Video: Egypt’s revolution inspires other protests

  1. Transcript of: Egypt’s revolution inspires other protests

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: And now to more on the power shift in Egypt . What happened there is already having an intense ripple effect on the region. Ann is here with that part of

    the story. Ann: That's right , Meredith . Over the weekend President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton worked the phones to reassure key US allies with Admiral Mike Mullen , chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , even traveling to Jordan and Israel to do that. This as the impact of the Egyptian revolution spreads. The earthquake of Egypt 's revolution from Tahrir Square , itself inspired by revolution in Tunisia , has the entire region in tremors. In Algeria , young people called on their president to resign Saturday, defying a government ban on protests. An estimated 400 people were arrested, but the opposition vowed demonstrations until it brings down the regime. In Yemen Sunday, violent clashes between riot police and anti- government protesters trying to reach the presidential palace in the capital of Sana . Yemen , the poorest country in the Arab world , has seen a sharp increase in Islamic fundamentalism and is home to one of the most potent branches of al-Qaeda . In Jordan , a key US ally, thousands again filled the streets over the weekend demanding democratic and economic reforms, though so far not the overthrow of their king. Jordan , Syria , Kuwait and Bahrain have since the unrest began all called for reforms or financial subsidies to appease their citizens. And in the Palestinian Territories Saturday, leaders suddenly set presidential and parliamentary elections by September in the West Bank and the Hamas -controlled Gaza Strip . There, spontaneous celebrations erupted immediately after Egypt 's revolution and reached all the way down to the southern edge of the Arab world to the capital of Sudan . No signs, but no guarantees the ripple effect won't reach even Saudi Arabia , another key US ally, sitting on 25 percent of the world's oil reserves and where a quarter of the country's youth is unemployed. And on the Internet , a main tool of Egypt 's revolution, Twitter hash tags have called protesters to gather in Iran despite a government ban, and also in Bahrain where already injuries are being reported today. On February 17th in Libya where Moammar Gadhafi is leader, February 19th again in Algeria , February 20th in Morocco and March 8th in Kuwait . Whether any other country's leadership will seriously face the same kind of threat as we saw in Egypt and Tunisia , we have no way of knowing. But what we do know is the push for democracy is now ignited and what has seemed impossible may now be just a matter of time , Meredith .

    ANN CURRY, anchor:

Image: Iranian President Ahmadinejad holds a placard as he takes part in a rally to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran
Reuters
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds a placard as he takes part in a rally to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran on Friday. Note: The photographer was subject to Iranian government restrictions.
Image: Miranda Leitsinger
By Reporter
msnbc.com
updated 2/14/2011 8:08:51 AM ET 2011-02-14T13:08:51

Both sides in Iran are claiming the cause of the Egypt protests as their own: The opposition “Green Movement” heralds the protesters' push for democracy, while the Iranian government says their demonstrations follow in the footsteps of the 1979 revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed shah and put the Shiite Muslim clergy in power.

“Victory is imminent ... arrogant powers are close to hitting the end ... Our nation supports your choice," Reuters quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as telling a crowd of thousands gathered in Tehran on Friday to mark the 32nd anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

Analysts say it’s not clear what impact the protests in Egypt and the downfall of that country’s president will have on the opposition Green Movement in Iran, but Tehran appears to be taking notice of the upheaval.

Story: 1 dead in Iranian protests

“It is interesting to see the nervousness of the Iranian government currently,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, referring to recent reports of a crackdown on opposition figures. “They don’t want to go back into the situation in which they once again would face a lot of popular discontent and uprising amongst the people. That has come about because of the stuff in Tunisia and Egypt.”

That nervousness, he added, has made them try “to frame this as being in some strange way in support of the regime, which clearly does not seem to be the case.”

Mohsen Milani, chair of the Department of Government and International Affairs at the University of South Florida, made a similar point.

Video: Egypt’s revolution inspires other protests (on this page)

“The Islamic Republic is going to say it is not accidental that the day that Iran celebrates its revolution our Egyptian brethren are celebrating their own revolution,” he said. “They are going to try to connect this to some kind of divine plan, which is absolute nonsense.”

Mass opposition protests, known as the “Green Movement,” erupted in Iran after the disputed presidential election in 2009.

The protests ended in December of that year, after escalating violence and a government crackdown on the opposition. But the leaders remain vocal and had earlier this week requested permission to hold a solidarity rally with the Egyptian demonstrators on Monday – despite authorities’ warnings not to do so.

The government apparently responded with a pre-emptive strike. Opposition websites said one leader, Mehdi Karroubi, had been placed under house arrest and at least eight moderate activists and journalists had been detained since Wednesday, Reuters reported.

But Parsi noted that after the change in Egypt, “There seems to be a certain willingness (among the protest leaders) to take another risk to go out once again.”

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“They are operating on a very interesting and very clever headline, which essentially is that because the Iran government itself says that they support the protests in Egypt … why wouldn’t then people be able to go out and protest in favor of the Egyptians?” he said.

Online voices also encouraged the Iranian opposition to follow in Egyptians’ footsteps.

On Twitter, deltforce1 wrote after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s sudden departure on Friday: “Is #Iran next? Let #Egypt be an inspiration for #Iranian freedom fighters.”

But Tehran is not likely to allow the protest to take place, said Daniel Brumberg, co-director of the Democracy and Governance Studies program at Georgetown University.

“They won’t be able to act very easily on that inspiration for now,” he said.  “While they (Tehran) proclaim their support for what has happened in Egypt, they are probably studying the Egyptian example to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen in Iran.”

The Iranian government response to any opposition moves will likely be further repression, said Milani, and it may be a while before a renewed "Green Movement” can translate new energy into political action.

“This is just the beginning of this earthquake that is going to shake the region,” he said. “But at the same time, I really think this is going to energize the Iranian youth. In the long run … I think this is going to be good for the Green Movement.”

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