Iran, meanwhile, has shown again its split personality. Its leaders, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have portrayed Iran as a sort of father figure for the pro-democracy movements, which they claim have taken inspiration from its Islamic Revolution against the U.S.-backed shah.
At the same time, Iranian authorities are showing no mercy to oppositions groups in a country rejuvenated by the chain-reaction uprisings. Protesters’ chants were similar to those during the chaos after Ahmadinejad’s disputed elections in 2009, but with a current twist.
“Ben Ali, Mubarak, it’s Seyed Ali’s turn,” protesters cried last week, linking the toppled Tunisian and Egyptian presidents with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Riot police moved in with tear gas and batons.
“It is unimaginable that there is someone who kills and bombards his own people. This is very grotesque,” Ahmadinejad said Wednesday on national TV after Gadhafi’s forces attacked protesters.
The mind boggles.