Anzalone: Hezbollah’s Double Standards: Tunisia and Iran

Christopher Anzalone writes in a guest column for Informed Comment

Hezbollah’s Double Standards: Tunisia, Iran, & Popular Protest

Hezbollah just issued a statement via its media relations office expressing strong support for “the people’s uprising” (the Arabic term intifada is used) in Tunisia. This, only days after it and its allies withdrew their ministers from the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri leading to its collapse, The mass popular protests that led to the unexpected flight of Tunisia’s longtime autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali are heralded by Lebanon’s largest Shi’ite political party as “historic developments.” Hezbollah’s enthusiastic support and attempted cooption of the potentially groundbreaking events last week in the North African country stand in stark contrast to the party’s reserved, at best, public response to mass popular protests that followed the controversial Iranian presidential elections in the summer of 2009. While this discrepancy is hardly surprising it is a clear illustration of the Hezbollah leadership’s double standards as well as a fairly blatant example of their attempt to spin events in Tunisia to fit the party’s ideological framing.

The party’s statement says that it “cannot but express respect for the popular will [of the Tunisian people] that astonished the world its unity, solidarity, and quick reaction…Hezbollah believes it is the Tunisian people’s right to choose their representatives and elect who they find appropriate to rule their country.” The Tunisian protestor’s “self-reliance,” rather than “seeking foreign help,” is also praised. Comparisons are made to the Muhammad Reza Pahlavi’s and Ben Ali’s quick and unexpected flights from their home countries in the midst of mass popular protests against their despotism.

In contrast to the party’s excited endorsement of the popular protests in Tunisia, the public statements by Hezbollah’s two most senior leaders, its secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah and deputy secretary-general Naim Qassem, were muted following successive popular protests in Iran following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contested reelection as the country’s president. In response to questions about the party’s position on events inside Iran, Qassem said “Hezbollah has nothing to do with Iran’s internal affairs. We don’t side with anyone. This is an internal Iranian issue. What is happening has nothing to do with our situation.” Nasrallah labeled the protests an “internal [Iranian] matter” that he would “not touch.”

Hezbollah’s quick public support of popular protests in Tunisia rests on the usefulness of the events of the last several days to the party’s platform and ideological framing. As its statement makes clear, the flight of Ben Ali, seen as backed by the U.S. and France, is a clear sign of the changing times in the Middle East and North Africa. The party “calls upon [Arab] leaders to learn from what has happened in Tunisia, and the first lesson is to end their relations with the arrogant countries.” Hezbollah’s silence when mass protests were routinely taking place in Iran was understandable given the fact that the party is closely aligned with the Iranian governing system headed by Ali Khamenei. Unlike the Tunisian protests Hezbollah had nothing clear to gain from taking a strong public position on the Iranian protests and certainly nothing from criticizing Khamenei or Ahmadinejad, both of whom have been great supporters of the Shi’ite party. However, Hezbollah has clearly shown that for all its claims to represent the “downtrodden and oppressed of the world,” its concern for political and social freedoms, like those of the nation-states it criticizes, is selective and determined by self-interest rather than a belief in universal justice.

Christopher Anzalone is a doctoral student in the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University where he studies modern Muslim socio-political movements, Shi’ite Islam, and Islamist visual culture.

Posted in Tunisia | 47 Responses | Print |

47 Responses

  1. Tunisian society was united in its opposition against Ben Ali’s kleptocratic government. Iranian society was not united in opposing the Islamic Republic, thus Nasrallah’s claim he would not interfere in internal Iranian matters. Tunisian society made its decision quite unanimously, while Iranians are divided in opinions regarding their government. I hope this clears up your confusion.

    link to

    • to Nizam Al Molk:If Ben Ali contributed same billions of dollar as Khamenei/Ahmadi Nejad and predecessor did ( public domain information) to Nasrollah/Hezbollah and the gang, he (Nasrollah)would have supported Ben Ali, the same as he did for Khamenei/Ahmadi Nejad. Money talks.
      If Iranian regime stop paying,( and instead feed it’s own hungry/ with over 60% under poverty line,) for few month, we will see Hezbollah will support Iranian people, or at best stays neutral.
      As an Iranian, I am confident, as soon as we get rid of so called Islamic regime, we will stop all illegal payment to Hezbollah, Palestinian, Bolivian. Syrian, Afghanis,Iraqis, and the rest immediately.

