November 4, 2012 – What is the impact of the economic sanctions on the Iranian people? How widespread is citizen discontent against the Iranian regime? Targum Shlishi is supporting an innovative project that will analyze Iranian social media to evaluate the impact of Western economic sanctions on the regime, identify signs of widespread Iranian discontent, and identify and quantify the extent of corruption by the Iranian regime. The Iran Corruption and Social Media Project will be implemented by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
The project will use military grade social media technology to comb through hundreds of thousands of social media conversations to determine whether the economic sanctions are broadening anger against the regime from a cross section of the population, ranging from middle and upper class to lower working class Iranians. The results will help FDD allies in the government both to gauge the impact of the sanctions and help them counter accusations that sanctions hurt only the average Iranian. An additional objective of the project is to identify areas that would be most vulnerable to further measures.
“Iran is an existential threat to Israel, and time is running out,” notes Aryeh Rubin, founder and director of Targum Shlishi. “While the sanctions have been a heavy blow, they are not enough. We hope this FDD project will provide valuable information about what is going on in the minds and hearts of the Iranian people and that it will also help to identify examples of regime corruption—ultimately, we hope this project will contribute to countering the threat a nuclear Iran poses to Israel. We applaud the FDD’s use of state-of-the-art technology to further the cause of democracy, of all people of goodwill, and of Israel and the Jewish people.”
FDD is the leading policy institute working on Iran sanctions. “It is FDD research and analysis that has contributed to the current sanctions, which are the most severe sanctions Iran has ever faced from the United States, Europe, Canada, and elsewhere,” says Mark Dubowitz, executive director of FDD and an Iran sanctions expert. However, Iran’s progress towards becoming a nuclear state will likely outstrip the effects of the sanctions unless additional steps are taken, according to Dubowitz.
The FDD team for the Iran Corruption and Social Media Project includes Dubowitz, FDD senior fellow Emanuele Ottolenghi, author of The Pasdaran: Inside Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (FDD, 2011), and senior fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht, a fluent Farsi speaker and former CIA covert operative who specialized in Iranian affairs. Previously, FDD has worked on Saudi and Palestinian social media projects.
About the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a non-profit, non-partisan policy institute working to defend free nations against their enemies. FDD was founded shortly after 9/11 by a group of visionary philanthropists and policymakers who understood the threat facing America, Israel and the West. FDD’s founding chairman was Jack Kemp, and its founding board members included Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. FDD’s current chairman is former CIA director R. James Woolsey. For more information on FDD, visit its website at http://www.defenddemocracy.org/.
About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’sinitiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website at www.targumshlishi.org.