Quick glance at protest sweep in Middle East and North Africa.


Quick glance at protest sweep in Middle East and North Africa.
by Ari Siletz


Hundreds of thousands gathered to celebrate the fall of Mobarak. The Egyptians are asking the military to dismantle the Mobarak apparatus, which still has a dominating presence among the power elite of the country. Military says wait until this can be done safely.


President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been in power for 32 years. Time to go, say the demonstrators. A hand grenade was thrown into the protesting crowd; police and government property has been set on fire.  Saleh says he won’t run for re-election and neither will his son. No dice, say the people.


70% Shiite, 30% Sunni yet royalty is Sunni and the Shiites have little access to high government or military positions. Poverty among Shiites is high. Soldiers have opened fire on the protesters, but seem to be losing ground.


Protesters are demanding King Abdullah II become a constitutional monarch with the prime minister elected by the people. Parliament is already an elected body but the king has the authority to dismiss it. Inflation and unemployment are exacerbating the unrest.


30% of the population is in poverty, despite oil income. Demonstrators demand Gahdafi’s resignation. Several have been killed. The protesters have damaged government and military structures. Ghadafi has been in power for forty years. He is scrambling to initiate reform and compromise with tribal leaders.

Saudi Arabia:

The Umma Islamic party says enough one family rule. They are asking for reform, particularly regarding absence of people’s political power and the status of women. Leaders have been arrested.



Hasn’t quite boiled over yet, but bubbles of protest have formed. Thirty thousand police and military and the shutting down of railways have so far held massive demonstrations in check. Last month there were food riots where three were killed. A full-blown uprising may have impact on French politics as 3-5 million of Maghreb descent living in France.


Bracing for tomorrow’s peaceful youth protest. They are demanding a constitutional monarchy like UK and Spain. Protesters (apparently a coalition of Left, Islam and nationalist Berbres) say they will stay peaceful as long as state does not use force. Pro-monarchy marches are also planned in support of the ruling government.


Ben Ali was ousted, but sporadic protests still continue against the interim caretaker government.  Power vacuum is strongly felt as mass migration to Italy and other parts of Europe has begun.


Where? East Afrcia (From Yemen cross the Gulf of Aden, mostagheem, can't miss it. It's the tiny country with the 50% unemployment rate). Demonstrators want to oust President Ismail Omar Guelleh (pictured above). He changed the constitution last year so he could have more than two terms in office. Djibouti has the only US military base in Africa, some French military bases and at least one Persian carpet.

Iraqi Kordestan:

Student protesters throwing rocks and shouting, “Down with Massoud Barzani.” The protest follows state violence and arrests against previous protesters.

Iraq (Baghadad):
Protests asking for money for orphans and widows.


Well, there are a lot of differences between Iran and every other country in the world that is different from other countries. For one thing…



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Joe L.

Iranians shouldn't revolt

by Joe L. on

In my trips to iran I have seen far more political freedom than israel. democracy doesn't belong to anyone and it's earned. i know iranians are far more intelligent and smart than we like to give them credit. i am waiting for the chance to visit iran again soon, you should too before making a judgment about it. i am proud of iran. the thing to me is that i don't know of any governments that treats its citizens nicely who want to overthrow. if mosavi established a political party at the time instead of revolt we would see a better iranian system today. he could have done it but didn't. to me it's simple. if democratic party didn't accept bush's presidency the police and military would have come to react. democrats would have been in guantanamo by now. mosavi made a mistake not to obey the law.



by MM on

* The IRI acts more like cultist thugs as opposed to just thugs elsewhere.  This is why it is important not to let another cultist system to take their place.

* The IRI elite have a lot more blood at hand, therefore more desperate to hang on because they know that once off of their power base, there is no place to hide from the Iranian justice system as well as the international court in the Hague.

* But I have agree that folks in Iran have had a lot more time at hand thinking about different aut-the-dem-ocracies.  For example, Egyptians took aut- out of ***ocracy, they have a choice between the-ocracy and dem-ocracy, but the choice for Iran is very clear: DEM-OCRACY.


I argue that opposition in Iran is in a much better shape than

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

Say Libya or Bahrain or Yeman where scores of protesters were killed by government last week alone.

In Iran, we had two massive sets of  demos last week alone, with only  two confirmed and one yet to be confirmed (yesterday) death. The Green opposition has sprung back to life after nearly two years of suppression by the regime with amazing bang! Sure, the islamist regime is as sneaky and brutal as it can get. They have been trained by KGB and MI6 on counter revolutionary techniques. They gained power through a revolutionary process themselves. But they are running out of options against the opposition and clearly confused. I also think that the regime, by Isolating Mousavi/Karoubi from the movement has done the greatest service to the opposition!

The Challenge now in front of the Green movement is to really hit the regime where it hurts, by calling general strikes, campaigns of civil disobedience and most importantly, absorb the working class poor which will be hit very hard over the months to come due to economic problems, into it's ranks.

