Iranian Diaspora And Policy Leaders Join UANI
(New York, NY) – United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) today announced that Iranian diaspora and policy leaders Alireza Akhondi, Kasra Aarabi, Maneli Mirkhan, Maryam Banihashemi, Omid Iravanipour, and Dr. Hiva Feizi have joined its team. They represent broad-ranging perspectives of the Iranian diaspora who are committed to UANI’s mission of educating policymakers, businesses, and the public about the threat the Islamic Republic of Iran poses to the Iranian people and the international community.
The addition of Akhondi, Aarabi, Mirkhan, Banihashemi, Iravanipour, and Feizi to UANI enhances its reach into Iran, its diaspora, and beyond. Led by a group of former leading diplomats, lawmakers, and security officials, UANI is spearheading efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic.
UANI CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace released the following statement:
“I would like to welcome Alireza, Kasra, Maneli, Maryam, Omid, and Hiva to the UANI team. Each of these rising policy leaders has demonstrated incredible knowledge, expertise, and passion. Perhaps most importantly, they have all demonstrated strong support for the disparate elements of the wide-ranging diaspora. They have a command focus on opposition to the regime, a generosity of spirit, acceptance of the broader Iranian diaspora, and do not succumb to the factionalism that sadly at times divides the community. We are honored to have them on board.
“Alireza Akhondi is one of the most effective advocates for the Iranian people in Europe. As a member of parliament in Sweden, Alireza has led the charge for the European Union and the United Kingdom to sanction the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. In addition to his duties at the Riksdag, Alireza will become a member of UANI’s Advisory Board and an advisor on European affairs.
“Kasra Aarabi is one of the most impactful scholars of the IRGC in the world today. He is regularly sought after for counsel by governments, policymakers, and non-governmental organizations. Kasra is also a passionate advocate for the Iranian people and the need for a new transatlantic strategy to support their aspirations. He will be leading our work on all these issues and more and will be joining UANI full time as a director.
“Maneli Mirkhan and Maryam Banihashemi have worked in Iran and across Europe, with first-hand experience in dealing with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Iran’s automotive and power sectors. They will serve as strategic consultants for European policy and contribute to UANI’s business risk unit.
“Omid Iravanipour is a leader in the fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community in Iran. He is widely respected and will serve as an advisor on Iranian human rights and LGBTQ issues.
“Dr. Hiva Feizi is the executive director of PaykanArtCar, the award-winning human rights organization, and has been an active supporter of the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ revolution and its various activist movements. She will join UANI as a volunteer advisor.”
Alireza Akhondi is a member of the Swedish Parliament. Born in Iran, Akhondi emigrated to Sweden in 1992 and has been a member of Swedish Parliament since 2018. He currently sits on the Civil Affairs Committee and the Center Party’s National Party Board. Akhondi has been particularly devoted to social issues relating to freedom, equality, and human rights. In 2015, he supported Serbia and Greece during the refugee crisis, organizing aid shipments from private donations. He similarly helped Ukraine in their humanitarian efforts in the months following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion in February 2022.
Amidst the ongoing protests in Iran, Akhondi has dedicated himself to advocating for the Iranian people in their struggle for freedom and democracy. He is a member of the Advisory Board of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and is UANI’s advisor on European affairs. Follow him @AlirezaAkhondi.
Kasra Aarabi is a director at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), specializing in Iranian military and security affairs and Shi’a extremism. He is also a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. Previously, he was the Iran Program lead at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Kasra is a native Persian (Farsi) speaker and holds an MA (Hons) in international relations and a BA in international politics, both from King’s College London. He is also undertaking a PhD at the University of St Andrews, where his research focuses on the IRGC. Follow him @KasraAarabi.
Maneli Mirkhan is a strategic consultant for European policy at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), with over 15 years of experience, specializing in advising sectors such as oil and gas, nuclear, and transportation. Her expertise spans Europe and the MENA region, with a particular focus on Iran. Equipped with a deep understanding of both Iran's and Europe's economic and political landscapes, as well as their systemic economic ties, Maneli supports UANI's efforts in shaping effective European policy initiatives towards the Islamic Republic. She also brings a comprehensive understanding of European companies' interests in the Iranian market under IRGC control to her role at UANI.
Alongside her professional accomplishments, Maneli is a dedicated advocate for Iranian freedom, actively engaging with non-government organizations like House of Liberty. She holds a master’s degree in energy and environmental economics and policy from IFP School (French Petroleum Institute) and CEA (Nuclear Energy Center) and a bachelor’s degree in international economics and finance from Sorbonne University. Follow her @ManeliMirkhan.
Maryam Banihashemi is a strategic consultant for European policy at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). She is a result-driven professional with a track record of driving organizational transformation, primarily based in Iran, for over 15 years. Maryam is a frequent commentator on Farsi language media with focus on the topics related to human rights violations committed by the Islamic Republic in Iran, and Iran-related topics at the UN Human Rights Council.
Maryam is an advocate for Iranian freedom, actively engaging with several non-government organizations globally. As a co-founder and board member of House of Liberty and Free Iran Switzerland, she has been relentless in her advocacy within European political circles, utilizing her strategic acumen to drive impactful change. She stands as a formidable force in the battle against IRGC influence, supporting UANI's goals in shaping effective European policy initiatives toward the Islamic Republic in Iran. Follow her at @MaryBanihashemi.
Omid Iravanipour is a New York-based LGBTQ rights activist who is an advisor on Iranian human rights and LGBTQ issues at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). Omid moved to the United States in 2007 from Iran and while continuing his post-graduate studies at CCNY in landscape architecture, he decided to use his newly gained privileges to help his fellow Iranian queer community. As a board member of the Canada-based Iranian queer organization “Queerkadeh,” Omid helps echo the life story of the Iranian queer community. He has also served as a social media consultant to the PaykanArtCar.
Dr. Hiva Feizi is a volunteer advisor at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). She is a public diplomacy and international affairs expert focused on Iran’s soft power and cultural diplomacy in the Middle East and North Africa. For more than 10 years, she has used her experience in communications, public diplomacy, and audience engagement to help executives, advocacy groups, and government officials effectively counter Iran’s digital influence operations. She is currently the executive director of the PaykanArtCar.
Throughout her career she has served as a senior Iran advisor at U.S. Central Command’s Office of Public Affairs and has been a strategic communications consultant for various not-for-profit organizations. Hiva holds a PhD in government and foreign policy from the University of South Florida and a master’s degree in public diplomacy from the University of Southern California. Follow her @HivaF.
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