[Leftist Critic is an independent writer, researcher, and comrade who cares about the world around them. Other than posting on radical subreddits, they also tweet infrequently at @leftistcriticabout about the murderous US empire, international solidarity with nations and peoples under attack, and provide necessary criticism of the Western “Left.” They can be reached at leftistcritic@linuxmail.org.]

By Leftist Critic

Protests rocked have rocked the Islamic Republic of Iran in recent days, although they seem to have subsided at the present. It is worth delving into this subject more in-depth to gain a broader perspective of what is happening there while denouncing the imperialists at work in their subversive activities within the country.

First of all, Iran continues to be under attack from the murderous empire. Recently, in a session of the UN Security Council, efforts by the empire to “marshal a muscular international response to Iran’s crackdown on anti-government protesters” was a failure. Reactionary Zionist and imperialist Nikki Haley, who supported “those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves,” was rebuked by Iran’s ambassador “delivering a lengthy history of popular revolt in the United States,” along with Russia’s ambassador asking “why the Security Council had not taken up the issue of Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, Mo,” which was met with a “violent police response.” [1] China and Bolivia followed suit, with the latter arguing that the “situation in Iran does not belong on the agenda of the Security Council,” and even France and Sweden criticizing the empire, fearing that this meeting was “simply a pretext to undermine the Iran nuclear deal.” It is worth also pointing out that only earlier this week, the empire’s mission to the UN “held a cocktail reception for the nine countries that voted against the resolution in the General Assembly” which condemned the orange menace for declaring that Jerusalem was the capital of the murderous Israeli apartheid state, with the orange menace, himself, thanking the countries for “standing with the United States.”

This article aims to determine if those, such as Mohammad Omidvar, member of the Politburo and Spokesperson of the Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran, who argued that the recent protests in Iran began “in response to a surge in fuel and food prices in the country” with “frustrated masses to take on the suppressive apparatus of the regime” while arguing that “the future of Iran should only be determined by its peoples and the struggle of its progressive forces to put an end to the despotic regime,” is right, or if his conclusions about what is happening in Iran at the present are ill-informed and incorrect, by examining the origins of the protests and the future for the Iranian proletariat in the year to come. [2]

The protest origins and debates over what transpired

The origin of the protests themselves is in dispute. The grey propaganda outlet of Cold War origins (RFE/RL), a subsidiary of the empire itself, is even confused. They claim that it is “difficult to pinpoint” who the protesters are and what “they want” as they sigh that “there is no single issue that is driving the protests” and “no apparent leadership.” [3] In other articles they spread supposed “credible reports” of protests and slyly condemn the Iranian government, as would be expected by such a hideous “news” source. Whereas Reuters, holding the general narrative pushed by the bourgeois media, declares that the protests, in which 22 people have reportedly died and over 1,000 have been arrested, was started when “thousands of young and working-class Iranians expressed their anger at graft, unemployment and a deepening gap between rich and poor.” [4] In contrast, of course, was the fact that thousands upon thousands of supporters of the government held rallies and marches “in more than a dozen cities with demonstrators waving Iranian flags and chanting slogans” condemning the murderous empire, the murderous Israeli apartheid state, and Britain, while Iranian emigres held rallies across Europe “in support of the anti-government protests in Iran.” Interestingly, in what Reuters claimed was the “boldest challenge to the clerical leadership since unrest in 2009” in which hundreds have been reportedly arrested and mobile internet access has been reportedly blocked, President Hassan Rouhani, in a televised address, said that “Iranians had the right to criticize [the government] but must not cause unrest.” In what is undoubtedly a planted propaganda “fact,” Reuters claimed that “many Iranians resent those foreign interventions [in Syria and Iraq], and want their leaders to create jobs at home,” which almost posits the Iranians as dupes of imperialists, of which they are not in any way, shape or form. Time magazine took a similar approach, claiming that the protests “present a serious challenge to President Hassan Rouhani and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei” and that they present a wide “condemnation of the clerical establishment and security forces.” [5]

The same was said by the New York Times, saying that the protests “appeared to be a sign of unrest,” painting Iran as being in dire straits, even as they admitted that it was “difficult to judge the size of the demonstrations and whether they were organized, and if so, by whom” and saying that “protests over economic conditions are not uncommon in Iran” with some “reformists” believing that the protests “emerged from authentic concerns.” BBC held a similar line, declaring that the protests began against “rising prices” but turned into a “general outcry against clerical rule and government policies” and represent, in their view, the “most serious and widespread expression of public discontent in Iran since mass protests in 2009.” After saying that slogans were chanted against Rouhani and the Supreme Leader, they, like Reuters, said that there was “anger at Iran’s interventions abroad.” Even they had to admit, however, as they claimed that the protests, possibly triggered by “hardliners, “stem from seething discontent in Iran,” that the demonstrations “do not appear to be taking place on a massive scale.” They echoed the same points in an article about a supposed “cyber battle” between government supporters and Iranian protesters (and their supporters). Just like the bourgeois media’s claims about “Russian bots” here, there, and everywhere, BBC claimed the same of those supporting the government, saying they did so on Twitter even as they begrudgingly admitted that there was “no evidence that these accounts were created by official authorities or security services.” They then continued on their pseudo-analysis to basically praise the protesters as “good” and paint the government supporters as “bad” despite the fact they admitted that “hashtag mostly associated with the recent events in Iran, #nationwide_protests,” has actually had a number of posts supposedly “in favour of the demonstrations from Saudi Arabia,” along with some other “analysis” on hashtags.

