1. Update
  2. Middle East & Iran, Peacebuilding

5 Ways You Helped Make the World Safer in 2014

By Maiya Zwerling, January 2, 2015


The year 2014 marked a year of remarkable progress for U.S.-Iran diplomacy. Our world is already safer because of U.S.-Iran talks. As I reflect on a year of excitement and progress, I am keenly aware of the critical role the FCNL network has played in ensuring our elected officials stand on the right side of history.

2014 marked a year of remarkable progress for U.S.-Iran diplomacy. The groundwork was laid in 2013 with the highest level of communication between the U.S. and Iran in over a generation - a phone call between President Obama and President Rouhani. Later, with the announcement of a first-step deal regarding Iran's nuclear program, representatives from the United States, its negotiating partners and Iran started on an exhaustive negotiating track with the goal of breaking through the 10-year impasse over the country’s nuclear capacity.

These negotiations made diplomacy commonplace and, as a result, the world saw a de-escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Iran is further from obtaining a bomb and the international nuclear watchdog agency has unprecedented access to Iranian nuclear activity. Diverse, non-traditional voices for diplomacy have emerged.

Our world is already safer because of U.S.-Iran talks. As I reflect on a year of excitement and progress, I am keenly aware of the critical role the FCNL network has played in ensuring our elected officials stand on the right side of history.

Here are five ways that FCNL's citizen advocates helped make diplomacy work with Iran in 2014:

  1. Building momentum to shelve the Senate sanctions bill: Last January, people from across the country flooded the phones, email inboxes and offices of their members of Congress, asking their senators to oppose the new sanctions bill whose passage threatened to derail negotiations. This unprecedented outreach helped to stave off a vote on the bill and continue talks.
  2. Bringing the pro-diplomacy voice to local media: Since the historic Obama-Rouhani phone call in late September, FCNL's network published over 230 letters to the editor in 49 states calling for diplomacy with Iran. This effort did not stop there. FCNL's network went above and beyond by publishing opinion-editorials with the message that diplomacy is the best way to prevent a nuclear armed Iran and the risk of another war in the Middle East.
  3. Committing to the long game: Despite the considerable progress that has continued to be made since November 2013, negotiators didn't secure a deal by the initial July deadline and later November deadline. Recognizing the real potential for a good final deal based on the progress diplomats had made – and understanding the consequences of leaving the negotiating table – the P5+1 and Iran agreed to continue talks until March 1st. After each hurdle, we heard consensus from FCNL's network: diplomacy is a marathon not a sprint, so let's keep running.
  4. Coming to Washington for the biggest, boldest #DiplomacyWorks lobby day of our time: 440 citizen advocates from 43 states joined us in Washington D.C. in late November to participate in over 200 meetings with congressional offices, including dozens of member-level visits. After the announcement of an extension of talks, 31 members of Congress made pro-diplomacy statements, 25 of which came from congressional offices FCNL lobbied. Never before have hundreds of citizen lobbyists flooded the Hill with a message exclusively focused on supporting a potential nuclear agreement with Iran.
  5. Finishing what we started: The momentum did not end with the #DiplomacyWork lobby day. Evidenced by the hundreds of calls and letters to the editor submitted in November and December, people across the country are ready to stand with us in 2015 as we continue to advocate for peaceful solutions to potentially violent conflicts.

We will look back on 2014 as a year of progress. Despite the escalating violence in the Middle East, this year has brought forth courageous efforts for diplomacy. I am ever-hopeful for a deal in 2015 that will prevent a nuclear armed Iran and yet another war in the Middle East. And, I am humbled by the knowledge that we would not be standing here without your tireless work for peace. Thank you.

Maiya Zwerling

  • National Organizing Manager

As the National Organizing Manager, Maiya Zwerling works to strengthen and deepen FCNL's grassroots. She founded and coordinates the FCNL Advocacy Teams, a network of hundreds of Quakers and friends lobbying to build congressional champions for peace and justice. Maiya oversees the 2018 grassroots campaign to prevent a war with North Korea.