Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Iran Model: No Sale for Egypt

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really is a lousy salesman.

Even given a golden opportunity to humiliate the chorus of high-minded scholars who warn Egypt will become the next Iran if its pro-democracy movement is hijacked by Islamic extremists, Ahmadinejad whiffed.

A few days ago Ahmadinejad hailed the Egyptian revolution as a victory for the people of the Middle East. Today Iranian secret police are tracking down peace protesters, just as Hosni Mubarak's regime did in the early days of the January 25 pro-democracy movement.

The irony was not lost on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who called the current street protests in Tehran "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, once again illustrate their true nature," Clinton observed.

Think about the absurd juxtaposition: As triumphant Egyptian pro-democracy demonstrators return to their every day lives from their made-for-tv revolution, the few images they see aired on AlJazeera tell a story of repression and hypocrisy in Iran.

This is the Iranian model everyone is so afraid of?

The action taken against Iranian street demonstrators by the government in Tehran is exactly the kind of tyrannical behavior the Tahrir Square protesters were fed up with. It is not surprising Washington wants the smartest minds in all quarters of Egyptian life to be reminded the Iranian model has never been a viable option for post-Mubarak Egypt.

"We have sent a strong message to our allies in the region, saying let’s look at Egypt’s example as opposed to Iran’s example. I find it ironic that you’ve got the Iranian regime pretending to celebrate what happened in Egypt when, in fact, they have acted in direct contrast to what happened in Egypt by gunning down and beating people who were trying to express themselves peacefully in Iran," President Obama told reporters Tuesday.

"Real change in these societies is not going to happen because of terrorism; it’s not going to happen because you go around killing innocents -- it’s going to happen because people come together and apply moral force to a situation. That’s what garners international support. That’s what garners internal support. That’s how you bring about lasting change," Obama added.

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