Non-western media took a different perspective. Telesur English noted that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Iran’s enemies for recent protests, along with other Iranian leaders linking them to Israeli and U$ meddling, saying that “protests began…in the city of Mashhad against economic conditions and a spike in certain food costs.” They added that since then, protests spread to other cities, turning violent, with the protests widely seized upon and reported by bourgeois media, receiving “the praise of U.S. and Israeli politicians,” while those rallies in support of Iranian leaders “have been largely underreported” by the same media. This is undeniably true, as bourgeois media in the West paints the latter rallies as a bunch of brainwashed, robotic Iranians, rather than people who care about their country but disagree with the protesters. In another Telesur English article, the protests were described as “spontaneous,” with notes about how “social media posts have appeared to spark the rallies,” with demands for better economic conditions, along with a rally to “support Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other leaders…that had been planned weeks in advance” that included criticism of U$ economic sanctions on Iran, along with Iran’s Foreign Ministry slamming the statements of the murderous empire. Other articles in the same news outlet noted that the governments of Turkey and Russia warned “against interfering into Iran,” and the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) saying that the police force was able to “confront the dupes of the Great Satan [United States],” with what they termed was “the end of the sedition” by protesters whom were, as Telesur said were originally protesting “against corruption and economy.” Finally, there was an article noting that the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza, and President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela denounced comments by the murderous empire and the Zionists on Iran, saying that they “artificially encourage unsettling actions against people’s sovereignty and independence, as they have done in Venezuela” and said that the world must “respect Iran’s sovereignty” and refrain “from intervening in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s interior affairs.”

RT added to this, but in a different way. They noted that protesters in “Tehran, Mashhad and other cities are angry over the rising cost of living, the state of the economy, and allegations of political corruption” while some protesters have “reportedly tried to take over police stations and military bases” and were repulsed, which has been met with “mass counter-demonstrations in support of Iran’s leadership.”Also in RT it was described how the Iranian Parliament met in a closed-door meeting, with the country’s security forces, with a description of how the protests broke out on December 28, “over economic problems…in Iran’s second-largest city of Mashhad,” quickly spreading to other cities, while thousands of “government supporters held rallies across Iran for the fifth straight day on Saturday.” Other articles in RT noted that “Washington was quick to throw its support behind the demonstrators,” that Russia warned the murderous empire against “attempts to meddle in Iran’s domestic affairs,” and that even the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, told reporters that the “official line pursued by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia…is almost one that would lead us to war,” wanting to take a diplomatic route even as Zionists praised the protesters in Iran.

In another Russian news source, TASS, it was noted that access to the Telegram service in Iran, which was not fully blocked, was recently re-opened after “temporary restrictions introduced upon the decision of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council on December 31,” with the Iranian government saying that unrest in Iran was over, with claims that 15,000 were involved in “riots across the country.” This was also echoed by the Syrian state media outlet, SANA, saying in a short news bulletin that tens of thousands of Iranians gathered across the country “protest sabotage acts and foreign interventions in Iran’s internal affairs” with these crowds stressing “their support to the Iranian leadership and…their rejection of sabotage acts.” In another SANA article, it was clear that Syria had a strong alliance with Iran, expressing their “confidence in the ability of the Iranian leadership and people to thwart the US- Zionist conspiracy and continue its prominent role in supporting the just causes.”

Iranian media was some of the most critical of all, and rightfully so as I’ll point out later. Iran’s Prosecutor General Mohammad Jaafar Montazeri argues that behind the riots (the violent protests) are Iran’s enemies, declaring that “this movement is totally rooted in foreign plots.” Rouhani said the same, noting correctly that the murderous empire wants to undermine the Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA), while admitting that there are a protesters with the “right demands” but are deceived, even saying that their criticism is right but they “must choose the right path to express criticism,” saying that some are “abusing the situation by provoking others.” Beyond this, the IRGC went further to thank the people, the “tens of thousands of Basij members, ministry of intelligence, and the country’s police force” for defeating the enemies (monarchists, Saudis, MKO, U$, Britain, and the Zionists) who engineered these protests, from their perspective. Other than the IRGC, many of the top Iranian government officials gave details “on the roots and causes of the unrest,” arguing that foreigners had a role in the recent events, specifically emphasizing that the “US played a key role in the formation and exploitation of these unrests in the country.” Furthermore, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry put out a statement saying that a “terrorist cell had crossed into the Iranian soil with a mission to cause explosion and kill innocent people in order to escalate the recent unrest and protests in the country,” but they failed in their ultimate mission. Other Iranian media outlets talked about the “nationwide pro-government demonstrations” and that violent protests, which they called riots, were plotted “by foreign enemies and put into practice by insider elements in Iran using the base of cyber space” with some Iranian officials admitting that there were people “rightfully unhappy with economic problems,” while others, within the mass of protesters, wanted to “deliver a blow to the country,” encouraged by the “fierce enemies of the Islamic Iran like Saudi Arabia, US, Israel, and UK.”

More recent articles rejected propaganda by the murderous empire that the Iranians gave the Houthis weapons, with the Commander-in-Chief of IRGC, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, saying that “how can you send missiles to a country that is totally besieged and cannot even receive food or medicine?” Another article quoted the Prosecutor General of Tehran, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, saying that the violent protests (i.e. riots) of the previous week had been “plotted by US” with the help of MKO, followed by varying cyber campaigns, while varying detainees from the riots. Other articles quoted Rouhani as criticizing the approach of the murderous empire to “dealing with Iranian people,”with the article adding that during the UN Security Council meeting, “Washington’s own allies used the debate to criticize the White House for involving the body in Iran’s domestic affairs” which was undoubtedly an embarrassment. Another article noted that there were mass rallies “in the cities of Sanandaj and Qazvin as well as a number of cities in the northern Province of Golestan” in which participants carried national flags, and chanted “pro-establishment slogans as they censured the acts of sedition and violence.” Iranian media also quoted the Commander of Army Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Major General Seyyed Abdol-Rahim Mousavi, saying that the “deep-rooted hostility of American government with Iran before and after the glorious victory of the Islamic Revolution is obvious” and added that the “US government has left no stone unturned before and after the Islamic Revolution…[and the] Iranian government under its wise leadership has thwarted conspiracies waged by US government against Iran.” Finally, the same media quoted President Rouhani as saying that people are able to demonstrate against the government, that people’s demands were misused, and that “the enemies that people drove out of Iran with the use of the revolution, want our country to be in state of unrest.” He added that some in the region are “hostile to our country,” that “authorities are not infallible and all authorities can be criticised,” adding that it is incorrect to say that “people’s demands are only limited to economic issues” while endorsing his administration’s neoliberal push forward in the economy, saying that “people’s access to cyberspace should not be cut permanently” and that “with transparency, criticism is heard better and corruption and problems will be eliminated,” among many other opinions.