    • This piece of writing reveals the authors poor understanding of how Iranian politics works.And comparing the Tunisian uprising to the disorganised looting only in Tehran after the Iranian elections which is now known to have been facilitated by the UK and the USA(Wikileaks) is at best naive and at worst is hypocrisy

      • The piece isn’t about Iranian politics and does not make direct comparisons of the Iran and Tunisia. Demonstrations did not just occur in Tehran.

  2. There’s just one problem with this scenario: Iran’s elections were NOT, repeat NOT, fraudulent!

    If this individual needs education on that point, he should head over to and follow some of the posts from Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett and especially the analysis of the elections done by Eric Brill.

    There is also no comparison between the autocratic states in Egypt and Tunisia and the generally democratic – in an Islamic manner – government in Iran.

    This is a hatchet-job on Hizballah and clearly has its own agenda.

    In reality, the current situation is that Nasrallah has out-maneuvered Obama and Netanyahu yet again over the STL tribunal by collapsing the corrupt Lebanese government, and the West doesn’t like it.

    • We may assume that Hezbollah entered a very important phase of their current history. While being just an opposition movement, they flagged the idea how important they are in terms of resistance and protection Lebanon towards Israel. Now they moved forward and entered the political game – where they proposed Mikati and doing so they have to prove their capability as stable and pro-Lebanese party, ready to bear the responsibility of implementing reforms. If true that Hariri was indecisive enough – a lot of serious reforms were postponed, especially in economy and fiscal sphere.
      Hezbollah elevated themselves from being just a strong opposition into a primary political entity. They formed second centre of power in Lebanon ever since 2008 and gradually undermined the principles of the Lebanese status-quo with its confessional division of powers. Today they, if I may say, they signed the check and so – turned into a leading political party. But this drags the consequences as well – as I said the Shi’a party must step up and prove to be ready to serve the entire Lebanese nation.
      As to Mikati, I don’t see him exposed to an imminent threat coming from Syria or Hezbollah. Let’s face the truth – he is much more capable politically than Hariri. As well – he has his connections among the Middle East and Europe. Najeeb Mikati has the potential to govern under the principles of technocracy, if allowed. And the “permission” should come again from Hezbollah.
      In one word – Hezbollah achieved a medium-term victory toppling Hariri, but they made their bids on Mikati, who is far from being a “puppet”. Again – the Resistance entered into a new era of their history where they have to prove the ability to be a true Lebanese party, and not to be accepted exceptionally as a “spear-head” of external powers.

    • Thank you, sir. I’m so tired of otherwise well-informed, liberal academics and journalists beating this stone-dead horse.

      Thanks also to Lysander.

    • to Richard Steven Hack: The last election in Iran was a catastrophic fraudulent one, and that’s the best to describe it. Among many illustrated documents, there is a list of ten major reason/proof (too long to post them here including photos and testimonies provided by many reliable government and NGOs inside Iran) in Mousavi, and Karoubi’s blogs ( as you may know their articles, even their photos and their activities are banned from private and all government controlled media, including national/international radio and TV financed by Iranian regime).
      Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett both are under payroll of Iranian regime and according to themselves they are frequent traveller to Iranian capital; their opinion expressed are exactly the same as government controlled media, i.e Kayhan ( when I read their articles as if I am reading Kayhan’s copies translated in English ) of Iran whose chief editor, Mr. Shariatmadari, is official representative/appointee of Khamenei. Millions of Iranian are more than happy to live in Tunisia or Lebanon, though not fully democratic, but at least people of these two countries are enjoying their basic social freedom ( go, or read about millions of Iranian traveling and enjoying sea sides of Turkey beaches or/and elsewhere annually, where in contrast, they are beaten, even jailed in their own country simply for not properly covering their hair). To give you proof of this statement, look at statistics of about five million Iranian immigrants who fled their homeland since starts of revolution, 32 years ago, or follow the trace and agony of thousand refugees camping in UNHCR tents all over the world, or hundreds of writers, bloggers, NGOs, lawyers, human rights activists, film directors, trade unionists, students to name a few are in prisons inside Iran.

  3. At this point it is clear that Iran’s government enjoyed far more public support than that of Tunisia. To date there has not been any evidence of fraud other than the outcome was not what some expected. There have been numerous polls conducted by western agencies showing results essentially the same as the election.

