According to Politico, Trita Parsi is Joe Biden’s pick to oversee Middle Eastern policy on the National Security Council (NSC) in a Biden administration. I can only assume this means that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Hossein Salami both declined the position. They would be only two possible candidates who would be worse choices.
Trita Parsi is a Washington-based activist born in Iran. He founded and ran for many years a group called the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC). He is now the executive vice president and co-founder of something called the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Parsi claims to speak on behalf of Americans of Iranian descent. In fact, his activities of show that he reliably advocates in favor of Tehran and systematically avoids any criticism of the appalling human rights record of the mullahs in Tehran.
Parsi and NIAC blame the tensions with Iran on the United States and the West. NIAC demands that the United States normalize relations with Tehran. It also wants the United States to abandon all efforts to support those fighting for democracy inside Iran. Per Parsi, Iran the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, wants only to have a peaceful, productive relationship with the United States and Western powers, including Israel.
Exactly how Iran’s intense desire for peace fits with its efforts to set the entire Middle East on fire, calls for the elimination of the Jewish state or the ongoing Iranian attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf is, of course, unclear.
One would think that Parsi and NIAC would both be pariahs, acting as they are as transparent agents of a radical, Islamic regime. They are not. In the runup to the signing of the catastrophic Iran nuclear deal, Parsi and Seyed Mousavian, the former head of Iran’s national security council, made over 33 visits to the White House to meet with senior American officials. At the time, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a former NIAC member, was serving as Iran Director on President Obama’s NSC.
In February of 2017, a group of 100 prominent Iranian dissidents publicly called for a Congressional investigation of NIAC and its affiliated groups. They branded NIAC an arm of the Iranian regime. The letter this group of dissidents sent to Congress read in part:
“We write to request a congressional hearing on the efforts of Tehran’s theocratic regime to influence U.S. policy and public diplomacy toward Iran. We ask that you launch an investigation into any and all lobbying activities of Iranian-American groups, which ostensibly promote the interests of our community but whose real goal is to undermine long-term U.S. national security interests in Iran and its neighborhood.”Sam Faddis, Breitbart.com
This year three Republican senators, Mike Braun (Ind), Ted Cruz (TX), and Tom Cotton (Ark) joined the chorus and called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate NIAC, saying they believed it acted as a “foreign agent of the Islamic Republic.” The senators stated that NIAC acted on behalf of the Iranian government to arrange meetings with members of Congress and other U.S. officials. The senators also stated that they were in possession of information from former F.B.I. agents who claimed the group had participated in pro-Iranian lobbying.
“We ask that the Department of Justice evaluate whether an investigation of NIAC is warranted for potential FARA violations and to ensure transparency regarding foreign attempts to influence the U.S. political process,” the Senators concluded.Radiofarda.com
The online publication of Parsi’s new creation, the Quincy Institute, is called Responsible Statecraft. Predictably enough it is full of articles favoring a pro-Iran policy and warning of the dangers of an “emboldened Israel.” Ilhan Omar is showcased as someone with key insights we should heed. And, of course, we are told that we must “engage” with Iran and return forthwith to the JCPOA, otherwise known as the disastrous Iran nuclear deal.
“It seems that the incoming Biden Administration may be on the right track. They seek engagement with Iran and not conflict. And they plan to reenter the nuclear agreement, but with the added component of firmly addressing Iran’s involvement in regional conflicts. Such an approach may be difficult to achieve for several reasons…Nevertheless, despite these very real difficulties, engagement remains the better course. Efforts to negotiate a reentry in the JCPOA, while at the same time addressing Iran’s regional involvement, may provide a key to shifting public opinion in Iran and the Arab World – both of which need to be considered. It won’t be an easy lift. But anything is better than the current path which leads to the dead end of continued or, God forbid, an expanded conflict that no one can win.”Responsible Statecraft
Obama’s strawman is back. Renew the deal or there will be war.
Parsi’s new outfit has come in for the same kind of criticism leveled at NIAC. Republican Senator Tom Cotton has stated that the “ancient hate of antisemitism…festers in Washington think tanks like the Quincy Institute,” describing it as an “isolationist, blame America first money pit for so-called scholars who’ve written that American foreign policy could be fixed if only it were rid of the malign influence of Jewish money.”
Trita himself is not shy about making clear where he stands. When Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed a historic peace deal, Parsi said the treaty guaranteed “forever war” in the Middle East. He blamed President Trump for forcing Iran to become an ally of the Communist Chinese. He decried both the killing of IRGC commander Soleimani and the recent assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. He responded to attacks on NIAC by blaming it on new “McCarthyism.” Per Parsi, the United States is a country bent on world domination, spreading death and destruction everywhere it goes and the only way the Middle East will ever achieve stability is if America walks away and lets nature take its course.
This is the man that Joe Biden wants to be his key advisor on policy in the Middle East. After four years that have seen Iran largely contained and a growing list of historic peace deals signed, we have come to this. Our Sunni and Jewish allies are to be pushed aside.
Trita Parsi is coming to the White House, and Joe Biden is giving the keys to the ayatollahs.