Will unrest in Egypt inspire another uprising in Iran?
As opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi makes a move, the Iranian regime is on alert.
Both the Iranian leadership and citizenry are watching the events in Egypt and asking themselves: Where did we fail? Why did the demonstrations that took place in Iran after the 2009 elections fail to change the regime and remove the president, as the protests in Tunisia, and possibly Egypt, have done?
Iranian bloggers are back online, proposing the resumption of the Green Movement's activities, under the direction of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. Consequently, the regime is on alert.
"If the regime in Egypt would not have cheated in the elections things, would not have come to this," Mousavi recently said, hinting at the Iranian regime.
He also noted that while the Iranian regime talks about the poverty of the Egyptian citizenry, and says Egypt's government is going down because of its links to the United States, the Iranian regime "forgets" to note that the same corruption which led to the impoverishment of the Egyptians is prevalent in Iran as well.
Returning the favor, the websites of regime supporters have gone on the offensive, calling Mousavi and his supporters "green pharaohs" and claiming the uprising in Iran was carried out by secularists, "pro-American reformists and heathens like the Baha'is," while in Egypt the main element is the Muslim Brotherhood - "and this is proof of where the region is heading."
"Mousavi is drawing a parallel between Egypt and Iran, but forgets to say that [other] regimes in Arab states are bound to the United States," according to a posting on a site affiliated with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iran's Supreme religious leader Ali Khamenei said Friday that the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries are indicative of an Islamic awakening in the entire region. Khamenei added that with the success of the uprisings in the Middle East, Washington is faced with an "irreversible defeat."
"These scenes of thugs on camels attacking peaceful demonstrators are proof of the sort of democracy the United States wants in the region. You, the Americans, have behaved with hostility toward the Iranian people for 32 years, but the Iranian people has countered all your threats," Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian parliament and a political rival of Ahmadinejad, explained this week.
If Mousavi compares the demonstrations in Arab states to the Iranian uprising following the election, the Iranian regime compares them to the 1979 Islamic Revolution and to a model introduced by Iran. In general, official Iranian media avoided commenting on the events in Tunisia; and when reports began airing, it sought to give it an Islamic hue and compare the ousted president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to the Iranian shah who was overthrown.
But the question of whether the Green Movement is capable of resuming demonstrations, resembling those in Egypt, remains unanswered. There is a substantial difference between Egypt and Iran. While the Iranian regime did not hesitate to use millions of volunteers and Revolutionary Guards to suppress the demonstrations and directly target the leadership of the uprising, the Egyptian regime has held back, shown willingness to discuss the matter, and did not unleash the military against the demonstrators.