    Finally, Iran’s government was able to to bring several million people to the streets in their support. And on multiple occasions. Those have been poopooed as “rent a crowds” by the west, but you will notice that Tunisia’s former president was never able to do that. He might still be president if he could. You will see in the next several weeks that Mubarak in Egypt will not be able to do that.

    Whether anyone cares to admit it or not, the Iranian government, while certainly hated by many in Iran, still enjoys ***far*** wider support among the public than anything Mubarak or Ben Ali had.

  4. I am supporter of the Green movement. But I don’t see any parallel between Iran and Tunisia. Tunisia would indeed provide more fuel to the green movement in Iran, but the two systems are not the same.

    I believe the current government in Iran is terrible and disaster for future of Iran. To me they compare to Reagan Administration. Even though I felt his policies are disastrous, many Americans supported his views. Now some have come to regret their decision while others still have not.

  5. I don’t see any problem with Hizballah withdrawing support from the Saad Hariri Government. In fact, the same thing happens all the time in Israel, and nobody condemns those who withdraw their support, or defines the successor government as in any way illegitimate. This is just normal politics.

    As for the question of when it is appropriate to support popular protest, who can say? In general, we should rigorously protect the right to protest peacefully with impunity. But we should also be aware that protests are an attempt to put pressure on governments to change policies or personnel. It’s like going on strike. If the protest is wholly peaceful, it is easy for a government to ignore it, even if (as in the case of British protests before the invasion of Iraq) there are a million or more protesters.

  6. I think the very foundation of this article is shaky. Usually you compare like for like. The regime in Tunis is very very different from that of Iran. The people are different, Tunisians are Arabs and Iranians in general are persians.

    Hezbollah is an Arab and Islamic organization, it’s priority and interest is in the Arab word. Everything that happens in the Arab world is viewed as an internal matter. Iran is not part of the Arab world and hence there’s no need to interfere in it’s affairs.

    Another reason behind “Double standards” is that Iran is a semi democracy, whilst 95 % of the arab world regimes are dictatorships.

    You can’t compare Iran with Tunis…..thought provoking article non the less

  7. In addition to the fact that the comparison between Iran and Tunisia is absurd, as several commentators point out, what kind of simpleton assumes “self-interest” and “a belief in universal justice” are mutually exclusive?

    If Hizbullah were to apply the “universal justice” standard without any regard for self-interest or pragmatism, it would have to pick fights with EVERY government in the Middle East. How exactly would that serve the cause of universal justice in Lebanon or elsewhere?

  8. Anzalone has not made any attempt to compare the scale of the protests in Iran then and Tunisia now. Although the Iranian protests had a lot of depth, they lacked the kind of width of the protests in Tunis.

    This article (link to points out why the protests in Iran were very different from those in Tunisia, in spite of the existence of common grievances. One of the main reasons cited here is the diffuse nature of power in Iran and consequently, the diffuse nature of support as well. Like the previous commenters have already said, Ahmedinejad enjoys a significant amount of support.

    “Ahmadinejad draws significant voter support from the poorer sections of society. At the very least, his administration can count on the backing of five million people who are Basiji volunteers and their family members. Even Green Movement leaders who insist the 2009 poll was rigged accept that ,Ahmadinejad won between 30 and 40 per cent of the vote.

    Also, the “Supreme Leader” or Iran, is not someone known to have vast business interests with family members hogging a piece of the country’s economic pie, a la Ben Ali.

    As the scenarios are so different in both countries, it is silly to compare a reaction to one with a reaction to the other.

    Also, if the regime in Iran falls, in the dramatic way it did in Tunisia, Hezbollah would probably try to get into the good books of the next regime by not taking a very radical stand against their movement, keeping in mind that the relationship with Iran is too important to lose for the sake of ideology.

    So Mr. Anzalone, even if a comparable situation to TUnisia were to befall Iran, you might still not be able to watch Hezbollah stand up for the theocratic regime and say, “see they got double standards!”

  9. Hezbollah praised the removal of a puppet of the West by the people of Tunisia. How is that inconsistent with their support for the Arab underdog? According to the analysis above, one might wonder why Hezbollah didn’t stand shoulder to shoulder with the anti-globalists that were being manhandled by the US police, often in violation of the constitution, considering their “universalist” principles. Or where is Hezbollah when the Chinese Comcapitalism government violently suppresses dissent? Studying Hezbollah with the prejudice that they are a terrorist group, gives one the kind of insight Mr Anzalone offers. You can do better than that: PhD candidate indeed.

