On-Air :U.S and Iran talk today

Update: Ros in Portland and Lyse Doucet in Tehran co-presenting the programme
Is something changing in Iran ?


Since a series of TV debates, the election campaign has burst into life.

Our BBC correspondents in Tehran say the outcome will be close, but it’s just possible that hardline President Ahmedinijad could be defeated by a “reformer” Mir Hossein Mousavi (pictured with his wife Zara Rahnavard).

There have been football-style demonstrations on the streeirants for both main candidates and one of our team there – Jon Leyne – says Iran has been changed for ever.

Here’s a guide to the vote and here a guide to the candidates. 

Interpretations vary, but a defeat for the incumbent could lead to a softening of the country’s stance against the USA, Israel and the nuclear programme. Maybe.

prndiWe’ve asked our election team in the Iranian capital to ask some voters there to talk to our audience in Portland, Oregon – and you.

45 Responses to “On-Air :U.S and Iran talk today”

  1. 1 steve
    June 11, 2009 at 13:05

    The President of Iran has no real power. If the policy of Iran of the Mullahs is to wipe out Israel and to consider the US the Great Satan, nothing will change other than the words of the person who doesn’t have power, the policies will still be the same.

  2. 2 Abram
    June 11, 2009 at 13:33

    TV debates, Election Campaign, Demonstrations… Is Iran a Democratic state or what?!

  3. 3 Meir Avrahami
    June 11, 2009 at 13:43

    Something is very wrong indeed when a man who held a conference to deny the holocaust or question its extent is at all considered for re-election

  4. June 11, 2009 at 14:24

    Hi Steve.
    President of Iran has too much power. Iran is worth $70 billion annually. This is a winner takes all contest.
    Jimmy Carter has won over many moderates in Lebanon, but Washington hasn’t got anyone on the ground here. One-on-one talks yes. No nukes, fair enough, but what’s in it for Iranians?

  5. June 11, 2009 at 14:42

    It’s unlikely that there will be an overall change in the relations between Iran and the USA whether there is the hardline President Ahmedinijad or the less hardline Mir Hossein Mousavi as c rucial policies are decided by the spiritual leader ( currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei). Any Iranian president has to act under his order.

    Iran’s nuclear program so much contested by the USA and its allies is used by the Iranian leaders as a weapon to face them and to silence opposition to it from within Iran as any opposition is interpreted by the Iranian regime as a national treason.

    The publicity given to the presidential elections in the international media is an opportunity for ordinary people to know more about the current face of Iran where it seems the Iranian people seek to be part of the international community and not apart from it when the Iranian leadership is driving their country to further international sanctions and isolation because of its nuclear program that openly decried by many countries and tacitly criticised by the reformists, for fear of reprisal from the religious leadership supported by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

  6. June 11, 2009 at 14:46

    I do really hate to bring it to you guys, but hungry stomachs have no ears… Not so many of you guys have experienced hunger I assume, but I experienced it to the xtreme when I was a child, and if I know for sure that a particular person is gonna guarantee all of my rights as a citizen and as a human being and stand up for them and keep the stomachs of mine and my family members full, then I’ll surely elect that person, and if he/she was a holocaust denier or calls America the Great Satan, then I couldn’t care less, after all, do America or Israel care about me or about my family ?! Besides, who did the Israeli people elect anyway ?! A government which doesn’t recognise the right of Palestine to exist, so….

    • 7 Ann
      June 11, 2009 at 15:40

      Salaam Lubna

      I like your phrase ‘hungry stomachs have no ears’. I agree with you that desperation, poverty and powerlessness affect people’s voting decisions. But you may be surprised to know that there are sadly many poor and dispossesed people in Europe and the US. They don’t have a voice and the world doesn’t hear about them. But trust me, they are there – I’ve been poor, homeless, and hungry too.

      Thank you for your insights.

  7. June 11, 2009 at 15:27

    iran is it a democracy or a religious fiefdom ruled by mullahs ?
    democracy all over is vastly different its time to define it in a wholesome ,terrorism too.earlier the better

  8. 9 Abram
    June 11, 2009 at 15:27

    Alongside Nigeria, Iran is probably the only Oil-powered state which remains poor and chaotic. May be Venezuela is the next one.

  9. 10 bjay
    June 11, 2009 at 15:31

    Is something changing in Iran ?

