The 2020 election theft was a coup. For real.
Inside Tehran’s Soft War
How Iran Gained Influence In US Policy Centers
- Three aides of Robert Malley, Biden’s special envoy for Iran, were part of an Iranian government network
- The Iran Experts Initiative (IEI) was established by the Iranian foreign ministry in 2014 to extend Tehran’s soft power
- The IEI members simultaneously worked for top Western think tanks and gave advice to US and Europe
- The joint reporting project with Semafor is based on thousands of emails from Iranian diplomats
Three Iran experts who have worked closely with Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, were members of an influence network formed and guided by Tehran, an investigation by Iran International shows.
The investigation was based on thousands of emails between Iranian diplomats and analysts obtained by Iran International, which shared them with Semafor. The two organizations jointly reported parts of this story together, and wrote and published their stories independently.
Malley has spent the past decade in and out of government, at times occupying crucial diplomatic posts. In between those stints, he has held a perch at the International Crisis Group, a major think tank. Of the three Iran experts, one of them worked for him at the State Department, one worked for him at the ICG and was an unofficial adviser when Malley was in government, and one worked for him only at the ICG.
Malley was put on leave in June, following the suspension of his security clearance amid an ongoing investigation. The exact cause of his suspension remains unclear.
This investigation offers new insights into internal operations of Iran’s foreign ministry, especially during 2015 nuclear negotiations with world powers, and highlights the extent of Tehran’s campaign to gain influence in Washington and other Western capitals.
Documents reviewed by Iran International show the Iranian foreign ministry in 2014 initiated a network of overseas academics and researchers – called the Iran Experts Initiative (IEI) – to increase its influence on the global stage.
This is the first time the role of the IEI – which is also referred to as “the youth network” by Iranian diplomats – has been revealed.
President Bident named Malley to be his special envoy for Iran in 2021. Malley had previously served as a top diplomat in the President Obama administration. He helped to negotiate a 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The accord, which aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear activities, was abandoned by President Trump, who branded it as the worst deal ever and reinstated crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
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