The tens of thousands of Iranian protesters who risked their lives earlier this year to denounce the corruption and tyranny of the regime of Tehran do not represent the views of the country's population — at least, that's what a survey by a shady organization with ties to the regime claims. Disappointingly, the survey was well-received by media outlets that have a track record of supporting appeasement toward the Iranian regime.
Conducted by the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland and IranPoll.com, the poll does a poor job of hiding the true intentions of its organizers, which is to further buy time for a regime whose departure is long overdue.
The survey professes that only 17 percent of respondents believe the Iranian political system needs change. Not even the regime’s own officials make such claims. In the run-up to last year’s presidential elections, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Tehran's former mayor and a presidential candidate, admitted that the ruling regime represents only 4 percent of Iran's population.
The survey also claims that 66 percent of the participants are in favor of Hassan Rouhani’s government. Meanwhile, protesters called for the toppling of the regime in its entirety, shouting slogans such as “death to Rouhani” and “death to Khamenei,” a direct reference to the regime’s supreme leader. Also among the slogans was “conservative, reformist, the game is over,” a clear rejection of all the regime’s competing factions.
A considerable percentage of the surveyors have purportedly praised the state security forces for cracking down on the protests, the survey found, and believe those who “damaged public property” (a term that is also used by the Iranian regime to refer to protesters who resist against police violence) should be “punished harshly.”
Unsurprisingly, the organizations and people behind the poll have distinct ties with the regime’s institutions and its lobbies abroad. Ebrahim Mohseni, the CISSM “researcher” who designed the poll, is also the director of University of Tehran Center for Public Opinion Research, an IRGC-backed institution with a track record of promoting the views of the regime and the Revolutionary Guards. The UTCPOR has published similar “public opinion polls” in support of the regime’s gender segregation laws, nuclear and missile programs, and the handling of country’s economy.
Mohseni also works closely with the National Iranian American Council, a well-known lobby of the Iranian regime whose main purpose is to push for rapprochement with one of the most vicious regimes in the world.
Further discrediting the poll is the fact that it was conducted by telephone on 1,002 participants in Iran, a negligible figure compared to the tens of thousands that came out to the streets in more than 100 cities across the country. Iran’s security apparatus has full surveillance on mobile communications and landlines, making it difficult for any participant to candidly criticize the regime in phone calls, especially when the interlocutor is an institution that works for the regime.
It’s not surprising to see the Iranian regime and its affiliates and front organizations resort to such methods to discredit the nationwide protests and calls for regime change. However, seeing western media use the false survey to pursue their own political goals is shameful.
“Most Iranians feel Trump’s comments in support of protesters didn’t help, poll finds” read the headline of The Washington Post, highlighting a part of the survey that claimed most of the participants believe statements by U.S. officials mostly hurt or had no effect on advancing the demands of the protesters. Other publications that are critical of the Trump administration jumped on the opportunity and used similar themes to cover the poll.
This is an outrageous suggestion that the Iranian people would prefer that, like his predecessor in 2009, Trump remained silent and let the regime have its way in brutalizing the protesters. But let’s not forget that in 2009, Iranians chanted “Obama, Obama, are you with us or with them [the regime]?” There were no such slogans in the 2017-2018 protests.
Any independent observer should quickly realize the entire poll is a poorly hatched plot to vindicate the Iranian regime’s brutal reign, let alone a paper that claims to have a “long-standing reputation for providing news and information with unparalleled analysis and insight” and recently changed its slogan to “Democracy dies in darkness.”
Amir Basiri (@amir_bas) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is an Iranian human rights activist.
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