United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Poll 1: Majority of Iranians Support Deal

Some 57 percent of Iranians support a deal that would curtail Iran’s nuclear program for a number of years in exchange for sanctions relief, according to a new poll by the University of Tehran’s Center for Public Opinion Research (UTCPOR) and IranPoll.com, working in conjunction with the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM). 

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“While there is majority support for continuing to pursue a deal, it is sustained in part by expectations that besides the UN and the EU, the US would also relinquish all its sanctions, that the positive effects of the deal would be felt in tangible ways fairly quickly, and that Iran would continue to develop its civilian nuclear program. President Rouhani may have difficulty selling a deal that would significantly deviate from these expectations,” explained Ebrahim Mohseni, a UTCPOR Senior Analyst and a CISSM Research Associate.
 
Iranians are optimistic about the prospects for an agreement. Some 49 percent believe the current talks are somewhat likely to result in a deal that is agreeable to both sides. And 22 percent believe that outcome is very likely.

At the same time, 57 percent of Iranians say they distrust the P5+1 countries —Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. Some 70 percent have an unfavorable view of the United States, yet overwhelming majorities support greater engagement with it in terms of trade, tourism, cultural exchanges and more.

Three in four Iranians believe that Parliament should be able to weigh in on a deal, and four in five say it should be able to prevent implementation of a deal if it finds it detrimental to Iran’s national interest.

The nuclear program is still widely popular. Some 83 percent of Iranians consider it “very important” and 11 percent consider it “somewhat important.” About 73 percent say it is only for peaceful purposes, but 19 percent say the program is also for seeking weapons.
 
The following are key findings from the telephone poll of 1,009 Iranians conducted May 12-28, 2015.
 
Views on the April 2 Lausanne Framework


 



Assumptions and Expectations of Framework

 


 

 

 
 
 

 



Blame Game

 
 

 

 
 


Iran-US Relations

 

 

 

Effect of Sanctions

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Click here for more information.

 

Tags: Reports

Poll 2: Mixed Views of Rouhani in Iran

President Hassan Rouhani does not have sufficient support to guarantee that his allies would win a clear majority in the February 2016 parliamentary elections, according to a new poll. It was conducted by the University of Tehran’s Center for Public Opinion Research (UTCPOR) and IranPoll.com, working in conjunction with the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM). Most Iranians, however, believe Rouhani has been somewhat or very successful in improving the economy, reducing unemployment, improving national security, improving Iran’s relations with Europe and reducing sanctions.

The following are excerpted results from the telephone poll of 1,009 Iranians conducted May 12-28, 2015.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for more information.

 

Tags: Reports

Iran Beats U.S. in Volleyball

In the middle of nuclear diplomacy, U.S. and Iranian volleyball teams faced off in Tehran in the Volleyball World League competition. In both matches, on June 19 and June 21, Iran’s national team defeated Team USA in three straight sets.

 

The Iranians bested the reigning champions in front of some 12,000 spectators in Azadi stadium. And many more watched the games live on state television, though the network muted the U.S. national anthem.

 

 
American players reportedly did not drink before sundown out of respect for the fasting month of Ramadan.
 
 
After the second match, U.S. coach John Speraw complimented the Iranian team.
 
“We got beat by a better volleyball team by significant margin. They outplayed us in every facet of the game: block, defense, passing, serving, and offense. So there is only one thing we can do, and that is to learn from this volleyball match to hope that we can improve. We are a team and have some physical gifts, some big players who can jump high and beat the ball, but we have to play the entire game much better if we hope to be as a team as well-coached and skilled as Iran.”
 
 
 
He also spoke about Iranian hospitality and the U.S.-Iran relationship.
 
“I think we are all aware that the portrait of the relationship between Iran and the United States is inaccurate in the media. Probably on both sides, my guess... it was a great trip and we look forward to coming here again. And I think we have much better understanding of what the environment is both inside the arena and outside.”
 
