AMCD Urges Congress to Investigate the “Iran Experts Initiative” Lobbying for the Regime

October 5, 2023

 Dina Esfandiary, Ariane Tabatabai, Ali Vaez, and former US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley
Credit: Iran International

As is well-known among the foreign policy community, both China and Iran run well-oiled influence operations within the U.S., with tentacles reaching deep into the Departments of State and Defense.

The Biden Administration, like the prior Obama Administration, seems intent on appeasing the largest state-sponsor of terrorism, the Iran regime, and to that end, appointed Iran nuclear deal promoter Robert Malley as “special envoy to Iran.”

Fortunately, Malley lost his position and security clearance last April and remains under FBI investigation, though the scandal has been little reported in the media.

One of the Islamic Republic’s initiatives within the U.S. is the so-called Iran Experts Initiative (IEI) established in 2013, which was staffed with three of Malley’s close associates who had regular contact with Iran’s Foreign Office: Dina Esfandiary, Ali Vaez, and Ariane Tabatabai. Tabatabai seems to have taken direct instruction from Iranian officials according to newly released emails. In addition, records show Ali Vaez visited the White House 5 times in the last two years for high-level meetings, including with Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor.

The IEI harmed not only the Iranian people but the Lebanese, Iraqis, Syrians and Kurds through their influence operations in the U.S. and Europe pushing the interest of the Iranian regime.

Now comes the revelation that Ms. Tabatabai has been given a sensitive job in the Pentagon as Chief of Staff for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. The House Committee on the Armed Services and the Subcommittee on Intelligence was so alarmed, Chairman Mike Rogers and Subcommittee Chairman Jack Bergman sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin demanding an explanation. How did someone with Tabatabai’s history, and in the midst of the Malley scandal, receive security clearance for such a sensitive position? And last but not least, 30 members of the US Senate have requested a full investigation of this “information operation” conducted by the Iran regime inside US defense and diplomacy institutions.

“Coming on the heels of the release of six billion dollars to the Iranian regime, this latest revelation of the Biden administrations incompetence strains credulity,” said AMCD co-chair Tom Harb. “America’s present weakness in the face of the enemy is on full display.”

“The Iranians have been stewing over the assassination of Qassem Soleimani ever since President Trump took action,” added AMCD co-chair John Hajjar. “One can’t help but wonder if placing this operative in this position with Special Operations has something to do with that. And whosoever approved Ms. Tabatabai’s security clearance is guilty of treason and must be held accountable.”

“Our American defense and intelligence institutions have been targeted by the regime for infiltration and penetration for years,” said AMCD co-chair Hossein Khorram, “but this revelation is of the greatest magnitude so far. It has shocked the Iranian American and the Middle East American communities.”

“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” explained AMCD advisor and foreign policy analyst Walid Phares. “Iran has been running influence operations in the U.S. and Europe for years. Some target the public through the media, others specifically target our foreign policy officials. It is not surprising, to me, at least, to find their operatives within the U.S. government, even the Defense Department. Many other government agencies, including the Department of State, have been subject to Iranian influence operations for decades.”

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