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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid