Re-establishing a U.S. Diplomatic Presence in Iran: Perspectives of the Iranian American community

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Information about Re-establishing a U.S. Diplomatic Presence in Iran: Perspectives of the...

Published on February 19, 2014

Author: atlanticcouncil


Reestablishing a U.S. Diplomatic Presence in Iran: Perspectives of the Iranian American community Surveys conducted by Zogby Research Services & George Mason University Center for Social Science Researc

Understanding the Iranian American Community • In order to represent the Iranian American community, it is important to understand their views • PAAIA has gathered accurate information by conducting five national scientific public opinion surveys of Iranian Americans • Surveys are conducted by telephone using a Random Digit Dial (RDD) • Methodologies approved by the American Association for Public Opinion Research • Representative sample of 400 Iranian American respondents with +/- 5% margin of error • Latest survey was conducted by George Mason University in February 2013 © PAAIA 2014

PAAIA Survey Trends I. Demographic information: well-educated, fairly affluent, religiously diverse, and secular II. Internal developments in Iran and the state of U.S.-Iran relations are core issues for Iranian Americans III. The community's top issue in U.S.-Iran relations is promotion of human rights and democracy IV. A supermajority want Iran to be a secular democracy and the current theocratic system has close to no support V. Despite overwhelming support for a secular democracy in Iran, less than a third support regime change as a policy option, and almost two-thirds oppose a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities © PAAIA 2014

Iranian American Links to Iran The Iranian American community, created largely through immigration over the last three decades, maintains deep ties to the people of Iran. • Over 80% indicate that they have family in Iran     26% 32% 44% 72% Grandparents A parent Siblings Cousins, aunts or uncles • Two-thirds maintain stable communication with family and friends in Iran • Over two-thirds follow news from Iran either very closely or somewhat closely • Around 10% of Iranian Americans have never been to Iran © PAAIA 2014

Iranian American Links to Iran • Survey results show that a significant number of Iranian Americans (30% - 40%) travel to Iran once every 2-3 years • These American citizens and legal residents would benefit from expanded U.S. Consular support inside Iran • American Citizen Services includes:  U.S. Passport issuance and renewals  Social Security check distribution Consular visitation and support for Americans arrested or detained in Iran  Welfare & Whereabouts case support for Americans reported missing in Iran Guidance on proper compliance with existing economic sanctions • U.S. Interests Section may also process non-immigrant visas facilitating family reunions for Iranian Americans and helping with medical emergencies

Public Diplomacy - People to People Ties • Surveys show a large majority of Iranian Americans support facilitating greater understanding between the peoples of U.S. and Iran as well as improving understanding of Iranian culture • A significant number support high quality media broadcasting to Iran • U.S. Interests Section can play important role in enhancing U.S. public diplomacy programming 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Facilitate Understanding Between Peoples (2008) © PAAIA 2014 Improve Understanding of Iranian Culture (2008) Role of Diaspora to Support Media Broadcasting to Iran (2009)

Public Affairs Section U.S. Interests Section in Iran should have Public Affairs Section. • Engage Iranian people directly to help advance U.S. policy positions • Support U.S. – Iran academic and cultural exchanges  Public Affairs officer with experience in cultural diplomacy should be assigned to Interests Section • © PAAIA 2014 Diplomatic presence can enhance U.S. broadcast programming to Iran by conveying a more accurate feel of the Iranian street

Student Visas • Policy of U.S. to engage and encourage Iranian students to study in the U.S.  Diplomatic commodity  Boost U.S. economy • Recent report from Washington Institute finds that despite overtures, Iranian students still face financial, logistical, and consular challenges  Greatest frustration is visa acquisition process • U.S. Interests Section boon to Iranian students  Financial  Women students  Men who have not served in military © PAAIA 2014

U.S. Interests Section in Iran Iranian Americans strongly support the establishment of a U.S. Interests Section in Tehran that would provide consular services and issue U.S. visas, but would not constitute the resumption of diplomatic relations with Iran. 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 2008 © PAAIA 2013 Support Oppose 2011

Conclusion • Iranian Americans remain close to the people of Iran and want to see a democratic Iran that is open to the world • Survey results show that a large majority of Iranian Americans support the opening of a Tehran U.S. Interests Section  Provides American Citizenship Services  Enhances U.S. public diplomacy • Iranian Americans represent a key constituency that can help advocate for this proposal © PAAIA 2014

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