Reaching Millions of Television Viewers in Iran Each Week

Washington, DC--November 13, 2006... Major stories this week include the Congressional mid-term elections, the turnover of majority control to the Democrats, the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and how the new congressional majority will impact U.S. policy towards Iran.

Congressional Elections
VOA devoted extensive coverage to explaining the significance of the mid-term elections, the election process and the stakes involved. Many of the key Senate and House races were profiled. VOA sent correspondents to Capitol Hill and various polling places around the region to gauge voter turnout and sentiment. Roundtable interviewed student leader Ali Afshari who discussed the difference between Iran’s political system and America’s. Correspondent Hamideh Aramideh interviewed two Iranian American voters in Virginia. A Republican voter told VOA “I am voting to express my support for American efforts in Iraq” and that withdrawing American troops would be a victory for the “Mullahs in Tehran” and would promote instability in the region while a Democrat voter said his vote signified a “rejection of the U.S. intervention in Iraq.”

Late Edition profiled an Iranian-American running for mayor of Imperial Beach, CA. VOA followed him on Election Day as he voted. VOA spoke with three young Iranian-Americans on the eve of the election at a Los Angeles coffeehouse and discussed their thoughts on major issues and why they were voting and why many young people are apathetic.

President Bush reaches out to Democrats
On Friday (11/10) VOA reported on President Bush’s lunch with Democratic leaders. He said the elections are behind us "but the challenges still remain and therefore we're going to work together to address those challenges in a constructive way."

VOA’s reporting stressed Representative Pelosi and the President extending the hand of friendship and partnership to one another in order to solve the problems of the country. Representative Pelosi said she looks forward to working with the President in a confidence-building way "recognizing that we have our differences and we will debate them." President Bush said he has "instructed my Cabinet to provide whatever briefings and information they need to be able to do their jobs".

Impact of a Democrat Majority
The Middle East Institute and Israel Policy Forum held a post election policy discussion on how the outcome would affect U.S. policy towards the Middle East and Iran. VOA covered the event for Late Edition. Panelist Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise Institute spoke with VOA and suggested a more aggressive stand towards Iran, including the possibility of military action, while Mara Rudman, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress told VOA a more moderate stance in which the U.S. would lead a regional coalition to restrain Iran’s ambitions.

VOA profiled Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi and reported extensively on the significance of Congress’ first female Speaker.

On News Talk, Shayan Samii, chairman of the Iranian-American Republican Council, suggested the Democrats won Congress for three reasons: dissatisfaction with domestic issues, more so than Iraq, corruption of some members of Congress, and the desire for moderate change. Former C-Span producer and current editor of Washington Prism, Babak Yektafar suggested that the economy, terrorism and corruption were more determinant factors in the election than Iraq. Student activist and former Iranian political prisons Amir Abbas Fakhravar compared Election Day in the U.S. with that in Iran. “Election Day in Iran is a day of mourning because it is controlled by the government and everything is controlled by the Supreme Leader. People know their votes are not effective.”

VOA correspondent Siamak Denhgan Pour attended the Democratic victory party on Tuesday, November 7th and interviewed several Members of Congress including Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, who said, "Democrats would pursue two things. First, change the course in Iraq. When the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Study group give their recommendation to president Bush, the President will notice that this is not just the Democratic position…Second we will try to reduce our dependency on foreign oil by supporting research and development on other fuel."

Dr. James Thurber, head of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University discussed with VOA the incoming chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Rep. Tom Lantos. "He is pretty much like the current chairman, Representative Henry Hyde. Representative Lantos is pro-Israel, pro human rights and at the same time very internationalist. He avoids doing things unilaterally and in this context he has different approach than President Bush.” Thurber added that while Lantos shares the same position with President Bush on Iran’s nuclear program, he might favor a different approach on how to handle it.

Pollster John Zogby told VOA that the Democratic emphasis will be on capturing the White House in ’08 and as a result “will lean toward center and try to avoid a partisan approach."

President Bush’s East Room Post Election Press Conference
VOA Persian aired President Bush’s Wednesday (11/8) press conference live from beginning to end with live simultaneous translation.

Resignation of Rumsfeld and Its Significance for U.S. Foreign Policy
At 12:53 pm the Associated Press announced the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. By 12:56 Roundtable announced the news on air and solicited comment from our guests.

PJ Crowley, Special Assistant to the President Clinton for National Security Affairs and Director of National Defense and Homeland Security at the Center for American Progress told VOA that Rumsfeld’s resignation “creates an opportunity for a fresh look and some alternatives but it won't guarantee a dramatic shift because the US has a long term commitment in Iraq. Bringing Robert Gates to the administration in line with other pragmatists like Secretary of State and National Security adviser gives them common cause for change." On policy towards Iran Crowley added Gates “wants to engage Iran in efforts to bring stability to Iraq."

International Reach
Recent viewer calls were received from across Iran, London, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Africa, New Zealand and Alaska.