U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that Tehran's crackdown on demonstrators, after it had praised the popular uprising in Egypt, shows the "hypocrisy" of the Iranian government. Clinton said steps by the Egyptian military thus far to manage a democratic transition are reassuring.
U.S. officials have made no secret of their irritation over the Iranian government’s suppression of dissent, while claiming credit for popular foment in Egypt and elsewhere in the region.
Clinton’s comments after a meeting at the U.S. Capitol with House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner were the most pointed so far.
Emerging after a budget discussion with the new House leader, Clinton said the United States "clearly and directly" supports the aspirations of the protesters in Iran, who were violently dispersed on Monday by security forces in Tehran.
She said the United States stood for political change in Egypt and wants the same for Iran. Clinton stressed the irony of the Iranian government’s crackdown at home, while paying lip service to the rights of protestors elsewhere.
"What we see happening in Iran today is a testament to the courage of the Iranian people and an indictment of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime - a regime, which over the last three weeks has constantly hailed what went on in Egypt. And now, when given the opportunity to afford their people the same rights as they called for on behalf of the Egyptian people, [Iran's leaders] once again illustrate their true nature," she said.
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley later expressed deep concern about reported casualties in the Tehran crackdown and said Clinton’s critical depiction of the Iranian government response was "well earned."
"Security forces are arresting, beating and using tear gas against protesters as well as blocking them from using public transportation, cell phones and other means of communication. Iran reportedly continues to jam news coverage in the country. Both major opposition leaders remain under house arrest, and this is in conjunction with a wave of other arrests of opposition figures," he said.
In her comments on Capitol Hill and later in interviews with Arabic satellite television channels, Clinton expressed satisfaction with the role of the Egyptian military, which has been given responsibility for managing the country's transition to democracy after the departure of former President Hosni Mubarak.
She said the Egyptian military has shown a "seriousness of purpose" and that steps taken thus far have been reassuring. But she told the U.S.-funded Arabic TV channel Alhurra there is a long way to go and that the United States will monitor Egyptian developements closely.
"Certainly, our hope is that everything which has been promised - the end of the emergency law, movement towards constitutional reform, political parties being allowed - all of the pieces that constitute a real transition to democracy will be implemented. And we’re going to continue to stand for that," she said.
Clinton told Alhurra that she thinks moves toward reform and eventual democracy are within the reach of all countries in the region with authoritarian governments. She said it has been frustrating to see friendly Middle East countries unable to "make the most of out of their circumstances."