Some commentators, across the board, shared the skepticism of the protests exhibited by the Iranian government. Stephen Kinzer seemed to question if covert aid was going to “the latest group of Iranian protesters,” saying it should stop because “Iranians instinctively reject political movements that they see as tools of foreign power.” He added that the protests have no “central leadership and offer no coherent alternative to the religious regime.” He further said that Iran is the “strongest counterweight to American power in the Middle East” and that it is time for the murderous empire to leave the Middle East for good. Others were more outwardly critical, saying that the protests were cover for a “much larger plan for covert regime change” advanced by the murderous empire and their Zionist friends, which includes the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, “leader of the Quds Force active in fighting the Wahhabist insurgency in Syria,” a force which has been “instrumental in aiding the Syrian government.” The analysis added that the U$ and the Zionists took advantage of the protests, with neocons and liberals publicly supporting them, adding that it is “unlikely that either Israel or the United States will be willing to accept another failure like their venture in Syria.” Moon of Alabama was one of the most critical media on this. They argued that a “color revolution or revolt in Iran have only little chances of success” with current incidents part of a larger plan with conservatives (also called “principalists”) being culturally conservative but favoring “economic programs that benefit the poor” while the so-called “reformists” are culturally progressive but have neoliberal economic policies. It was further noted that current protests were hijacked by a small group, heavily promoted by the “usual suspects,” chanting slogans “against the Iranian system and against the strong Iranian engagement in Syria and Palestine.” They pointed to a story about a Sunni terror group blowing up “a pipeline in south-west Iran near the Iraqi border” saying it, in combination with Israel’s support of terror groups in Iran, pointed to a “wider and well organized plan” with the protests, in their mind, being clearly coordinated, possibly with a plan to instigate a reaction leading to the implementation of “wider and stricter sanctions against Iran especially from Europe.” However, their analysis is a bit faulty. Iranian media quoted representatives for the Aqajari Oil and Gas company, noting that no incident by the terror group Ansar al-Furqan damaging “the working oil and gas pipelines has happened” with media reports on this being a lie. This begs the question: is there a bigger plan at work or not? It seems to cast some doubt on the fact that the protests, as Moon of Alabama claims, are the “first stage of a large “regime change” operation run by the U.S. and Israel with the help of [an] Iranian terrorist group.” Even so, one can agree with them that protests against the Rouhani government’s neoliberal policies are justified, even if workers are not going to take power if the Iranian government falls.

Other commentators followed suit. Some said that the protests “were inevitable and are a symptom of our system of government” in Iran, with the murderous empire “fully prepared to kill millions of Iranians and poison our land with depleted uranium,” and arguing that the Iranian government needs to “set up safe meeting places where protesters can express their concerns, be heard, and solutions worked out.” Others said that “the current wave of protests is…an upsurge against the privations in Iran – unemployment, deprivation and hopelessness” with sharp anger over the failure of the government “to deliver the basic needs of a growing and youthful population,” adding that inflation is still a major problem in these “tense times for Iran” and arguing that it is “not enough to describe the protestors as foreign agents.” There were those who broadly agreed, saying that the protest motives are “primarily economic,” with discontent everywhere “possibly a sign of covert organisation by anti-government groups,” adding that the murderous empire and the Saudis “may also be tempted to fund ethnic groups like the Iranian Kurds,” further adding that bloody suppression of the protests will “strengthen the hand of the hardliners.” Others had a similar perspective. Grete Mautner wrote in the New Eastern Outlook that the protests which began in the “the Iranian Razavi Khorasan Province…spread all over the country” were originally provoked by those who called for “civil disobedience” using the Telegram messaging service. He added that this large “outburst of protests” is a shock, that it is understandable that many protesters are youth due to the high unemployment rate, and that the “price of a regime change in Iran can be too high for anybody to pay.” With that, one can easily agree.

Even the Trotskyists, who often have faulty ideas, held a somewhat similar line, declaring that Iran has been rocked “by protests against food price rises, mass joblessness, ever-widening social inequality and the Islamic Republic’s brutal austerity program and political repression.” They argued that numerous Iranian leaders justified state repression, with the current protests of a “different class character than those that unfolded in 2009 under the banner of the so-called Green Revolution,” claiming that the current protests were “an incipient rebellion of the working class” with the current Iranian bourgeoisie “utterly incapable of establishing genuine democracy and freedom from imperialism.” On the same token they rejected the views of the “Stalinist Tudeh Party and various petty-bourgeois left forces,” declaring the need for an “international socialist revolution” but only one on Trotskyist terms which are not truly revolutionary. [6] This was echoed in their other article on the protests, which they characterized as one by “unemployed youth and impoverished workers,” claiming that it is “only a matter of time before working class anger and opposition bursts forth anew” and claimed that the “Islamic Republic’s bourgeois-clerical elite…would be more than willing to reach an accommodation with the US if only it abandoned its drive for regime-change.” They added that “the sudden ebbing of the protests” was because the demonstrators “lacked a clear and worked-out political perspective.”

There were those who seem to think the “Left” is delusional, of course. One of those people is Reza Fiyouzat. The same person who sneered at “Bolivarian socialism,” seemed to support the “Green Revolution,” declared that the Chinese are capitalist, called for the releasing of a supposed “political prisoner” in Iran, and seems to dislike the Democratic Party, predictably scowled at the response of anti-imperialists to the protests in Iran. While agreeing with other commentators that “protests broke out over economic issues such as high inflation and high youth unemployment,” and seeming to have a strong analysis of Iran which criticized the current government for giving into international capitalism, he sneered at those on the anti-imperialist “western left.” He claimed that they sided with “the theocracy” and painted Iranians as a “bunch of mindless robots remote-controlled from Langley” while further declaring that it is “quick and easy it is for some in the western left, as soon as a movement arises in some forsaken third world country, to display the knee-jerk reaction of playing judge and jury.” As would be expected, he put up a straw man which can easily be burned in a strong fire.

