Trita Parsi to discuss US-Iranian tensions, nuclear deal

Returning Alaska World Affairs Council guest speaker Trita Parsi is hosting “Iran: Trump’s gift to the hard-liners,” to discuss issues of Middle East politics on Feb. 9 at the 49th State Brewing Company.

Trita Parsi speaks on the topic of peace between Israel and Iran at his TEDGlobal talk in 2013. Parsi will speak in Anchorage on Feb. 9 at the 49th State Brewing Company. Photo credit: Alaska World Affairs Council

Parsi is an expert on Iranian foreign politics, as well as U.S.-Iranian relations. He has won several prizes for his books on these subjects and regularly appears on TV to comment on issues of the Middle East and Iran in particular. The native Iranian left his home country with his family as a child to escape political repression.

He grew up in Sweden, later working for the Security Council of the United Nations in New York. Today, Parsi holds dual Iranian-Swedish citizenship and lives in the U.S.

In 2002, he founded the National Iranian American Council. This non-profit organization is aiming to promote “greater understanding between the American and Iranian people,” according to the NIAC mission statement.

Camilla Hussein, public administration major, is looking forward to the event. She has Syrian roots and spent part of her teenage years in Damascus.

“People need to be aware that this presidency is clueless about the minutiae of Middle Eastern diplomacy,” Hussein said.

Parsi’s latest book reveals the behind the scenes story to the historic nuclear deal with Iran. This arrangement will also be the focus of his program.

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The 2015 nuclear deal was a preliminary agreement between Iran and the members of the United Nations Security Council, as well as the European Union. In return for granted limitations on the Iranian nuclear energy program, the U.N. and E.U. lifted their strict economic sanctions on Iran.

The sanctions were placed due to the fear that Iran might use their energy program to develop nuclear weapons. Easing tensions between Iran and the other parties, the agreement was internationally welcomed. It is regarded as the signature foreign policy achievement of former President Barack Obama.

President Donald Trump announced that he is considering discontinuing the deal. In a speech from Oct. 13, 2017, he accused Iran of “sponsorship of terrorism” and issued a warning towards Teheran.

“We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout,” Trump said. “[The agreement] is under continuous review, and our participation can be cancelled by me, as president, at any time.”

In his program, Trita Parsi will answer the question “Will killing the Nuclear Deal bring the U.S. and Iran towards war?” and provide different views on the complex topic.

UAA student Ben Edwards is interested in the Iranian perspective of the issue. He is involved with the Model United Nations of Alaska, a simulation where participants represent different countries and discuss issues of international importance.

This year, Edwards is going to represent the Islamic Republic of Iran. He hopes the event will help him to develop a further understanding of the U.S.-Iranian relations and issues the country might be facing.

“We Americans are well aware of how our country regards Iran. But few of us know how Iran regards the U.S.,” Edwards said. “I think this event will help me better roleplay Iran in the Model U.N. conference.”

The one-hour program starts at noon. College and high school students who register in advance will receive complimentary admission and a voucher for lunch at the 49th State Brewing Company. For more information about the event, go to