Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Poll Finds Iranians Skeptical of Rouhani Government

A new poll suggests that Iran's nuclear enrichment program is of limited interest to most Iranians—until it is joined to the question of sanctions, in which case the program attracts nearly universal support.

Inter Press Service

A poll undertaken following the election of President Hassan Rouhani says that a majority of Iranians oppose Iran’s intervention in Syria and Iraq and believe that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons despite their government’s claims to the contrary.

The poll, released in early December and conducted Aug. 26-Sep. 22, of 1,205 Iranians in face-to-face interviews by a subcontractor for Zogby Research Services, also indicated that Rouhani had relatively lukewarm support at the time and that many Iranians would like to see a more democratic political system in their country.

The results jibe with the June presidential elections in which Rouhani won a bare majority of votes, albeit against half a dozen other candidates. Half of those polled after the election either opposed Rouhani or said that his victory would make no difference in their lives.

This reporter gained a similar impression of Iranian scepticism about their new president during a visit to Tehran in early August.

Not surprisingly, given the impact of draconian sanctions and mismanagement by the previous Mahmoud Ahmadinejad government on the Iranian economy, the poll found that only 36 percent of Iranians said they were better off now than five years ago, compared to 43 percent who said they were worse off. However, the same percentage – 43 percent – said they expected their lives to improve under the Rouhani administration.

Among the most interesting findings were those related to foreign policy. The poll found that 54 percent believe Iran’s intervention in Syria has had negative consequences – perhaps a reflection of the financial drain on Iran of the war in Syria and of the unpopularity of the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Nearly the same proportion of the Iranian population – 52 percent – also opposed Iranian involvement in Iraq, which is ruled by a Shi’ite Muslim government friendly to Tehran. Iranian activities in support of fellow Shi’ites in Lebanon and Bahrain were only slightly more popular, while only in Yemen and Afghanistan did a majority of Iranians say their country’s actions have had a positive impact.

Jim Zogby, director of Zogby Research Services, told IPS that Iranians know “Syria has become a huge problem in the world and they don’t want to have more problems with the world.”

The low marks for ties to Iraq may reflect “lingering anti-Iraq sentiment” stemming from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Zogby said.

Iranian attitudes toward democracy and the nuclear issue were also interesting. While a plurality of Iranians (29 percent) listed unemployment as their top priority, a quarter of the population rated advancing democracy first.

Other major priorities included protecting personal and civil rights (23 percent); increasing rights for women (19 percent); ending corruption (18 percent); and political or governmental reform (18 percent).

According to the poll, only a tiny fraction – six percent – listed continuing Iran’s uranium enrichment as a top priority. Yet 55 percent agreed with the statement that “my country has ambitions to produce nuclear weapons” compared to 37 percent who believe the government’s assertions that the programme is purely peaceful.

The Iranian government insists that it is not aiming to produce weapons and signed an agreement in Geneva Nov. 24 to constrain its nuclear programme in return for modest sanctions relief.

In a strong show of nationalism, 96 percent said continuing the nuclear programme was worth the pain of sanctions. Only seven percent listed resolving the stand-off with the world over the Iranian nuclear programme so sanctions could be lifted as their top priority and only five percent put improving relations with the United States and the West at the head of their list.

Zogby said it was not surprising that Iranians would give a low priority to the nuclear programme yet “when you push that button [and question Iran’s rights], the nationalism takes off.”

He noted those who identified themselves as Rouhani supporters were more inclined to affirm Iran’s right to nuclear weapons than Rouhani opponents – 76 percent compared to 61 percent.

The poll results, Zogby said, suggest that Iranians do not consider Rouhani an exemplar of the reformist Green Movement that convulsed the country during and following 2009 presidential elections, but rather as an establishment figure.

“His supporters are more in the hardline camp,” Zogby said.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the Senate’s more vocal hawks, and one of the prime vacillators among Republicans between objecting to and supporting Donald Trump.


Ron Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States and has deep connections to the Republican Party and the neoconservative movement.


The Washington-based American Enterprise Institute is a rightist think tank with a broad mandate covering a range of foreign and domestic policy issues that is known for its strong connections to neoconservatism and overseas debacles like the Iraq War.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Since taking office Donald Trump has revealed an erratic and extremely hawkish approach to U.S. foreign affairs, which has been marked by controversial actions like dropping out of the Iran nuclear agreement that have raised tensions across much of the world and threatened relations with key allies.


Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and an evangelical pastor, is a far-right pundit known for his hawkish policies and opposition to an Israeli peace deal with the Palestinians.


Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is known for her lock-step support for Israel and considered by some to be a future presidential candidate.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


RightWeb
share