Egypt uprising echoes in Iran, Yemen

The possible heirs of Egypt`s uprising took to the streets in different parts of the Middle East.

Updated: Feb 15, 2011, 09:39 AM IST

Dubai: The possible heirs of Egypt`s uprising took to the streets in different corners of the Middle East: Iran`s beleaguered opposition stormed back to central Tehran and came under a tear gas attack by police. Demonstrators faced rubber bullets and birdshot to demand more freedoms in the relative wealth of Bahrain. And protesters pressed for the ouster of the ruler in poverty-drained Yemen.

The protests — all with critical interests for Washington — offer an important lesson about how groups across Middle East are absorbing the message from Cairo and tailoring it to their own aspirations.

The heady themes of democracy, justice and empowerment remain intact as the protest wave works it way through the Arab world and beyond. What changes, however, are the objectives. The Egypt effect, it seems, is elastic.

"This isn`t a one-size-fits-all thing," said Mustafa Alani, a regional analyst at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. "Each place will interpret the fallout from Egypt in their own way and in their own context."

For the Iranian opposition — not seen on the streets in more than a year — it`s become a moment to reassert its presence after facing relentless pressures.
Tens of thousands of protesters clashed with security forces along some of Tehran`s main boulevards, which were shrouded in clouds of tear gas in scenes that recalled the chaos after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009. A pro-government news agency reported one bystander killed by gunfire.

"Death to the dictator," many yelled in reference to Ahmadinejad. Others took aim Iran`s all-powerful Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with chants linking him with toppled rulers Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Tunisia`s Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali.

"Bin Ali, Mubarak, it`s Seyed Ali`s turn," protesters cried.

The reformist website said police stationed several cars in front of the home of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi ahead of the demonstration. Mousavi and fellow opposition leader Mahdi Karroubi have been under house arrest since last week after they asked the government for permission to hold a rally in support of Egypt`s uprising — which Iran`s leaders have claimed was a modern-day replay of their 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Karroubi and Mousavi, however, have compared the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia with their own struggles. Mousavi said all region`s revolts aimed at ending the "oppression of the rulers."

Bureau Report