Exciting News! Launching a new doc series! Watch this interview with Jason Rezaian!

I'm launching a new weekly documentary series on Verizon Media with my awesome friend Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani (someone for whom I have nothing but the most effusive of praise) and a team of excellent producers whose names you don't know but who deserve praise. It's currently available on the Yahoo app in Roku and on the HuffPost website.

One of our first one-on-one interviews is with the Washington Post's Jason Rezaian, who spent 544 days in an Iranian prison and experienced Islamic justice. He wrote about it in his new book 'Prisoner'.

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Kayvon Afshari

Kayvon Afshari managed the campaign to elect Hooshang Amirahmadi as President of Iran. In this role, he directed the campaign’s event planning, publicity, online social media, web analytics, and delivered speeches. Mr. Afshari has also been working at the CBS News foreign desk for over five years. He has coordinated coverage of Iran’s 2009 post-election demonstrations, the Arab Spring, the earthquake in Haiti, and many other stories of international significance. He holds a Master in International Relations from New York University’s Department of Politics, and graduated with distinction from McGill University in 2007 with a double major in political science and Middle Eastern studies. At NYU, his research focused on quantitative analysis and the Middle East with an emphasis on US-Iran relations. In his 2012 Master’s thesis, he devised a formula to predict whether Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, concluding that an overt strike would not materialize.

Happy Yalda Night!

Happy Yalda Night!

Mitra Persian Sun Goddess of Iran Ancient Wall Carving.jpg

Yalda celebrates the winter solstice, as the days become longer and the nights shorter in the northern hemisphere. In that sense, it spiritually celebrates the rebirth of the Sun Goddess Mithra (wall carving photo left). A deeply rooted ceremony, the annual observation of the winter solstice by Iranians and others signifies that man has known for thousands of years that THE SUN birthed all plant and animal life on our planet. Moreover, ancient Iranians' ability to accurately predict the solstice and to know key moments on the solar calendar is directly related to mankind's survival, prosperity, ability to plan for the future, and ability to conceive of time. Yalda is so old that it even predates Zoroastrianism-- Iran's religion prior to the Arab invasion and largely forced conversions to Islam-- and is really a Mithraic holiday that would soon be adopted by Zoroastrians.

Shab-e Yalda-2015_TurmericSaffron.jpg

While Iran's Zoroastrian faith placed the greatest emphasis on fire and light, traditional reverence for light was and remains common and extends well beyond the Iranian plateau. Jesus Christ, of course, is referred to as "the Light of the World", and the Scandinavian festival of St. Lucia similarly symbolizes bringing the "Light of Christianity" into the world. (Those interested in learning more about the deep religious influence Zoroastrian Iran had on the Holy Roman Empire should look up the Cult of Mithras)

Sometimes, it is difficult to conceive of a pre-modern, pre-industrial and pre-agricultural world and all its challenges to human survival. Cultivating a monumentalist relationship to history rooted in one's own heritage and longstanding annual rituals like Yalda is one way to spiritually surpass time and space and reconnect with previous epochs, in this case, one in which light was so rare and crucial as to be worshipped.

Regardless of humanity's divergent cultures and mutually-exclusive religious traditions, there is a common source of energy that binds us all to a shared past and a shared imaginative and interstellar future. While there are some 6,500 distinct languages with their own words for 'light', there is only ONE SUN that birthed us all. Happy Yalda!

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Kayvon Afshari

Kayvon Afshari managed the campaign to elect Hooshang Amirahmadi as President of Iran. In this role, he directed the campaign’s event planning, publicity, online social media, web analytics, and delivered speeches. Mr. Afshari has also been working at the CBS News foreign desk for over five years. He has coordinated coverage of Iran’s 2009 post-election demonstrations, the Arab Spring, the earthquake in Haiti, and many other stories of international significance. He holds a Master in International Relations from New York University’s Department of Politics, and graduated with distinction from McGill University in 2007 with a double major in political science and Middle Eastern studies. At NYU, his research focused on quantitative analysis and the Middle East with an emphasis on US-Iran relations. In his 2012 Master’s thesis, he devised a formula to predict whether Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, concluding that an overt strike would not materialize.

Consulting producer on VICE on HBO's Iran Documentary

Consulting producer on VICE on HBO's Iran Documentary

I recently completed work as a consulting producer for VICE on HBO for their documentary on US-Iran relations, the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, and the country's nuclear program. The piece was hosted by Shane Smith and came out great.

I worked alongside two full-time VICE producers to secure exclusive access to a nuclear facility, as well as complete all the other pre-production tasks required to get an American crew to cover a story inside the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The documentary debuted on Friday April 29 at 11pm ET on HBO

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Discussing Visa Waiver Issue ("HR158") on Brooklyn's BRIC TV

Discussing Visa Waiver Issue ("HR158") on Brooklyn's BRIC TV

I discussed the visa waiver issue ("HR158") on Brooklyn's BRICTV, a newly-launched community television station in Brooklyn. I argued that the addition of Iran in the law is both discriminatory and fails to improve national security.