    The internet-generation with a new perspective?
    Fight the foe concept coming to turn perhaps – with Obama Mama s
    Yes, l do take a liking the notion…

  10. 11 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    June 11, 2009 at 15:38

    I never have that much about Iran.But my worry is how will these immiscible liquids combine this time? As so U.S believe in 2 state solutions! But Iran says Israel must be wipeout of Atlas…! Nothing will change in Middleast till US change this broken pot policies..

  11. 12 ecotopian
    June 11, 2009 at 15:54

    I’m going to confess that I am little ignorant of how the Iranian government actually works. I do know there are other elements involved. In other words, the president doesn’t act unilaterally, there are other factors. When Rafsanjani was in office, didn’t he try to get reform going and was stymied? Wasn’t it due to other elements that didn’t want these reforms? Am I not recalling prior events correctly? It’s been a few years, so I might be mistaken. So i guess the question is if Mousavi is elected, will he be able to do what his supporters seem to want? Or will other forces try to stop him?

  12. 13 Tom K in Mpls
    June 11, 2009 at 16:16

    Until Iran shows one single, stable, political core, nothing really matters. Will this be it? I’m not holding my breath.

  13. 14 H J Wilson
    June 11, 2009 at 16:17

    It might be rather imperative to the people in that country, just like we in Europe would cherish to elect our own nominee, primarily unlike many other nations, as it is in fact the sole-democracy in that region in a pragmatic standpoint.
    It’s going to be interesting to see the final outcome.

  14. June 11, 2009 at 16:36

    Iran is at a critical phase: a cross-road where voters could force hard-liners to rethink and follow a softer approach. Right now Iran is on a collision course with important world powers highly suspicious of Iran on the nuclear issue as well as its designs on Israel. Until Iran comes clean, tough sanctions will continue to be applied. These sanctions will continue to bite ordinary citizens who are highly literate. If Iranians are able to vote in droves for Mr Mousavi, President Ahmedinijad’s days in power would be numbered. Western leaders would then breathe a huge sigh of relief. But in Iran the Ayatollah Ali Khameei holds the ace!

  15. June 11, 2009 at 16:36

    Ahmadinejad Bounced Back!
    TEHRAN – You may dislike his approach, his theatrics or senseless diatribes, but he has scored big with the public.
    The presidential race has become a tug-of-war between Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei and Rafsanjani, fellow cleric and politician, a contest between hardliners and Karroubi. Iran will not be the same after to-morrow, .

  16. 17 Linda in Italy
    June 11, 2009 at 16:47

    Afraid I’m no expert on exactly how power is shared in Iran, but I’d like to echo Lubna’s perceptive comment with a quote from the West: “It’s the economy stupid” Bill Clinton. Finally, after 8 years, there is a sane, intelligent man in the White House who has not been high-jacked by ideology and religious fundamentalism, and who, despite a mountain of problems at home, is trying to address external problems, the number 1 being the Middle East, given the amount the Bush mob contributed to creating many of these problems.
    I get the feeling that the younger generation in Iran, many of whom are highly educated and aware, while they do want greater cultural freedom, are sensible enough to see that this won’t happen unless the economy is fixed.
    Just as Bush broke America with his wars and sanctions, Ahmedinijad has destroyed the Iranian economy with his posturing, so maybe the voice of reason will come to the fore, and the focus will change.
    I just hope the West doesn’t come across as too partisan on the “freedom/democracy” front, opening the door to justified allegations of hypocrisy, and cause a backlash.
    Let’s leave it to the wise voters of Iran to vote for what they consider will be in their own best interests, and we may find it is in those of the rest of the world too.

  17. 18 Steve in Boston
    June 11, 2009 at 16:48

    It’s only a matter of time before Iran comes around and sees the light. Same for North Korea.

    In this age of the internet, instant communications, satellite TV and radio, it’s impossible for any country to stay isolated. People all over the world want the same thing: cool consumer goods and prosperity.

    Look what happened to the Soviet Union. Look at China. Water seeks its own level. Time moves on, one grain of sand at a time. Things change one birth a time. Before you know it, you have a whole new generation with no knowledge of events past. Just knowledge of life in the West, and why can’t they have it too?

    You want peace? You don’t have to solve all the world’s problems in one fell swoop. You just have to make it through to tomorrow.

    Nature abhors a vacuum.

  18. June 11, 2009 at 16:54

    Welcome back Lyse Doucet!
    Remember Anna Francis & Tehran Times.
    Remember Knight in the White Armour, that’s waht you called me!

