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Cablegate: Iranians Seek Global Support Not Nuclear Pressure

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAK #0189/01 0351207
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041207Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2006
INFO RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 6911
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ANKARA 000189

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: CVIS PREL PINS PGOV PHUM SOCI SCUL TU IR
SUBJECT: Iranians Seek Global Support Not Nuclear Pressure

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In the wake of President Obama's State of the
Union Address on January 27, 2010, CONOFFs surveyed Iranian
non-immigrant visa (NIV) and immigrant visa (IV) applicants to
assess their reaction to US pressure regarding Iran's nuclear
program. Although applicants voiced strong support for the
opposition movement and distrust of the regime, they also expressed
strong support for Iran's nuclear rights. Applicants stated that
the US and international community should focus their efforts at
supporting the Iranian people in their efforts to change the
government rather than focusing on halting Iranians nuclear program.
Many applicants stressed that coercive action to counter Iran's
nuclear program would only harm the opposition which is growing
stronger daily, while bolstering support for the regime. END
SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Applicants told CONOFFs they heard about President Obama's
State of the Union remarks concerning Iran through Voice of America
and other international news sources. One applicant noted that 90%
of Iranians have access to international satellite broadcasts which
include CNN and Fox news. In light of President Obama's message to
Iran about the consequences Iran would face if it fails to meet
international demands over its nuclear program, most applicants
expressed that, although they distrust their government and support
the opposition, their country has a right to pursue nuclear
technology. A textile factory owner from Karaj told CONOFF that
despite broad opposition to the government, Iranians do not like
others telling them what their country is permitted to do. A Baha'i
medical supply store owner, although greatly opposed to the regime,
indicated that it was important for Iran to continue its nuclear
program as it had vast benefits for Iranians, using the medical
field as an example. A Tehrani international lawyer emphasized that
the majority of Iranians support the nuclear program but not its
military use. He added that as an international lawyer he agrees
that Iran must comply with international law in its nuclear
pursuits. Only an IV couple, retired Ministry of Welfare and Social
Security (MWSS) employees, voiced some skepticism as they did not
see any use for a nuclear energy program considering Iran's vast oil
and gas reserves.

3. (SBU) With one exception, applicants said that although they
hold high hopes for future change, the political-security situation
in Tehran was "very bad." Most of our applicants voiced strong
support for the opposition and indicated that it held broad support
among the majority of Iranians. They blamed the government's
intensified crackdown by means of arrests, torture, and execution as
contributing to the deteriorating situation. Some applicants chose
not to answer CONOFFs questions as they were afraid to speak. The
Baha'i applicant, after asking if it was safe to talk, noted the
government has increased its surveillance and harassment of
religious minorities in Iran, now including Iran's Sunni community.
The Iranian MWSS retirees explained the depth of unhappiness
throughout Iranian society is demonstrated by the tens of millions
of Iranians who have chosen to emigrate from Iran since the
revolution. All their siblings now live in the US or France. They
added that if change comes to Iran for the better, Iranians would
likely return to Iran due to their sense of nationalism. An Islamic
Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) employee said the housing and
stock markets are so stagnant that many are converting their money
into gold. Only one unemployed, uneducated Tehrani youth
immigrating to the US scornfully said the opposition was a failure
and said that the security situation in Tehran was much better than
Ankara.

4. (SBU) Many expect the coming February 11 2010 demonstrations to
be significant with broad support among the population. Applicants
note that the protests may be student led, but Iranians of all types
will participate. The MWSS retirees explained that the students,
six million strong, have been vigorously campaigning especially
among Iranian workers. They added that with a worsening economy,
less and less people are able to lead comfortable lives in Iran
leading to increased opposition support. No applicant could give a
prediction about when or how they believe the opposition would
succeed but most appeared optimistic that the government would
eventually be forced to compromise and implement democratic
reforms.

5. (SBU) Applicants expressed various views on how the US and the
international community should react towards Iran's internal
developments. Some said that the US should not make any agreements
with the government that could lend it legitimacy. Others feared
any coercion against the regime, especially military, would only
serve to nationalize the people in support of the regime and destroy
all opposition. A young Tehrani woman said she did not think the
opposition could survive unless there was increased international
support in the face of the regime's heavy handed crackdown. She
emphasized that support must be clearly international and from a
broad array of countries in order to prevent the government from
attributing the opposition to foreign interference.

6. (SBU) A young neurosurgeon going on a research assistantship
voiced grief for the Iranian people who have lost two generations to

tyranny. He added that the U.S. has not differentiated between the
Iranian people who love America and the government. He added that
while Iranians are overall a moderate people, they face much greater
hardships in obtaining U.S. visas than applicants from Arab
countries such as Egypt or Saudi Arabia which contain problems of
fanaticism hostile to the U.S. within their populations. He added
that he has not seen one instance of an Iranian involvement in
terrorism against the American people. He said despite this
Iranians continue their love of America and the American people.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Although most applicants still indicate
reluctance to actively participate in Iran's opposition movement,
CONOFFs continue to see overwhelming and broad popular support for
it. Admittedly, Iranian applicants in Turkey are a self-selected
contact base who tend to reflect the views of Iran's upper and
middle classes: professionals, typically university-educated, and
predisposed to western travel. Many of our applicants are either
financially stable and have learned to tolerate the regime (by
benefitting financially from regime connections, or by avoiding
politics altogether), or in the case of those immigrating or
studying in the U.S., have made a choice to leave the country rather
than confront the regime. That said, as the Iranian economy
continues to falter and the regime's tactics continue to harden,
fewer and fewer Iranians will have the same choices these applicants
do.

8. (SBU) Comment, continued: Our Iranian applicants were very
clear that international concerns over Iran's nuclear program would
be better served by supporting the opposition movement's desire for
a reformed, more transparent, more accountable political system in
Iran rather than focusing efforts on how to deal with the current
regime. Many applicants surmised that reform in Iran's political
system would lead to greater transparency in Iran's nuclear program
which could assuage international fears. END COMMENT.

JEFFREY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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