Monday September 23 2013

Poll: Majority of Americans and Iranians back direct diplomacy


New polling and 1 million-strong petition urge US-Iran to engage on Syria


As speculation grows as to whether US and Iranian leaders will meet this week in New York, new polling shows that strong majorities of citizens in both countries support direct diplomatic engagement between them. According to new polling commissioned by Avaaz, 59% of Americans and 51% of Iranians -- 74% and 80%, respectively, of those who expressed an opinion -- support direct talks.


Polling in the US, conducted by Zogby, and polling in Iran, conducted by Riwi, also included the following results:


  • Twice as many Americans support direct US diplomacy with Iran to resolve the Syria crisis as oppose it.

  • 48% of Americans think Obama would look strong for negotiating with Iran versus only 17% who think negotiating would make him look weak.

  • In Iran, those who would support Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power if it would end the Syrian crisis outnumber those who would oppose it 37% to 21%.  Counting only those who expressed an opinion, nearly 60% would favor Assad’s removal to end the crisis.

  • 59% of Americans think the international community has a responsibility to protect Syrian civilians from the use of chemical weapons.  In Iran, 46% believe the international community has that responsibility to protect versus only 16% who do not.

  • 58% of Americans believe the Assad regime probably or definitely was responsible for the chemical weapons attack outside Damascus.  In Iran, while 30% blame the Syrian opposition for the attack and 11% blame the regime, more than half of Iranians do not have an opinion or do not know.

  • Less than one third of Iranians approve of their government’s economic support for the Assad regime while one quarter disapprove.  While those Iranians who disapprove of Bashar al-Assad’s handling of the Syrian uprising outnumber those who approve of it 25% to 24%.

  • 59% of Iranians expressed hope that President Rouhani would improve Iran’s relations with the international community.


The polling comes as more than one million people from 192 countries signed a recent Avaaz petition calling for direct US-Iranian diplomacy to help facilitate a negotiated, political settlement to the crisis in Syria.


Ian Bassin, Campaign Director at Avaaz, said:

“For the first time in years there are leaders in Iran and the US who’d rather talk to each other than call each other ‘the Great Satan’ and ‘the Axis of Evil.’  And it can’t come soon enough for the people of Syria, who need bold diplomacy right now not just to remove chemical weapons, but to end the violence that is claiming innocent lives every day.  The people of Syria and the world are counting on President Obama and President Rouhani to take the first step towards doing that this week in New York.”


In addition to deliveries of their petition to senior US and Iranian officials, Avaaz will be staging a demonstration featuring actors wearing oversize Obama and Rouhani heads and a giant hourglass declaring “Obama and Rouhani: Time is running out to save Syrian lives – Direct diplomacy now!” at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza 24 September from 10 - noon.


Full results of the Iran poll, conducted in Farsi:


Full results of the US poll:


For campaign endorsement quotes see below. For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Will Davies at +44 7855419901, [email protected]               

Nick Kimbrell at +1 917 613 7202, [email protected]            



Campaign Endorsements:

Seyed Hossein Mousavian, former Iranian ambassador and spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiation team, said: "I support Avaaz in their campaign to press for a diplomatic solution to the current Syrian conflict. Iran is the biggest victim of chemical weapons in modern history at the hands of Saddam Hussein--killing and injuring 100,000 Iranians. Washington and the international community would find no country in the Middle East like Iran ready to stand against the use of chemical weapons. Washington and Tehran can cooperate on finding a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict within the framework of the United Nations Security Council. This support is based on the mutual redlines of Ayatollah Khamenei and President Obama on the use of chemical weapons."


Thomas R. Pickering, former US ambassador and Under Secretary of State, said:

“It has long been important for the US and Iran to engage directly in talks about the solutions to the many problems between them. The more forward approach by Iran on Syria and President Obama's willingness to look carefully at the idea of monitoring and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons provide yet another opportunity for Iran and the US to engage together and it should not be missed.”


Shahriar Khateri MD, of the Tehran Peace Museum and  Society of Chemical Weapons Victims support SCWVS, said:

“On behalf of the Tehran Peace Museum and the Society of Victims of Chemical Weapons in Iran, we strongly support your campaign and endorse your petition. We hope that the historical opportunities that Presidents Obama and Rouhani have during the UN GA meeting in NY, can reduce tensions and animosity between the two sides and bring more hope for peaceful life for my people who are living their life under the heavy shadow of war and suffer from inhuman sanctions.”


Dr. Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council said:

"Our first responsibility in Syria is not to uphold red lines, but to end the violence and set the course for a political solution. Avaaz's thoughtful call can achieve just that - the US and Iran must be pushed to help resolve the Syrian crisis peacefully through intense diplomacy."



Avaaz is a 26-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. "Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages. Avaaz members live in every nation of the world - our movement is spread across 193 countries on 5 continents and operates in 14 languages.