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Iran threatens influential Washington think tank over hawkish policy towards regime

The warning against the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and its chief executive officer, Mark Dubowitz, was announced on Iranian state media.

Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Credit: Screenshot.
Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Credit: Screenshot.

Iran threatened the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) over the weekend for its hawkish stance towards the regime, which announced sanctions against the influential Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

The warning against FDD and its chief executive officer, Mark Dubowitz, was announced on Iranian state media, which cited a law passed by the Iranian parliament titled “Countering America’s Human Rights Violation and Adventurous and Terrorist Actions.”

“Accordingly, taking any actions by the judicial and security apparatuses against the FDD and their Iranian and non-Iranian accomplices will be considered legitimate as their actions are against the Iran’s national security and the interests of Iranian people and government,” reported the state-run Mehr news agency.

In a statement, FDD said that the think tank “conducts independent research and analysis on national security issues. The Islamic Republic prohibits such freedoms at home, and would like to do so abroad as well. The Islamic Republic, which has occupied the great nation of Iran for four decades, continues to brutally repress the peoples of Iran, stealing their wealth and creating destruction and chaos in the Middle East. FDD considers its inclusion on any list put out by the regime as a badge of honor and looks forward to the day when Americans and others can visit a free and democratic Iran.”

Think tanks across Washington, in addition to members of Congress, stood in solidarity with FDD, which appreciated the support.

“Heartfelt congratulations, Mark. A sign of your effectiveness. Everyone in the DC think tank community stands with you against the thugs in Teheran,” tweeted Hudson Institute president and CEO Kenneth Weinstein.

“Given the reach, anger, brutality, and bloody history of the mullah regime in #Iran, one needs to take seriously this vile, outrageous threat against friends at @FDD,” tweeted Robert Satloff, executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“Don’t always agree with @FDD and @mdubowitz, but threats by Iran’s government against a Washington think tank are completely unacceptable,” tweeted Ilan Goldenberg, Middle East Security director at the Center for a New American Security.

“Iran policy provokes a lot of debate in Washington, but on this point, there should be unanimity: Foreign ministries shouldn’t be in the business of siccing their govt’s ‘security apparatus’ on foreign NGOs. I’ve disagreed plenty w/ @mdubowitz & others at @Fdd over the years. But as Mark has often demonstrated, it’s possible to disagree & still engage in a civil fashion. It’s appalling that Iran’s government would issue these kinds of threats,” tweeted Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution and a senior fellow in the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy.

She continued, “The Islamic Republic’s threats toward @FDD are unfortunately consistent w/ the antagonism of the Iranian govt toward free expression and academic research. Iranians are the primary victims of that approach, w/a spate of new arrests of journalists & activists in the past week. Tehran has detained a growing number of foreign nationals on bogus charges, incl several academics. Given these risks & today’s threats aimed at a US NGO & its staff, all academic & research organizations should seriously reassess their engagement w/Iranian govt institutions.”

Politicians also tweeted this support for FDD amid the threats by Iran.

“Iran’s vicious threats to an American citizen and to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies are further examples of its treachery, its untrustworthiness and its malign intent. Those in businesses or governments who look away from this reality make a dangerous error,” tweeted Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

“The outlaws who rule Iran have sunk to issuing threats against Washington think tanks and private American citizens. @FDD, its leaders, and its scholars have our country’s full support,” tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

“It’s absolutely outrageous the Iranian regime would threaten individual American citizens,” tweeted Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.).

On Monday, Dubowitz tweeted, “This weekend, the regime in Iran threatened FDD and me. Remember: it’s not ‘Iran’ or the ‘Iranian regime’ because there’s nothing Iranian about this odious regime. It’s the Islamic Republic & its regime that illegally occupies & brutalizes the great nation of Iran.”

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