Take Stephen Lendman for example, a White left-leaning commentator based in the U$. He argued that the protests in Iran were “orchestrated, leadership directing them, likely from abroad” and said that they have the “earmarks of a CIA attempted color revolution, perhaps complicit with Israel’s Mossad,” adding that “Iranian security forces prepared to confront whatever happens.” Another article said the same, as he suggested foreign interference with volatile conditions, as he described them, bearing “the disturbing earmarks of an attempted US-orchestrated color revolution” and saying that “Iran is well aware of what’s going on, its security forces trained and able to confront made-in-the-USA violence and instability.” You could say that Lendman is a propagandist of the Iranian government. However, he does not seem to talk about the Iranian people in his posts, only about the subversion by the murderous empire and mainly quoting Iranian media as he seems to see the Iranian government as a bulwark against imperial expansion. I’m not saying he is the best analyst out there, but he is not painting Iranians as “mindless robots.” Even the Iranian government isn’t doing this, thanking those who came out to support them and condemning violent protests! Mr. Fiyouzat seems to be off his rocker, which has floated down into a stream of ice blocks, which keep hitting him in the head as he becomes more and more delirious. Perhaps there is someone out there that fulfills his straw man, but I seriously doubt that, even among sites like Global Research Centre which peddles conspiracies at times which can be outlandish. Still, there is no doubt that Mr. Fiyouzat is not only devoid of understanding international solidarity, even if he can concoct a passable analysis, but is incapable of reading accurately the words of those he disagrees with. This a sign of a person who is deluded beyond belief.

Moving on, most, if not all (I hope) of the readers of this post would agree that imperialist interventions in Libya and Syria are not “justified because they are demanded by forces the author calls revolutionary” as argued by Mazda Majidi back in 2012. The same writer had an article about Iran’s recent protests. He wrote:

Starting Dec. 28, 2017, Iran has witnessed anti-government protests in several cities and towns. The character and the demands of the demonstrations have varied greatly […] The first few protests focused mainly on economic issues. Demonstrations were peaceful and marched down streets chanting slogans. These initial protests seemed to occur without major incidents […] Predictably, the U.S. and other Western media have provided highly sympathetic and strongly exaggerated coverage to the demonstrations. Across the spectrum of U.S. ruling class politics, there is broad unity on the goal of regime change in Iran. They have an immediate solidarity with anything that could weaken the Iranian state. The one exception would be if there were an explicit socialist or anti-imperialist revolutionary opposition movement in Iran, of course, in which case the Western capitals would positively oppose it. But in the here and now, the Iranian state’s independent political relationships and military interventions have been a persistent thorn to U.S., Saudi and Israeli designs […] Iranian society cannot be understood if reduced to the simplistic framework of “the dictatorial regime” versus “the suffering people” […]Iran is a capitalist society where competing bourgeois factions jockey for position and control, dominating different state institutions and influencing different media outlets […] The competing camps do not align neatly nor fall into neat political categories like “right” and “left.” What the Western media calls “hardline” is typically more associated with those projecting confrontation with imperialism and a stricter interpretation of religious rule. The “reformists,” who controlled government during the early 2000s, take a more conciliatory line. […] The system is […] overseen by a clerical authority […] Protests are uncommon but not unprecedented in Iran. In recent years, protests have taken place on a number of issues, usually local in character, but in some cases in several cities […] one is led to believe that these demonstrations reflect the will of the vast majority of the people. But there are few facts so far to do not support such a narrative […] On Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, massive demonstrations took place in 120 cities. But these were demonstrations in support of the Islamic Republic, not in opposition to it. […] Several U.S. media organizations – e.g. CNN, New York Times – have used photos of the pro-Islamic Republic mass demonstrations for their articles on the opposition protests […] In the current movement there is not a clear organized leadership, nor are there clearly defined political demands. At this early stage, one can only make a preliminary assessment and note emerging trends. At least initially, the primary demands appear to be economic […] Small protests also took place at universities in recent days along these lines, calling President Rouhani a “disgrace” and chanting “down with the dictator” […] In this sense, the initial protests can be understood as the struggle between political factions spilling into the streets and attempting to mobilize popular support behind them […] As the days went on, overt demands for the overthrow of the political system were expressed through the chant: “Down with the dictator” […] It was widely reported that at some protests in the last week, the demand for the return of the Shah’s regime was openly chanted […] Iran’s is not a traditional, agrarian economy […] Economic growth does not mean, of course, that people do not suffer economic hardship […] Iran has a capitalist economy with a large and strong state sector. The size of the state sector somewhat moderates the harsh effects of the market on the working class. Still, it is a capitalist economy, which, by its very nature, causes the accumulation of wealth and extreme differences between the living standards of the capitalists and the working class […] But the substantial growth of the economy in the years since the 1990s, following the end of the Iran-Iraq war, has not been shared equally by all classes, as might be expected in any capitalist country. There exists now a class of the super-rich, the members of which are part of, or have close ties to, the political establishment […] Iran is not an impoverished country where hunger and destitution have reached a breaking point […] To the extent that protests are motivated by the economy, it is not absolute poverty or the worsening of the living standards. It is the growing gap between the filthy rich and the rest of society […] It is instructive to look at two issues that have reportedly prompted anger about the government’s proposed budget […] Another point reportedly driving the anger at the economy is the planned reduction in the government’s cash subsidies […] There is no doubt that the protests themselves reflect the frustrations of part of the population. There are widely felt grievances that many are demanding be heard and real problems they want rectified. Given the long history of involvement of foreign agents in Iran, however, it would be nonsensical to assume that they would not again be working hard to try and seize hegemony over it […] No foreign agent or foreign-funded organization can create an opposition movement where there is not an existing potential for such. But they can have an impact on its direction […] while the importance of social discontent as the root cause of protests must be understood, the possibility of armed agents entering, influencing and even capturing the movement cannot be discounted either […] active work towards the overthrow of the Iranian government did not just start with the Trump administration. It has been U.S. foreign policy for decades, with only brief periods of intermission […] our task is to understand and teach others that the U.S. imperialist establishment, by its very nature, can never be an ally to the forces of revolution and progress. The future of Iran is not to be decided by Trump, Tillerson and Haley, nor Clinton, Obama and the rest. The people of Iran have the right of self-determination. They are the ones who will determine their future based on their views, preferences and struggles. U.S. Hands off Iran!

