Examples of Capitol Hill Briefings
PAAIA Hosts Capitol Hill Briefing on 2009 Survey of Iranian Americans
On January 28th, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) held a congressional briefing to present the findings of its 2009 National Public Opinion Survey of Iranian Americans. The poll, conducted by Zogby International, explored the attitudes and views of Iranian Americans relating to recent developments in Iran following the disputed presidential elections held in June. The briefing, which was aimed at educating congressional staffers, was attended by individuals representing congressional offices, nongovernmental organizations, and the U.S. State Department.
Following opening remarks and a presentation of the poll results by PAAIA’s Executive Director, Mahasti Afshar, a panel of Iran experts was on hand to discuss the implications such results could have on U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran. The panelists included: Geneive Abdo , The Century Foundation; Patrick Clawson , the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Kenneth Katzman, Congressional Research Service; and Alireza Nader, RAND Corporation.
“What we see here in these poll results echoing the mood of policy makers is a real renewed interest in domestic Iranian politics,” stated Clawson, who also underscored the Iranian American community’s surging focus on human rights. “The poll shows broad support in the Iranian American community for taking a strong stance in defense of human rights in Iran, and there is broad support in the international community.”
Panelist Alireza Nader affirmed that while there seemed to be consensus on some issues, “the survey really reflects divisions, not just within the U.S. policy community, but also within the Iranian American community.” Nader’s remarks highlighted the fact that according to the poll, there was a division among Iranian Americans as to whether regime change (42%) or diplomatic negotiations (50%) would be the best action for the United States in dealing with Iran. These divisions seemed to be apparent in Congress as well. “A lot of members of congress are wrestling in their own mind, what do I do? There is a lot of soul searching in the U.S. Congress right now,” stated Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Service.
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PAAIA Public Policy Panel on Access to Information and Media Restriction in Iran Held on Capitol Hill
On June 26, 2012, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), in conjunction with Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA) held a panel at the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill entitled "Behind the Electronic Curtain: Perspectives on Internet Restrictions and Access to Media in Iran." PAAIA’s Executive Director Saghi Mojtabai made the opening remarks to a packed audience of Congressional staff members from both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Ms. Mojtabai highlighted PAAIA’s initiatives under the newly established Public Policy Center, emphasizing the Center’s goal of providing “balanced and objective information about policy issues that have an impact on the Iranian American community and relevant to policy makers.”
The panelists included cultural diplomacy expert and former U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ambassador Cynthia Schneider; State Department diplomat Ramin Asgard;, and senior policy advisor to Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jodi Herman. Ambassador Schneider is currently a professor of diplomacy at Georgetown University and fellow at the Brookings Institute. Ramin Asgard currently serves as Director of Partnerships and Strategic Communication at the Conflict Stabilization and Operations Bureau at the State Department. Jodi Herman is the senior policy advisor to Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on trade and foreign policy. The event was moderated by PAAIA’s Director of Research and analysis, Amir Bagherpour.
This issue is of internet freedom is of significant importance to the Iranian American community, two-thirds of whom, according to the most recent PAAA Zogby -commissioned surveys communicate with family or friends in Iran on a monthly basis. The building of an electronic curtain that restricts information and ideas from entering and leaving Iran reduces the quality of life for Iranians and limits the Iranian American community’s ability to communicate with loved ones in Iran.
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