In fact, the demonstrations so far have been largely secular, though well-organized groups such as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood might become more influential as political transitions more forward -- and Tunisia's exiled Islamic leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, returned Jan. 30to a hero's welcome by thousands of sympathizers.
Clearly, Iran has benefited from events that predate the current upheavals, especially the U.S. toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
"Iran has had a great string of successes thanks to us," says Chas Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and veteran Middle East analyst. "Iran is the dominant player in Iraq; its alliance with Syria has been consolidated; its hold on Lebanese politics now transcends its connection with Syria; and we've shoved a Sunni Salafi group, Hamas, into its arms" (by rejecting Hamas's 2006 electoral victory over Fatah, the secular Palestinian party).
Watching Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30-year presidency twist in the wind is also giving Iran "a great deal of schadenfreude," Freeman says, noting the Egyptian leader's long hostility toward Tehran and vice versa.
At the same time, Freeman cautions against connecting what remain disparate dots, noting differences between Muslim countries and uncertainty about their future political trajectories.
"Iran is not a model for anybody not even in Afghanistan or Iraq," he said. "Iranians are trying to use these upheavals, but they don't have a connection to the Iranian revolution, its ideology, or to skillful Iranian diplomacy."
While Iranian state media link the Arab revolts to the 1979 revolution, Iran's Green Movement asserts that they were in part inspired by the mass opposition to Iran's 2009 rigged elections.
In a statement posted Jan. 29 on Facebook, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who challenged incumbent Ahmadinejad in that election, wrote that "the starting point of what we are now witnessing on the streets of Tunis, Sanaa, Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez can be undoubtedly traced back to days of 15th, 18th and 20th June 2009 when people took to the streets of Tehran in millions shouting 'Where is my vote?' and peacefully demanded to get back their denied rights."
Mousavi noted that the "collapsing political regimes in the Arab world" have also resorted to shutting down the Internet, cell phones, and social networks in an attempt to squelch political change. "Perhaps, they do not realize that continuing policies of intimidation will eventually turn against itself," he wrote in a clear reference to Iran as well as Arab despots. "Pharaohs usually hear the voice of the nation when it is too late."