US Defense Chief: ‘Arab Spring’ to Sweep Iran

It is only a matter of time before the Arab Spring overthrows the Iranian regime, according to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu,

Iran in 2009 protests
Iran in 2009 protests
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

It is only a matter of time before the Arab Spring uprising reaches Iran and overthrows the regime, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director said that the reform movement in the Islamic Republic is learning from the mass demonstrations and protests in Egypt, Syria, Libya and Tunisia, where all of the regimes' leaders have been ousted or are facing the danger of losing power.

Asked by television interviewer Charlie Rose if the Arab Spring movement would reach Iran, Panetta replied, "Absolutely. I think we saw 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.

"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."

The regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was re-elected two years ago in what opponents said was a fraudulent ballot, brutally suppressed demonstrations. Hundreds of people were killed, and thousands were injured, tortured or simply “disappeared” after being arrested by Revolutionary Guards and riot police.

Panetta admitted that although countries have to consider possible political backlash of supporting protest movements, "We should try to take every step to try to support their effort but at the same time…analyze each situation to make sure that we do nothing that creates a backlash or that undermines those efforts.”

Panetta did not predict when the Arab Spring will blow into Iran, but stated, "The fact is when people decide that that moment has come, that's a moment when tremendous change is about to happen.

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