What Many Iranians (Unfiltered) Think of a Possible US Attack on Syria

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Well one country that was never likely to support military intervention is Syria's neighbor, and ally, Iran. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had this to say about US plans for military action


Translation:"The humanitarian issues, which Americans say they are pursuing in Syria is not something that the world believes. This is just rhetoric. (Iranian) We believe that the Americans are making a mistake regarding Syria (Iranian) and they definitely will pay a price if they attack that country."

Werman: That's what the Iranian Government is saying, but how does the Iranian public feel about the prospect of an attack? Rana Rahimpour is a presenter for BBC Persian, a news channel which broadcasts across Iran. Rana, what kind of response are you getting from your audience on this issue?

Rana Rahimpour: The Iranian public are also very divided, I think, like the rest of the world. They really can't decide whether it is the right thing to strike Syria or not. On BBC Persian's Facebook page, it's a very heated topic to talk about. We receive hundreds of comments from both sides. Some say that it's the right thing to do. Some say it's a Syrian war, it's an Arab war, and no one should get involved in there.

Werman: What do Iranians think about comments like what we just heard from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei? That if Americans attack Syria, they will definitely pay a price, I mean are you hearing that point of view and anything more specific from the Iranian public about what that price might actually be?

Rahimpour: Well Mr. Khamenei hasn't been very clear exactly what the price is going to be and he has been very vague in his comments and he's been very general and he generally said that it's not going to have good consequences, but it doesn't say what Iran's reaction to it is going to be. And again, I think, even in that sense Iranians are divided and when it comes to Iran, many of them think that Iran shouldn't get involved whatsoever.

Werman: And what about your audience, I mean who are you hearing from, people in Iran or Iranians all over the world?

Rahimpour: Iranians all over the world. But, mainly, our main audiences are in Iran and people who are making comments are the ones who have their daily lives influenced by this. A week ago when the possibility of a strike on Syria got very serious, the Iranian exchange market reacted to it very harshly, the price of foreign exchanges went up and it showed that Iranians are seriously anxious about the consequences of a possible military strike on Syria, and how it can change their daily lives.

Werman: Some hawks in Washington have explicitly said that an advantage of damaging Assad would be actually limiting Iran's influence. What's your audience telling you on this? Is there a sense that an attack on Syria will harm Iranian interests, as well?

Rahimpour: Surely. Of course, Syria has been a long-time ally of Iran and while Iran is very isolated, they feel that they quite like to have some allies, especially in the region, especially because Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supporting the opposition in Syria, so generally Iranian people wouldn't like Iran to be so isolated, and probably losing an ally is not very favorable.

Werman: Rana, what kind of pulse are you getting from the media in Iran. Is the Supreme Leader's tone being reflected in domestic TV and newspapers there?

Rahimpour: Well, that's the general policy, so domestic televisions and media, they have to cover what the Supreme Leader is saying, but overall I think that the Supreme Leader's comments are not as harsh as they could have been. I think that he has been very cautious. So has the new President, Mr. Rouhani and his cabinet. And we hear many advisors of Mr. Rouhani asking the other officials not to make any comments, just let the leadership to decide what they want to do. And so far, in my opinion, they have been very cautious.

Werman: And what do you think that caution suggests, is it more about changing politics in Iran or something else?

Rahimpour: I think it's about changing politics. Iran has already so many things to deal with itself and I don't think that it would like to get involved in any wars whatsoever in Syria. And it's an opportunity for Mr. Rouhani to show that he can mediate some solution, any solutions that might be there for Syria.

Werman: Rana Rahimpour, a presenter for BBC Persian, Thank you very much .

Rahimpour: Thank you.