  19. 20 Joseph A. Migliore
    June 11, 2009 at 17:25

    The Iranian elections on Friday, will be the most closely watched and followed election process, in any country, in the past thirty years; “will Mohmoud Ahmadinijad, and his conservative Islamist form of government prevail, and get re-elected?” “or will Mir Hossein Mousavi’s more “secular” and “liberal” government achieve majority and win the election?”

    Either way, this opens the discussion for a interesting debate: Will conservative Islam, assume the popular vote and prevail, or will the Iranian youth, and gender influence and prevail in Iran, resulting in a more Western approach?

    Joseph says: That the majority of Iran, 70% of the population is under the age of thirty, Mousavi’s more secular approach, for government and with his moderate approach in applying Sharia (Islamic law), particularly, as to how it affects Iranian women — their right to dress in a more Western-liberal fashion, are very heated political topics in Tehran right now. The women voting population may just influence and turn this election around in favor of Mousavi!

    I think that the younger generation, the Women of Iran, eventhough they remain respectful of Islamic laws, particularly with regard to women’s dress, that the women in Iran, have the power to influence and change their countries direction!

    I think that Mousavi, who is extremely popular among Iranian women and among the younger generation, just may surprise everyone and pull off an election victory! On the other hand, a good majority of Iranian women, are supportive & approve maintaining a strict Islamic dress code. They view wearing the Hijab as part of their identity, they welcome adherence to Sharia.

  20. 21 globalcomedy
    June 11, 2009 at 18:02

    Maybe the question should be this. Will the U.S. change to Iran after this election?

    In his Cairo speech, Obama talked about respecting other nations re: nuclear weapons. Yet he keeps pushing to stop Tehran from having the sovereign right to defend itself w/nuclear weapons. You can’t have it both ways.

  21. 22 deryck/trinidad
    June 11, 2009 at 18:03

    A ll men are equal and almost all politicians are the same the world over. It was pretty appalling to see Ahmadinejad continually attack his political opponents saying that they didn’t focus on the issues but on him personally. But he’s also doing the same thing, how ironic.

    Iran will change because change is inevitable. The people’ s exposure to knowledge outside of that which is fed to them will cause their eyes to be open ed. Thank god for the internet.

  22. 23 Vijay
    June 11, 2009 at 18:11

    I say that the USA and Iran should each pick their twelve best wrestlers and lets sort this out once and for all if Iran wins the duel meet they get to make their own nuclear policy,if they lose then they have to follow the IAEA norms.

  23. 24 Steve/oregon
    June 11, 2009 at 18:14

    Do the people of Iran believe that if the more moderate canidate gets elected, his stance will allow more open talks regarding isreal and the U.S. or is his moderation strictly on social issues?

  24. 25 a woman
    June 11, 2009 at 18:28

    What are the expectations of the student community from thier govenment ? which of the 2 leading candidate can fulfil it better ?

  25. 26 Mohammad
    June 11, 2009 at 18:30

    The comment made about suprem leader is not true! When Mr Khatami was in charge, the Suprem leader supported him during 8 years of his presidency.

  26. 27 steve
    June 11, 2009 at 18:34

    As a test of the veracity of Ahadmenijad, when he was in NYC at Columbia University, he was asked about homosexuals in Iran. He responded by saying “we don’t have homosexuals like you do”. Is this true about Iran?

  27. 28 brinda
    June 11, 2009 at 18:34

    What kind of freedom does the press have in Iran? Are there any restrictions or limits on reporting? How regulated is it ?

  28. June 11, 2009 at 18:37

    thanks for your grate program.
    thanks for give us that chance to have voice ture democracy.


  29. 30 Tom D Ford
    June 11, 2009 at 18:43

    Years ago I asked a friend how to say “a half wit cat” in Persian and he told me that would be “A neem kachal gorbay”, is that correct? There was a cat nearby acting weirdly.

    (I spelled it like it sounds to me).

  30. 31 Bruno
    June 11, 2009 at 18:45

    Iran is maybe not a democracy, many candidates are screened by the establishment, but the vote itself is much more democratic than the great majority of the countries of the region… including western-allied ones… like Egypt and it’s 30 years of “state of emergency” for example.

  31. 32 Tom K in Mpls
    June 11, 2009 at 18:48

    When I listen to the on air comments, my first post is justified. All the people that state that the election is truly significant go on to point out that there is a division of power between the elected and the religious. They then go on to point out it is clear and then point out that either side can override under different circumstances.

    To me it is irrelevant which group has power. What matters is that there is one responsible voice. Until this happens Iran has no hope of resolving any issue with the rest of the world. They will remain the country with the greatest unrealized potential in the world.