 
Iran’s coach, Slobodan Kovac, also had kind words for the U.S. team.
 
“I respect the USA. They are the best team of the world because they are very disciplined and we should learn from them.”
 
 

Tehran erupted after Sunday night.

 

 

 

Tags: Offbeat

Civil Society For a Deal but Doubtful Impact

On June 22, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported that civil society broadly backs nuclear diplomacy, but is skeptical about how a deal might change either the political or economic environment at home. The following are highlights of the study, with a link to the report “High Hopes, Tempered Expectations: Views from Iran on the Nuclear Negotiations,”

Civil society in Iran remains steadfast and unequivocal in its support for the nuclear negotiations, and its members hope for an agreement that will end years of sanctions and isolation, according to a new study by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Expectations of the benefits of an accord to Iran’s economy and for political and cultural freedoms in the country, however, are more measured, reflecting uncertainties regarding the Rouhani administration’s ability to translate the lifting of sanctions into gains for ordinary Iranians.
 
“Iranian civil society has spoken, and they want peace and re-engagement with the world,” said Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Campaign. “If an accord is reached, the world must stand by the people of Iran in their next endeavor: the realization of their basic rights and freedoms.” Among the key findings in the 34-page study:
 
  • The respondents were unanimous in their support for an accord and in the belief that failure to reach an agreement would result in economic disaster, increased political and cultural repression, and possibly war.
     
  • Seventy-one percent of respondents expect economic benefits from an accord, but one-fifth of those fear these benefits could be lost to ordinary Iranians due to governmental mismanagement.
     
  • Twenty-five percent of all respondents expect any economic benefits to reach only the wealthy and connected, due to entrenched corruption.
     
  • Sixty-one percent believe a deal would enable political and cultural reforms, as a politically strengthened Rouhani administration could now turn its focus to such issues.
     
  • Thirty-six percent expected no improvement in political or cultural freedoms, citing either Rouhani’s lack of authority or his willingness given his meager record over the past two years.
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“Evident throughout these interviews is a nation longing for a relief from the threat of war and thirsty for reform,” said Ghaemi, “Hope of achieving this has seemed to bring the first cracks of light into a collective consciousness in Iran that has been remarkably black for years.”The study’s findings contrasted with the Campaign’s July 2014 study of Iranian civil society’s views on the talks, indicating that since that time, for many, there is a growing gulf between what they hope for and what they expect.
 
A significant portion of the respondents questioned the Rouhani’s administration’s ability to shepherd the country back to economic health even if an accord is reached, questioning either its managerial competency or its ability to confront rampant corruption and powerful vested interests committed to maintaining the current economic structure.
 
Others questioned Rouhani’s willingness to enact economic, political, or cultural reforms, noting with dismay his lack of authority in the country and his meager record over the last two years even in areas under his direct control. Despite these fears—and the fact that this is a nation scarred by eight years of mismanagement, corruption, and repression under the former Ahmadinejad administration, the toughest sanctions regime that the international community as imposed on a country to date, and two years of little change under a president who was elected on a platform of reform—there was palpable sense of hope ran through the interviews.
 
“We are a society that wants to live with the rest of the world. We want to be connected to the entire world. These conditions of isolation from the rest of the world are intolerable,” said the Novelist Aboutorab Khosravi. Reflecting a sentiment held strongly by every respondent, the lawyer Nemat Ahmadi put it most succinctly: “People hope that when they wake up on the morning of July 1, they would hear that an agreement has been reached.” 
 
Click here for the full study.
 

IRGC Targets Internet Activists

On June 22, Reporters Without Borders issued a report entitled “Revolutionary Guards Target Internet Activists.” It addresses the recent spate of arrests as well as the pattern of prosecutions since President Rouhani was elected two years ago. Iran is ranked 173rd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. The following are excerpts of the report:

In the two years since the moderate conservative Hassan Rouhani was installed as president, in June 2013, around 100 Internet activists have been arrested and given long jail terms, in most cases on information provided by the Revolutionary Guards.
 
