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Cablegate: Turkmenistan: Transiting Iranians: How They View

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RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHTRO
DE RUEHAH #0118/01 0260655
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 260655Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4124
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 6165
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 0011
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 4409
RHMCSUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ASHGABAT 000118

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/IR AND SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2020
TAGS: IR PGOV PHUM PREL TX
SUBJECT: TURKMENISTAN: TRANSITING IRANIANS: HOW THEY VIEW
EVENTS AT HOME

REF: 09 ASHGABAT 1547

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Sylvia Reed Curran. Reasons: 1.4(b) an
d (d).

1. (C) The process of canvassing Iranians waiting at the
Turkmen-Uzbek border is not exactly scientific.
Nevertheless, chatting with truckers at various points
throughout the border town of Farap is as close as one might
get, outside of Iran, to a Masshad "street." Most come from
Masshad or other towns in northern Iran, and conversations
with them offer a candid glimpse of how working class
Iranians view events at home. Iran Watcher spoke with
several groups of Iranians passing through Farap xxxxxxxxxxxx.
Those conversations brought out divergent, sometimes
surprising, points of view.

"In a year, ahmadinejad will be out"

2. (C) At "Cafe Zaineb," part of a truck stop and guest house
just off the main road that caters to Iranian and Turkish
truckers (reftel), we spoke to a group xxxxxxxxxxxx. They were accompanied by
xxxxxxxxxxxx, in his late
fifties and something of a firebrand, declared, "Just wait a
year. When the revolution takes place, Ahmadinejad will be
out and Moussavi will be president." (He repeated himself,
partly in broken Russian, just to be sure we understood).
Underscoring his strong dislike for Iran's leaders, he said
emphatically, "The mullahs and Ahmadinejad? They can all go
to hell." When asked how other Iranians he knows view the
situation, xxxxxxxxxxxx said, "I assure you: 70 percent of the
people feel just like I do. We just can't say it openly.
Everyone talks in whispers." xxxxxxxxxxxx, wanted to know, "Is it true that America doesn't
want Iran to have nuclear energy? Why?" (Most of the group
seemed surprised to hear that nuclear weapons, not energy,
are the cause of concern.)

The secretary's human rights speech: tucked out of sight

3. (C) We passed out Farsi-language copies of Secretary
Clinton's December speech "On the Human Rights Agenda for the
21st Century," as well as U.S.-Iran flag pins (a big hit).
Several of the truckers said, "We need to read this here.
We'll be in big trouble if they catch us with it in Iran."
xxxxxxxxxxxx however, asked for extra copies. "I'm not worried,"
he said. "I'll hide them in my truck. I want my children to
read this."

"Obama has not kept his promises"

4. (C) In the evening, we met up with another group of
xxxxxxxxxxxx truckers. xxxxxxxxxxxx said he was delighted to be meeting an
American, "for the first time in my life." (He pulled out a
digital camera to record the event.) With a wife and three
children xxxxxxxxxxxx, he spends more time on the road than at
home. Possessing a knack for languages, he has picked up
both Russian and Uzbek, and has also mastered the Tajik
dialect of Farsi during trips to Dushanbe. While traveling
through Central Asia, he enjoys drinking and visiting
discotheques.

9/11 conspiracy theories

5. (C) When asked how Iranians view current events at home,
xxxxxxxxxxxx opined that, "Some people might not like individual
leaders or clerics, but overall, they want an Islamic form of
government. That's why people are basically happy with the
regime." On the question of how Iranians view the U.S., he
said, "Obama promised a lot when he was running for
president. He said he would end the U.S. occupation in Iraq
and Afghanistan and close Guantanamo, but he's done none of
it." xxxxxxxxxxxx said that in his view, neither military action was
justified, including the war in Afghanistan. "Don't
Americans understand about 9/11? The whole thing was devised

Ashgabat 00000118 002 of 002


by Bush." His companion xxxxxxxxxxxx echoed, "Yes, it was all a
pretext for America's so-called war on terror." Both men
went on to qualify their statements with, "We're no fans of
the Taliban. Did you know that they tell their suicide
bombers that they'll go to paradise if they kill five
Shiites?" (This was followed by questions about Christian
sects, and whether Catholics and Orthodox Christians have as
many problems between them as Sunni and Shiite Muslims.)

6. (C) COMMENT: An estimated 70,000 Iranians, mostly
truckers, pass through Turkmenistan every year.
Conversations with them are informative not just for us.
Those we meet also appear anxious to learn about the U.S.
Our discussions are on a wide range of topics, not just
political issues. One Kurdish driver at a truck stop on the
road to Mary, when he learned Iran Watcher was American,
asked for news of Homeyra, an Iranian singer residing in Los
Angeles. "I've heard she's ill," he said worriedly. "Do you
know if that's true?" END COMMENT.
Curran

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