Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has said that Iran is witnessing a popular revolution like that in Tunisia and warned against sliding into a Syrian or Yemeni scenario. Marzouki went along with his comment in an interview Tufts Magazine which he posted on his Facebook page.
“I’ll tell you a story from 2013,” he said. “I spoke for two hours with then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Islam Summit. I knew that the Iranian government was extremely upset by our revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.”
He stressed that he was trying to persuade Ahmadinejad that the so-called Arab Spring was caused by internal problems related to the dictatorship and that there was no intention of exporting the revolution. “Of course he didn’t agree with me at all. He said what was happening in Tunisia was a Zionist conspiracy, an American conspiracy, not a real revolution, etc. I understood that he was very afraid of the Arab Spring.”
According to Marzouki, the Iranian leader was right to be afraid. “Because what we are seeing in Iran now is very similar to the Tunisian revolution. The Iranians have closely observed what happened in Tunisia. They saw that they can win when people take to the streets to defend their rights. That was a very important lesson.”
In Iran, he added, there is a democratic revolution in which women play an important role, just like in Tunisia. “Iran has a harsh and brutal dictatorship. It is a religious dictatorship that is often worse than a secular dictatorship. So let’s hope for the success of the Iranian revolution.”
Marzouki urged protesters in Iran to unite and be patient but keep fighting because no one has seen regime change overnight. “Sometimes it takes months or years. And above all, they have to accept some sacrifices, because we always have to pay a high price. I hope that they will not bear the costs that the Syrians or the Yemenis paid, but I fear that removing this religious dictatorship could be very costly.”
He also gave important advice to the countries that have recently freed themselves from dictatorships, saying that the transition must be as short as possible. In Tunisia it took three years to set up the new political system and draft a new constitution. He thinks that’s too long, because political change always means instability and the economy comes to a standstill; there will be less productivity and poverty will increase.
“People will be disappointed by the revolution because their expectations are very high that their lives will change overnight. My advice has always been that your transition to democracy should be as short as possible. In three months you should have a constitution, set up a new government, and then immediately tackle the economic problem.”
A few days ago, Marzouki called on what he called “Tunisian nationalists” to block the way to a new Egyptian scenario that the deep state in Tunisia, he warned, is preparing for after President Kais Saied’s ouster.