I elaborated on the reason that I'm personally opposed to the law.

"Sometimes people say that this law just produces a small inconvenience, and that you should just apply for a visa. However, to me it's not about the inconvenience. I'm affronted by the implication of the law," I said. "And the implication is this: that I, because I am an Iranian-American dual citizen and have traveled to Iran, just may perhaps be a terrorist."

That's a bad precedent to set.

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Discussing Senator Chuck Schumer's opposition to the Iran nuclear deal

Discussing Senator Chuck Schumer's opposition to the Iran nuclear deal

In this interview with HuffPost Live, AIC Director of Communications Kayvon Afshari discusses Senator Chuck Schumer's recent announcement that he will oppose the nuclear deal with Iran.

Afshari points out that Schumer makes maximalist demands of Iran, saying, "One of the demands that he makes is 'anytime, anywhere' access to any of Iran's non-nuclear, military facilities. Iran is not a defeated party here. Iran is not Imperial Japan, which had two atomic bombs dropped on it and is acceding to terms of surrender. Iran has been negotiating on this issue for a long time."

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Iran’s anti-American rhetoric is a good sign for nuclear negotiations

Iran’s anti-American rhetoric is a good sign for nuclear negotiations

Originally Published in The Middle East Eye

By Kayvon Afshari and Michael Brooks

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, anti-American rhetoric has appeared frequently in Iranian politics. That rhetoric flared up again at the Supreme Leader’s recent speech in his home city of Mashhad. With the deadline for a political framework for a nuclear deal fast approaching, some have argued that Iranian chants of “Death to America” at that speech and elsewhere should delegitimise the negotiations. 

While the rhetoric isn’t helpful from an American perspective, its presence is counterintuitively a good sign for a diplomatic resolution. Look forward to hearing more provocative language from Iran’s Supreme Leader, and possibly even from the generally soft-spoken President Rouhani, from now until the ink dries on a potential comprehensive deal.

This is due to the fact that for Iran to make pragmatic nuclear concessions to the US and its P5+1 partners, the Islamic Republic’s leaders must reconcile their revolutionary anti-Americanism with their unprecedented public diplomatic engagement with the US. In order to best understand this tension, one must consider the ideological foundations of the Islamic Republic, the history of US intervention in Iran, as well as the international and economic pressure empowering Iran’s pragmatic politics

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'Iran Chat' with a former Iranian Nuclear Negotiator

Ambassador Hossein Mousavian, former spokesman for the Iranian nuclear negotiating team, discusses US-Iran relations and the nuclear issue in this exclusive Iran Chat interview. He says that he does not believe the nuclear issue is really about centrifuges, but rather about the hostility between the two countries. While he says that the mistrust is mutual, he argues that Iranians have more reasons to be mistrustful of the United States than vice versa.

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Kayvon Afshari

Kayvon Afshari managed the campaign to elect Hooshang Amirahmadi as President of Iran. In this role, he directed the campaign’s event planning, publicity, online social media, web analytics, and delivered speeches. Mr. Afshari has also been working at the CBS News foreign desk for over five years. He has coordinated coverage of Iran’s 2009 post-election demonstrations, the Arab Spring, the earthquake in Haiti, and many other stories of international significance. He holds a Master in International Relations from New York University’s Department of Politics, and graduated with distinction from McGill University in 2007 with a double major in political science and Middle Eastern studies. At NYU, his research focused on quantitative analysis and the Middle East with an emphasis on US-Iran relations. In his 2012 Master’s thesis, he devised a formula to predict whether Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, concluding that an overt strike would not materialize.

'Iran Chat' Interview with former US Nuclear Negotiator

Robert Einhorn, former senior advisor to the US nuclear negotiating team, discusses the Iranian nuclear issue in this exclusive interview with the AIC's Kayvon Afshari. Mr. Einhorn says that, while existing sanctions have played an "important role" in bringing Iran to negotiate very seriously, new sanctions are not necessary at this time.

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Kayvon Afshari

Kayvon Afshari managed the campaign to elect Hooshang Amirahmadi as President of Iran. In this role, he directed the campaign’s event planning, publicity, online social media, web analytics, and delivered speeches. Mr. Afshari has also been working at the CBS News foreign desk for over five years. He has coordinated coverage of Iran’s 2009 post-election demonstrations, the Arab Spring, the earthquake in Haiti, and many other stories of international significance. He holds a Master in International Relations from New York University’s Department of Politics, and graduated with distinction from McGill University in 2007 with a double major in political science and Middle Eastern studies. At NYU, his research focused on quantitative analysis and the Middle East with an emphasis on US-Iran relations. In his 2012 Master’s thesis, he devised a formula to predict whether Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, concluding that an overt strike would not materialize.