Rise of the ‘Iran Lobby’: Tehran’s front groups move on– and into– the Obama Administration

A complex network of individuals and organizations with ties to the clerical regime in Tehran is pressing forward in seeming synchrony to influence the new U.S. administration’s policy towards the Islamic Republic of Iran. Spearheaded by a de facto partnership between the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other organizations serving as mouthpieces for the mullahs’ party line, the network includes well-known American diplomats, congressional representatives, figures from academia and the think tank world.

This report– documenting the rise of what can accurately be described as the “Iran Lobby” in Washington, D.C.–is derived entirely from unclassified open sources and describes in detail the activities, linkages, and objectives of this alarming alliance between NIAC, CAIR and others that is aimed at co-opting America’s foreign policy in the Middle East and specifically with Iran.

Understanding the involvement of the Tehran regime in the foundation and continuing activities of organizations like these and their allies will become increasingly important to understanding the extent of the regime’s influence on American foreign policy decisions regarding Iran.
As these organizations expand, multiply and, in the process, intensify their efforts to promote a shared and minous agenda, it is imperative to recognize the role being played by what amount to their interlocking (or at least overlapping) boards of directors, donations from the same foundations and growing access to some key members of Congress and top levels of US policymaking circles. Of special concern is the growing penetration of the Obama Administration by a number of individuals with such associations.

To be sure, efforts at influencing U.S. decision-making are common among a host of legitimate interest roups, including many foreign countries. But in this context, where the guiding force behind such influence operations emanate from the senior-most levels of a regime like Iran’s – which holds the top spot on the State Department list of state-sponsors of terror, makes no secret of its hatred and enmity for the United States and its ally, Israel, and acts in myriad ways to support those who have assassinated, held hostage, kidnapped, killed and tortured American civilians and military personnel over a 30-year period – such operations must be viewed with serious concern.

Specifically, the de facto alliance between CAIR, one of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliates named by the U.S. Department of Justice as an unindicted co- conspirator in the 2007 and 2008 Holy Land Foundation trials, and groups such as NIAC and its predecessor, the American-Iranian Council (AIC), which long have functioned openly as apologists for the Iranian regime, must arouse deep concern that U.S. national security policy is being successfully targeted by Jihadist entities hostile to American interests.

 

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Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President of the Intelligence Summit and a professor at the
Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies. Ms. Lopez received her B.A. in
Communications and French from Notre Dame College of Ohio and a M.A. in International
Relations from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. She speaks and writes widely on
Middle East issues.

About Clare M. Lopez

Clare M. Lopez is Vice President for Research & Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.  She previously was a Senior Fellow with the Center as well as with the London Center for Policy Research, member of Sen. Ted Cruz’ 2016 presidential campaign national security advisory team, Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee, and a career operations officer with the CIA. Read her complete bio here. Follow Lopez on Twitter @ClareMLopez

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