Iran the Winner of the Arab Spring?

On March 7th I participated in my 4th HuffPost Live discussion, this time joined by Flynt Everett. I argued that Iran’s regional clout had been weakened by the Arab Spring and that it was an opportune moment to reach an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program since history shows that Iran is much more inclined to compromise when it’s threatened and/or isolated. I had even written an article about the point for Tehran Bureau.

Leverett posited the antiquated rejoinder that Iran was the main winner of the Arab Spring and was at the pinnacle of his power, especially since Egypt had broken with the US over Iran and was moving closer to a reconciliation with Iran.

I argued in the discussion and in the Tehran Bureau article that Egypt was not in fact moving closer to Iran and that although Egypt’s Morsi had defied the US and gone to Iran for the NAM summit, he spoke, to the dismay of Iran’s leaders, in solidarity with the Syrian uprising. I further argued that the Bahraini regime has endured the Arab Spring and had shored up its anti-Iranian rhetoric while, most importantly, Iran’s main regional ally, Syria, was severely weakened because of a ruthless war.

It could have been easier to portray Iran a winner of the Arab Spring immediately after Mubarak’s fall but that analysis would only have been short-term.

To further highlight Iran’s declining star as a result of the Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Egypt’s president hails, has recently called for an anti-Shi’ite jihad in Syria, which naturally affect’s majority-Shi’ite Iran.  The Arab Spring has indeed morphed into a Sunni-Islamist uprising that is increasingly hostile to Shi’sim.

There are even reports that Iran is preparing to send a brigade of Revolutionary Guards (4,000 strong) to Syria. The Arab Spring could take an even sharper turn for the worse for Iran if it gets bogged down in the Syrian War.

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