Tirta Parsi, the founder of the National Iranian American Council and one of the Iranian regime’s most ardent supporters, took to the airwaves in a final effort to shape impressions about an Iranian nuclear deal that is getting widely panned in the wake of a year of Iranian aggression and human rights violations.
Oddly though he appeared on CCTV, the Chinese-produced news channel, which doesn’t have a high Iranian-American viewership, but then again, Parsi isn’t trying to reach the constituency his organization is ostensibly supposed to be helping; rather he is trying to make the case to overseas governments to stay on board with the Iranian regime in spite of its involvement in three raging wars now in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
His appearance amounts to another PR push to try and allay fears that the nuclear deal is going to be trashed by either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. He voiced his greatest optimism for saving the deal with Clinton’s election, but even tempered his language slightly from the normal dumping on Trump in light of the candidate’s closing in these last days in most polls.
For Parsi, the effort must be akin to gritting your teeth while getting a root canal since it seems every time he goes out there to be a loyal supporter of the mullahs’ agenda, they go ahead and do something to prove his statements wrong.
His famous claims that the nuclear deal would moderate Iran and empower more liberal elements in the regime to make gains in parliamentary elections fell flat as the ruling leadership wiped thousands of candidates off the ballots to ensure solid majorities for their supporters.
Parsi’s belief in Iran’s future role as a “stabilizing” influence in the Middle East’s conflicts evaporated like water on a hot plate when Iranian regime brought Russia into the Syrian conflict and escalated wars in Iraq and Yemen. Mass killings of civilians, bombed out villages, fleeing refugees, all have become staples of the post-nuclear deal era.
Most appalling of all has been Parsi’s complete silence on the Iranian practice of grabbing dual-national citizens, especially Iranian-Americans? Even the sentencing of his supposed friend Siamak Namazi to an extended prison term earned only minimal statements and none of the grassroots campaigns that have marked previous NIAC efforts to win support for the nuclear deal.
The irony is overwhelming when an organization supporting Iranian-Americans, abandons them to Iranian prisons.
For Parsi, the Iranian regime continually makes him out to be a false prophet and for the mullahs in Tehran, this year’s US presidential election is just another example—in their minds of the Great Satan’s decline—but in fact, they shined a bright light on of the great achievements of the US political system in comparison to theirs.
As the New York Times wrote, “In the past, Iranians looking to mock the United States would burn cardboard effigies of Uncle Sam or Lady Liberty. But in recent months, as the American presidential election took a series of bizarre turns, Iranians seeking to make fun of the ‘Great Satan’ have ditched the arts and crafts and simply switched on their TV sets.”
“Iran’s state television, a bastion of conservative ideologues, for once interrupted its regular programing about the ‘murders and crimes committed’ by the United States and broadcast all three debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump — live,” the Times added.
In a country that tightly controls information about the United States and depictions of Western democracy generally, the decision to show the debates was unprecedented but by no means inexplicable: The presidential campaign shows the United States political system in such a poor light, hard-liners evidently want it to speak for itself.
And therein lays their weakness. While the mullahs look to make fun of the American political process they gave Iranians a glimpse of something they cannot have and only dream about; the ability to openly denounce, debate, disagree and even vote out their leaders.
In a regime where the top post of “Supreme Leader” is invested by the Iranian constitution with undisputed powers literally for life, the thought of openly disagreeing, even making fun of the regime’s leaders would be met with knocked down doors, secret trials and public hangings.
While the mullahs may think they are mocking the US, in reality they may have uncorked subtle questioning by their own people who may be asking “Why can’t we do this to our leaders?”
The Iranian people are deeply dissatisfied with the course of their nation, fed up with rampant corruption by regime officials, long wars claiming the lives of the young future of the country and tired of lacking even the most basic freedoms to post selfies, dress as they want or even ride a bicycle.
As Parsi even admits in his CCTV interview, the Iranian people are chafing under the lack of progress and improvements, but while he blames the lack of full implementation of the nuclear agreement, what he doesn’t admit is that the source of that discontent is within the regime’s policies itself.