Syria and Libya: Can Iran be next?

Nir Boms & Ehud Eilam

Academic Views, May 2013

Some parallels exist between the rebels’ situation in Syria and Libya – but also a difference that create two models for an uprising. Can Iran follow one of them too?

The effect of the Arab earthquake

It began in the squares:  Tahrir, Manama, Peral, Bourguiba Avenue. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Syrians marched to the squares before picking up other means of resistance. In Libya, it started on February 15, 2011 when security forces arrested Fathi Terbil, a prominent lawyer who represented families of some of the 1,200 prisoners massacred by Libyan security forces at Abu Slim prison in 1996. His arrest triggered a wave of demonstrations that, in turn, triggered a harsh response. The regime opened fire   and the people picked up arms in self-defense, a step that led to a full mutiny. The uprising in Syria likewise began with waves of peaceful protests that were met with brutal crackdown. This, in turn, resulted into mutual violence that turned into a brutal civil war.

The rebels in Libya were determined to end the brutal rule of a theatrical dictator that acted as an African Caesar that  was in power since 1969 and responsible to a Libyan dark age. The rebels in Syria wish to get rid of their oppressing dynasty, the Assad kingdom,  that controlled them with an iron fist since 1970. This dynamic  could repeat itself in Iran after the last presidential elections in 2009 – like the current elections today –  proved that the regime was willing to accept only a candidate of  “their own”.

The central lesson learned from the Arab earthquake was about the voice of the people. “The people,” it seems, are far less willing to accept an oppressive regime and will find the first real opportunity to bring a dictator down.

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Libya’s Old Tricks

By Nick Grace and Nir Boms
Published December 16, 2005


Despite some positive steps taken by Libya in the past few years to normalize relations with Europe and the United States, the government of Col. Muammar Qaddafi has proven that it neither respects the fundamental rights of its citizens nor can be trusted to observe the norms of international law. The regime’s ruthless campaign to silence dissenting views, a campaign that until recently extended no further than Libyan borders, now targets the global telecommunications system and cannot be tolerated. 

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