A new poll of Iranian public opinion found that most Iranians aren’t interested in regime change or a significant change in Iranian foreign policy, but it did find that many Iranians said that Trump’s empty pledge of support for protesters hurt the protesters’ cause:
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 criticism of Iranian foreign policy in Syria and Iran was not as widely shared by the general population.
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 just 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.
The debate over whether the U.S. government should “speak out” in support of protesters in Iran tends to track debates over U.S. meddling abroad more generally. Americans that think U.S. interference usually does more harm than good are wary of taking sides in an internal dispute, and those that assume that interference is helpful will demand that the government throw its support behind the protests. The big problem for the pro-meddling crowd in the case of Iran is that the U.S. government is profoundly unpopular inside Iran. This latest poll confirms this: the vast majority of Iranians holds an overwhelmingly negative view of the U.S. government, and Iranians that hold the opposite view are much harder to find. It could scarcely be otherwise, especially under the current administration, when U.S. policy is relentlessly hostile to Iran and this president is determined to cast Iran as the villain behind every regional problem.
Trump made another empty boast Tuesday night in the State of the Union address that his administration was standing with protesters in Iran, but almost half of the Iranian respondents in the poll say that statements from U.S. officials had no effect at all:
Though Trump was among a number of U.S. officials who voiced their support for Iranians during the protests — Trump tweeted five times in three days about the protests at the end of January, offering support for the protesters and criticizing the government — the poll found 48 percent of Iranians felt comments by the American leader and other U.S. officials had no effect on the crisis.
Insofar as Trump’s “support” mattered in the least, it was harmful to the protesters, but it was mostly just irrelevant. That isn’t really surprising when you consider that most Iranians hold Trump in contempt because of his hostility towards Iran:
Much of Iranian’s ire seems directed at Trump himself, with 69 percent of the country rating his policies toward Iran as zero on a ranking out of 10 — the lowest ranking possible, suggesting Trump was completely hostile to Iran.