iran

How Syria Plays Into AIPAC Mythology

When the news broke that President Obama wanted to launch military strikes in Syria, I was sitting in a hotel in Jerusalem nearing the end of a fact-finding mission examining the situation on the ground in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What I had recently witnessed was the failure of the US to uphold not only international law but its own stated policy as Israel effectively colonized East Jerusalem and vast swathes of the West Bank, encircling Palestinian cantons in a sea of Israeli-only settlements, roads, state lands, and military zones.

Even the initiation of the US-brokered peace process seems to have had little impact on the Israeli calculus. I arrived in the country the same week as Martin Indyk, the US envoy for the talks. In the days immediately preceding my arrival, and in the three weeks I spent in the country, the Israeli government announced the construction of over 4,400 new settlement units. In the same period of time, 11 Palestinian families were made homeless through house demolitions. Under present circumstances, a contiguous Palestinian state seems like an impossible dream.

President Obama: Don't Strike Syria Without Congressional Approval

On Sunday, Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Rep. Eliot Engel - a Democrat who voted for the Iraq war - told Fox News that President Obama should strike Syria first and get Congressional approval afterwards.

Feinstein Letter Call-in Report

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Dianne Feinstein Initiates Pro-Iran Diplomacy Letter in Senate

Following on the wildly successful pro-diplomacy letter led by Reps. Charlie Dent and David Price, California Senator Dianne Feinstein is circulating a letter, below, urging President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage Iran in the wake of Iran's recent presidential election. Write to your Senators today!

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Dear President Obama:

We urge you to seize the opportunity presented by the upcoming inauguration of Iran’s new president, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, by reinvigorating diplomatic efforts to secure a verifiable agreement that ensures that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.

Since 2010 Congress has worked with your Administration to increase U.S. and international sanctions against Iran. The impact on Iran’s economy has been significant: the value of the Iranian rial has plummeted against the U.S. dollar since 2011, unofficial estimates of inflation range as high as 70 percent, exports of oil have been halved, Iranian oil production has declined 35 percent to 2.6 million barrels per day, the Iranian economy declined by as much as 8 percent between March 2012 and March 2013 and is set to decline further in the next year, and unemployment estimates range as high as 20 percent.

Close to a Third of House Says Reinvigorate US-Iran Diplomacy

Today, nearly a third of the House of Representatives endorsed the Dent-Price letter calling upon President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage Iran.

Below is the final version of the letter, including a list of signers by state. You can view the original letter here. In addition, Reps. Huffman, Lowenthal and Brownley sent a similar letter to the President, which you can view here.

Send your Rep a letter of thanks/disappointment here.

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July 19, 2013

Dear President Obama,

As Members of Congress who share your unequivocal commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, we urge you to pursue the potential opportunity presented by Iran's recent presidential election by reinvigorating U.S. efforts to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement.

As you know, on June 14 the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani president with over 50 percent of the vote in the first round, overcoming repression and intimidation by the Iranian government to cast their ballots in favor of reform. Dr. Rouhani campaigned on the promise to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace” and has since promised “constructive interaction with the outside world.” As Iran’s former lead nuclear negotiator, he has also publicly expressed the view that obtaining a nuclear weapon would run counter to Iran’s strategic interests and has been critical of the nuclear “extremism” of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Reps. Dent, Price Lead Quarter of House to Bless Talks with New Iran President

If you've been worn down by too much bad news into thinking that nothing good can ever happen in Washington, here's proof that it ain't so: "the biggest ever pro-Iran diplomacy letter from the Hill."

JTA reports:

Days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the incoming Iranian president's plea for engagement with the United States and called for ratcheting up military pressure, a bipartisan letter circulating in the U.S. House of Representatives is urging President Obama to test Hassan Rohani's offer.

The letter, spearheaded by Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and David Price (D-N.C.), had garnered 118 signatures by Thursday afternoon, more than a quarter of the House. The bulk of the signatories are Democrats, but 15 Republicans have signed on as well.

With 200 Democrats in the House, that means that the majority of House Democrats signed the letter.