The skepticism of the protests is justified. Reuters and other bourgeois media admit that “Iran’s adversaries voiced their support for the resurgence of anti-government sentiment” including the voices of the orange menace, Mike Pence, Netanyahu, and Lindsey Graham, to name a few. [7] Then there was Iran-hater Stewart A. Baker (who was disavowed by Lawfare which said his post “can plausibly be read to advocate violence with potentially indiscriminate weapons in an emotive, too-personal fashion”) who was ringing his hands about Iran supposedly killing troops of the empire, using the U$ military as a source for his analysis. It is roundly accepted that Zionists want to overthrow the existing government of Iran, without a question. The current administration of the murderous empire has its eyes on Iran. The CIA recently established a “mission center” for Iran, like the one for the DPRK, making the country “a higher priority target for American spies” which elevates the country’s importance as “an intelligence target and making it a priority alongside other countries such as Russia and North Korea.” [8] This is coupled with the “nonstop CIA/CNN narrative being advanced that Iran is a top perpetrator of state-sponsored terrorism” with the manufacturing of consent for a possible future war aimed at Iran. The Anti-Imperialist News Service says something similar, saying that there is a “campaign for war on Iran” by the murderous empire, as it wants to dominate the Middle East region and control the oil, with the people of the empire needing to demand “the democratic renewal of the U.S. political process and political system so that the decision-making power is placed in the hands of the people” with an “internationalist stand of the working class” corresponding with the “profound anti-imperialist traditions of the American people.” With all of this, it is not a surprise that the security forces in the country and the people of Iran, in the view of the IRGC, had “put an end to unrest fomented by foreign enemies.” [9]

Then there are those groups within Iran which seem to have a working-class perspective. The Central Committee of the Iranian Communist Party (seemingly different from Tudeh), issued a communiqué describing the protests as against “poverty and high unemployment, embezzlement, and robbery of government officials.” They added that the monarchist slogans were overwhelmed by those slogans reflecting “the anger and protest of the people against the cost and poverty and economic misery” and claiming that the Iranian government saw that the “spread of strikes and protests by workers in large industrial centers could be a prelude to the mass protests.”

In sum, it seems just about everyone agrees that the protests originally began over economic issues or something more (as Rouhani argued). [10] For now, they have subsided. It seems evident there was external interference, as would be expected, but the feelings of anger and rage at the current economic conditions in the country are undoubtedly genuine. All of this brings us to the second section of the article, which goes beyond the protests to give a broader perspective.

The days forward for Iran in 2018 and beyond

Recently, on this very website, Amber B. penned a short article titled “On the Iran Protests.” Within it, she says that the bourgeois media and “moribund neoliberal establishment” have projected their fantasies onto Iranian protests, while adding that some Western leftists are quickly jumping on board, declaring that there is a possibility for “people’s war and socialist revolution in Iran.” She continues by saying that the complaints of the Iranian people cannot be dismissed as a “western conspiracy” and that it is clear that the first protests were provoked “by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) liquidating the assets of Mizan, a semi-official private creditor in the country, after it declared bankruptcy.” She added that while there was righteous outrage over this and general anxieties about the economy, a minority of monarchists and pro-western liberals “attempted to agitate for regime change” which alienated those who were “deeply concerned about economic conditions.” It was also noted that any position by communists in the West must be “anchored to our political responsibilities, and to anti-imperialism” with the recognition, in the case of Iran, that the country “has been a great ally to the people’s movements of the world, and has contributed greatly to the struggle against western imperialism” while noting that the current state is far from good for the Iranian proletariat, with “legitimate reasons to struggle against the Iranian state.” She closed by saying that “so long as there is capitalism, there will always be a legitimate reason to struggle,” that communists not only “have no power to leverage against the Iranian state” or a vanguard party “with which to forge formal ties with Iranian comrades” and that, as a result, the murderous empire presents the “greatest danger to the world proletariat at this moment, and that is something we certainly do have power to leverage against” with a call for “imperialist hands off the Third World” as we remain “remain critical, and opposed in every way to their [imperialist] activities as our principal enemy.”

Amber B. is undeniably right in her well-thought analysis. As the Iranian government bans “English lessons for all primary schools” since teaching the English language is seen as a “cultural invasion,” which is purportedly against established “laws and regulations,” by those such as High Education Council leader Mehdi Navid-Adham, the “Left” in Iran is undeniably weak, as I’ll outline shortly. [11] As “conditions are stable” in Iran some have warned we should expect “lots more US/Israeli dirty tricks ahead” since Iran, the DPRK, and Venezuela “remain the Trump administration’s prime targets for regime change.” This is undeniably the case. In an interview with a CNN host, former oil man Rex Tillerson, head of the U$ State Department, bellowed that the “Iranian people have suffered under this regime” with very “little good” for Iranians, with Iranians deciding “this is not how they want to live any longer.” He admitted that the murderous empire wants a “transition to power” but will only support one that is “peaceful” not a “violent” one, a distinction which is almost minutia, and that the empire is “supportive of the Iranian people achieving their aspirations” through statements, amplifying voices critical of the Iranian government, and imposing sanctions for Iran’s “destabilizing activities within the region” even though though Iran’s actions have stabilized more of the region, with the empire engaging in destabilization, not Iran, without a doubt. He concluded by almost acting like he understood the protesters, even though he likely doesn’t.

It is evident that the “Left” or those progressive forces pushing against capitalism and for a socialist revolution are weak and scattered within Iran. Within the country, the formation and activity of political parties is recognized provided that such organizations, or even societies and associations, “do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, the criteria of Islam, or the basis of the Islamic Republic.” This followed the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, when Iran went from a “single-party state under the monarchy to having close to 100 political parties.” But what about left-leaning political groups in the country? It is clear that one of opposition groups is the Tudeh Party, with many of its members arrested and suppressed during the 1980s, since “only parties that adhered to the Islamic character of the state could operate legally” and Tudeh was outside of that. [12] After all, what some consider the “left party” in Iran are really a bunch of liberals, no one that is revolutionary. Instead, the two political camps in Iran, the “reformists” and “principalists” which do not fall into traditional “left” and “right” classifications.

