EXCLUSIVE: Get To Know The Team At IAL
"We envisioned our organization to be independent from any government funding and rely on volunteer work from the community members or fund-raising from Iranian American." IAL Founding Board Member, Dr. Shervan Fashandi
Since February of 2021, dozens of American Representatives have come out in support of the Iranian American community with commitments to end the policy of appeasement towards the Islamic Republic and to help their compatriots gain freedom and democracy.
Of course, this would not have been possible without the unfailing efforts and faithful actions of a relatively new U.S.-Based group, the Iranian-Americans For Liberty (IAL).
It is our opinion that IAL made it possible with no hesitation by all means.
First of all, the ICBPS would like to congratulate the Iranian Americans for Liberty (IAL) on its infallible mission and loyal movements on behalf of the Iranian American community. In this interview, we intend to discuss with the IAL’s representatives why and how to challenge the Islamic Republic, its well-trained lobbies, and how the global powers can be persuaded to give up Tehran’s appeasement!
In this article, we will hear from 1) IAL’s Board President, Dr. Daniel Jafari 2) IAL Board Member, Dr. Shervan Fashandi 3) IAL’s Executive Director, Bryan E. Leib and 4) IAL Advisory Board Member, Pooya Nasseri.
Question: As a 501(c)(4) organization, the Iranian Americans for Liberty (IAL) says it “primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on behalf of Iranian Americans. How do you make it possible, Dr. Jafari?
Dr. Jafari: First of all, thank you Kaveh for this opportunity. It’s truly an honor to speak with you today. To answer your question – in 2021, IAL has hosted over 20 online events. Once the pandemic hit, we had to quickly pivot and take all of our events online. These events have ranged from hosting members of the U.S. House of Representatives for educational purposes so the community could learn more about Congress’s positions on domestic and foreign policy issues to and community-oriented designed to give members of the Iranian American community the opportunity to tell their story and to speak out against the IRI. Through these events, we feel that we have made a big impact in the Iranian American community and we are thankful to all of our supporters.
Question: Dr. Jafari, IAL has amazingly hosted dozens of U.S. Representatives, analysts, and political commentators in the short time it has been working. What is the purpose of these programs, and what have you achieved so far?
Dr. Jafari: The purpose of our events is to provide the Iranian American community with the knowledge and access needed to be more active in their local community. We also hope that our events have inspired Iranian Americans to raise their voices louder than ever before because they know that we will amplify their voices. It should be noted that IAL is not concerned with the politicail affiliation of community members. We have hosted virtual events to spotlight Iranian Americans, regardless of their political party. Our rule is simple – if you oppose the oppressive Islamic Republic of Iran then we are aligned.
Question: Mr. Jafari, what is the IAL vision/mission for Iran after the Islamic Republic collapsed?
Dr. Jafari: That’s a great question, Kaveh. IAL will continue to support the people of Iran who so desperately seek and deserve freedom of speech, religion and much more. In addition, we will continue to amplify the voices of Iranian Americans who are speaking out in support of their brothers and sisters back home in Iran.
Question: Thank you for your time, Dr. Jafari. Now, let’s talk to Dr. Shervan Fashandi, one of IAL’s Founding Board Members. Dr. Shervan Fashandi, as an Iranian elite who holds higher education and a valuable job position, how did the great idea come to you as a unique work? Did the existing defect in the Iranian opposition lead you to do so?
Dr. Fashandi: Over the years of living in the West and following the news on the Iranian diaspora, I noticed that apologists of the Islamic Republic are almost universally hated within the Iranian diaspora and the Persian social media and media. However, they still shamelessly portray themselves as representatives of the Iranian diaspora in the mainstream English media. In many cases, they pose as human rights activists, journalists, or even opposition to the Islamic Republic regime of Iran, yet they parrot the same tired talking points and propaganda of the regime. They simply don’t care about all the negative feedback and criticism that they constantly receive from the Iranian diaspora.
