Thursday, July 13, 2006

Zogby poll of Iranians: The sound of alarm bells is ringing for the US

From a new Reader’s Digest-Zogby International survey of Iranians:

When it came to their view of the United States, there was a split between the generations. Older Iranians were much more likely to admire the American people and society than younger Iranians. John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International, hypothesized that this generational split may be due in part to the lack of exposure to Americans over the past two decades.

Younger and older Iranians would favor a more conservative, religious society, while those aged 30–49 said they would favor a more liberal, secular culture. What is striking is that just 15% said Iranian culture should stay just the way it is right now. Women were more likely than men to say they wanted a more liberal, secular society. Among those Iranians with Internet access, 41% said they wanted a more religious culture, compared to 33% who said they wanted a more secular society.

“The poll illustrates the impact of 25 years of separation,” said Zogby. “The attitudes of younger Iranians toward the government, people and policies of the United States have been shaped by years of isolation, largely conservative religious leadership, and anti-U.S. rhetoric. This group is consistently more negative in its attitudes towards Americans and the American government than are older Iranians. However, new technology, including satellite television and the Internet, could be used as tools that connect young Iranians with other nations in the region, and the West.”

Those technologies – Internet access and satellite TV ownership –appeared to influence attitudes among Iranians, as did gender. Iranians with access to the Internet or satellite TV were significantly more likely than their “unconnected” compatriots to identify the United States as the country they admire the most. They were also significantly less likely to pick the U.S. government as the one they admire the least: one in three Iranians without Internet access (34%) chose the United States as least admired, compared with fewer than one in five Iranians with Internet access (18%), the poll shows.

After what happened in the US 2004 Presidential election, I really don't know if I can trust John Zogby and his polling organization any more but if --and only if-- Zogby poll of Iranians is true, even to some extent, then I must say, unfortunately what I wrote last week "President Bush is losing time and Iranian people" is indeed true. This is an alarming piece of news for US Iranians outside the country who still believe the majority of Iranians are pro-American and want to get rid of this regime as soon as possible and the US administration who, faced with a three-headed monster called "Islamic Republic of Iran regime" in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestinian territories, (not to mention Iran's nuclear ambitions), is considering a "Regime Change" policy on Iran, thus already taking Iranian people's support for granted.

That's why what I said before, that US should supply Iranian dissidents with technical support such as more TV programs and specially, access to unfiltered internet inside the country, is of tremendous importance.

The longer this regime remains in power, the more it deceives the new generation of Iranians by feeding them lies, distortion and disinformation via its 24-hour propaganda machine, making them finally accept the regime as a legitimate part of their lives. We shouldn't let that happen (if it has already not.)

It's not easy for me to say this but Madame Secretary Rice and President Bush, take this poll seriously. Based on everything I have heard recently from those who have just been to Iran, this poll, although coming from Zogby's organization, could very well be close to an alarming reality and a grave indication that, if things continue to go this way, "regime change in Iran" could very soon turn into a thing of the past.