Anti-government protesters inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia clashed with police in the Iranian capital on Monday, braving tear gas and shouting "We are all together," "Down with Taliban, in Cairo and Tehran," and other slogans. The crowds, estimated in the thousands, were the largest in Iran since a crackdown by security forces ended a series of large demonstrations in 2009. Is this just a brief inconvenience for the ruling mullahs, or could their control be threatened by the revolutionary fever sweeping across the Middle East?
Iran could be the next government to fall: Iran's Islamist leaders are putting on a happy face of sorts, says Barbara Slavin in AOL News, by hailing the Arab revolts as a "victory for an anti-Western alliance." But deep down, even "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei must know that the change "sweeping the Arab world" is fueled by a "desire for freedom and political participation" — not hatred of the U.S. And the "people-power movement" won't stop at Iran's border. "Next stop," Tehran.
"After Egypt, is Iran next?"
Egypt's turmoil might benefit Tehran: Iran is indeed on edge — its "Green Movement" was one of the things that "inspired protests across the Arab world," say the editors of The Economist. But Tehran "bloodily crushed" its protests, and Khamenei is surely revelling in the downfall of Hosni Mubarak, who nurtured what one U.S. diplomat called a "visceral hatred" for the Islamic republic in Iran. An alliance with Egypt's new leaders, who will be more friendly to Islamists than Mubarak was, could help the mullahs gain strength from the Arab revolts.
"Opportunity and envy"
Endorsing Egypt's uprising could backfire on Iran: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may regret publicly endorsing the Egyptian protests, says Iran analyst Menashe Amir, as quoted in The Jerusalem Post. In the short term, maybe doing so let him tweak old enemies, but it was a gambit that could blow up in his face. After all, how can Ahmadinejad "say 'yes' to the rights of the Arab peoples, but deny those same rights to his own people?"
"This may be the first spark of revolution in Iran"