by Nir Boms and Shayan Arya
July 30, 2013 at 3:00 am
The Gatestone Institute
Rouhani’s campaign symbol was a giant golden key, which he waved at rallies to symbolize his ability to open locked doors. To an Iranian electorate all too familiar with locked doors in every aspect of their lives — both domestic and international — even the remote possibility of things getting better was irresistible. But now that Rouhani has been elected, he may find it difficult to deliver on his promise.
Last week, more than 250 Iranian steel workers gathered in front of the Supreme Leader’s residence in protest against unjustified layoffs and unpaid salaries. They were not the only ones. Reports from the past week revealed a dozen other such protests and strikes that range from a tire company, cable workers, the cinema association and even employees of Iran’s Ministry of Youth Affairs.
Protests and demonstrations are not that common in Iran; their last wave was met with harsh repression and violence. Now they have spread again and become more brazen. Signs again read “Down with the dictator,” while police used tear gas in an attempt to scare protesters away.
A combination of international sanctions and domestic mismanagement has resulted in rapidly rising unemployment and restive unemployed youth. The worsening economic conditions were also a key driver for the vote for change which took place in Tehran during the last Presidential election. But change is still a long way off. View full post…
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, el principal activista demócrata de Egipto, tiene colgadas dos fotografías en su modesta oficina del Centro Ibn Jaldoun de Estudios de Desarrollo en El Cairo. Una le muestra con el vicepresidente Dick Cheney en la Casa Blanca; la otra es un retrato del líder de Hezbolá, el jeque Hassán Nasrala. Esta yuxtaposición recoge reveladoramente parte del estado mental de la oposición pro-democracia de Egipto: insegura y sin ningún sitio concreto al que recurrir.
Tres fuerzas modelan a la opinión pública de este país, de más de 70 millones de individuos: el Partido Democrático Nacional en el poder, encabezado por Hosni Mubarak; los islamistas, que han incrementado su porcentaje de escaños parlamentarios desde el 2% en 1984 hasta casi el 20% hoy; y los demócratas, desbordados con creces tanto por los autócratas como por los teócratas.
La primera de estas fuerzas es también la más poderosa y la más terca. En su discurso del pasado noviembre en la sesión de apertura del parlamento de Egipto, Mubarak, que lleva siendo presidente desde 1981, manifestó permanecer en la presidencia mientras su corazón continúe latiendo. También ha tomado medidas para garantizar la sucesión a su hijo, Jamal, una maniobra que probablemente será presentada como encaminada a garantizar “la estabilidad” de Egipto. Mubarak encarcela de manera rutinaria a los que le desafían, hombres como Aymán Nour, candidato predilecto en las elecciones presidenciales del 2005 (con el 7% de los votos), Talaat el-Sadat, un miembro del parlamento y sobrino de Anwar Sadat que había criticado al ejército egipcio, e Ibrahim, encarcelado en el 2000 junto con miembros de su personal y absuelto tres años después.
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By Nir Boms & Elliot Chodoff
The demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt caught most of us by surprise. Revolutions often do. Sir Anthony Parsons, the British ambassador in Tehran, declared in 1978 that “there has been little or no evidence of unrest among the urban poor.” Shortly after, Iranians poured into the streets and deposed the Shah.
A decade later, the U.S. was shocked by the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union, another revolution from within. In October 2000, several hundred thousand people protested against Slobodan Milosevic, who was arrested by Serbian police six months later and eventually prosecuted for war crimes. In 2003, Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze attempted to steal an election, and the people prevented him from opening a new session of parliament in what came to be known as the Rose Revolution. The Ukrainian Orange Revolution followed a year later, with half a million people marching to protest election fraud, corruption, and repression.
But not all marches end successfully. In 1989, the People’s Republic of China had little tolerance for the 100,000 demonstrators gathered in Tiananmen Square following the funeral of Hu Yaobang, a popular Communist leader who believed in political and economic reforms. Lebanon is still held hostage despite its million-man freedom march in 2005. Iran has learned its lesson: Repeated attempts at revolution — including that of the students in 1999 and the Green Movement of 2009 — have been crushed with high casualties. In Egypt, Syria, Libya, and even Morocco, popular protests have been quickly crushed.
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Cairo has had an unusual response to efforts to mend Muslim-Copt relations.
In Cairo, crowds filled the streets for the third time two weeks ago to mark Egypt’s unprecedented three consecutive victories in the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament. Soccer is big in Egypt and proud Egyptians know how to party.
But not all Egyptians celebrated in the streets. One activist here told me that he doesn’t like soccer. He has nothing against the game itself, but he believes it distracts people from many other important issues. A convenient opium for the masses, he noted. But others stayed at home because their wounds are still too fresh. View full post…