  10. The United States could order Mubarak to end torture and hold fair elections next month just as easily as it orders him to cooperate with Israel’s siege of Gaza. It does not because authoritarianism and torture are necessary so that a regime that rules a population that does not accept Israel’s legitimacy can sustain peace with and build normal relations with Israel.

    :link to

    Shihab Rattansi (5:42): But you have more leverage than that. Surely you can think of, the President or the Secretary of State can speak to Mr. Mubarak and say: “Call off your repressive security forces, now begin a transition to true democracy and stop torturing people while you’re at it.”

    PJ Crowley: But again, you’re casting this in zero sum terms and I reject that. We respect what Egypt contributes to the region. It is a stabilizing force. It has made its own peace with Israel and is pursuing normal relations with Israel. We think that’s important. We think that’s a model that the region should adopt broadly speaking. At the same time we recognize that Egypt, Tunisia, other countries do need to reform. They do need to respond to the needs of their people and we encourage that reform and we are contributing across the board. Across the region to that reform.


    For a westerner to accuse Hezbollah of hypocrisy is absolutely crazy.

    The fact of the matter is that if the people of Iran or Lebanon form a consensus supporting a particular policy, they can express that consensus and that policy will be enacted. Polls show there is no anti-Hezbollah consensus in Lebanon or anti-clerical consensus in Iran. The opposite in fact, most Iranians according to polls and actively contested elections, support Iran’s government. Most Lebanese, by the same measures, support Hezbollah and its allies.

    The same cannot be said for Tunisia or Egypt.

    The United States, supported by Canada, gives a huge amount of military and security support to Egypt because (it is important to understand that it is not despite but _because_) Egypt tortures those in the country who call for the country to oppose Israel.

    When the country whose government you vote for follows this policy, but you look for hypocrisy regarding the region and find Hezbollah then you weren’t taking an honest look.

  11. What is missing here is any attempt by the author to put these events into the context of imperialism.
    Hezbollah’s position would seem to be that the underlying problem faced by its constituents is, to [paraphrase Marx on Tsarist Russia) ‘that power whose head is in Washington and whose hand is in every Cabinet in the Middle East.’

    The truth is, however, that this almost invariably means that Hezbollah’s interests are served by popular movements, since it rests upon the support of the poor and disenfranchised.

    As, happily, others have pointed out the evidence that Iran’s elections were ‘stolen’ is not very compelling. And there is no doubt that the support for the government was strong. These matters are debatable but the situations in Tunisia and Egypt seem to be clear: neither government has any significant support beyond those on the payroll.

    It is not insignificant that, among the current revelations of the PA’s secret dealings is that showing that Abu Mazen persuaded a Palestinian businessman to finance a radio station for the “green” opposition in Iran. There is little doubt that those governments currently trembling in fear of their own people poured noney and resources into the Iranian opposition campaign. They will have done so because they saw their interests as being linked to those of the imperial power. And vice versa.

  12. This isn’t a good criticism, the protests in Iran in 2009 were totally different from those in Tunisia in 2011. The Ben Ali regime had practically zero public support in Tunisia and only stayed in power through large security forces who only did their job for the money, they weren’t willing to die to protect the regime and so it fell relatively quickly.

    The Iranian regime however clearly DOES have popular support, that’s not to say there aren’t a lot of Iranians who are opposed to the regime, just that there are many who support it ideologically, not just because it benefits them financially. People forget that in Iran there were actually two different protest movements in 2009, there were just as large demonstrations in support of Ahmadinejad (although they got less Western media attention) as there were against him. Iran is a divided country. Hezbollah are correct not to take sides. Note that Hezbollah implicitly said that they weren’t siding with Ahmadinejad, so they can’t be that closely alligned with him or else they would have supported him especially when he was accusing him opponents of working for Zionists. By not supporting him they were effectively saying he was lying here, because they would obviously support him if his opponents really were working for Zionists.

    Also, I remember Asad Abukhalil (the Lebansese/American atheist/secularist who runs the Angry Arab blog) has strongly supported the Tunisian uprising yet did not support the 2009 protests in Iran, basically the same positions as Hezbollah. Does that mean Abukhalil is secretly a supporter of Ahmadinejad?

