AFP: Iran is “fighting a losing battle” against pro-democracy forces sweeping the Middle East but will resist reforms more strongly than did countries like Egypt or Tunisia, US officials said Wednesday.
WASHINGTON, May 11, 2011 (AFP) – Iran is “fighting a losing battle” against pro-democracy forces sweeping the Middle East but will resist reforms more strongly than did countries like Egypt or Tunisia, US officials said Wednesday.
“None of the governments that were subject to the ‘Arab Spring’ were happy about what happened in their countries. They resisted. The Iranians have had practice. They will resist even harder,” Deputy Assistant US Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Philo Dibble told a key US Senate panel.
But “ultimately governments like the Iranian government, that try to suppress their people, are fighting a losing battle,” Assistant US Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner told lawmakers.
“It’s a young population, a population that sees what’s going on in the rest of the world and in the region, and (is) increasingly impatient with the kind of autocratic policies that this government employs,” said Posner.
The two officials spoke at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, led by Democratic Senator Robert Casey.
Asked about the effects on Iran of US and international sanctions, Dibble acknowledged such measures had “not the decisive impact that we’re looking for yet” and said “we haven’t yet seen a change” in Iran’s “strategic calculus.”
And the officials played down prospects that tensions between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Islamic republic’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would give democratic reformers an opening.
“We don’t quite understand what the basis for the current disagreements might be,” said Dibble. “It seems to have as much to do with power as anything else.”
But “none of the current institutions of government in Iran would be particularly advantaged by the unfolding of an Arab Spring-like event in Iran right now,” he told the panel.
“It would be to everybody’s disadvantage who is currently in government. So unfortunately, I think that the repression that we’re seeing in Iran is repression that is undertaken by all branches of this government,” said Dibble.