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“The trick that the opposition needs to pull off is to put the regime in a position where its options are bad or worse,” he said.

“‘Bad’ is the regime turns the opposition down, then it looks repressive and hypocritical. ‘Worse’ is the regime decides to let the opposition rally and is confronted with street protests. The regime has taken the bad option.”

Mr. Apostolou believes opposition to the regime in Iran is as strong as it is in Egypt, but Mr. Mubarak is more restrained in his reaction because of his dependence on U.S. aid.

“In Egypt, for all the disgusting faults of the regime, the United States is supplying the kit, and the United States has made it abundantly clear to Mubarak that it does not want Egyptians crushed under American tanks,” he noted.

“The people supplying the kit in Iran are the Chinese. They regard shooting protesters as a form of product-testing.”