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The road to freedom in Tehran

By Slater Bakhtavar - posted Tuesday, 4 February 2014


While the Islamic Republic of Iran, along with many Arab regimes espouses a doctrine of anti-Americanism the Iranian people have become profoundly pro-American in recent years.

The officials of Iran are concerned about the rising tide of pro-Americanism among the masses in Iran. American presence is well-supported on the east as well on the west of Iran which has become a major cause of problem for Iranian officials.

In September 2002 a poll commissioned by the Majlis (parliament) found that 74% of Iranians favor resumption of ties with the United States. According to a 2011 poll by the CJS 72% of Iranians have a positive view of the United States. In a recent telephone poll conducted by a satellite television station based in the US over 82% of Iranians had a favorable view of the United States.

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A survey was conducted by the RAND corporation to find out the Iranian public opinion towards Iran-US relations and other critical issues arising out of it. The main goal of the survey was to gauge the Iranian attitudes towards American sanctions and war political fosters by Iran. The main conclusion of the survey reflected the pro-American attitude of the people of Iran. The various indications of this attitude include:

a) Majority of the respondents regarded the economic situation to be average but many hesitated to express dismay;

b) A majority of respondents regarded the sanctions as having a negative effect on the economy;

c) A significant portion favoured the development of nuclear weapons but people with a high level of education were adverse. Only people belonging to the lower classes with low education were in favour;

d) Many people favoured the re-establishment of ties with Americans,

The principal reason for the aforementioned sentiment in Iran today is the United States is a staunch opponent of the Iranian regime. Iranians also have a profound admiration and are for the achievements and social progress of the West.

In 1941 the Russians and British invaded Iran. That invasion was a violation of the nation's political sovereignty and territorial integrity. Subsequently, America intervened on the side of Iran and countered British and Soviet expansionism. Thus to many Iranians the United States became a beacon of freedom.

Extensive American involvement brought with it a great increase in western social and cultural influence. This influence consolidated the overall structure of Iran's dependence on the United States. 

In 2009 millions of Iranians demonstrated in the streets of Iran demanding democratic and social reforms. Many Iranians also demanded the end of the tyrannical regime. These demonstrations lasted for several years albeit in sporadic form. The Obama Administration failed in its Iran Policy, however, the roots of democratic reform are prevalent in the nation. Given the socio-demographics of Iran the United States can have a strong ally in the center of the Middle East.

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The masses in Iran are demanding the development of technological channels which played an important role in the pro-democracy movement which was a popular force in 2009-2011. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social networking tools have been a powerful factor that has been used in campaigns all over the world. These networking sites have been used as a way to circumvent state-run media and play an important part in mobilizing the masses, mainly the youth. A special Twitter page (#iranelection) and Youtube channel was also created for popularizing democratic policies in Iran in 2009. Twitter, Facebook and blogs were also used to give minute details about the happenings in Iran soon after the fraudulent election results were declared. They have also been used to give accounts of Basij (Islamic voluntary forces), Islamic Revolutionary Guards, Intelligence Ministry and police torture and brutality towards the demonstrators.

The Islamic Republic's relations with the United States is based on animosity. It is unlikely that the regime would abandon it's position and try to reconstruct Iranian ties with the US. The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, is a mere puppet in the hands of the historical personality and Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Ayatollah Khamenei wields near absolute power over judicial, executive, legislative and military branches of the government. He also wields near absolute power over Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who oversee Iran's nuclear program.

Our best strategy in Iran is not economic sanctions, war or direct negotiations with the theocratic/military regime. Sanctions hurt the people we are trying to help the most and war would be a humanitarian and strategic disaster. Instead we should support the pro-American populace via technological advancements. We have the means available to assist the people who seek a democratic alternative to the present government.

Viable candidates for a democratic government in Iran include the Shah's son, Reza Pahlavi, who supports a constitutional monarchy similar to Japan, Denmark, Spain and England. There are also viable leaders in the streets of Iran from Tabriz, Esfahan, Shiraz, Tehran other cities. Nevertheless the future of Iran should be decided by the people of Iran and that future can include one of democracy, human rights, progressivism and relations with the United States. Let's get it done..

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About the Author

Slater Bakhtavar is a published journalist, policy analyst, practicing attorney and author of Iran: The Green Movement. His interest in politics has enabled him to contribute his knowledge to several journals, magazines, and nationally syndicated talk shows. Slater has earned a Bachelorís Degree in Political Science from Kennesaw State University, a Juris Doctorate Degree from South Texas College of Law, and a LL.M in International Law from Loyola Law School. In addition, Slater Bakhtavar received a certificate in alternative dispute resolution from the University of Georgia Law Center. To add to this list, Slater has decided to pursue a Masterís of Business Administration Degree from West Texas A&M. Currently, Slater resides in Dallas, Texas where he is engaged in the practice of law at his own law office. Outside of his law practice, Slater can be found devoting his time to The Republican Youth of America organization, where he sits as the founding President.

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