On Friday, Khamenei sought to bolster Iran’s self-proclaimed role as a leader for the world’s Muslims, as part of an anti-US and anti-Western global power struggle. But Egyptian protesters themselves have had little good to say about any outside actor – including Iran – and have focused their demands on political freedoms and better living conditions.
“Do not believe in the game which is being played by the West and America; don’t believe in their role, don’t believe in their political maneuvers which are taking place in the midst of your awakening,” Khamenei warned Egyptians from the pulpit at Tehran University.
“Just a few days ago … the Americans were supporting the corrupt regime, and now after they are sick of preserving him, they are speaking about the rights of the people,” said Khamenei. “They are trying to replace one spy with another…. Look with doubt – always be suspicious – regarding the American role and American intervention," he said.
Echoes of 1979?
Iranian officials have embraced the popular protests erupting across the Arab world as a replay of the revolution that ushered in the Islamic Republic 32 years ago this week, with the return from exile of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Ayatollah Khomeini back then called for “export” across the world of Shiite Iran’s template of religious revolution, but Iran only made concrete inroads with the fellow Shiite population in Lebanon – in the form of close support for the Hezbollah militia.