* Arab world sees echoes of Arab Spring in Wall Street
* Movement started small, now on US national political
* Inspires anti-US rhetoric in Beijing, Tehran
* Solidarity demonstrations planned in London, Madrid
By Peter Millership
LONDON, Oct 11 Tahrir Square in Cairo, Green
Square in Tripoli, Syntagma Square in Athens and now Zuccotti
Park in New York -- popular anger against entrenching power
elites is spreading around the world.
Many have been intrigued by the Occupy Wall Street movement
against financial inequality that started in a New York park and
expanded across America from Tampa, Florida, to Portland,
Oregon, and from Los Angeles to Chicago.
Hundreds of activists gathered a month ago in the Manhattan
park two blocks from Wall Street to vent their anger at what
they see as the excesses of New York financiers, whom they blame
for the economic crisis that has struck countless ordinary
Americans and reverberated across the global economy.
In the U.S. movement, Arab nations see echoes of this year's
Arab Spring uprisings. Spaniards and Italians see parallels with
Indignados (indignant) activists, while voices in Tehran and
Beijing with their own anti-American agendas have even said this
could portend the meltdown of the United States.
Inspired by the momentum of the U.S. movement, which started
small but is now part of U.S. political debate, activists in
London will gather to protest outside the London Stock Exchange
on Oct. 15 on the same day that Spanish groups will mass on
Madrid's Puerta del Sol square in solidarity.
"American people are more and more following the path chosen
by people in the Arab world," Iran's student news agency ISNA
quoted senior Revolutionary Guards officer Masoud Jazayeri as
saying. "America's domineering government will face uprisings
similar to those in Tunisia and Egypt."
Chinese newspapers splashed news about Occupy Wall Street
with editorials blaming the U.S. political system and denouncing
the Western media for playing down the protests.
"The future of America stands at a crossroads. Presuming
that effective measures to relieve the social mood and
reconstruct justice cannot be found, it is not impossible that
the Occupy Wall Street movement might be the final straw under
which America collapses," said a commentary in the Global Times.
"This movement has uncovered a scar on American society, an
iceberg of accumulated social conflicts has risen to the
surface," said the commentary in the tabloid, which is owned by
the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily.
"THIS IS TAHRIR SQUARE"
In Cairo, Ahmed Maher, a founder and leading member of
Egypt's April 6 Youth Movement which helped to topple autocrat
Hosni Mubarak, said it was in contact with several groups
organising the anti-Wall Street demonstrations.
"A few days ago we saw a banner in New York that said 'This
is Tahrir Square'," Maher said, referring to the Cairo square
that became the epicentre of Egypt's revolution.
"The Arab Spring has definitely inspired the burst of
protests in the United States and Europe."
Others noted differences between Arab protesters and U.S.
protesters, branded by one Republican presidential candidate as
"anti-American" and so jealousy-ridden that they wanted to "take
somebody else's ... Cadillac".
"The Arab protests started with requests for reform but
quickly transformed into demands for governments to leave, or at
least their leaders," said Abdulaziz al-Uwaisheg, columnist in
Saudi daily al-Watan. "The American protest is against specific
policies ... It did not ask to change the government."
Spanish media have devoted daily coverage to Occupy Wall
Street, dubbing participants "Indignados in Manhattan", with
left-leaning newspapers saying the U.S. protesters were inspired
by Spain's own disenchanted youth-led grouping.
"Occupy Wall Street is one more branch of a global
movement," said Veronica Garcia, a 40-year-old lawyer involved
in the Spanish demonstrations.
MARCHES INSPIRED BY MOVEMENT
While Spain's "Indignados" have poured much of their anger
so far on politicians, Garcia said Saturday's Madrid march was
likely to focus more on bankers.
In London, which was hit by rioting and looting by
disaffected people in early August, protesters were using social
media like Facebook and Twitter to plan their Stock Exchange
protest on Saturday.
The Occupy London protest aims to draw attention to "the
economic systems that have caused terrible injustices around the
world", according to their website.
"Bankers have got off scot-free whilst the people of this
country are being punished for a crisis they did not create," a
statement on the website said, echoing the chant taken up by
U.S. marchers: "We are the 99 percent."
Unions, which organised protests against austerity moves in
debt-stricken Greece, welcomed the New York protests.
"It's optimistic because we haven't seen such protests
before," Greek public sector unionist Despina Spanou told
Reuters. "There is no coordination so far because most of this
is spontaneous, but we cannot rule anything out."
Newspapers around the world have sought to identify the true
motor of discontent driving the Occupy Wall Street movement,
with the Korea Herald seeing an historic dimension reflecting
the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam War rallies.
"But perhaps the closest historical parallel is with the
Populist movement of the 1890s, which, like Occupy Wall Street,
was a broad, economics-driven revolt that targeted a predatory
class of corporate capitalists - the robber barons of the Gilded
Age," the newspaper said.
"THERE'S SOMETHING HAPPENING HERE"
Japan's Kyodo news agency ran an interview from New York
with organiser Kalle Lasn who said he hoped that "Occupy Wall
Street" would inspire Japan's jobless youth.
"Is there some beginning of some kind of 'Occupy Tokyo' or
'Occupy Marunouchi', something like that happening in Japan
right now or not?" Kyodo quoted Lasn as saying, referring to the
Marunouchi business district in Tokyo.
The Occupy Wall Street protests across the United States
with their focus on banking bailouts and unfairness appeared to
present a dilemma for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The protests support one Kremlin agenda by underscoring the
economic troubles of Moscow's Cold War foe, but could also send
a signal encouraging street protests -- not what Putin wants as
he heads toward a second stint as president in a March vote.
This July, Putin said the United States was "acting like
hooligans" in the global economy. In August, he said the United
States was living beyond its means "like a parasite".
Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev have not spoken publicly
about the protests, but state-run TV stations they use to shape
opinion seem to have found a way around the contradiction.
Footage of crowds protesting against perceived corporate
greed and government connivance echoed the emphasis on U.S.
economic inequality that was a Soviet-era propaganda staple.
Such footage may also back up Putin's argument for a tight
state rein on Russia's corporate world -- and his colourful
depictions of the United States as a flagging, sometimes
dangerously irresponsible financial power.
At the same time, news footage often focusing on outspoken,
outlandishly dressed participants in the U.S. protests appeared
aimed at lending the crowds a circus-like look that could be to
discourage Russians from trying this at home.
The Chinese, however, have not been so subtle, using the
movement to fire repeated broadsides at the capitalist system.
"The Occupy Wall Street movement was sparked by the extreme
disparity between the rich and the poor," the Hong Kong Economic
Journal said in its editorial.
"Now it looks like the spark is being turned into a great
fire that is spreading