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Most Iranians Still Reject Pompeo’s Preposterous Demands

The surveys done by IranPoll for the University of Maryland contain a number of other interesting findings about Iranian public opinion. When we compare the Trump administration’s demands with the Iranian public’s views on these issues, it becomes clear that the demands that Pompeo has listed are still excessive and unrealistic. Negotiating on many of these issues would be very unpopular inside Iran, and any politician that advocated for it would probably expose himself to a serious backlash.

Like previous surveys, these found that most Iranians believe the development of the country’s missile program is “very important” (72%) or “somewhat important” (20%). There is overwhelming popular support for the continued development of Iran’s missile program, which most Iranians see as an important deterrent against foreign attack. 61% of respondents said that they think that the missile program decreases the likelihood of an attack from other countries. 58% endorse the view that Iran should continue testing missiles, and they consider the issue to be non-negotiable. Another 29% supports continued missile testing, but they are open to negotiating on the issue. When asked about a potential trade of partial sanctions relief in exchange for abandoning advanced missile production, 68% were opposed.

There appears to be broad public support for Iran’s foreign policy overall. 74% believe the attacks on the Abqaiq facilities in Saudi Arabia were very or somewhat justified. 61% say that Iran should keep military personnel in Syria. 59% think that if the IRGC were withdrawn from Iraq and Syria that it would just encourage the U.S. to extract more concessions. There is still broad popular support for remaining in the Non-Proliferation Treaty with 74% saying that it is a good idea to be part of the treaty.

66% see America as “a dangerous country that seeks confrontation and control,” which is 20 points higher than the result to the same question in 2005. That increase in perceiving the U.S. as a dangerous threat is presumably linked to the hostility that our government has shown towards their country in the last few years. Given the unrelenting economic warfare that the U.S. has waged on them for more than a year, it is remarkable that the number agreeing with this statement isn’t higher.

80% of Iranians say that sanctions have had a great negative impact (48%) or a somewhat negative impact (32%) on the economy. A broad majority of Iranians see sanctions as being responsible to some degree for their economic problems, and almost half of the population sees them as having a very significant effect. When asked if sanctions have had a negative impact on the lives of the people, the number goes up to 83% with 57% saying that they have had a great negative impact. If we want to understand what the Iranian people want and how U.S. policy affects them, we should start listening to what they tell us.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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