  13. Ignorant comparison. Comparing the protests in Tunisia against a dictatorship that enjoyed zero public support to the protests in Iran against a democratic election that was made up exclusively of upper class Tehran suburbans is just totally ignorant.

    Another point would be that Hezbollah are a revolutionary organisation, albeit with an Islamic streak running through it. Therefore it is understable that they would support revolution in Tunisa while also defending the revolutionary government in Iran.

  14. Hezbullah’s double standards eh? Well if that isn’t a severe case of the pot calling the kettle black. Leaked documents have shown that the US clearly knew Ben Ali was a corrupt despot and yet they supported him anyway. All the while, the same administrations are ramping up rhetoric on Iran and what a terrible, undemocratic, and oppressive theocracy they are. I haven’t heard any stories out of Iran about people starving to death, or becoming fed up to the point of self-immolation. Instead we hear stories about the hair-cut police, and imaginary nuclear weapons (I’m having a flashback to Iraq here…)Oh, and let’s not forget the must-mention stoning of adulturers. But the disappearances and persecution and starvation of the Tunisian people…that’s not news right? As the previous posters have pointed out, there is a considerable difference between the two states, seeing that Iran’s government has support among a majority of its citizenry, while obviously when the police are joining the protest, the Tunisian government had none. Yet America supports the secular despot for fear of a Islamic government taking hold which might influence other pawns on the chess board.

    And looking past the obvious self-interested hypocrisy of the US, of course Hezbullah is going to support the Iranian regime while denoucning the former Tunisian regime. Hezbullah is a religious group; adherents of Shia’ Islam. Iran is a Shia’ nation, and the government is a Shia’ theocracy. Ben Ali was a secular Sunni who abused power and looted his country. Not very Islamic thngs to do, mind you. So obviously a religiously devoted group is going to be vocal against such things. Especially since Hezbullah would love no better than to see an Islamic party come to power in Tunisia, so as to increase anti-Israeli sentiment officially in the region. Iran is already Islamic, and already anti-Israel. Not to mention the fact that they offer material support to Hezbullah from time to time.

    Given the reason Hezbullah was formed in the first place, and its mission statement, there’s really not much to complain about on their part regarding Iran.

    So, comparing Hezbullah’s position on Tunisia to their position on Iran is really like comparing apples and oranges. To favour apples over oranges is not really a double standard at all.

    Beyond that, Hezbullah’s having withdrawn support for the coalition government in Lebanon by resigning is no different than a motion of no confidence in our Western democratic systems. In their eyes (and the eyes of many observers) the STL is a sham which is meant to build internal tension over Rafiq Hariri’s assassination so as to have the finger pointed at Hezbullah and by extention Syria and Iran; thus enabling Israel to engage it’s war machine, with US support, undoubtedly. Saad Hariri refuses to stop assisting the inquiry, which in turn stands to accuse a third of the government of assassination of the former prime minister. As well, all mediation efforts by regional interests have failed. Saad Hariri has sold out to Clinton’s State Department demands, as well as favoured his (understandable) self-interest in obtaining justice for his father’s killing. But Hezbullah’s actions as Anzalone mentions the second sentence into his column, are irrelevant. Hezbullah is a part of the democratic process in Lebanon, and they have every right to exercise a departure from the government when it’s actions are not in the best (or even moderately good) interests of the Lebanese people or the region at large. What other choice did they have? Wait around and do nothing while their own framing takes place?

    This column was baseless, poorly researched, and gravely misinformed. I think the more discerning of the readers of this blog (the vast majority) will recognize that to be the case.

  15. “the Iranian government, while certainly hated by many in Iran, still enjoys ***far*** wider support among the public than anything Mubarak or Ben Ali had.”

    Or it is just better at beating people down.

      • Actually it is quite likely, the iranian government is and was a more oppressive nation, this is shown by its poor showing on the freedom house list, it also ranks quite poorly on the reporters without borders index.

    • There were no significant counter demonstrations in favour of Ben Ali, and to my knowledge have not been any in favour of Mubarak.

      The Iranians showed a lot of spirit for people who’d been so thoroughly beaten down.

  16. Thank you for telling it as it is and speaking the truth. The coup that brought Ahmadinezhad and his Hojatieh minions to power should be remembered with much more vigor and shame than the coup of 1953, which was nowhere nearly as violent or brutal. And this time we have only Iranians to blame, not the Brits or the AMericans or CIA or MI6 or anybody. Just our own internal, corrupt, backward forces, the biggest enemy of democracy in Iran. Those who try to portray it otherwise are just feeding the military dictatorship’s propaganda campaign. We have seen no shortage of IRI apologists come here and unsuccessfully try to push this anti-Iranian agenda.

