Since the election of Ahmadinejad as President of Iran a mere 4 months ago, contradictions between Iran, on the one hand, and the imperialist world on the other have been sharpening dramatically.
Relations between them have never been good ever since the Iranian revolution which overthrew imperialism’s most loyal puppet, the Shah, in 1979. Despite its clerical garb, the revolution was aimed against the imperialist looting of the country. In recent years, however, comprador elements have been finding ways of letting imperialism back in, especially European imperialism. This has led to a worsening in living standards for Iran’s working class and peasantry, with the result that the Iranian people were moved in their elections this year to vote for a man who pledged to reinvigorate the struggle against imperialism and improve the lives of the masses of the Iranian people. Ahmadinejad has been true to his word and, according to Philip Jacobson, writing in the Daily Mail of 28 October 2005 (”Why we must wake up to the threat of Iran’), “in the four months since the capital’s former mayor exploited his powerful populist appeal among poor and ultra-religious voters to win the presidency, he has moved Iran sharply away from its previously cautiously reformist approach to relations with the West.”
So distressed is imperialism at this outcome that there is a real danger of war against Iran. Certainly warmongering rhetoric has been escalated, and Iran in turn is looking to defensive measures.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
Iran has for some time been seeking to find trade partners with whom it stands on an equal footing and will not subject it to imperialist looting as a condition of trade.
As Ray Takekh, a Middle East expert at the John Hopkins University, elegantly phrased it in the Financial Times of 27 September 2005 (‘Do not be deceived by Iran’s rhetoric’), “From the perspective of Iran’s new right [i.e., its most radical anti-imperialists], globalisation does not imply acquiescing to the US and its European allies but cultivating relations with emerging power centres on the global landscape. Such relations might conceivably obviate the need to come to terms with the US or, for that matter, the European Union.”
In pursuit of this policy, Iran is vigorously pursuing not only trading partners, but also military allies. On 26 of October 2005, Iranian Vice President Parviz Davudi attended a meeting of The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), at present a 6-member organisation that includes Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikstan. The Christian Science Monitor (Fred Weir – ‘Russia, China looking to form ‘NATO of the East’) reports that the purpose of the meeting was “to take a step closer to forming a Eurasian military confederacy to rival NATO” and that “This group, which started in 2001 with limited goals of promoting cooperation in former Soviet Central Asia, has evolved rapidly toward a regional security bloc and could soon induct new members such as India, Pakistan and Iran.”
The reason for forming a military alliance is to protect common economic interests, principally by protecting them from the predatory aspirations of western imperialism. It is not, then, surprising that Iran should find itself drawing closer to powers which, like Iran, have important contradictions with western imperialism.
What is happening, then, is that those whom imperialism seeks to bully are joining hands against the bully – and western imperialism is extremely worried about this development.
Western attempts to intimidate
In order to survive at all imperialism has to strive for world domination, so it is obviously a huge threat to its interests when its potential victims join forces to resist it. It will therefore strive with might and main to destroy this alliance, and to that end has launched an offensive on several fronts.
It is interested in dividing its opponents against each other – by use of threats and bribes. Thus whereas the SCO seeks to remove all western imperialist bases – mostly US bases – from their area, its seems that “two recent visits to Kyrgyzstan by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appear to have secured the US lease on that country’s Manas airbase indefinitely – albeit with a sharp rent increase.” (Fred Weir, op. cit.). No doubt other bribes in the form of trading concessions, promises of loans, etc., etc., are being offered around, at the same time as threats to make things difficult for states, particularly the weaker ones, who fail to do Washington’s bidding.
Of course it uses its special interpretation of the treaties against nuclear proliferation to endeavour to disarm its opponents, and the rhetoric against Iran’s civil nuclear programme has been cranked into top gear in recent weeks, with threats of referral to the UN Security Council, etc., with a view to seeking UN sanctions against Iran, unless it forswears its nuclear programme. However much Iran co-operates with UN inspections of its various facilities to demonstrate that its nuclear developments are for civilian purposes only, however much it demonstrates that it is abiding strictly by its obligations under the various international treaties against nuclear proliferation, the hysterical outcries carry on unabated.
Iran has made it clear, however, that no amount of howling and baying on the part of the imperialist wolves will make it abandon its nuclear programme. And even Andrew Phillips, a Liberal Democratic member of the House of Lords and implacable enemy of Iran, admits that “With nuclear arms on their eastern flank (Pakistan), US bases on their western and northern flanks, and nuclear arms to the south-west (Israel, which is not even party to the Non Proliferation Treaty), the same sense of Western hypocrisy will no doubt pervade discussion of their own nuclear predicament.” (The Independent, 17 October 2005, ‘Britain must not rush to misjudge Iran’).
Furthermore, imperialism endeavours to weaken its enemies internally by supporting dissident groups and reactionary sections. Much has been written in the pages of Lalkar concerning the propaganda offensive in the ex-Soviet republics to endeavour to install comprador elements (e.g., the notorious Yushenko) in government by massively financing them to bribe their way into power. The West can, however, have very little influence in Iranian elections as the Iranians are far too canny to leave themselves open to such assaults. Instead imperialism is trying to exploit grievances of Iran’s Arab minority who live in Khuzestan. According to Iran, British agents planned bomb attacks in the southern city of Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan, which is, incidentally, strategically placed at the heart of the Iranian oil industry. According to Ian Black in Guardian Unlimited of 21 October 2005 (‘History casts a long shadow as relations between Britain and Iran worsen over the situation in Iraq’), “Iranian security officials reportedly concluded that the bombers were trained abroad and that weapons and equipment were smuggled in from Iraq’s al-Amara province, which is under British control”.