And unfortunately, we noticed that many Iranian activists are solely or mostly focused on the Persian media and basically have neglected the mainstream media in the West. Therefore, we sensed that there was a void to be filled, a non-profit organization to engage the Iranian American community and amplify their voice in the mainstream media and to the policy-makers in the West, to prevent the regime apologists from monopolizing the dialogue in Iranian diaspora and indeed misrepresenting the voice of Iranian Americans and mischaracterizing their community.
We also envisioned our organization to be independent from any government funding and rely on volunteer work from the community members or fund-raising from Iranian Americans, because we noticed that many activists who are fully or partially funded by the US government are unwilling or incapable of countering the Islamic Republic regime apologists and their lobbies. Moreover, they are limited by many legal restrictions.
This was the main motivation behind Iranian Americans for Liberty.
Question: Dr. Fashandi, following reports released that Iranian Border Forces have murdered civilians on the Iran-Pakistan border, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar & Rep. Yvette Herrell came out in support of the Iranian people. When you saw this from two powerful Member’s of Congress, how did this make you feel?
Dr. Fashandi: This made me feel very good and it gave me hope that there are American elected officials that aren’t afraid to speak out against the Iranian Regime for their continue human rights abuses. In addition, I know that the Iranian American community was also very happy to see Rep. Herrell and Rep. Salazar voicing their support for our community.
Question: Dr. Fashandi, several high profile Iranian-Americans voted for President Biden. I believe they knew Biden would bring appeasement for Iran, and they voted for him anyway. What is your opinion on the issue, and what is the solution to deal with the self-proclaimed Iranian opposition figures?
Dr. Fashandi: While I was disappointed to see my compatriots supporting then candidate Biden, I can tell you that I think a lot of them are having what we call “buyers remorse”. I have seen and talked to many Iranian Americans that voted for Biden who are now very disappointed with his approach to Iran and they saw they will not vote for him again. While this is certainly their decision to make, I think it’s the right decision. President Biden has already broken many of the promises he made related to foreign affairs.
Question: Dr. Fashandi, youths’ human capital plays a crucial role in societies. What is the IAL plan for the younger generation of Iranians (both inside and diaspora)?
Dr. Fashandi: I will defer to Bryan on that question.
Bryan Leib: Thank you Shervan! IAL has plans to engage with high school and college students within the U.S.A. once the country starts to open back up again. We plan to become very active on college campuses by supporting Iranian American students and we will look to engage with high school students as well.
Question: Mr. Bryan E. Leib, you are the IAl Executive Director. Can you please explain what plan the organization has set for the upcoming years?
Leib: Kaveh, thank you for the question and for taking the time to speak with our organization. IAL will continue to be a bi-partisan organization that works towards strengthening foreign policy related to Iran and the Middle East while doing everything in our power to bring human rights accountability to the people living in Iran. In addition, we will continue to amplify the voices of Iranian Americans and Iranian dissidents all around the world.
Question; Mr. Leib, as an expert, How successful do you think this organization could be? Is the West looking to hear the authentic voice of the Iranian people?
Leib: I think the sky is the limit. In a very short period of time, we have hosted 11 Member’s of Congress while also hosting over 10 community-oriented events. I believe that as the country starts to open back up, we will continue to grow to new heights as we look to open local chapters around the country to add a grassroots element to our organization.
Question: Mr. Leib, as an American, how much do you think this organization can succeed to strengthen and support U.S. foreign policy to bring democracy and freedom to Iranians living under the oppressive regime?
Leib: First of all, let me say this: I fully support the Iranian people living in Iran under the oppressive Islamic Republic of Iran and I will not waver in my position on this. I think that IAL will continue to play a major role in strengthening and supporting U.S. foreign policy. If you think what we’ve done in a pandemic year was good – just wait until you see how effective we will become in mobilizing our supporters all around the country.
Question: Mrs. Pooya Nasseri, you recently joined the IAL. As the IAL’s Advisory Board, in your opinion, what is the economic view of the global powers towards Iran and the region? Wouldn’t the stable Middle East have more economic benefits for the world leaders?
