PAAIA’s Sixth Annual Retreat Discusses a post-Nuclear Deal Iran

October 16-17th, New York City – The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans successfully hosted its sixth annual retreat in New York City on October 16th & 17th, 2015. Commemorating what may be a historic inflection point in Iran’s history in the aftermath of the landmark nuclear deal, panels of world-class American, Iranian, and Israeli authorities discussed Iran’s role in the region post sanctions, Iran’s economy post-sanctions, public diplomacy with Iran, and role of social vs. traditional media in Iran coverage. 

Moderated by Karim Sadjadpour, Senior Associate in the Middle East Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, panelists Admiral Mike Mullen (ret.), Former Chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and General Dan Haloutz (ret.), former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces,  started off the first panel by focusing on Iran’s geopolitical positioning post nuclear deal.  The conversation revolved around the key pillars of Iranian foreign policy, and the chief sources of tension between Tehran, Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh. The panelists discussed whether a nuclear deal will ameliorate or exacerbate these tensions. 

Cyrus Amir-Mokri, Partner at Skadden Arps and former Assistant Secretary of Financial Institutions at the US Treasury Department, moderated the second panel with a discussion on public diplomacy with panelists Kamiar Alaei, Professor at the University of Albany; Joseph Cirincione, President of The Ploughshares Fund; Alan Eyre, Persian Spokesman at the US Department of State; and Andrew Bakalar, Director of Global Partnerships at Layalina. The panel led an engaging conversation on how people-to-people exchanges between the United States and Iran can be best facilitated. 

The first day of the retreat concluded with an all-female panel moderated by Davar Ardalan, former Senior Producer at NPR’s Identify and Culture, and joined by Masih Alinejad, journalist at Voice of America; Farnaz Fassihi, Senior Staff Writer at the Wall Street Journal; Parisa Khosravi, former Senior VP of CNN; and Golnoush Niknejad, founder of the online new site,Tehran Bureau. These dynamic journalists deliberated on the rapid development of different media and their role in covering a country like Iran and connecting the Iranian people to the rest of the world.

The second day of the retreat focused on Iran’s economy moving forward. Opening up the discussion, Hamid Biglari, Managing Partner at TGG Group, was joined by Bijan Khajepour, Founding Partner of Atieh International; and Rouzbeh Pirouz, founder of Turquoise Partners.  This prominent panel of business leaders plunged into the effects of a landmark nuclear deal and the eventual lifting of economic sanctions, bringing about a fruitful discussion on Iran’s historic opportunity to reintegrate into the global economy. 

The retreat ended with Amir Tehrani, entrepreneur and investor, leading a panel with Mohsen Malayeri, founder of Avatech; Hadi Partovi, CEO of Code.org; and Cyrus Sigari, co-founder of JetAVIVA, on the new and exciting era of entrepreneurship emerging in Iran as fueled by its young, educated and dynamic population. 

This weekend would not have been a success without the involvement and support of many.  PAAIA would like to thank our retreat organizing committee, Leila Austin, Cyrus Amir-Mokri, Saghi Modjtabai, Firouz Naderi, Sharon Nazarian and Hamid Biglari, our trustees and major donors, the speakers and performers at the various events, and the wonderful guests who were able to attend and add to the success of each of the events.

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