However, this doesn’t give the broader picture. There are varying parties that could be considered to be in the “opposition.” Some are liberal in nature, while others are monarchist, “ethnic” or “leftist,” to name a few, to summarize the categories from a Wikipedia page on Iran’s political parties. [13] Of all of these, among those that are “leftist” there is Tudeh, which called upon the “freedom-loving and progressive forces of Iran” to stand against the Iranian government, which they call the “Islamic regime,” the Communist Party of Iran which protested the attendance “of the representatives of the Islamic regime of Iran to the annual summit of ILO” (International Labor Organization), and last, but not least, the Communist Party of Iran Marxist-Leninist-Maoist which recently called for the “overthrow of the Islamic Republic.” However, these groups, among others, are in exile. [14] Tudeh was, in 1980, when it was apparently getting Soviet aid, was a “clandestine organization,” and by 1982 it was targeted by the government, which “arrested almost the entire leadership and many of the most active members,” while other communist groups, like the Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) fled to Western Europe at the time and others in years to follow. As a result, to quote one academic article on this subject, while “leftists have provided a long history of political opposition in Iran,” such leftists would have come together except that there was a broad “history of factionalism” and “political binarism” with emphasis on “post-revolution unity above all else” leading to a failure of unification after the Islamic Revolution.

Saying all of this further supports Amber B.’s words that “the reactionary state is far from good for the proletariat of Iran.” As such, the words of Toufan arguing for “unity of the masses [to] guarantee the victory over terrorism and over the lackeys of imperialism,” a boycott of the 2017 presidential elections in Iran, claiming it is “the appointment of a mafia bandit by the Supreme Leader,” and declaring that “the capitalist regime of the Islamic Republic continues to oppress the working class” seems well-intentioned. However, it does not recognize that forces of “the left” have little or no influence within the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is not a statement of support of the current government in Iran or the situation there, but a reality.

In order to adequately understand what is happening in Iran, it is important to fully recognize the economic situation there. As of 2016, the ILO reported that the unemployment rate for the whole country was almost 13%. Their other data noted that only about 21% of the labor force has an advanced degree, while women are more than twice as often to be in the ranks of the unemployed than men, and almost 30% of the youth are unemployed. This follows the privatization in Iran started in 2005-2006, with the creation of the Iranian Privatization Organization in which the government is “assigned to cede 80 percent of the shares of major state-owned enterprises to the people” which will undoubtedly not actually be distributed to the people. [15] Adding to this, the World Bank, one of the mainstays of international capitalism, declared that the country was “upper middle income” while the IMF (International Monetary Fund), another institution aimed at maintaining the global capitalist system, smiled in glee, at the “progress” of the current government.

Just last month, the IMF completed a mission to the country, admitting that while the “economy faces near-term challenges,” that there needs to be the “urgent implementation of the planned financial sector reform” which includes efforts to reduce the country’s debt, “unify the exchange rate, and transition to a market-based monetary policy framework.” The IMF further demanded the completion of reforms to remove “obstacles to private sector development” and other measures that would “facilitate re-integration” of Iran into the global capitalist economy, while saying that Iran needs to “reduce red tape, [and] reform state-owned enterprises.” Earlier that year, the IMF said the same. They declared, after the board of the IMF had met on the topic of “Islamic Republic of Iran – 2016 Article IV Consultation” on February 24, that there has been been an economic “recovery” in the country, that there needs to be “reforms to lessen Iran’s reliance on oil and develop the private sector” as they welcomed the thrust of “reform plans” by the current Iranian government. As would be expected, they also claimed that “reducing the role of the state and improving the business climate would foster foreign investment and aid job creation” while recommending unnamed “labor market reforms.” Even though the IMF claims to have some “issues” with the current government’s approach, applauding the lifting of sanctions, just like the World Bank, they are broadly pleased with the government’s neoliberal policy. Basically Rouhani and his cabal of advisers are throwing the government to the capitalist vultures.

As such, the protests against these policies (which British bourgeois publication The Economist calls an “outbreak of social unrest”), although they have been disparate, disorganized, and include elements funded by the imperialists, are wholly justified. The economy of Iran, characterized by oil, “agriculture and services sectors, and a noticeable state presence in manufacturing and financial services” is, as argued by the World Bank, still dependent on oil revenues (as are the monies taken in by the government), leading to volatility. The same capitalist institution praised, back in April of last year, “the pace of Iran’s reintegration with the global economy” and the upcoming “structural reform agenda that will boost the non-oil sector growth” by creating a business environment which doesn’t favor Iranian-state-owned enterprises even as the “unemployment rate returned to a three-year high of 12.7 percent…in the second quarter of 2016 despite the high growth rate” as they admitted. In keeping with these declarations, the World Bank has declared that while economic growth, as a result of the Iran deal, is slow, that they desire the “sustained transformation of the economy towards a resilient, stable, productive, open, knowledge-based and just economy.” Basically, they want the Iranian state to reduce their “role in the economy to create room for the private sector,” as they seem to see the economy, like Freedom House, as dominated by “powerful institutions like the IRGC.” In its is place, in the so-called “private sector,” would be the ravenous capitalists who would undoubtedly corrupt the country in a way that could be irreversible. Is it any surprise that the World Bank mediated the dispute between capitalist Britain and the Shah’s Iran over the proposed “nationalization of Iran’s oil industry”?

Iran, economically is in bad straits. There is no doubt that the bourgeois media has exaggerated this to make the country seem to be on the brink of disaster. Still, as capitalist combines, also called multinational corporations, move their operations to areas where they can get cheaper labor, bringing in “new technology that requires less labour” and there is an “open market,” the more “efficient economies will take trade share from the less efficient.” In the case of Iran, this would benefit the capitalist West, as the “the free movement of capital owned by the trans-nationals and free trade without tariff and restrictions,” will result in big “efficient capitals triumph[ing] at the expense of the weaker and inefficient – and workers in those sectors take the hit.” In essence, this means that as long as the Rouhani government cozies up to the Western capitalists, the Iranian proletariat will suffer. Even as the Iranian nuclear deal was “not particularly to the liking of imperialism” it still broadly accomplished imperialist goals, with the murderous empire, along with “the lesser imperialists of Britain[,] Europe and Japan,” continuing their role as “the real rogues and terrorists who stalk the world in their quest for maximum profits and total domination.” If restrictions on Iran were removed, then the Western capitalists could return with force and reassert control. The deal itself could be seen to be a “considerable victory for Iran” since it has “international recognition of her right to enrich uranium,” and when coupled with Iran’s admission to be a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), it could constitute a strong part of anti-imperialist front, but this does not recognize that it is “a lot quicker and easier to re-impose sanctions than to replace nuclear reactors that have been destroyed.”