    • And we’ve seen just a few anti-Iranian activists come here – and none provide any evidence of a fraudulent election. And anyone who applauds a CIA-backed coup in 1953 is obviously clueless as to the nature of the Iranian Revolution.

  17. In case anyone might suggest that you have double standards, can we expect your next essay to focus on US government double-standards, or those of Israel or of the Palestinian Authority?

    You might find that these countries selective concern for political and social freedoms is motivated by something other than concern for universal rights.

    Be aware though – any such balance in your writing might jeopardise your future career prospects, which would be a shame as you clearly have what it takes to become a Faux News expert.

  18. In addition to the comments of others about the differences between Iran and Tunesia which are not meaningless distinctions, I would add that, given the support Hezb gets and needs from Iran, it is striking that Nasrallah did not condemn the Iranian protests but remained silent avoided comment. After all, I’m sure there are many who would read a good deal into that ‘silence’.

    Also, Anzalone writes:

    Hezbollah has clearly shown that for all its claims to represent the “downtrodden and oppressed of the world,” its concern for political and social freedoms, like those of the nation-states it criticizes, is selective and determined by self-interest rather than a belief in universal justice.

    This is to put Hezb stance in simplistic, all or nothing terms. Hezb is without question a political formation with interests like all political formations and like all nation states (not just those Hezb criticizes). The issue of “hypocrisy” and consistency should probably be considered in terms of degree rather than in absolute terms.

  19. A rubbish assertion. Hezbollah’s popularity on the Arab street has not ebbed since its battle against the Israeli military in the summer of 2006. A quick internet search reveals that outside of Lebanon, support for Hezbollah has ranged anywhere from 40 to 90 percent since the summer of 2006. Interestingly, thousands of Tunisians rallied to show their support for Hezbollah that year as well. To dispel the emerging unity between Arabic speaking peoples as mere politicking is dishonest. McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies should be incubating academics with deeper analysis than this.

  20. what universal justice
    did the Khameni/Khomeini cult bring it to Iran? How does Hezbollah (supporter of Velayate faghihe) can bring any freedom or justice to Lebanon or other states?

    • By keeping Israel out of Lebanon and refusing to help start a war with Iran for the benefit of Israel like the puppet regimes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

      • At the expense of Iranian own national interest while raping and pillaging, plundering, squandering national wealth, mismanagment,robbing future generation of Iranians from freedom, liberty, economic security, progress, basic civil rights? Very interesting, indeed.

  21. Given the amount of sheer power that is out to utterly destroy Hezbollah, with Iran being one of their very few friends, I find the fact that they were relatively silent about the aftermath of the election somewhat admirable. They were probably expected to jump on the bandwagon of Islamic Republic’s propaganda machine, and any other course of action might have been a risk to their very existence.

    On the other hand there were some reports on the involvement of at least a couple of Hezbollah operatives in quenching the protests with a few photos going around the internet. I never saw any confirmation that the people in the photos were actually Hezbollah though.

  22. You can call Hizbollah hypocritical, but at least it has the guts to stand up to Israel, without which there will never be any means to attain justice for any Arab. Perhaps Mr. Anzalone thinks that Abbas kissing Israeli butt will be the model for the capitalist nirvana that our invasion of Iraq failed to procure.

  23. I don’t know enough about the Iranian election to know if allegations of fraud are factually accurate, exaggerated for political (or emotional) purposes or out-right propaganda.

    But a significant difference between the riots in Iran afterwards, and the ones in Tunisia recently would be that the Iranian rioters weren’t looking to overturn the system and simply wanted their candidate in place instead of the one that was put into power.

    It’s not a minor consideration and it does make the two situations very different, and therefore deserving of different responses and official positions.

  24. Hi Christopher,

    Interesting piece, but it could’ve been something as simple as the Hezbollah leadership couldn’t reach a consensus on whether they supported the protests in any way or not. It’s not a unanimous issue, but Tunisia is basically a unanimous issue. Also, Iran has a much more sensitive history of foreign domination, so if Hezbollah indeed did support the protestors, they did the best thing by not interfering verbally.

