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Comparing 1979 to 2011 images gives clues to Egypt's future

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It is not hard to compare the fragile political landscape in Egypt right now to where Iran was in the late 1970’s. The Washington Times editorial page has a new piece out this morning describing that the players are not only similar in the Middle East but also in the United States: (“Channelng Jimmy Carter”)

As Egypt’s regime totters on the verge of collapse, President Obama is looking less like Ronald Reagan and more like the Gipper’s predecessor, Jimmy Carter. The turmoil in Egypt is markedly similar to the revolution that gripped Iran 33 years ago. Egypt may be to Mr. Obama what Iran was to Mr. Carter.

President Carter’s emphasis on human rights in foreign policy set the stage for the 1979 revolt in Iran. Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Carter adopted a tone of moral superiority to the policies that had preceded him. When small-scale demonstrations began to break out in Iran in the fall of 1977, the State Department simply chastised the Shah’s government, which had been a firm U.S. ally, to get ahead of reform or get out of the way. This emboldened the oppositionists, a mix of liberal reformers and radical followers of the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini, who kept up the pressure. 

A year later, the situation had deteriorated to the point where the Shah’s regime was hanging by a thread. Crowds were in the streets, the security forces were crumbling, and the Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence was growing. Mr. Carter abandoned human-rights posturing and informed the Shah that he should do what he needed to keep order. By then, it was too late. The Shah fled in January 1979, Khomeini returned in February, and in March a referendum eliminated the monarchy and established an Islamic Republic. Khomeini ruthlessly purged the disorganized liberal oppositionists and consolidated his brutal dictatorship, the excesses of which were far worse than anything perpetrated by the Shah.  READ MORE


(H/T Environmental Graffiti via

L: Police clash with 1970’s Iranian protesters.  R:Police clash with Cairo protesters last week. (AP)


L: Iranian Revolution protesters in 1979. R: Cairo protesters on top of military vehicles. (Reuters)


L: 1970’s Iranian protesters burn image of the Shah. (H/T Environmental Graffiti via

R: Egyptian protester burns image of Hosni Mubarak. (International Business Times)



(H/T Environmental Graffiti via

The Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran in 1979.

The images above are more than telling, as the Shah of Iran saw his support from his own military eventually erode before he was ousted in 1979.  The photo of Cairo protesters atop a military vehicle is posted at International Business Times and is posted with an article that is questioning if the military sides with the Egyptian government or the Egyptian protesters:

Indeed, the police – riot police, plainclothes officers, and whatever other kinds exist — are the object of seething hatred from the people and a reason they’re protesting in the first place.

CNN’s Moni Basu sheds more light on the situation.

According to her, journalists have reported seeing protesters cheer the arrival of the army, embrace them, and regard them “as saviors from excessive police brutality.”

Apparently, Egypt’s “450,000-strong armed forces are well-established and respected by the people.”

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak must have known this; the fact that he sent the military to Cairo means he was “desperate,” according one professor Basu spoke to.

The military is the key to this unfolding revolt.

While protesters stand a chance against the police force, they are no match for the military.  If push comes to shove, the military – if they crackdown on protesters – will win.  However, if they decided to side with protesters or simply do nothing, it’s quite possible that Mubarak’s regime can be toppled by force from the protesters.

The final photo of the Ayatollah Khomeini is a chilling one as it is a reminder that the control of Egypt, just like Iran before it, is easily exploitable now by a group known as the Muslim Brotherhood. Unfortunately, the Obama administration like the Carter administration before it, seems more than willing to see history repeated.

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About the Author
Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket, a former Opinion Blogger/Editor of The Watercooler, was associate producer for the Media Research Center, a content producer for Robin Quivers of "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius satellite radio and a production assistant and copy writer at MTV.

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