Against imperialism and clerical reaction

Solidarity with the peoples of Iran!

Leaflet of the Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee, July 25, 2009

. Hundreds of thousands of Iranian people have taken to the streets in recent weeks following the results of a hard-fought election in which the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner over his rival, former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi. The demonstrators have denounced the election as fraudulent, and have been brutally suppressed by the forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), with the semi-official Basij "morality" militia playing a particularly bloodthirsty role.

. In fact, the Iranian ruling elite has been badly shaken by this opposition, and there are deep divisions between the different factions of the ruling class. Factional leaders are beginning to call for unity, noting that the very survival of the regime is threatened. The people have gone beyond protests over the outcome of the election and are demanding an end to many other abuses, such as laws requiring women to cover their hair at all times, and the beatings by the regime's militias. People are outraged at the repressive character of the regime such as the brutal way that it deals with dissent and the way it has broken strikes and jailed labor activists and popular leaders.

Mousavi: servant of the dictator, enemy of the people

. While much of the debate over the election has focused on vote-counting, it should be pointed out that all Iranian elections are rigged from the start since prospective candidates must be approved by the unelected Guardian Council headed by Ayatollah Khamenei. Mousavi is no real opponent of the repressive IRI -- if he was, the Guardian Council wouldn't have let him run in the first place.

. Mousavi has a long history of serving the IRI in leading capacities, particularly as Prime Minister from 1981-1989, during most of the Iran-Iraq war. These days, he has been working overtime to convince the demonstrators that the IRI, its army, police and Basij are not enemies of the people who they beat and murder. His campaign has consciously chosen the color green (symbolizing Islam) and leads supporters to chant "God is great," a standard slogan of the IRI. In this context, it is little more than a declaration of loyalty to the theocratic dictatorship.

. This is completely in line with Mousavi's entire career. One of the most outrageous Mousavi-led crimes occurred in 1988 when thousands of communists and other leftist political prisoners were, under Mousavi's administration, executed and dumped in mass graves for "crimes" such as bravely refusing to "renounce historical materialism" and for turning away from previously-held religious views ("apostasy").

. In recent weeks, Mousavi has begun to distance himself from the mass protest movement and has been working to make behind-the-scenes arrangements with the help of other establishment figures. He has at various points said he would not seek any more street protests, but protests have repeatedly broken out anyway. This underscores the fact that these demonstrations are not only, or even mainly, about Mousavi. It also shows that he does not entirely control them, especially when they shout unapproved slogans like "death to the dictator!" (referring to Ayatollah Khamenei, the real leader of Iran). People are simply taking the opportunity to express their outrage over an outrageous system that denies them their basic democratic rights. Mousavi has his own plans and they do not involve liberation of the Iranian masses from theocratic tyranny. Mousavi's support stems from the fact that he's marketed himself as more socially tolerant in contrast to Ahmadinejad, a "lesser evil" so to speak. But Mousavi is yet another enemy of the Iranian people, and driving a wedge between him and his well-intentioned supporters is the order of the day for the revolutionary left in Iran. And, in fact, there are Iranian leftist trends that have been working hard at this since the start of the protests.

Islamist hijacking of 1979 revolution

. In 1953, the U.S. and British intelligence agents, along with Iranian royalists and fascists, overthrew the popular government of Mohammed Mosaddeq. The imperialist powers were unhappy with Mosaddeq for nationalizing Iranian oil fields which had previously been held by foreign corporations from the U.K. They installed the Shah who instituted a widely-hated dictatorship. In 1979 the Shah was finally overthrown by a broad-based revolution that right-wing anti-worker, anti-women Islamist forces led by the Ayatollah Khomeini came to dominate.

. Upon coming to power, eliminating left-wing challenges to their rule was the Islamists' first order of business. This required the imprisonment and mass murder of leftists who wanted real liberation, not simply to replace the Shah with an Ayatollah. Many of these leftists had played leading roles in the struggle against the U.S. backed Shah and the mass democratic revolution which overthrew him. At the same time, reactionary gangs were set up to attack women, particularly progressive women, in order that they learn their "place" in the new "enlightened" theocratic order. It was through the hijacking of the revolution and violent suppression of revolutionary and progressive forces that the current counter-revolutionary IRI was founded.

Myth of IRI's "anti-imperialism"

. The Islamic Republic of Iran has always had covert links with the west, with the Iran-Contra scandal being one of the most notorious episodes. In this case, U.S. agents armed the IRI (while none other than Mousavi was Prime Minister) in its war against Iraq (while also arming Iraq) and then used the profits to fund counter-revolutionary terrorists in Nicaragua. Israel also sold weapons to Iran at this time since both had a common enemy in Iraq. These are but a few examples: the point here is that the "anti-American" and "anti-Israel" rhetoric of the IRI rulers is to a large extent a show, but it is also an expression of the competition between the IRI and the U. S. and its allies for domination of the Middle East.

. Although Iran has historically been an oppressed country, the Iranian ruling class has its own capitalist agenda for regional domination. The IRI has repeatedly offered to drop its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon in order to make deals with the West. It has assisted and supported the U.S. war and occupation in Afghanistan from the very beginning. And it has offered the U. S. its "services" to help "stabilize" Iraq. In the above examples, we can see how the IRI both works with and also against the Western powers in pursuit of its agenda. These are the power-plays of a rising regional power and have nothing in common with anti-imperialism.

. In Iran itself, minority nationalities such as the Kurds, Azeris, Baluchi and Turkmen (among many others) are completely denied their democratic right to self-determination. This is the official policy of the Persian-chauvinist IRI, which Mousavi supports 100%. It is a policy that is willfully glossed over by some non-internationalist, pseudo-anti-imperialists in the West who invoke the phrase "self-determination" to justify their support for the reactionary IRI.

U. S. imperialist hypocrisy

. Ruling class politicians in the U.S. have been quick to condemn the violence of the IRI against the Iranian people. This is completely hypocritical given the repeated U.S. threats of war against Iran if the government fails to toe the line on what the U. S. thinks its nuclear policy should be. (Meanwhile, nuclear-armed Israeli Zionism is given a free hand and is the #1 recipient of U.S. "foreign aid." And the racist violence Israel unleashes upon the Palestinians is met with not condemnation, but enthusiastic support from Democratic and Republican politicians alike.) The violence that U.S. imperialism threatens the Iranian people with would dwarf the crimes of the IRI. The same can be said for the sanctions imposed on Iran by the imperialist "international community." The weight of these sanctions is mostly felt by ordinary people in Iran. This is well known. If U.S. politicians really cared about the Iranian people, not just influencing the Iranian government, they would not have imposed the sanctions in the first place, and they would not be clamoring to expand them now.

. Interestingly enough, some of the loudest condemnations of the IRI's violent repression have come from John McCain, the man infamous for singing "bomb, bomb Iran" during his failed campaign for the U.S. presidency. It should therefore be clear that supporting human rights in Iran is far from the true agenda of "our own" ruling class. Rather, U.S. imperialism's agenda in Iran is centered around neutralizing Iran as a challenge to its hegemony in the Middle East. As the brutal results of U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are now exposed before the entire world, the working class and progressive people in the U.S. have a special responsibility to ensure that "our own" ruling class is not able to in any way replicate this in Iran. We must also denounce any U.S. meddling in Iranian affairs, including in the protest movement. Liberation for the peoples of Iran can only come from the self-activity and organization of the working class and oppressed nationalities in Iran. Imperialist aggression and intimidation will never bring liberation.

U. S. hands off Iran!
Down with the blood-soaked clerical regime!
Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!

Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee
July 25, 2009

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Last changed on July 28, 2009.