  25. In line with Arnold Evans’ remarks, Jim Lehrer asked Joe Biden yesterday (check the transcript) if Mubarek was a dictator. Biden answered, no, since he did America’s and Israel’s bidding, roughly to the best of his ability. This is the neolib definition of “freedom,” indistinguishable from the neocon and of course not even masking well the fact that the US government’s foreign policy is corrupt to the core.

  26. In short, Hezbollah is approaching the level of selective indignation characteristic of the Foreign Ministries of the Great Powers; perhaps they’re ready to form a government.

  27. Watching the pictures from Tunisia and Egypt, it looks the crowd sizes in Iran were much larger. None of the protests in Egypt or Tunisia came any where near the three million crowd who came to the streets in Tehran, six days after the fraudulent elections in June last year. The repression by the regime in Iran was many times more brutal and savage than that in Tunisia or Egypt however. People in Egypt and Tunisia were not attacked in their homes and pulled from their roof tops for simply chanting Allah Akbar at night. The injured protesters in Tunisia and Egypt were not attacked in hospitals and dragged from their hospital beds. Protesters were not arrested and bused into detention centres like Kahrizak and raped in Tunisia and Egypt like they were in Iran.

    The Iranian regime is one that ceased power through a revolution and is thus well experienced in how to avert a revolution. As a friend of mine in Iran quoted his revolutionary guards commander “we will do everything the Shah didn’t do and not do any thing that the Shah did during the 1979 revolution. Just one concession will open the floodgates and increase people’s confidence in overthrowing the regime, we will not give one concession to the protesters”

    Just one reminder of how brutal the repression in Iran was, watch the video of attack on student dormitories here, which resulted in five students killed:

    Foreign journalists were not kicked out in Egypt and Tunisia as they were in Iran quickly after the protests erupted.

    When Iranian protesters used social networking tools like Facebook and twitter and citizen journalists uploaded their mobile phone pictures and videos, the Iranian protesters were quickly labeled by rich Western Left-wing intellectuals as “affluent North Tehran kids” who did not represent the country.

    Had these pictures been taken in Iran, these girls would have been labeled as middle class elite:

    Watching all this perhaps nothing was more annoying than the filthy Press TV hypocrite, Yvonne Ridley claim “What the Egyptian people are doing is so courageous because what they are facing, as we can see on our screens, is this terrible machine which seeks to instil fear and brutalises the people.”

    Yvonne Ridley of course ignores the courageous people who rose up against the terrible state terror machine of her pay masters in Iran.

    Stop the War Coalition who through out the protests in Iran refused to express any solidarity with the Iranian protesters by using the excuse that “we are only concerned with war situations” did not lose any time to express solidarity with the people of Egypt. Next Wednesday, they will hold a public meeting in Conway Hall in solidarity with the Egyptian uprising, with speakers like George Galloway and John Rees, God help the Egyptian people from such solidarity expressions!

    As Mark Urban said on BBC tonight, “all such revolutions are of epic importance and consequences, the outcome however is uncertain and any extremist violent minority group could cease power as they did in Iran in 1979 and in Russia in 1917”
    The chances of a violent minority group ceasing power through protests in Iran last year was always much more remote, because of the tolerance and peacefulness displayed by the protesters throughout the protests:

    link to

  28. 3 million? You are either delusional or a simple (in both senses of the word) victim of propaganda.

  29. January 29 global day of action
    In support of political prisoners and against execution in Iran

    Many organizations and individuals have announced their serious concern about public executions and intensification of executions in Iran. Saturday 29th January 2011, has been declared as a day of global protest against executions and in defense of political prisoners in Iran.

    link to

    The IRI no longer notifies the family members before executing dissidents:

    link to

    link to

  30. I have to disagree with most of this. Hezbollah’s position isn’t a double standard. Their position is consistant their primary motivation is arab/muslim self determination and Iran has that. They are not amnesty international or a human rights organization nor have they ever claimed to be to my knowledge.That’s the difference mubarak is corrupt western backed and Iran isn’t. If Iran had some western backed government that didn’t commit any human rights violations they would probably oppose it. you may disagree with those objectives or priorities but it’s not a double standard.

    • The Iranian parliament disagrees with you about lack of corruption in the government. Moreover Hizbullah does claim to support the rights of the people. Avoiding criticism of an oppressive government because it says it is Muslim or Jewish or Christian is the height of hypocrisy.

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