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Is Egypt the next Iran?

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Egypt-IranBy Teymoor Nabili

Certainly Iran's hardline clerics seem convinced that the founding principles of their country's government will replicate themselves in Egypt; no doubt, also, that there are western politicians for whom the name Muslim Brotherhood conjures up all manner of nightmares and deja-vu.

But Geneive Abdo at Inside Iran argues persuasively that the analogy does not hold.

Despite the fact that Iran's revolution also began with a broad coalition of discontents, not muslim hardliners alone, she says:

[...] the driving forces of the revolution were Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who was clearly the charismatic figure leading the way, and his cadre of clerics, some of whom are still the pillars of the regime today in Iran. There are no clerics or even leaders within the Brotherhood positioning themselves as stand-ins for Mubarak.

That sounds about right - up to a point.

Certainly the voices of Iran's middle classes and bazaaris, and of the leftist students who played such a large part in toppling the Shah, did retreat into the background as the Ayatollahs cemented their grip, and certainly no real leader has emerged from the ranks of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, despite the opportunity. 

However, these are early days, so it may be worth finessing the analogy a little, if only as an  exercise in future-proofing.

It could be that, for Iran and others in the region, a full blown replica of Iran's revolution is not necessary for now, and they're quite happy believing that the priorities of The American Century are being so widely challenged and, in many ways, rejected.

As Ayatollah Khatami very carefully articulated, his vision is not specifically of an Islamic Republic of Egypt but "a new Middle East, based on Islamic principles."

Teymoor Nabili is an award-winning presenter and correspondent based in Doha.


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