Iranians Really Think?
Iran: Unprecedented Nationwide Survey
by Ken Ballen
Terror Free Tomorrow Organization
Wall Street Journal (editorial)
July 11, 2007
Discontent with the current system of government, the state of
Iran's economy, and isolation from the West is widespread throughout
Iran. In this context, nuclear weapons are the lowest priority
for the Iranian people. Iranians even overwhelmingly support their
government providing full inspections and a guarantee not to develop
nuclear weapons in return for trade and assistance from other
countries. The popular will to live in a democracy open to the
West and the United States, with greater economic opportunity,
comes from every region and segment of Iranian society. These
are among the significant findings of the first nationwide public
opinion survey of Iran on these issues since President Ahmadinejad
of Iran have insisted for years that the Iranian people are pro-Western,
indeed pro-American, while opposed to the largely unelected clerical
regime that rules them. For the first time, Terror Free Tomorrow's
unprecedented nationwide poll of Iran offers indisputable empirical
proof that these commentators are dead-on in their assessment
of the "Iranian street."
with the current system of government, the economy and isolation
from the West is widespread throughout Iran. In this context,
nuclear weapons are the lowest priority for the Iranian people.
The overwhelming popular will to live in a country open to the
West and the U.S., with greater economic opportunity, is a powerful
plea from every region and segment of society. Iranians also speak
with one voice in rejecting the current autocratic rule of their
supreme leader and in courageously asking for democracy instead.
among the significant findings of the first uncensored public
opinion survey of Iran since President Ahmadinejad took office.
The survey was conducted in Farsi by telephone from June 5 to
June 18, 2007, with 1,000 interviews covering all 30 provinces
of Iran (and a margin of error of 3.1%). The last poll to ask
similar controversial questions was conducted in September 2002
by Abbas Abdi inside Iran. He was imprisoned as a result.
nuclear weapons was seen as a very important priority by only
29% of Iranians. By contrast, 88% of Iranians considered improving
the Iranian economy a very important priority. 80% of Iranians
favor Iran offering full international nuclear inspections and
a guarantee not to develop or possess nuclear weapons in return
for outside aid.
close to 70% of Iranians also favor normal relations and trade
with the U.S. Indeed, in exchange for normal relations, a majority
of Iranians even favor recognizing Israel and Palestine as independent
states, ending Iranian support for any armed groups inside Iraq,
and giving full transparency by Iran to the U.S. to ensure there
are no Iranian endeavors to develop nuclear weapons.
Yet the most
significant finding of our survey for the future of Iran's present
rulers is the opposition to their current system of government.
Some 61% of
Iranians were willing to tell our pollsters -- over the phone
no less -- that they oppose the current Iranian system of government,
in which the supreme leader rules according to religious principles
and cannot be chosen or replaced by direct vote of the people.
over 79% of Iranians support a democratic system instead, in which
the supreme leader, along with all leaders, can be chosen and
replaced by a free and direct vote of the people. Only 11% of
Iranians said they would strongly oppose having a political system
in which all of their leaders, including the supreme leader, are
chosen by popular election.
all demographic groups oppose the unelected rule of the supreme
leader in favor of electing all their leaders. While these views
run stronger in Tehran, they are also held across all provinces
of Iran, and in both urban and rural areas.
Tomorrow's path-breaking survey of Iran demonstrates that the
Iranian people are the best ally of the U.S. and the West against
the government in Tehran. The considerable challenge is how to
support the Iranian people while also achieving important U.S.
goals, such as preventing the Iranian government from developing
a nuclear arsenal.
no easy answers. The U.S., with France, Germany, Britain and the
international community, however, should not spurn the clear will
of Iranians. The implicit bet Iranians seem to want the world
to make is to engage Iran now, and place the burden squarely on
Iran's rulers to reject an offer that would clearly improve the
life of the Iranian people themselves.
not mean that the U.S., Europe and the international community
should abandon current sanctions or indeed fail to strengthen
future sanctions against the regime. Yet since military options
for responding to Iran entail even greater unknowable risks, and
sanctions alone so far have proved inadequate, a strategy that
also recognizes the consensus of the people of Iran themselves
may realistically offer the best hope for all.
Read the complete
survey report (PDF Format):
Survey Report (TFT)
is president of Terror Free Tomorrow
Terror Free Tomorrow
P.O. Box 5704
Washington, DC 20016
Fax: (202) 274-1821
5335 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20015-2052