Nasseri: Since the trade ties with Iran are very weak and Iran lost a big portion of its share in the global oil and gas market and basically is not important for the global economy, the global players just trying to control and minimize the risk of Iran’s nuclear program and its threat to world stability. It definitely will. First of all, a more stable Middle East, means lower geographical risk to the oil market, supply and prices. On top of that, countries in the region, including Israel and also Europe will greatly benefit from this stability and will enjoy better trade and investment, more doors will open, regional tourism will thrive, more student exchange, technology and R&D collaborations will happen. In addition, lower investment risk in the region will lead to more capital intensive local and international investments, stronger local economies, more jobs, higher salaries and therefore stronger consumer markets. The labor market and local talents will greatly benefit from such an environment. Global trade is so intertwined that all the big economies and global companies will benefit from such stability and economic growth in the region.
Question: Mrs. Pooya Nasseri, previously, you said that “the ripple effects from the past four decades will lead Iran to experience “Venezuela-ization” unless Iranians succeed in changing the regime and establish a well-integrated system with the global economy.” Do you still believe that this would happen? And, why?
Nasseri: Yes, that’s unfortunately the case. This regime is basically consuming and exhausting all the local resources, including the human capital. In countries with good management these potentials and resources will be well managed and turn to increase in productivity and wealth creation for the nation. Iran’s today weak economy, stagflation, rapid local currency devaluation, very high inflation and low labor participation rate, further isolation, lack of investment, etc. are all the results of 4 decades of mismanagement, systemic corruption, aggressive and damaging political decisions. They just lead the country to a major financial and economic crisis and Iranians are devastated. Today Iran’s most economic indicators are in the same range as the countries in war. This should never be the case for a country like Iran. This regime inherited a great growing economy, had 4 decades and many chances to turn things around but they are clearly unwilling to do so. The wellbeing of the people and creating a great economy was never their intention and goal. The economic crisis will obviously continue worsening, the pressure is on ordinary Iranians and they for sure want to change this regime. People had enough and we can see that in the increasing uprising, very low voter participation, etc. Everyone knows that without a right and healthy system, we can’t expect any different results from this regime. As I said before and correctly, the people of Iran want the only solution after all is regime change and its replacement with a modern democracy and a well-integrated system with the global economy.
Question: Mrs. Pooya Nasseri, will the Iranian economy change by lifting the sanctions? And to what extent does the economical crisis in Iran depend on its political and international crisis, and why?
Nasseri: The short answer is No. Iran’s economic crisis is greatly tied to its terrible domestic and foreign policies and the political crisis this regime created. Without normalizing the country’s relationship with the world there would be no improvement in the economy.
Clearly as long as the same failed system is in place the economic crisis will persist. Let’s not forget that the sanctions are the results of aggressive, non-compliant political decisions and behaviors. Removing some sanctions, may and just may result in a little higher oil export but that is too far from generating enough revenue for the government and changing anything for the people and economy. For instance, landing again in the FATF black list and being cut from the international banking system and trade is directly the regime’s fault and has nothing to do with any sanction. Lifting sanctions will not change the conditions such as; 80% of the economy being controlled by government and regime related organization, systemic corruption, financing the terrorism, mismanagement, the current hostile investment and business environment, etc. The international trade and invest community do NOT owe any country anything. Countries constantly trying to improve their local economy, business friendliness, competitive advantages, domestic and foreign policies and relationships with other global players to be more competitive, productive and benefit from the growing global economy. This regime does exactly the opposite.
Institute of Capacity Building for Political Studies, (ICBPS) publishes articles, analyses, and reports online with no limit. ICBPS has been founded by a group of journalists and activists to provide a great opportunity for those freedom fighters who are being censored by mainstream media.
Kaveh Taheri is a Turkey-based Iranian sociopolitical researcher and freelance journalist – Founder of ICBPS and ICBHR.
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