17 June 2009

Meanwhile in the Arab world

Associated Press carries this interesting item about the relative silence in the Arab world about events in Tehran. But maybe, just maybe, there is a possibility that events in Iran may inspire reformists in the Arab world.

Despite the silence of key Arab nations, there are signs the young and reform-minded have been inspired by the mass protests that followed the disputed election. "It makes me feel so jealous," said Abdelmonem Ibrahim, a young pro-reform Brotherhood activist in Egypt....We are amazed at the organization and the speed with which the (Iranian) movement has been functioning. In Egypt, you can count the number of activists on your hand," Ibrahim told the Associated Press.

One Egyptian blogger, who writes anonymously under the user name "Louza," posted a picture of a demonstration in Tehran, adding, "Sigh, will the Arab world follow?"

"Even though they are run by an authoritarian regime, (Iran) still allows for a good amount of liberalism and freedom," said Gamal Fahmy, a prominent Egyptian secular reform activist. In contrast, he said, activism in Egypt has been "put in a freezer" because "the regime doesn't allow for the space to express any sort of opposition."
"I think the new generation of activists will definitely be inspired by what they see on the Iranian street. What's happening in Iran isn't happening on Mars," he told AP. "So Egyptian activists will feel they can replicate it in their own country."

Still, there has not been as much wall-to-wall coverage of the Iranian uproar in Arab media or Arab activists' blogs as there has been in the West — for a number of reasons. Some are not convinced by claims of fraud in the election results showing a victory for hard-line incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is popular among some in the Arab world for his tough stance against the United States and Israel. Even among Arab critics of Ahmadinejad, some don't believe his rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, is a true reformer and they note that Iran's unelected supreme leader holds the real power.

Meanwhile, Arab governments — even ones that are fiercely critical of Iranian influence in the region — have remained silent, apparently afraid of angering the powerful Persian nation.

Iran’s — mainly Sunni countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt — are deeply worried that Iran is seeking to fuel Islamic radicalism, empower Shiite minorities in the Arab world and establish itself as a regional superpower by getting involved in crises they believe are none of its business, such as the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and inter-Palestinian fighting.

Jordanian political analyst Labib Kamhawi said Arabs want "somebody else to fight their battles on their behalf "So nobody expressed any position on the Iranian elections because they think that the Americans and the Europeans will do it for them," he said. "This is a very negative approach, especially with regional political issues."

Gulf nations — always worried about the biggest military power in the vital area — may be happy to see Iran tied up in its domestic affairs. "This is not bad because it weakens the rigid Iranian approach to the countries around the region," Saudi analyst Dawood al-Shirian said. Still, Gulf states do not want to see a violent power struggle in Iran for "fear of the unrest spilling over," said Mustafa Alani, a security analyst at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center.


Nevin said...

I do hope just like you, the protests in Iran can spark the Arab world into thinking their obsessive situations is not working for them any longer either. Can you imagine what would happen if similar protests took place in Saudi Arabia???

Of course the situation in Iran is a little different then other parts of the Arab world. Arab regimes are working hand in hand with the US in order to stay in power. However, in Iran it is an independent theocratical system that rejects the West but is equally oppressive towards it's people....

How women suffer in Iran is so sad to watch!

beakerkin said...


Protests work in places where the government respects life or the military refuses to act against the people.

In this case most Arab governments have extra layers of security.

jams o donnell said...

I hope it does lead to something in arab states. Sadly I won't hold my breath.

They do suffer indeed Nevin

Beak or when the government relaxes its boot on the neck of the people. I can't see change in Egypt or toher states for a while,

beakerkin said...


There is no respect for human life and little hope for peaceful change.

jams o donnell said...

One ca still hope, even if it is a hope against hope!