US defense chief: Iran revolution 'matter of time'

Ex-CIA director Leon Panetta says Iranians have watched, learned from revolutions in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria.

By REUTERS
September 7, 2011 07:31
2 minute read.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta [file photo]

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta 311 (R). (photo credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

WASHINGTON - Revolution in Iran appears to be a matter of time, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta predicted on Tuesday, saying the Iranian reform movement was learning from revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria.

Panetta, a former CIA director who took over the Pentagon's top job in July, was asked on the Charlie Rose television show whether the Arab Spring might spread to non-Arab Iran. Panetta responded: "Absolutely."

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


RELATED:
Iran warns over NATO's anti-missile radar in Turkey
Iran ready for 'full' UN oversight if sanctions go

"I think we saw in evidence of that in the last election in Iran that there was a movement within Iran that raised those very same concerns that we're seeing elsewhere," Panetta said.

"And I think in many ways, it's a matter of time before that kind of change and reform and revolution occurs in Iran as well."

Iranian security forces crushed mass protests in the wake of Iran's disputed June 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Panetta acknowledged the difficulties supporting such protests given the potential for backlash.

"We should try to take every step to try to support their effort but at the same time, we've got to analyze each situation to make sure that we do nothing that creates a backlash or that undermines those efforts," he said.



Iran's leaders had hoped the Arab Spring would spell the end of US-backed regimes in the Arab world. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has dubbed it the "Islamic Awakening," inspired by Iran's 1979 revolution that replaced a Western-backed king with a Muslim theocracy.

But Panetta offered a different interpretation of events and their impact on Iran.

"I think the reform movement in Iran is learning one hell of a lot from what's happened in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya and Syria," Panetta said.

Supporters of Iran's opposition Green movement are watching the Arab uprisings with a mixture of admiration, regret for their own movement's failure and concern about what might replace fallen regimes.

"One of the issues we were looking at when Tunisia and Egypt happened is ... what sparked this? What made this all happen?" Panetta said, listing factors including social media and populations of youth who lacked hope for the future.

"The fact is when people decide that that moment has come, that's a moment when tremendous change is about to happen," Panetta said.

"And I think it's true, not only in the Middle East. It's going to be true in Iran as well."

Related Content

August 17, 2018
German Jewish council urges end of Iran-Germany trade

By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL