By Ali Scotten
Please read this article, distribute widely, and make PHONE calls today.
Dear Concerned Individuals, I am writing to you with deep concern regarding a debate currently being held in Congress that will greatly determine the future of U.S.-Iranian relations for years to come. What makes this debate so important is that President Bush's policy toward Iran is yet to be decided. Therefore, Congress could potentially have a great deal of influence on the route he takes. Two resolutions are currently under review by the House Committee on International Relations: The first, House Resolution 140, calls for a regime change in Iran. In light of what is currently taking place in neighboring Iraq with the stated goal being "regime change," I find the language of H.Res.140 to be extremely distressing. Let us not forget that President Bush has lumped Iran into the same "Axis of Evil" grouping as Iraq. For us to assume that he could not treat Iran in the same manner would be to make a grave mistake. Even as war rages in Iraq, some members of Congress are already looking to Iran and calling for harsher sanctions. In a recent meeting of the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Iran was named as the number one "hot spot" in the war on terrorism. We owe it to our families currently living in Iran to do all that is possible in preventing them from becoming the next victims in the U.S. War on Terrorism. For this reason, I am calling for us all to unite in support of the opposing bill, House Resolution 59, which calls for the opening of U.S.-Iran relations. Its sponsor, Bob Ney (OH) understands that dialogue between two nations, rather than military intervention, is what is best for the people. Fluent in Persian after spending an extensive amount of time in Iran, Congressman Ney is better qualified than anyone else in the House of Representatives to understand the existing situation in Iran. He knows that dealing directly with Iran, rather than punishing its people with sanctions and military threats, is the only way to strengthen democracy. He has listened to the voices of the Iranian youth, who are continuing to strive for democracy—who have stated loud and clear that open dialogue with the United States is what they want. However, they would also just as actively oppose any direct U.S. involvement in the internal affairs of Iran. Since the revolution, progress toward democracy has been made and will continue; but only if we actively support H.Res.59. The regime change called for by H.Res.140 will overturn the progress made through two decades of struggle and cause the sacrifices made by brave supporters of freedom to have been in vain. Indeed, H.Res.140 will bring back the instability that came directly after the revolution. Unfortunately, due to the huge lack of Iranian-American involvement in the American political system, many members of Congress actually believe that we would be willing to support regime change. The reason for this is that the only groups vocal on this issue have been either those who support Israel, the return of the Pahlavi Dynasty, or the Mujahedin—three groups who feel that the current democratic struggle in Iran has failed, and would be willing to see an overthrow of the government. The time for action is now! We must speak out with one voice to tell our government that no longer will we remain silent while the future of Iran is dictated by the few. As Iranians and as Americans, it is our duty to become involved politically, for absence of action is quiet support of the demise of Iranian sovereignty. The Iranian community has contributed greatly to this nation and we deserve to be heard! It is a shame that our community, which has had such tremendous economic and academic success in this country, remains so collectively apathetic when it comes to political involvement. With unity, we can make a difference in America's stance on Iran. Sincerely,
Ali Scotten, University of Arizona Senior About the author: Ali Scotten is a 22-year old senior majoring in Anthropology and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He is half Iranian, half American. His mother is Iranian and his father is American. He speaks and writes Persian, and he grew up in Saudi Arabia. He has traveled to Iran numerous times. CALL TO ACTION: The only way we can make a difference is if we unite to make our voices heard. Therefore, I am calling for all Iranian-Americans and Americans who support continuing democracy in Iran and oppose regime change, to call, write, or email your representatives in Congress.
The best way to get a representative's attention is if we all contact them on the same day. So please try to do this next Thursday, April 10 (if you cannot on this day, make sure to contact them on any day that you are free). It is important to contact them soon to make sure they hear from us before the legislation passes through.
If you are Iranian, make sure to tell them that you are. That way they can be informed that the vast majority of us do not support regime change.
The National Iranian American Council* offers you an extremely easy way to get in touch with your representatives. Following is a link to their website, which has information about both bills. On this webpage, just click on the link that says "Let your members of Congress know…" and enter your zip code to send an email: http://www.niacouncil.org/pressreleases/press053.asp *The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is an organization whose stated goal is to increase Iranian participation in American politics and to keep us informed on the issues. It Does not take a stance on any issue, but provides you with the tools to choose what you would like to support. Please feel free to use parts of my letter, or the sample letter on the NIAC site in your letter or phone message to your representatives. If you do not know your Congressman's contact information, go to http://www.house.gov