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IRAN: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Egyptian uprising is an Islamic ‘awakening’

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Iran’s spiritual and political leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the popular uprisings against Western-backed autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt represent an ‘irreversible defeat’ for the United States.

Speaking amid heightened security during the Friday sermon at Tehran University, Khamenei went on to draw comparisons between Iran’s Islamic Revolution and the recent Arab protest movements, characterizing the protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and around the region as an ‘Islamic awakening.’

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He also accused the United States of propping up corrupt leaders in the region in order to protect its own interests and those of its ally Israel.

‘This is a war between two willpowers: the willpower of the people and the willpower of their enemies,’ he said. ‘The Israelis and the U.S. are more concerned about what would happen to their interests in post-Mubarak regime.’

The protest movement in Tunisia was largely secular, while the anti-government opposition in Egypt is a loose but diverse coalition that includes the Muslim Brotherhood. Some have drawn comparisons between ousted Tunisian President Zine al Abidine ben Ali, embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the U.S.-backed shah, who was overthrown in Iran’s 1979 revolution.

Others, however, see more similarities between the recent Arab protests and the opposition ‘green movement’ that swept Iran following the disputed 2009 elections. Footage of Mubarak supporters wielding rocks and sticks against Egyptian protesters on Wednesday and Thursday was reminiscent of the violent crackdown carried out in Iran by security forces and plainclothes security forces known as the Basiji, who are loyal to Khamenei.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut and Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran


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