Washington, DC — In light of expanding pro-democracy protests and the growing calls from the Iranian-American community for further action from the Biden administration, NUFDI has called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to fundamentally reassess American Iran policy, refocusing it on the promotion of human rights and democracy, and to start by reassessing the staff charged with executing the administration’s policy.

The letter reads, in part: “Recalling President Biden’s mantra that “personnel is policy”, we encourage the Administration to consider specifically whether the members of its Iran team – particularly U.S. Special Representative for Iran Rob Malley and his deputy Jarret Blanc – grasp the present reality of Iran and have the country expertise and ideological flexibility to adjust U.S. policy as the situation in Iran unfolds.”

NUFDI, expressing the sentiments of hundreds of thousands of members of the Iranian-American community across the United States, continued: “As an Iranian-American community organization, we urge you to recognize the historic nature of this moment and seize the opportunity that it presents to the United States, Iran and the international community. The Iranian people are speaking loudly and with one voice that they reject the Regime, that they aim to end its reign of terror in Iran and beyond, that they seek to reclaim both their country and their place among the community of nations and that they need our support in their ongoing struggle for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The organization also offered specific policy recommendations and again expressed its willingness to meet with the administration for constructive dialogue.

Read the full letter, below. For press inquiries contact press@nufdiran.org.

Dear Secretary Blinken,

We write to urge the Biden Administration (the “Administration”) to reassess its prevailing policy toward Iran and the team of diplomats tasked to implement it.  

Over the course of the past five years, Iran has witnessed several significant waves of nationwide protests against the Islamic Republic (the “Regime”). The most recent and current wave  – now in its fourth week – has exceeded previous uprisings in scale, intensity, and diversity.  It has drawn participation from Iranians across economic and social strata in every province and it has persisted despite the Regime’s effort to suppress it through extreme violence, mass detention and cruel intimidation. Prominent academics and journalists who focus on the country have come to refer to the current protest movement as a popular “revolution”. Indeed, the Iranian people have made clear that they now seek to overthrow the Regime and, with their movement building momentum, the Regime’s future has never looked more uncertain. 

The Administration’s current policy toward Iran does not reflect these developments.  Instead, it appears to be rooted in a paradigm that has long since ceased to exist – a paradigm in which the Regime is generally stable and in which both the political system and society are engaged in a peaceful struggle over “reform”. As that paradigm has given way to a new reality in which the Regime is widely opposed by the Iranian people and in which street protests, labor strikes and myriad acts of civil disobedience are threatening its survival, we consider it necessary for the Administration to recalibrate.   

Recalling President Biden’s mantra that “personnel is policy”, we encourage the Administration to consider specifically whether the members of its Iran team – particularly U.S. Special Representative for Iran Rob Malley and his deputy Jarret Blanc – grasp the present reality of Iran and have the country expertise and ideological flexibility to adjust U.S. policy as the situation in Iran unfolds. In the 18 months since assuming their current positions, Mr. Malley and Mr. Blanc have focused their efforts almost exclusively on securing a new nuclear accord between the P5+1 and the Regime. They have not only failed to achieve this objective; they have also largely ignored every other U.S. foreign policy and national security consideration in the process.  

For example, on their watch, the U.S. Department of State’s Persian language Twitter account – previously, one of the most engaged Persian language accounts on Twitter – has become irrelevant, at best, and the target of derision, at worst, for its publication of content widely viewed as unconnected to the concerns and aspirations of the Iranian people. Moreover, Mr. Malley has expressed that the United States does not seek systemic change in Iran and Mr. Blanc has emphasized that the United States should not support anti-Regime protests by the Iranian people. These comments have caused widespread shock and dismay among Iranians and Iranian-Americans alike. 

Iran is today a profoundly different country than it was in 2015, when the P5+1 and Iran reached agreement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It is critical for the Administration’s policy toward Iran to adapt to this reality. Specifically, we recommend that the Administration: 

(a) reformulate its Iran policy to center human rights and democracy, in recognition of the aspirations of the Iranian people and in keeping with our core values as Americans; 

(b) limit the allocation of resources toward achievement of a new nuclear accord with the Regime, utilize diplomatic engagement to draw attention to the Regime’s violations of human rights and expand the formulation and implementation of policy to address the growing prospect for systemic change in Iran; 

(c) appoint a U.S. Special Representative to the Iranian People, to make clear that the United States recognizes a distinction between the Regime and the nation that it oppresses and to conduct outreach to, and dialogue with, the Iranian people as they continue their struggle for freedom and democracy; 

(d) implement new sanctions, and enforce existing sanctions, not only to hold the Regime accountable for its violations of human rights but also to minimize asymmetry in the power balance between the Regime and the Iranian people; and

(e) devise and implement additional measures to provide material support to the Iranian people, including with respect to ensuring continuity of communications services and providing financial support for striking workers. 

Over the past several months, we have made multiple attempts to engage with Mr. Malley and his team in order to discuss developments in Iran, raise concerns of the Iranian-American community and share related policy recommendations. Although Mr. Malley and his team have not engaged with us, we remain hopeful that, in light of developments in Iran, the Administration will commit itself to greater engagement with the Iranian-American community and with the Iranian people.  

***

The current protests in Iran have inspired extraordinary and unprecedented demonstrations of solidarity worldwide, both on social media and in more than 150 cities outside Iran, including in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, where tens of thousands of Iranian-Americans have marched in support of the Iranian people. As an Iranian-American community organization, we urge you to recognize the historic nature of this moment and seize the opportunity that it presents to the United States, Iran and the international community. The Iranian people are speaking loudly and with one voice that they reject the Regime, that they aim to end its reign of terror in Iran and beyond, that they seek to reclaim both their country and their place among the community of nations and that they need our support in their ongoing struggle for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  

Thank you for your attention.

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