenders Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had joined Warren in backing the United States’ return to the Iran nuclear deal.
"We commend Senators Sanders, Harris, and Warren for committing to reversing Trump’s failed Iran policy, and for recognizing the urgent need to return to the JCPOA and the successes resulting from the diplomatic playbook first written under the Obama administration.
"Returning the U.S. to compliance with the JCPOA is a logical first step for the next U.S. president—and candidates like Harris, Sanders, and Warren know this. Their commitment to a policy centered on engagement with Iran advances the Obama administration’s multilateral diplomacy that successfully yielded real security gains.
While Trump and his administration are working hard to end the Iranian-backed terrorism problem once and for all, pro-Tehran elements in this country are clearly buying political influence in the U.S. Congress, maybe even with the next president.
The Trump administration would be wise to turn its attention to that branch of the “deep state” that’s headquartered in Tehran.