On one hand, there is no denying that the “imperialist aggression against both Syria and Iran is driven” by the need to “humble an anti-imperialist force,” either through the restriction of Iran’s economic development or measures of isolation, and to contain Russia and China. Even more than that, Iran poses a “fundamental challenge to Washington’s hegemony in the Middle East, acting as a rallying centre for other nations resisting US imperialism and Zionism” as it moves forward on a “path of peaceful independent development.” This manifested itself in the fact that on December 24th, before the protests, MPs in the Iranian Parliament overwhelmingly voted “in favor of a bill that would see Jerusalem recognized as the capital of the Palestinian State during a parliamentary session” with the motion backed “by 187 of the 233 deputies, with 15 voting against and 9 abstaining.” I have expressed a similar sentiment, when I argued that “Iran stands on the side of the Palestinian people” and that we should engage “in critical solidarity with Palestinian resistance to the murderous Zionist state of Israel.”

On the other hand, this seems to sidestep discussion about the Iranian bourgeoisie. We can talk about the “Green Revolution” in 2009 drawn from “the middle and upper classes” of Iran to oppose the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, standing against “imperialist-backed attempts at destabilisation and ‘regime change'” as some put it, or about the “section of the imperialist bourgeoisie” in the West which are “clamouring for nuclear assaults on Iran now.” Instead, it is worth focusing on the “comprador elements” in the Iranian bourgeoisie which “have been finding ways of letting imperialism back in, especially European imperialism.”As some have noted, “the apparent Islamic unity of the Iranian ruling class should not blind us to the fact that there are two factions within Iranian ruling circles” one is a faction called the “principalists” who want to continue fighting against imperialism, “strengthen national independence and the national economy, maintain a strong public sector and improve the living conditions of the masses” while the others, the “reformists,” want to “compromise with imperialism, indulge in wholesale privatisation, open the Iranian market to unhindered imperialist access.” As such, these are two competing forces, with the reformists backed by the “imperialist monster” and the principalists as “vigorously anti-imperialist.” The latter is manifested in Rouhani, who is engaging in an almost European-style push for austerity, with economy moving from “one that is centrally-planned, albeit not entirely; to one that is more of an open market.” In sum, Iran has a “religious government with revolutionary roots.”

In the past, I have basically endorsed the “hardline” Iranian politicians, saying that they would lead “the country to oppose US imperialism more effectively and chart its own course more independently.” But with the recognition that both the “principalist” (or “hardline”) and “reformist” factions have promoted privatization, it seems evident to have a more accurate position on the Iranian bourgeoisie. It seems evident that the bourgeoisie who are “principalist” in nature are stronger anti-imperialists and support, more effectively, the role of Iran in countering imperialism of the murderous empire, and its comprador states, within the Mideast. This is undeniably a positive. This is case, even as is worth remembering that Iran, as a religiously conservative country, does not “have true liberation, especially for women, homosexuals, and non-Muslims” with this even more the case among Muslim puppet states in the region from Jordan to Saudi Arabia. This should surprise no one. You don’t need to look at intellectual property laws (which benefit capitalists) of Iran but rather at its constitution!

After a couple pages of introduction, the constitution begins, in article 1, with the declaration that  “the government of Iran is an Islamic Republic, which the nation of Iran based on its long-held belief in the rule of the truth and the justice of the Qu’ran,” making it clear it is  a state that is based on Islam itself not one where we should ring our hands about “clerical fascists,” a “theocratic dictatorship” or call it a “theocratic republic with a Shia Islamic political system” like the U$ State Department. After clearly outlining the religious influences, the document obliges, in article 3, the Iranian government to have “free academic and physical education, at all levels for everyone,” completely reject “colonialism and the prevention of foreign influence” and “the securing of political and social freedoms within the limits of law.” Some articles, like article 9 of the constitution, outline that “freedom, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of the nation are inseparable from one another,” while others, like article 15, say that “Persian is the official and common language and script of the people of Iran…[but that the] use of regional and ethnic languages in the press, the mass media, and the teaching of their literature at schools, alongside the Persian language, is freely permitted” (could this include English?). Other parts of the document say that “the government must secure the rights of women in all respects, according to the Islamic criteria” (article 21), that it is “a universal right to enjoy social security and have benefits with respect to retirement, unemployment, old age, workers’ compensation, lack of guardianship, and destitution” (article 29), and that the “economic system of the Islamic Republic of Iran is based on three sectors: state, cooperative, and private, and will be based on disciplined and correct planning” (article 41). While the Constitution protects private property (article 47), it rejects an Iranian foreign policy that accepts “any kind of domination” (article 152) and any agreement that “would result in foreign domination over the natural and economic resources” (article 153).

Taking this into account, one can say that the “principalists,” who held power broadly until the 1990s, when the “reformists” seemed to coalesce, are fundamentally nationalist, religious, and possibly socially democratic (to a limited extent) in their orientation, if you take the constitution at face value. The Arab Republic of Syria, which is a uniquely secular state, is much more socially democratic than Iran, but there seems to be some socially democratic elements within Iran, one could say.

Concluding words

In the “era of Trump, of tribalism, of multipolarity and the shadow of the coming wars of redivision” as one commentator put it, we should recognize that not only is US imperialism under the orange menace, like it was under Obama, continuing its “bullying behavior” as it is clear that Iran will be integrated into the capitalist system more now than in the past even as Iran was on the Muslim Ban 3.0. Anti-Iran moves by the murderous empire are meant to enshrine imperial hegemony across the Middle East, with the continual looming threat of war. But it will not work, even with the chauvinism of the populace of the murderous empire.