Another form of attack against Iran has been the recent furore about Ahmadinejad saying that Israel should be wiped off the map. One assumes that this is something that he and all other Iranian leaders have been saying very regularly for years, yet all of a sudden it has become a major item of news, with the disgusting Tony Blair – yes the same Tony Blair who is complicit in the destruction of the Iraqi state – pronouncing his “revulsion” at such remarks. Ahmadinejad, however, is entirely unrepentant, and rightly so: Xinhuanet reports him as retorting “The oppressed Palestinians are martyred by Zionists, their properties are looted, their houses are bombarded and they are assassinated, but the Zionists expect that no one should object!” Israel is a state based on Hitlerite principles of the master race (or ‘chosen people’), built on territory stolen at gunpoint from their victims, which does not hesitate to abuse the ‘unchosen’ in the most unconscionable ways imaginable. Why do the manifold crimes of this fascist statelet not cause imperialist spokespersons the slightest “revulsion”, whereas the words of those who side with the victims do?
Even Robert Fisk, who managed to take a reasonably good anti-war position as far as Iraq was concerned, has been mobilised to rattle sabres on imperialism’s behalf vis-à-vis Iran by pouring scorn on Ahmadinejad’s supposed ‘childishness’ and ‘silliness’ and referring to the Iranian regime as a ‘necrocracy’, “government for and by the dead”.
Blair really seizes the palm, as far as hypocrisy is concerned, when he piously announced that “I have never come across a situation of a president of a country saying they want to wipe out another country”, ‘overlooking’ the fact that this is just what his beloved Israel did to the Palestinian state, and what he along with his western imperialist masters recently did to the Yugoslav state, and are now doing to Iraq and Afghanistan!!! As ever, the bourgeoisie covers up its support for Zionism by claiming that every anti-Zionist statement is anti-Semitic, and treating Ahmadinejad as though he was effectively threatening to kill every Israeli Jew. The Iranian regime, however, has taken pains to make it clear that Iranians “respect and have no problems with the pious and real Jews” (see Xinhuanet, op.cit.).
All the above tactics of imperialism are designed to weaken its opponents in order to be able to control them, by war if necessary.
Preparations for military intervention in Iran are being laid. The only question is whether imperialism, bogged down as it is in Iraq and Afghanistan, will actually go to war against Iran at the present time. As we pointed out in our last issue, Iran is three times the size of Iraq and has three times its population, nearly all of them prepared to fight to the death for their country’s independence. As a result, even the most conservative US hawks are wary about launching an invasion of Iran.
Iran, on its part, is in a strong position to frustrate Anglo-American attempts to subdue the region. One of imperialism’s important strategies in Iraq is to try to divide Shias from the Sunnis, setting up the Shias as a “loyalist” community through whom imperialism can control the whole of Iraq. It is not a strategy which has been meeting with a great deal of success, but now Iranian influence is turning it into a weapon against those who are seeking to wield it. Because Iran is Shi’ite, it has considerable influence among Iraqi Shias who are mostly based in the parts of Iraq occupied by British forces, i.e., the south. Thus Guardian Unlimited (op.cit.) reports: “British officials suspect that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, linked to the most conservative [meaning ‘anti-imperialist’ in plain English] elements in Tehran, is working with the Shia militias who have been making life difficult for the 8,500 British troops in Iraq …
“Last January’s Iraqi elections produced a winning coalition of Shia groups, led by the Islamic Dawa party and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), both based in Tehran while Saddam was in power. The new relationship was sealed in wide-ranging agreements signed by the two governments in the summer.
“Iranian agents have found it easy to penetrate Iraq’s security and intelligence services, especially since the Iraqi interior minister is the former head of the Badr Corps, the Iranian-created and funded military arm of SCIRI. The Badr brigades … are now being incorporated into the Iraqi military.”
Clearly Mao Tse-Tung was more than a thousand times correct when he said that reactionaries lift a rock only to drop it on their own feet! Western imperialism cultivated the Shias for use against the Sunnis in Iraq, only to find them in all likelihood mobilised by the Iranian revolution against imperialism. There is, after all, some justice in the world.
Imperialism is still, however, dreaming of ‘taking out’ Iran’s nuclear facilities, and Israel has recently been provided with bunker-busting weaponry specifically designed for this purpose. It will be recalled that it was Israel which in 1981 performed the task of destroying Iraq’s nuclear facilities, and imperialism is no doubt expecting that it will perform the same service against Iran. The hypocritical chorus of outraged protest at Ahmadinejad’s remarks discussed above may indeed be an attempt to brainwash ordinary people into thinking such a criminal act of aggression is justified (a ploy which appears to have worked with Robert Fisk at least!).
Even here, however, the Iranians have learnt the lessons of Iraq and are, according to Philip Jacobson (op.cit.) “known to have dispersed key nuclear facilities around the country (reportedly burying one under a mountain) and have also duplicated production plants”.
Furthermore, by coming close to SCO, Iran is seeking powerful allies who may be able to deter acts of war by western imperialism against its installations. According to Randeep Ramesh, writing in the Guardian Unlimited of 22 September 2005 (‘Nuclear nuances’), “The White House is pushing to bring sanctions against Iran for a suspected ‘nuclear weapons programme’ and has only been stopped by a coalition of China, Russia and India. All three have good reasons to maintain friendly relations with Iran: China, even more than India, needs oil; Russia is a key partner in Iran’s nuclear programme, and Delhi has fingers in both pies.” All these countries already have nuclear weapons, and Israel will quite likely have to think twice before offending them!