Make no mistakes, the islamist regime will not go peacefully. It will be a bloody affair and for that the Green movement needs tough, hard, foot soldiers from the ranks of working classes.

My two cents. 

"The People, United, Will never be defeated."


EA: Agreed. I don't believe

by vildemose on

EA: Agreed. I don't believe that people are happy living on welfare checks anywhere in the world. They are hopless and don't see a bright future ahead. Most become addicts or mentally ill and a liability to the society.

Esfand Aashena

JD and Bavafa jaans u can't eat subsidies day in and day out!

by Esfand Aashena on

Over the weekend there was an interview by Fareek Zakaria and Karim Sadjadpour and Hooman Majd.  I wrote a blog about it here.

I think economic hardship is the #1 reason people come to the streets and then you top it off with social repression.  It's a lose lose situation!

Everything is sacred


If you want Arabs to

by vildemose on

If you want Arabs to revolt, keep them hungry.

If you want Iranians to revolt, feed them.

Does anyone recall this saying?? I forgot the exact wordings??

Jeesh Daram


by Jeesh Daram on

I think if you read my comment I am saying the same. In the Arab ountries aspiration for freedom is far on the lower scale than their need for basic necessities of life.  A true revolution can not be limited to just the youth, it has be to be in much greater scale, or else it is not genuine.  With all that went on in 1979 we saw that the whole thing was rigged.  Iranian regime can always survive by giving more concessions and gradual compromises.  To give you a simple and very unfortunate scenario. Think of a remote but very possible chance that Khamenei decides to remove Ahmadinejad and expedite the next election and this time rig it by installing Mousave or Karoubi. From that point on killing and arresting any demonstrator will be the law of land. There are so many ways to skin a cat.  


JD: I believe Iranian youth R more hungry for freedom then food

by Bavafa on

And as the young population are the core part of this upraising and far greater number, then the hopes are they will raise in a greater numbers inspired by other young folks in Egypt and now Bahrain.

I believe and hope this is the beginning of an end for IRI.


Jeesh Daram

oil, gas and subsidies

by Jeesh Daram on

Iran has about 140 billion barrels of crude oil reserve, is number one/two of natural gas reserve and has about $40 billion dollars of non oil exports annually. After all the corruptions, theft and embezzlement by the regime elements and their families, there is plenty left to transfer to people in form of subsidies. 75% of Iranians live on handouts. Handouts in form of salary and wages for no real work performed and no production, and also in form of coupons and other non productive reimbursements. People are not hungry, they are oppressed. So far in all those Arab countries in addition to oppression, people are also despearte for food and very basic necessities of life. That is why in Iran people always have to flip a coin to choose between losing all their handouts from the regime if they are named as participants in demonstrations or to just stay silent and survive.  Iranians are conditioned to stay intimidated and survive with less and less during the past 31 years.  Change will come in the msot unexpected way and not by the means we have been seening so far.  I think there are things brewing for Iran beyond our knowledge and we will be surprised when it happens. Stay tuned.

Many of the same people that chant slogans on top of their roof at night, turn around and attend Friday prayers, just to be seen as loyal to the regime for the fear of a cut in handouts.One of the prime example of subsidies and handouts is the military in Iran. Being called the 9th largest military is not because of its strength, instead it has the largest number of unproductive mouths to feed. The huge number of people on subsidies are represented as supporters of the regime by sheer forces of silence. That is for the time being.


Dear Ari

by All-Iranians on


1. Iran is different because:
2. US and Iran Showdown not backed by Pakistan and Other Neighbors:
3. Kissinger: Obama is handling the situation in Iran well:

Sanaz Raji


by Sanaz Raji on

I agree, Iran is definitely a different can of worms. I find it frustrating when colleagues and friends write on my FB wall why isn't IRI regime falling like the rest of the corrupt Arab regimes? I refer them back to this piece on OpenDemocracy where Saeed Rahnema writes:

"After over thirty years of suffering under a brutal Islamist regime in Iran, Iranian women, youth, workers and intellectuals revolted again in 2009. Many have compared the revolts in Egypt to the Iranian revolt of 2009 against Ahmadinejad’s electoral coup, and hope for similar results.  However, the situation in Iran at present is very different. The Egyptian regime was headed by a single dictator and that dictator was in turn dependent on a foreign power. The clerical/military oligarchy in Iran, with its intricate network of religious, repressive and economic institutions and multiple military and intelligence systems, is highly complex and also independent from any foreign power. It is a fascist-type system that still has millions on the payroll of the state and para-statal organizations, including religious foundations. It has also shown on numerous occasions that it does not hesitate to use extreme brutality against its opposition. In the long run, its fate will not be different from those of other dictatorships and authoritarian regimes in the Middle East or elsewhere, but the Iranian people unfortunately have a much more difficult fight ahead of them."


However, as much as I think that a civil war might eventually happen, I hope that it doesn't. 

Azadeh Azad

Iran is always different

by Azadeh Azad on

and more complex than any other country in the region. I think there will be a long and bloody showdown between the Ummatists-Basijis and the ordinary Iranian people. A civil war!