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As elections near, Iran eyeing Arab Spring

  |   Jan. 5, 2012 at 10:43 AM
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- With parliamentary elections set for this year, Iranians are reviewing last year's Arab uprisings intently, a Middle East scholar notes.

Iran following contested presidential elections in 2009 was bloodied but managed to quiet an uprising by supporters of the opposition Green Movement. Its leaders remain under house arrest.

While much of the Arab world in 2011 was in the grips of revolution, however, Iran remained largely peaceful. Suzanne Maloney, a senior foreign policy fellow for Middle East policy at The Brookings Institution, said the upheavals have largely influenced the geopolitical dynamics for Tehran, however.

This week, Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was sentenced to six months in jail for propaganda against the state. Rafsanjani was criticized by the conservative leadership for backing opposition leader and former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi during the 2009 contest.

Maloney writes that it's too soon to make grand assessments on the effects the Arab Spring had on internal dynamics in Tehran, though that could change with upcoming elections.

"The Arab transitions are being watched closely within the Islamic Republic, both by its skittish leadership and its frustrated population," she writes.

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