Give your Rep a Nudge: Call Today to Support Rare Pro-Iran Diplomacy Initiative

Thank you to everyone who emailed their Representative in Congress concerning the Dent-Price letter supporting US-Iran diplomacy. The next step in pressuring your Representative to sign is to call their office. Could you call your Representative today and ask them to sign the Dent-Price letter supporting US-Iran engagement? Here's what you do:

  1. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
  2. Ask to be connected to your Representative's office.
  3. Once you are connected to your Rep's office, tell them your name and address.
  4. Tell your Representative's office to please sign the Dent-Price letter promoting a reinvigorated US effort to engage Iran following Hassan Rouhani's election as president. If your Representative is Charlie Dent or David Price, thank them for initiating the letter.
  5. Here are some additional statements you can use to back up your ask:
    1. Rouhani ran on a platform of engaging with the world and has promised to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace.”
    2. Rouhani's diplomatic credentials include being Iran's lead nuclear negotiator in 2003-5 when the country made progress in talks with the EU-3, temporarily suspended uranium enrichment, and voluntarily implemented the Additional Protocol.
    3. It would be a mistake not to test Rouhani's offer of engagement. If we ignore it, we send a message that the US will respond the same way no matter what happens in Iran, undermining reformists who want an easing of tensions and emboldening those who want confrontation.
    4. The Dent-Price letter does not take a position on whether sanctions should be ramped up or relaxed, nor does it take a position on the military option.
  6. When you're done with your call, report it here: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/dent-price-call-report

Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,

Dent-Price Call-In: Report Your Call Here!

Report your call to your Representative concerning the Dent-Price letter here.

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An Important Opportunity to Support US-Iran Talks

The recent Iranian presidential election marks an important opportunity to promote US-Iran talks. Hassan Rouhani was selected in a decisive first-round vote. Rouhani ran on a platform of engaging with the world and has promised to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace,” saying that both the US and Iran “need to think more about the future and try to sit down and find solutions to past issues and rectify things.” [1] [2]

A bipartisan group of representatives led by Republican Charles Dent and Democrat David Price are seizing this opportunity by gathering signatures on a letter urging President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage in diplomacy with Iran. Tell your Representative to sign on today.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/dent-price

Some in the media and Congress have been saying that Rouhani's election doesn't mean anything and that it shouldn't affect US engagement with Iran. While it remains to be seen whether Rouhani will be a boon to US-Iran relations, there are reasons to be optimistic. For one, President Ahmadinejad's rhetoric was often used as an excuse for US disengagement, so a change of guard deflates many anti-diplomacy arguments. And although the highest authority in Iran remains Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rouhani's landslide victory over his "hardline" rivals-he garnered 51% of the electorate, compared to 17% for the runner-up, in one of the highest voter turnouts in an Iranian presidential election-is being seen by many as a mandate for a more moderate government perspective, both at home and abroad. [4] Ignoring the pro-diplomacy results of the election would undercut those in Iran who want a diplomatic solution and embolden those who want confrontation.

Dent-Price Letter Promoting US-Iran Talks

Below is a bipartisan congressional sign-on letter being organized by Reps. Charles Dent and David Price urging President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage Iran following the election of Hassan Rouhani as president. Tell your Representative to sign.

July XX, 2013

Dear President Obama:

As Members of Congress who share your unequivocal commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, we urge you to pursue the potential opportunity presented by Iran's recent presidential election by reinvigorating U.S. efforts to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement.

As you know, on June 14 the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani president with over 50 percent of the vote in the first round, overcoming repression and intimidation by the Iranian government to cast their ballots in favor of reform. Dr. Rouhani campaigned on the promise to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace” and has since promised “constructive interaction with the outside world.” As Iran’s former lead nuclear negotiator, he has also publicly expressed the view that obtaining a nuclear weapon would run counter to Iran’s strategic interests and has been critical of the nuclear “extremism” of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

We are mindful of the limitations of the Iranian presidency within the country’s political system, of the fact that previous Iranian presidents elected on platforms of moderation have failed to deliver on promised reforms, and of the mixed signals that Dr. Rouhani himself has sent regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It remains to be seen whether his election will indeed bring significant change with regard to Iran's relations with the outside world. His government’s actions will certainly speak louder than his words.