News / Middle East

Demand for Change in Middle East Not Lost on Opposition in Iran

Political turmoil in the Middle East sparks new demonstrations in Iran
Political turmoil in the Middle East sparks new demonstrations in Iran

Political turmoil has spread across the Middle East, forced quick ends to decades of autocratic rule in Egypt and Tunisia and sparked new demonstrations in Iran.

Anti-government protests are not new to Iran. There have been periodic demonstrations there since 2009, following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election.

But these new protests are causing Iran's leaders new problems, say analysts here in Washington: How can Iranian authorities praise protests elsewhere in the Middle East, tying them to Iran's own Islamic Revolution in 1979, and then show no mercy to opposition groups in their own country?

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently noted what she called the hypocrisy of the Iranian government.

"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, once again illustrate their true nature," said Clinton.

Jim Phillips at the Heritage Foundation says Iran's leaders seem to be in denial.

"It is an echo of what happened in 2009 when the Green Movement rose up to protest obviously stolen elections,” Phillips said. “Some of the background is similar. As in the Arab world, in Iran there is a huge baby boom, it faces a grim economic future because of high unemployment, rising food prices, housing shortages, and they also have a lack of political freedom."

Cameron Abadi at Foreign Policy magazine sees irony in Iran's reaction to the uprisings around it.

"Iran’s influence, as it currently stands, could very well increase because of these revolutions in the Arab countries,” said Abadi. “At the same time, the people of Iran themselves (are) craving change. So it requires praising what is happening in neighboring countries while suppressing what is happening in one’s own. That is a tenuous position.”

Jim Phillips says U.S. President Barack Obama should reexamine his policy on human rights violations in Iran in view of the turmoil in the Middle East.

"It is surprising that the administration would leap so quickly to support the Egyptian opposition, when it bent over backwards not to do that in Iran,” Phillips added. “To me it is a much easier call in Iran and even in Libya."

Barbara Slavin at the Atlantic Council says the opposition movement in Iran is indigenous and White House influence on it is limited. And she also believes the Iranian government might, in the short run, benefit from the turmoil in the Middle East.

“Certainly they get some benefit out of seeing characters like [Egypt’s] Mubarak and [Tunisia’s] Ben Ali fall,” said Slavin. “They can say that U.S.- backed dictatorships are falling. But where once people in those countries used to look at Iran with a certain admiration, they liked the fact that Ahmadinejad was so tough on Israel. But if more authentic and popular governments come to power in Arab countries, they are not going to need him as a hero.”

What people want across the Middle East, Slavin and the others say, is political freedom, and that may still come to Iran. But for now, any craving for reform there faces a brutal government response.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid