NIAC Is Collapsing

Written By Daniel Bordman, Posted on November 7, 2022

One of the most successful elements of the Islamic Republic has been its ability to create a false foreign opposition that in reality functions as a lobbyist front for the Regime. The core of this gift is to portray oneself as a “reformist” and argue that taking a soft and enabling approach to the Islamic Republic will enable the “reformist” movement inside Iran. However, there are no real reformists inside the Islamic Republic.

The group most synonymous with this grift is NIAC, the National Iranian American Council. Back in 2008, they sued an Iranian blogger, Hassan Diaoleslam, who accused them of being lobbyists for the regime. After a 4 year ordeal, NIAC lost the case and had to repay Diaoleslam’s legal fees. The judge ruled that the positions that NIAC advocated for are no different than what the Regime advocated for.

A NIAC logo made to look like the logo for the terrorist group Hezbollah.

Despite the ruling, NIAC was able to maintain a near monopoly on academic and media attention attacking real Iranian dissidents. During the 2017 and 2019 uprisings when the people on the streets of Iran were calling for regime change NIAC and their affiliates would get on TV and claim that the people actually wanted sanctions relief or a return to the JCPOA. Any Iranian in the diaspora who told the truth and echoed the people’s calls for regime change was smeared as a “warmonger” or “radical”.

Even during November 2019, when at least 3000 Iranians were killed in what is known as Bloody November, NIAC was still defending the regime claiming that Trump was more responsible for the Islamic Republic’s massacres than the Islamic Republic.

Since the murder of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Morality Police for improper hijab, the regime has become indefensible due to massive international attention. In the diaspora, the anger of the Iranian people has been focused on NIAC, which many see as the regime’s top foreign asset.

The last 50-plus days of NIAC can be described as nothing short of a complete disaster. They have gone from an organization whose prime directive seemed to be to slander anyone who says the phrase “regime change” to being forced to put out a video from their executive director Jamal Abdi calling for “Regime Change”. So how did we get here?

For years NIAC has been able to benefit from general apathy towards Middle Eastern issues and has always been able to deflect a national conversation away from Iran often using a false equivalency with the Iraq war to turn off war-weary Americans. But now that the world is listening to the Iranian people, NIAC has lost its major advantage.

The first big blow to NIAC came when Reza Alsan was forced to cut ties with NIAC due to heavy online pressure. First, he claimed in an interview on Iran international that he never worked for NIAC, despite his information being on the NIAC website and his appearance in multiple NIAC videos and events. A few days later he officially stepped away from the organization he never worked for.

The biggest blow to NIAC came from a single Ph.D. student in Chicago, Sana Ebrahimi. When NIAC associate and “journalist” Negar Mortazavi was scheduled to give a talk on the Iranian Revolution at the University of Chicago, the Iranian community was rightfully upset. Mortazavi has a history of supporting major regime figures like chief propagandist Javid Zarif and arch-terrorist Qassem Solemani. 

Mortazavi posing for a photo with Javid Zarif.

The people protested this event and Mortazavi decided to play the victim and claim that any criticism constituted “harassment”. The claim was ridiculous but became absurd when Negar Mortazavi took it one step further and created a fake bomb threat

The establishment for the most part was willing to uncritically swallow this lie. However, what they did not count on was one person doing the job any reporter should have done.

Enter Sana Ebrahimi, who simply took the initiative to call up the Chicago police forces and ask them about the bomb threat on video. Turns out no such threat was made.

Sana’s video went viral, and NIAC was in full panic mode. In their state of self-immolation one NIAC took it upon herself to decide to be a racist bully. Hanieh Jodat Barnes, a former Bernie Sanders delegate and stalwart of the Progressive movement, decided to mock Sana for having an Iranian accent and throw around some derogatory terms. Not the best look for a group that claims to represent the Iranian American community. She was asked to leave NIAC after this.

Since this incident, NIAC has been in full defence mode. Instead of making content advocating for softer policies on the regime, NIAC is making videos defending itself. Executive director Jamal Abdi recently came out to try and defeat the straw-man argument that NIAC is directly funded by the regime, no one ever claimed that it worked that way, but it is nice to know that NIAC is hearing that.

The most telling thing that happened is that one of Abdi’s NIAC videos hit on a key point when he stated that “NIAC has become a slur”. This is a massive admission. The fact that the term “NIACi” now means someone who shills for the Islamic Republic is a signal that NIAC’s days are numbered.

The Iran lobby will never go away completely until the regime itself crumbles but don’t be surprised if their biggest advocates in the West are forced to change their name to hide the shame of their past.

Daniel Bordman

Daniel is the host of political satire show Uninterrupted, runs multiple podcasts and has written for a variety of publications. Daniel is also the communications coordinator of the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation. You can find him on Twitter here. Uninterrupted on YouTube

2 responses to “NIAC Is Collapsing”

  1. Mi says:

    "…don’t be surprised if their biggest advocates in the West are forced to change their name to hide the shame of their past." Each and every member of NIAC will be on watch and any NGO, nonprofit, or Thin Tank they move to will be under microscope, as Trita Parsi and his Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft will not leave our sight.

  2. Atosa says:

    As an Iranian, I thank you for the accurate summary of the events 🙂