Iran and Egypt: Comparing Their Revolt
Before you think that similarities between the Iranian and Egyptian revolts do not exist, one must know the back story of the Iranian revolt in 1979, which has been all but lost. You will then see the similarities of the situation but also the consequences of US policy.
Like Mubarak, the Shah of Iran had ignored the aspirations of freedom and democracy that its populace longed for. The US policy, under President Jimmy Carter, was that the US would tolerate it because of the need for Iran's oil and weapon sales. The policy of the US with Mubarak is exactly the same as it has been for 30 years. Tolerate the regime because of their position in the Middle East, its peace agreement with Israel, the Suez canal used to move over 2 million barrels of oil daily and more.
The Iranians began their democratic demonstrations in the fall of 1978. Then, President Carter, privately and publicly voiced US concerns about the regime and advocated it to take democratic concessions that its people demanded. The US policy with Mubarak is deja vu and all US administrations since then have privately talked to Mubarak about it. He refused. The Shah refused. Like the Egyptians, Iranian protesters comprised of a variety of right and leftists and extremists rooted in Islam, they all wanted one thing at that time: the Shah gone. The Egyptian situation is identical except for Mubarak.
Iran's military in 1979 was the world's sixth largest, over 800,000. It was thought to be loyal to the Shah. As the riots and population flooded the streets demanding freedoms, it only wanted assurances from the US that if Iran's military forces took control would the US military prevent the Russians from invading Iran, which was a real fear at the time since they were in Afghanistan. Carter had no intention of using any military force and sent General Huyser, then Commander of US Forces Europe. On January 8th, 1979, Huyser met with Iran's military leaders and convery Carter's message urging more democratic reform quickly. That was it. To Iran's generals, many trained in the US, it was a message of abandonment. The message was read in a bad way since Huyser did not even mention what the Iranians wanted to know. After Huyser left, the Iranian military decided to join forces with the Ayatollah Khomeni, an old man returning from France after being exiled.
The Shah fled Iran on Jan. 16th, fleeing to Eqypt, where he was welcomed as a Head of State by his friends, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarack.
On Feb. 1st, the Iranian military decided to support the revolution by agreeing not to leave their military bases in face of the chaos and allow the Khomeni extremists to handle it as they wished. In Egypt, their military has promised not to use force on the protesters, which in effect, promotes the revolution since only the military could crush it. They might as well stay in their bases also.
The Iranian revolution now turned nasty if you were not a extremist of Islam. Now, the true colors were revealed and many groups that wanted the Shah out were now hiding or trying to escape in fear of their own safety. The Islamists steamrolled over all their former supporters once the Shah was gone.
In Egypt, there is that real danger. Once Mubarak is gone, you will see the true colors of many forces. The Muslim Brotherhood prefers the Sharia law. They have remained silent because all Egyptians want Mubarak out. There is little doubt that once this happens, political groups will manuever to promote their own agendas. Iran has ties with Hezbolla in Lebanon and with Hamas next door in Gaza. They will incite and support the Islamists in Egypt until they gain control, or share it.
Just look at Iraq.