Iran: ‘Regime Change’ is War
03-06-2018 – Karl Marx’s words of history repeating itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce, are once again displayed with full force. Only this time, the second replay could be a catastrophic war engulfing the world. In 2003, the government of the United States waged a criminal war for regime change in Iraq, on the basis of a pack of lies about “weapons of mass destruction”. In 2018, the US government accuses Iran of building nuclear weapons to use against the Western world. In 2003, the US government demanded unlimited access to inspect any site in Iraq at any time. In 2018, the US demands unlimited access to inspect any site in Iran at any time. The invasion of Iraq destroyed millions of innocent lives, for which not one politician in the US, Britain or Australia (the “coalition of the killing”), have been held accountable. The US is again demanding regime change in Iran, but this time faces stiff opposition.
Spillover from attempted regime change in Syria
For the last seven years, the US Empire has been hell bent on the overthrow of the Syrian Arab Republic, actively arming and funding vicious and barbaric mercenaries from over 80 non-Syrian countries, who were then smuggled across Syrian borders. There they committed unspeakable atrocities, the beheading of anyone suspected of supporting the Syrian government being just a part of their repertoire. The US Empire, with many of its imperialist and regional powers in tow, including the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Israel, created and worked alongside unhinged terrorist groups such as ISIS, in arguably the largest proxy war in history. Yet this time, the US Empire was defeated – perhaps for the first time in an imperialist war since Vietnam in 1975. The Syrian government resisted the war for regime change, and was aided by Russia, Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah. The intervention of Russia in 2015, at the invitation of the Syrian government, turned the tide against the US Empire. Russia’s superior air power was used to almost totally defeat ISIS and associated death squads, a fact even a begrudged NATO apparently admitted.
The US Empire’s war on Syria, backed in words and actions by Canberra, was at least partially intended to take out a Russian ally, to enable an easier stepping stone to Iran. Russia drew a red line in Syria, not only in defence of an ally, but also to defend itself. Iran saw the danger to itself if Syria was overthrown by US backed terrorists, and heroically sent armed forces into strategic positions within Syria, in concert with the Syrian government. While working people internationally can recognise political limitations of the Iranian and Russian governments, in this conflict they have a direct interest in backing the non-imperialist allies of Syria – which may have averted world war. The US still has its own troops in Syria, working with and alongside some Kurdish parties, who have treacherously (and once again) served their own interests at the expense of Syria and efforts to resist imperialist onslaught. The attempt by the US to partition Syria, through mercenary war or through uniformed troops, now has little chance of coming to pass. It can scarcely change the situation on the ground, where the despised US/Israeli/Saudi backed terrorists have been driven out from the majority of Syrian territory.
Iran targeted since 1979
What became the Islamic Republic of Iran after the revolution of 1979, has always been a target of the US deep state. The US government has never forgiven Iran for overthrowing the hated Shah, which they installed after they themselves overthrew the Iranian nationalist Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. Mossadegh moved to nationalise Iran’s considerable oil resources, cutting out British and US corporations. The 1979 revolution succeeded in not only throwing out the US stooge Pahlavi, but setting the course for Iran’s development independent of the imperialist West. While there was some repression of the left given the theocratic nature of the uprising and its aftermath, today Iran has a relatively stable body politic, with elections open to all who do not side with the West externally or internally.
In contrast to corporate media reports, while Shia Islam is the state religion in Iran, Iranians are free to practice other religions in their own ways. For example, the Jewish religion is protected, provided there is no collusion amongst practitioners with the Zionist rulers of Israel. Iran also has a population of 82 million people, with a very young median age, at around 29 years. These factors alone make the prospect of a US invasion and overthrow extremely difficult, even for the power of the US Empire. But that does not stop them trying. Decades of sanctions on Iran imposed by the US have caused ongoing hardships, despite the efforts of the Iranian government to alleviate them. The most apparent are the moves of the US government against any international banks that conduct business inside Iran. This policy means that the Iranian currency, the rial, is devalued in relation to the US dollar. This then means inflation for Iranians who need to purchase food – in most cases of around 25%. There have been some protests in response, but the overall view amongst Iranians appears to be an understanding that these and other hardships generally flow from the Western sanctions.
Left parties walk both sides of the street
A US led war for regime change on Iran would reach levels of catastrophe perhaps even surpassing that inflicted upon Syria. A world nuclear confrontation is not at all off the cards. Whether Russia and China will act to protect Iran in the way they protected Syria (although very limited in the case of China) remains uncertain. In any case, workers of the world have a direct interest in defending Iran against such a criminal war, irrespective of the political and/or theocratic nature of the Iranian government. An imperialist “victory” in the overthrow of Iran could reverse the defeat Washington, London, Paris, Tel Aviv and Canberra suffered in Syria. Aside from the unimaginable loss of life in Iran and the region, the struggles of working people in the imperialist centres themselves (Europe, the US, Japan, Australia) could be pushed down even further than their current low level. And this is even before the possible breakout of world nuclear war.
