Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency, citing a fake Gallup poll, claims Ahmadinejad more popular than Obama among rural Americans
* Iranian journalists taken in by a “story” in The Onion
* Ahmadinejad’s cameraman defects and seeks asylum in U.S.
This is the latest in a series of dispatches concerning Iran. (You can comment on this dispatch here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. Please also press “Like” on that page.)
1. Ahmadinejad’s cameraman defects and seeks asylum in the U.S.
2. Iran news agency: “Ahmadinejad more popular than Obama among rural Americans”
3. Poll: 62% of Americans support use of force to stop a nuclear Iran
4. Ahmadinejad denies Jewish history at UN
5. Netanyahu speech to UN judged a success
6. Romney: Military action against Iran probably not required, but must remain an option
7. Iranian journalists killed, injured in Damascus
8. Iranian currency plummets
9. Iran unblocks access to Gmail
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
AHMADINEJAD’S CAMERAMAN DEFECTS AND SEEKS ASYLUM IN THE U.S.
Iranian government cameraman Hassan Gol Khanban, who was accompanying the Iranian president on his trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, is seeking political asylum in the U.S.
Paul O’Dwyer, a New York-based lawyer who is representing Khanban, confirmed that his client is seeking asylum. He provided no further details. It is believed his client is in protective custody and being debriefed by U.S. intelligence.
In his speech to the UN last week, President Ahmadinejad once again attacked Israel, saying Israelis were “uncivilized.” Iran remains the only country that has called for the annihilation of a fellow UN member-state.
IRANIAN NEWS AGENCY: “AHMADINEJAD MORE POPULAR THAN OBAMA AMONG RURAL AMERICANS”
77 percent of rural Americans would choose to vote for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over U.S. President Barack Obama, Iran’s Fars News Agency reports, claiming that what it said was the result of a Gallup poll.
But the Fars news agency “poll” in fact originated in the satirical American magazine The Onion, and it seems the humor was lost on the Iranian government-sponsored journalists who re-reported the story almost verbatim.
The Onion’s report added that a Gallup poll found that 60 percent of Americans “at least respected that Ahmadinejad doesn’t try to hide the fact that he’s Muslim.”
On its masthead, The Onion describes itself as “America’s finest news source.”
Fars also regularly runs anti-Semitic cartoons. For a recent batch, please see here.
Fars has also ran an interview with me last year, which I didn’t give directly to them, but they copied off an Iranian opposition website that interviewed me about Israel. It can be read here.
Or here in English.
POLL: 62% OF AMERICANS SUPPORT USE OF FORCE TO STOP A NUCLEAR IRAN
The majority of Americans support the use of force to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, according to a new (and real) poll conducted on behalf of the Foreign Policy Initiative think tank. 45 percent of respondents also named the Islamic Republic as the country posing “the greatest danger” to U.S. national security interests.
A clear majority of self-identified conservatives (78.6%) and a majority of self-identified moderates (57.8%), in addition to 44.6% self-identified liberals, support U.S. military action to stop a nuclear-armed Iran.
The poll was conducted by Basswood Research from Sept. 15-17. The survey’s margin of error is 3.1% in a sample of 1000 likely voters.
Asked to name the country that is “America’s best ally in the world today,” respondents named the U.K. first (54%), followed by Israel second (15.9%).
AHMADINEJAD DENIES JEWISH HISTORY AT UN
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters at the United Nations that while his country “has been around for the last ten thousand years,” Israel has been “occupying” territory in the Middle East for 60-70 years and Jews have “no historical roots in the region.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor (who is a subscriber to this list) left the room to protest the Iranian president’s remarks.
“Ahmadinejad showed again that he not only threatens the future of the Jewish people, he seeks to erase our past,” Prosor told reporters.
NETANYAHU SPEECH TO UN JUDGED A SUCCESS
In his speech to the UN General Assembly last week, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dramatically drew a “red line” on an illustration of an Iranian bomb, many Western and Israeli critics of Netanyahu derided him.
However, others have noted that his ploy was successful.
The French newspaper Le Monde wrote: “Netanyahu’s strategy paid off, thanks to the simplicity of the presentation and the diagram, and the result is that Netanyahu’s message has dominated the Internet.”
For months, Netanyahu has been trying to warn to the world about the dangers of a nuclear Iran in the clearest and simplest way.
Netanyahu’s “cartoon” bomb diagram ensured blanket coverage across many front pages in an age when the “same old” message about red lines and the threat of nuclear Iran seems to be “boring” journalists and other observers, as though it wasn’t one of (if not) the most pressing issues so far of the 21st century.
ROMNEY: MILITARY ACTION AGAINST IRAN PROBABLY NOT REQUIRED, BUT MUST REMAIN AN OPTION
The Washington Post reports that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said that he does not believe military action will be required to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Romney called Iran’s nuclear development “the greatest national security threat that we face,” but he stopped short of endorsing Netanyahu’s comments this week that a military strike might be necessary to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear capability.
However, Romney told reporters aboard his campaign plane Friday that it was difficult to determine during his telephone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier that day whether there was a difference between their so-called “red lines” on ordering military action.
“I do not believe that in the final analysis we will have to use military action. I certainly hope we don’t have to. I can’t take that option off the table. It must be something which is known by the Iranians as a possible tool to be employed to prevent them from becoming nuclear. But I certainly hope that we can prevent any military action from having to be taken.”
Romney said he complimented Netanyahu on his speech to the UN, but joked that he considered ribbing the prime minister over the quality of the poster he showed at the UN to illustrate his “red line” on Iran.
“I suggested that his graphic was not up to the normal Boston Consulting Group standards,” Romney said. Laughing to reporters on the plane, he corrected himself. “No, I didn’t actually do that. But I was thinking that.”
IRANIAN JOURNALISTS KILLED, INJURED IN DAMASCUS
Iran says sniper fire in Damascus has killed a reporter for its English-language Press TV and wounded the Damascus bureau chief of Press TV and Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam channel.
The Iranian journalists were all embedded with President Assad’s forces when they were attacked last week by the Free Syrian Army.
IRANIAN CURRENCY PLUMMETS
The Iranian currency dropped to a record low against the U.S. dollar yesterday, partly as a result of international sanctions against Tehran.
In a single day, the Iranian rial fell 15 per cent against the dollar. Its value dropped from 24,000 to the dollar last week to 34,500 rial to the dollar yesterday.
The drop in the currency is also due to general economic mismanagement by the regime, and domestic criticism of President Ahmadinejad is growing.
IRAN UNBLOCKS ACCESS TO GMAIL
The Beirut Daily Star (the editor of which is a subscriber to this email list) reports that Iran yesterday removed online blocks on Gmail. The blocks had been in place for a week, and Iranian Gmail users couldn’t access their accounts.
However, YouTube (which like Gmail is also owned by Google) will continue to be censored in Iran, since it has allowed the controversial anti-Islam clip “Innocence of Muslims” to continue to be aired.
[All notes above by Tom Gross]