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Arizona's Iranian-Americans speak out

Tucson, AZ (June 1, 2007) - Just days after the highest level official talks between US and Iranian officials in almost three decades, a Tucson group called Arizona Iranians for Peace spoke out today in support of continued dialogue and an expansion of bilateral negotiations.

"As proud Americans of Iranian descent, we are deeply concerned with the current rise in tensions between the US and Iran," said UA linguistics professor Simin Karimi.

"While for the past two decades Iranians have been a vibrant part of the Arizona community," she added, "we have not been vocal on international issues. It’s now essential for us to provide our unique insights on this topic in an effort to ease the tensions existing between our adopted homeland and the land of our heritage."

Arizona Iranians for Peace is a new grassroots group made up of Iranian-Americans from all walks of life who are voters in the state. They aim to raise public awareness about the importance of diplomacy as a means of resolving the current nuclear standoff, and will be meeting with Arizona’s representatives to ask for Congressional help in preventing a preemptive attack on Iran.

The US has accused Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran claims its nuclear program is intended solely for peaceful purposes.

Chief among the group’s demands is that the US must pursue dialogue without preconditions regarding Iran’s uranium enrichment.

The group is also asking Arizona’s representatives to limit the president’s ability to carry out preemptive strikes against Iran.

"Military strikes against Iran would further harm American interests in the region," said Ali Scotten, a UA alumnus in Middle Eastern Studies and Fulbright Scholar. "Iranian cooperation is essential in stabilizing both Iraq and Afghanistan, and Iranian retaliation in these countries would render our efforts to bring peace to the region virtually impossible."

Members of the group stressed that Iran presents a unique situation in the Middle East in that the majority of the nation’s population holds favorable views towards Americans.

All this, however, would be lost in the face of a US attack.

National defense, they argue, is the only cause that would unite most Iranians with the current Islamic regime.

Furthermore, calls for regime change coming from Washington have already resulted in crackdowns on legitimate democratic forces working inside the Islamic Republic.

"If Iraq can be seen as an enormous blunder on the part of the Bush administration, then an attack on Iran would go down as the worst foreign policy disaster in American history," added Karimi.

The group had spoken out in favor of a House resolution that would have required Congressional approval for military action against Iran. "We would like to thank Congressmen Raul Grijalva and Ed Pastor, who were the only two Arizona representatives to vote in favor of the resolution," said Mahdavi.

While the resolution ultimately failed to be amended to the

2008 Department of Defense Budget, Scotten claimed to "still have faith in our elected leaders’ wisdom to see behind the fiery rhetoric and be brave enough to give diplomacy a chance.

We owe it to both the American and Iranian people."

Contact Info: If you would like more information about Arizona Iranians for Peace, or to schedule an interview, please contact Ali G. Scotten, PhD Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago

... Payvand News - 6/1/07 ... --

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