This persecution of news and information providers is just the continuation of the unprecedented crackdown that began immediately after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection in June 2009, when at least 300 journalists and Internet activists were arrested arbitrarily, tortured and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.
 
But this persecution is also a weapon in the power struggle being waged among the various government factions, a weapon used to keep constant pressure on President Rouhani, who was elected thanks to the support of progressives and who, during his campaign, promised the “release of all political prisoners” and more “free speech and media freedom.”
 
Several journalists and Internet activists who were convicted in 2009 and 2010 by rigged revolutionary courts have since been released on completing their sentences but many others are still in prison, where they are often subjected to appalling conditions.
 
They include Said Razavi Faghih, Saraj Mirdamadi, Masoud Bastani, Reza Entesari, Said Madani, Said Matinpour and Alireza Rajai. Unfortunately there has been no improvement in the inhuman treatment reserved for prisoners of conscience in Iran, especially in Tehran’s Evin prison and in Raja’i Shahr prison.
 
Furthermore, journalists are no longer able to work after completing their jail terms, regardless of whether their sentences included a post-release “ban on practicing the profession of journalist.”
 
Many newspaper executives and editors are given clear instructions not to hire them. One way or another, the regime prevents most independent journalists from working. Two journalists were recently fired from a media outlet by one of President Rouhani’s associates solely because they had been imprisoned.
 
Internet activists – easy targets
 
With more than 40 million Internet users, according to official figures, Iran is one of the region’s most connected countries. The level of government control of the Internet has been the subject of intense debate at the highest levels since Rouhani took over as president.
 
Compared with the Ahmadinejad era, Internet surveillance and control seem to have eased somewhat. This has not pleased the Revolutionary Guards despite benefitting their business interests as managers of Iran’s leading Internet Service Provider, the Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI), and the three leading mobile phone operators that are government offshoots. And this displeasure accounts for their current offensive against Internet activists.
 
The staff of the website Narenji (Orange in Persian) were among the first victims of the Revolutionary Guard offensive. After being arrested on 3 December 2013Ali Asghar Honarmand, Abass Vahedi, Ehsan Paknejad and Hossien Nozari were given sentences ranging from two to eleven years in prison for “collaborating with enemy media.” Six other Narenji activists have been released conditionally. All were subjected to months of solitary confinement to extract confessions, called “acts of self-accusation,” that were used as evidence against them.
 
Several people with dual citizenship have been given long jail terms because of what they were posting on Facebook and other social networks. They include Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, who has dual Iranian and British citizenship. A Tehran revolutionary court sentenced her to 20 years in prison on 27 May 2014. This was reduced to five years in April of this year. Farideh Shahgholi, a woman with dual Iranian and German citizenship, is serving a three-year jail term.
 
Nobakht was one of many Internet activists arrested by the Revolutionary Guards in 2013. They included Amir Gholestani, Masoud Ghasemkhani, Fariborz Kardarfar, Seyyed Masoud Seyyed Talebi, Amin (Faride) Akramipour, Mehdi Reyshahri and Naghmeh Shahi Savandi Shirazi. After being placed in solitary confinement in Section 2A of Evin prison and subjected to a great deal of pressure, they were given sentences ranging from one to eight years in prison…
 
On 8 June, judicial system spokesman Golamhossien Mohsseni Ejehi announced the arrests of “several individuals” for social network activity regarded as “actions against national security.”
 
The victims of the latest Revolutionary Guard-orchestrated round-up include Mahmud Moussavifarand Shayan AkbarPour, two Internet activists who ran the Rahian Facebook page and a blog called Rahi, which cannot currently be accessed.  After plainclothes men arrested them at their Tehran home on 31 May, their families reported them missing because they still do not know why they were arrested or where they were taken.
 
Click here for the full report.
 
Tags: Reports

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