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Questionable Telephone Poll conducted Inside Iran by Maryland’s CISSM

By INU Staff

INU - The uprising that occurred in Iran at the turn of the year demonstrated that the Iranian people demand a change. The nationwide demonstrations rejected the ruling regime in its entirety. Meanwhile, U.S. President Trump's positions, alongside and those of other administration officials, such as Vice President Pence and UN Ambassador Nicki Haley, appear to have angered Iran's lobbyists and appeasement supporters in the U.S. This resulted in The University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies, conducting what is believed to be a fake telephone poll by calling people inside Iran.

The Washington Post reported on this poll, saying, “The poll, released on Friday by the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) and IranPoll, found comparatively little support for changing Iran's political system or relaxing strict Islamic law and suggested that criticism of Iranian foreign policy in Syria and Iraq was not as widely shared by the general population.”

The Post added, “Iranians also felt expressions of support for the protesters from President Trump and other U.S. officials did not help those demonstrating, the survey found, with 39 percent saying they hurt the protesters' demands and 9 percent saying they helped. When asked for their opinion on the U.S. government, 85 percent of Iranians were found to have a very unfavorable opinion of it; less than 1 percent had a very favorable opinion.” Further, according to the Post, “The poll also found that generally, Iranians were happy with the way authorities had handled the protests, with roughly two-thirds saying police handled the protests very or somewhat well, and a slightly smaller about (64 percent) saying they used an appropriate amount of force.”

It was a questionable choice, to telephone people who live inside Iran, under a dictatorship that controls communications. Authorities arrest those taking part in protests, as seen during the recent uprising, when Iran's own officials indicate there were some 5,000 arrests, including 1,400 women. People were arrested without warrants and transferred to unknown locations. Under circumstances like this, how can anyone who is asked about regime change in Iran actually provide a true opinion?

The Atlantic Council and Barbara Slavin were behind this survey. The questionnaire was carried out by IranPoll and former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was presented by the University of Maryland.

Slavin said of the results, "The survey shows that Qasem Soleimani -- the head of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a man under US sanctions — remains the most popular figure among regime stalwarts. According to the poll, he is gaining in popularity with an 83% approval rating now compared to 73% two years ago.” She continued, “President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, has seen a noticeable slide, from 82% approval two years ago to just over 65% now. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's numbers have also gone south, with 68% approval now versus 78% in 2016.”

Dr. Ebrahim Mohseni of Tehran University carried out the poll. Mohseni gained attention after he conducted a poll in Ahmadinejad's favor. The Iranian American Forum published a report on April 20, 2015 on Mohseni’s past and connections with Iran's Revolutionary Guards [IRGC]: “Ebrahim Mohseni was a student at the University of Maryland in 2007 who went to Iran and worked under the supervision of Mohammad Marandi, a Tehran University professor to conduct [a] poll… Following the successful launch of two polls in the US in 2007 and 2008, and the large media coverage that they received, President Ahmadinejad’s office dedicated more resources to the project and helped to create the 'University of Tehran Center for Public Opinion Research (UTCPOR)' in 2009. The head of the center is Mohammad Marandi and the director of projects is Ebrahim Mohseni who is also tied to the Revolutionary Guards… Since 2009, UTCPOR has produced a dozen of polls for its partners in the US. Additionally, the center has also released domestically used polls designed to help the hardliners and Revolutionary Guards. For example, in 2014, the ultra-hardliners planned to impose a mandatory separation of men and women in working places and universities. They also envisaged to pass it into law in parliament. The plan created a social and media uproar but UTCPOR released a public opinion poll of Iranians that showed an overwhelming support for the plan.”

State-run Tasnim News reports that Mohseni explained the result of his poll in an interview, “A majority of Iranians who answered our questions told that implementation of Islamic rule in Iran will help to reduce the social and economic problems in the country. 78% believed that the separation of men and women will improve work conditions in public offices and will strengthen the foundation of families. 64% of them preferred that women be given only jobs that are related to women.”

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