  32. 33 Tom D Ford
    June 11, 2009 at 18:50

    Are you tired of the economic sanctions that the West placed on Iran as revenge for throwing out the Global Oil Corporations along with throwing out the Western Puppet Shah who was installed by the Global Oil corporations?

  33. 34 steve
    June 11, 2009 at 18:52

    I don’t think secular is an absolute requirement for a successful democracy. The UK has a state religion, the head of state is the head of that religion. I wouldn’t consider that secular, but I would consider the UK to be democratic.

  34. 35 Tom D Ford
    June 11, 2009 at 18:54

    G W Bush invaded Iraq and overthrew their democracy, do you recognize that there are many forms of Democracy and they are not all good just because of the name “democracy”.

  35. 36 Konrad
    June 11, 2009 at 18:55

    In the USA, our original constitution provided that the state could never establish any religion. In Iran, the entire system is ultimately under the control of a single religious authority, represented by a single individual. Iran as now constituted can never attain a democracy akin to that in the US or in most enlightened countries. A cogent argument is easily developed that Iran will never have a true democracy as long as it has omnipotent religious oversight. How do your people in Tehran respond to those observations?

  36. 37 Payam
    June 11, 2009 at 18:55

    I am an Iranian living in Portland for three years. I just wanted to say that these two guys in Tehran, Arezoo and Arash are not honest about many issues. They are trying to give a better picture of Iran. We have homosexuality in Iran and you could be executed for being gay. The president has to be in accordance with the policies that the supreme leader sets. He has power, but his power is given to him not by people but by supreme leader.

    Iranians have this stupid idea that in any case you have to be loyal to your countries image in the world.

  37. 38 Shelly
    June 11, 2009 at 18:55

    The founding fathers of America created republic based upon the separation of church & state so that the rule of law was supreme, as opposed to an individual. How can you have democracy in Iran without a separation of church & state?

  38. 39 Irene Hoe, Singapore
    June 11, 2009 at 18:56

    Dear Ros and the whole WHYS gang,

    I love it when callers aren’t terse,
    Even if they go from bad to verse,
    But if Ahmadinejad
    Is simply a facade
    Does it mean things could be worse?

    I’m listening to the show right now. I especially enjoy it when you’re on the road and meeting people face to face.

    How about coming to Singapore?

    June 11, 2009 at 19:01

    To me its just national elections as usual though we have since changed it to look like a horse race. Will Iran change for the better? This is a relative question and unfortunately we all seem as if we are participants in this elections as we tend to be these days. I do not know whether the world will remain the same either so that I could hold the same unshifting perspective.
    It is interesting to me how the Middle East seems to be such a magnetizing region to all of us in the whole world and this is odd given the fact that this region remains a sore in our concious due to instability.

    I would like to buy a good Iranian carpet in my own city if I can afford. The rest; religion and iranian politics and government are just definitions of a people and one of these concepts will surely overcome the rest based on outcome. Currently, we do not know and they do not yet know either – but they do have their own democracy which will speek for them tomorrow

    Good luck to Iranian voters and their jockies as they conduct their experiment whose outcome lies in the future this night and not on the president or the good guy trying to shoe him out. There should be an Iran of tomorrow and its in the offing. Be patient.

  40. 41 Tan Boon Tee
    June 12, 2009 at 04:11

    If the incumbent wins the presidency, the nation could remain as problematic as it was in the past several years.

    Just hope that a reformer may grab the presidential seat so that Iran can be presented as an honest supporter for world peace.

    Be respectful to others and it would be reciprocated.

  41. 42 somayeh
    June 12, 2009 at 16:29

    I think we need great change in national and international idealogy and new political perspective if we want to be welcomed into the world of democratic governments.i believe that we should think again and revise our international policy.therefore,the change of power in iran must happen in favour of middle class people and those educated,enlightened and surely anti-fascism supporters and this will do well if high-spirited Mr.Mirhossein Mousavi win this cumbersome race from hardliner Ahmadinedjad.

  42. June 13, 2009 at 13:01

    I ask myself ” What does Zoroaster think of all this as he watches from the afterlife?”

  43. 44 Larry Koskela
    June 15, 2009 at 02:36

    Bumper sticker seen in the 70’s: IF YOU WANT RELIGION TO RUN THE GOVERNMENT, MOVE TO IRAN

    To have a religious figure as supreme authority makes a mockery of democracy. God Bless the First Amendment!

  44. July 8, 2009 at 17:57

    great article. thanks!

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