With the left-leaning forces in Iran seemingly in exile, they do not have the connection to the toiling proletariat in Iran, even if they think they do, as they have been banned from the country. As such, organized communist, or even socialist, forces, as a counter to the Iranian bourgeoisie, are weak and disorganized with no vanguard party, as noted by Amber B. With this, the proletariat mainly have to choose between the wing of the bourgeoisie that wants openness with the West (the “reformists”) and the other wing (the “principalists”) that takes a strong stance against global imperialism, manifested in “Western influence.” Still, the bourgeoisie as a whole is nationalist, even though one side is willing to wine and dine with the global capitalist class, and the other is not.

Some have said that the “principalists” would favor the West and work with them if the murderous empire recognized Iran’s autonomy. But this is superfluous as the anti-Iran policy of the murderous empire has basically been constant since 1979, apart from the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan years. Further analysis of the role of religion in Iran, specifically Islam, requires a turn to Marxism, especially the writings of Marx and Engels on the topic, in order have a wholly-rounded perspective.

While the Iranian proletariat toils in Iran, we should support any of their efforts to express themselves, while struggling against the bigger menace, the murderous empire and its comprador states, recognizing the role of Iran in resisting such imperialistic chaos. In only that way we can show we are truly in international solidarity with the Iranian proletariat.


Notes

[1] Michael Schwirtz, “The U.S. Wanted to Discuss Iran. Russia Brought Up Black Lives Matter,” New York Times, Jan 5, 2018.

[2] It is clear that Labor Party of Iran (Toufan) has a similar viewpoint to Omidvar and Tudeh, arguing that “the recent uprising is expression of the accumulated anger and dissatisfaction of the masses from the neo-liberal economic policies of the regime” and adding that “all social and political sectors of the society are participating in these protests…[which are] spontaneous, mainly by the youth, [do]…not have an organized leadership at this moment,” while calling for a general strike among workers.

[3] Fred Bezhan, “Who Are The Protesters In Iran?,” RFE/RL, Jan 2, 2018; “Iranian Parliament Holds Special Session On Street Protests,” RFE/RL, Jan 3, 2018

[4] Michael Georgy, “Iran Guards say quell unrest fomented by foreign enemies,” Reuters, Jan 7, 2018; Reuters Staff, “Iran stages pro-government rallies, derides Trump ‘blunder’ at U.N.,” Reuters, Jan 5, 2018; “Iranian protesters attack police stations, raise stakes in unrest,” Reuters, Dec 31, 2017.

[5] Golnar Motevalli, “Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Vows to Crush Anti-Government Protests,” Time, Dec 31, 2017; Thomas Erdbrink, “Scattered Protests Erupt in Iran Over Economic Woes,” New York Times, Dec 29, 2017; “Iranian cities hit by anti-government protests,” BBC News, Dec 29, 2017; “Iran protests: Social media messaging battle rages,” BBC News, Jan 7, 2018.

[6] The Trotskyists continued this in varying other publications. One publication called “Socialist Worker” quoted a supposed “revolutionary socialist” in Iran, Nima Soltanzadeh, who claimed the protests were initiated by “conservative hardliners who wanted to undermine president Hassan Rouhani’s government,” claiming that the current protests are by “the forgotten,” that the “majority of Iranians are very much attached to their national independence,” and saying that reactionary forces “will definitely try to manipulate the protests.” This person added that “the majority of Iranians are not joining the protests yet” and said that Rouhani’s election “opened up the space for protests and people stepped in to make use of that.” Lest us forget that this individual, in the same publication claimed that Iranian sanctions help the ruling elite in Iran as they declared that “a movement that wants to put the Iranian working class at its heart needs to oppose both the West’s sanctions and Iran’s ruling class” implying that that movement would not composed of the working class! Another supposed socialist quoted by the same publication had a similar viewpoint, saying that the protests came from a “very broad dissatisfaction with the economic situation,” that reformists have “come out against this movement” which he said is “completely spontaneous” and that while there is imperial subversion at work, “this movement gave new courage to people that they can stand against this regime.” Again, these words easily mesh with imperialist propaganda about Iran, without a question, which is a fundamental problem with Trotskyists.

[7] Michael Georgy, “Iranian protesters attack police stations, raise stakes in unrest,” Reuters, Dec 31, 2017; Laura King, “Trump again cheers on Iran protests,” LA Times, Dec 31, 2017.

[8] Shane Harris, “CIA Creates New Mission Center to Turn Up the Heat on Iran,” Wall Street Journal, Jun 2, 2017.

[9] Michael Georgy, “Iran Guards say quell unrest fomented by foreign enemies,” Reuters, Jan 7, 2018.

[10] Reuters used this to say that Rouhani was rebuking who they called “anti-Western hardliners.” It is within the following article: Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, “In jab at hardliners, Rouhani says Iran protests were not only economic,” Reuters, Jan 8, 2018. Even if it was a “rebuke,” he held a broadly united front with the existing governing authorities in Iran.

[11] At first I was skeptical of this because it was reported in German media outlet DW, in an article titled “Iran bans English lessons in primary school,” but this RT article seemed to confirm the story, so it seems genuine.

[12] “Long history of Iran’s opposition,” Al Jazeera, Mar 1, 2012; Muhammad Sahimi, “The Political Groups,” PBS, May 12, 2009.

[13] Some of these parties include the Pan-Iranist Party (see the Nov. 4, 2010 post on their website titled “Hossein Shahriari on Temporary Leave”), and Mossadegh’s nationalist party, the National Front, which has a very small membership base.

[14] These other groups include the Labour Party of Iran (Toufan), the Worker-communist Party of Iran, the Worker-communist Party-Hekmatist, and the Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran (Rahe Kargar) or O.R.W.I. as it is called.

[15] As one study of privatization notes, Iran has “embarked upon privatization as a part and parcel of restructuring of the Iranian economy under New Economic Development Policy” while adding that “an amendment of the article 44 [of the Iranian constitution] in 2004 has allowed 80 percent of state assets to be privatized…a significant part of the state-owned sector…in Iran, privatization wave started since 1988, after ceasing the long drawn Iran-Iraq War.” Other articles say that while “privatization in Iran only effectively started in 2001” and in 2006 “Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei backed a constitutional amendment…to ease the sale of state-owned enterprises” the grand scheme has never been realized with “genuine privatization…remained slow.”

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Covert Ops, Imperialism, Iran, Islam, Middle East, News and Analysis, US/Canada

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