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February 14, 2011

Egypt Fallout: Protests In Iran UPDATE: Opposition Leader Mir Mousavi Under House Arrest

If at first you don't succeed....

Thousands of Iranians gathered in several locations across Tehran Monday, heeding calls in recent days by opposition leaders to demonstrate in solidarity with Egyptian and Tunisian protesters, who recently toppled their own regimes.

Cellphone and text-messaging service was down along the protest routes, Iranians reported. Security forces clashed with protesters in several areas in Tehran, Isfahan and other cities, dispersing crowds with tear gas and beating them, according to eyewitnesses.

Activists said large crowds were marching in cities including Isfahan, Najaf Abad and Mashad. Several websites for the opposition, used to relay information about the protest, were no longer operating late Monday.

It doesn't sound like they are anything near the size they were in '09 before being crushed by the regime but it might be a spark that grows. One can hope anyway.

Over the weekend the Obama administration took a few shots at Iran over allowing protests. The State Department has also started a Farsi Twitter feed. It sounds funny and small beans but we and the Iranian regime ignore the power of social media at our separate peril.

That's all well and good but the reality is if Obama is going to make any difference in Iran he's going to have to come out and be full throated in his support of democracy and regime change.

It's understandable that the US was hesitant to toss Mubarak overboard at the first sign of trouble. He was an ally of longstanding and it wasn't clear what the outcome would be. Why go picking fights with friends only to see them survive only to be annoyed at you? Look at the damage control we have to do in the wake of the Egyptian crisis with long time allies in the region. They aren't too happy or comforted by our lack of support for Mubarak.

Iran is another matter entirely. Obama sounded like a full on neo-con after the fall of Mubarak, Support for the protesters there seems like a no brainer after talk like this. It's almost impossible to imagine a scenario where things get worse with Iran. We're basically playing with house money here...if the protesters succeed and the mullahs go, great. If not, no harm in trying.

So, what's it going to be Mr. President? And no, 'high speed rail' isn't an acceptable option.

Update: Hmmm...maybe the mullahs are more worried than it seemed. Obama really needs to come out hard for the protesters. No, I'm not holding my breath either.

Via John Noonan...video of the protests are starting to leak out.

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posted by DrewM. at 01:15 PM

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