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Lebanon: Bloggers React to Iran Crisis

Only a week after its own tight elections, Lebanese bloggers have been intently watching the fallout from Iran's disputed polls.

The turmoil in Iran – a key power broker in Lebanon and main supporter of the powerful Lebanese Shia group Hezballah – has received mixed reactions.

Whilst many of the bloggers are resisting to choose a side in Iran's dispute, they have plenty to say on other fronts.

Asad Abu Khalil at the Angry Arab News Service has slammed the UN, Western governments and media for their double standard approach to Iran's elections:

There is so much hypocrisy in the Western coverage and official reactions to the developments. Most glaring for me was the statement by the secretary-general of the UN who insisted on the respect of the will of the Iranian people. Would that US designate utter such words, say, about Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and other dictatorships that are approved by the US?

Asad continues by criticising both Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Mir Hossein Mousavi for their failures, instead highlighting the plight of the Iranian people as his main concern:

Typically, I support neither side in the Iranian situation: but I support those Iranians who are struggling against both sides. I have worried before about the impact of Ahmadinajad's stupid rhetoric on the Iranian public attitudes toward the Palestinian question. I worried that in the long run it will move the public away from solidarity with the Palestinians.

but I am in no way sympathetic to Moussavi. He is a man who suddenly discovered the virtues of democracy. When he was prime minister back in the 1980s, he presided over a regime far more oppressive than Ahmadinajad's. And why has no Western media really commented on his rhetoric during his own campaign: the man kept saying that he wants a “return” to the teachings of Khomeini. I in no way support a man who wants a “return” to the teachings of Khomeini. But Western media are always quick to pick villains and heroes: especially when one side is identified against Israel.

Sursock points to the Ahmedinijad-Mousavi dispute as a deep internal struggle within the ruling establishment that is tearing the Islamic Republic apart:

The elections in Iran have revealed the deep divisions at the heart of Iran’s ruling class.

The country is internationally isolated, faces a growing economic crisis and is ruled by a faction associated with the “hardliners” that want to be the main beneficiaries of privatisation of state-owned companies.

This faction has coalesced around the incumbent president Mahmud Ahmadinijad. They see his populist appeal as an important bulwark against the deep discontent that is sweeping the country.

A second section fears that the widespread corruption at the heart of the system is undermining popular support for the republic. They want the economy opened up and strip from power those they see as lining their pockets.

This faction, that includes many senior figures in the religious establishment, has put its hopes in Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Mousavi and other reformers want to harness the growing disquiet in the country to oust one faction of the ruling class from power. They want Ahmadinejad and the hardliners removed, but also limit the scope of popular anger.

The danger is that this movement could quickly run out of their control.

Meanwhile, Abu Muqawama has ridiculed rumours that Hezballah has sent 5,000 paramilitaries to support Ahmedinejad:

A friend of mine raised a good point regarding the Spiegel/VOA claim that 5,000 Hizballah footsoldiers were on the streets of Tehran. 1) Hizballah had approximately 1,200 full-time fighters in 2006. So unless they have beefed up their ranks much more rapidly than anyone could have guessed and 2) have left southern Lebanon now completely defenseless, the odds that they have deployed 5,000 to Tehran to put down some popular revolt is just silly.

Joseph el-Khoury at ArabDemocracy compares Iran's theocracy to the Soviet Union, but warns the West on expecting a friendlier Iran should a regime change occur:

The Iranian theocracy is a regime ‘against nature’; one that defies the basic aspirations of human beings for freedom and emancipation. In a way, it is no different from the Soviet illusion, which seemed unshakable for decades only to collapse overnight like a pack of cards. These regimes shared a similar path, from popular revolutions against a Western backed Monarch they turned into authoritarian leviathans promoting the interests of a small group of self reproducing autocrats.

The demonstrations are inevitably the start of something, an awakening perhaps that will hopefully be followed by a process of political maturation. But talk of a pro-American ‘democratic’ Iran is wishful thinking limited to western powerhouses and their media outlets…these same outlets who brought us the ‘liberation’ of Iraq and the ‘pacification’ of Afghanistan.

Finally, a supporter of Lebanon's pro-American March 14 bloc has posted bloody images of Iran's violent protests on his blog, Blacksmiths of Lebanon. He finishes his post with a quote that summarises the fear of many pro-March 14 Lebanese:

As level of chaos rises in Iran, worries grow that Hizballah will act to create a distraction in the region, sparking Leb bloodshed.

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