Unfortunately, some left parties wage an even money bet both ways, yet don’t see any conflict of interest. Over the week of the 2017-2018 New Year, certain protests appeared on the streets of Iran, which immediately gained the support of US President Donald Trump, and the soulless US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. This should have been a clue that the protests were not genuine, and should be analysed further. Yet some left parties took the bait. What is more, these left parties somehow imagine that one can hold a position of backing pro-Western “protests” in Iran, and at the same time piously declare that they oppose a US led war on Iran. Given that the US is not currently strong enough – if it ever will be – to send in its own troops into Iran, a US regime change operation will inevitably entail political support to so-called “dissidents” within Iran, in an effort to capitalize on the resulting chaos if the Iranian government is toppled. That is, a US led war on Iran AND the fomenting and political backing of “dissidents” within Iran cannot be separated.
The parties of the imperial left – those who campaigned loudly for the US/Saudi/Israeli side against Syria from 2011 to 2018 – predictably jumped on the bandwagon as soon as word emerged of protests in Iran. Always eager to back any movement in a country they bitterly oppose, Socialist Alternative hailed the new year protests in Iran as the “greatest radicalization since 1979” [!!]. This was despite acknowledging the clearly pro-US slogans of some, which included “Not Lebanon, Not Gaza….everything for Iran” and “Leave Syria and think about us”. Socialist Alternative incredibly attempted to twist these slogans beyond recognition, into internationalist and anti-war demands. Not to be outdone, their estranged sister organization Solidarity tested the limits of credibility by claiming that the reactionary slogan “We are Aryans, we don’t worship Arabs”, was only “nationalist”. Needless to say, if the Iranian government had not offered support for Palestine over the years, and had not assisted the Syrian government in its defensive actions against Israel and the US, Iran would be a much easier target. The Iranian government’s actions in Syria were a direct act of the defence of Iran itself.
The Socialist Alliance, eager to back a “feminist” angle where none exists, threw its support behind the “Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists” (Anti-Syria pro-war left groups) and its statement backing the supposed movement of women daring to remove their headscarves during the anti-government actions in Iran. It was soon revealed, however, that the instigator of these actions was none other than Masih Alinejad, who works for….wait for it…the Voice of America – and lives in New York. She is reportedly paid $85 000 per year by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an official outlet of the US state department. She has worked for the Voice of America’s Farsi language program OnTen since at least 2013. In other words, she is paid very handsomely by the US government to foster and foment political instability in Iran. Needless to say, such outsiders receive very little support inside Iran, even if perhaps six of them can be incited to take a selfie of themselves removing a headscarf.
For their part, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) jumped into action alongside the imperial left, who they correctly criticized for joining the US led war drive against Libya and Syria. To their credit the SEP did not join in with the cheerleading of the liberal 2009 “Green Revolution” in Iran. This was where liberal elements within Iran were backed internationally when they claimed electoral fraud, without offering a shred of evidence. However, this time around, the SEP claim that the 2017-2018 protests in Iran were a genuine working class uprising. This claim is staggering, given that the protests quickly became violent, and were joined, and in some parts led, by the terrorist and monarchist MEK (Mujahedin e Khalq), a group that is widely despised inside and outside Iran.
While the SEP conducted an about face on Iran from 2009, the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) remained consistent – but on the wrong side. The CPA’s statement of January 7, 2018, holds that the “economic grievances of Iran’s protestors are genuine”. Applauding the conservative Tudeh Party, the CPA statement warns against the efforts of the “regime” (emphasis added) in using undercover agents as provocateurs within the protests. It then senses that it might be seen as backing regime change, so it adds “we strongly condemn any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Iran”. Yet liberal international backing for pro-Western anti-government protests in Iran is the very definition of “foreign interference”. Then concerned about being seen to not support the (fake) protests – which never at any stage gained anything like majority support inside Iran – it then jumps back to the other side and calls for support for Iranian “political freedom against the corrupt and the corrupt and repressive theocratic government”. What might seem a confused statement of support for the Iranian “people” is actually a call for regime change in Iran – which can only benefit the US Empire.
Defend Iran against war/regime change
These mistaken left parties cannot have it both ways. While working people can agree there is a need for socialism in Iran and in the Middle East and internationally, to call for regime change now in ANY format – especially under the guise of supporting the “people” of Iran – constitutes willing or unwilling assistance to imperialism in yet another war of conquest. The CIA, the British and French imperialists, alongside Canberra, all claim to support the people of Iran against the “regime”. For the left to give ground to this language, is to make the gravest of errors. Whether it was in January this year, or with US Defence Secretary Mike Pompeo’s latest moves for even greater sanctions against Iran, the agenda is regime change – that much is loud and clear. It shouldn’t need to be said that the left needs to stand in the forefront of opposition to regime change in Iran. This means a defence of Iran from external and internal counterrevolution despite the presence of (a heavily sanctioned) capitalism in Iran.
For countries directly in the gunsights of US imperialism, e.g. Iran, there would have to be strict preconditions met before the left internationally could throw any support behind an anti-government movement. The politics of such a movement would have to be clearly independent of any Western government covert or overt backing. It would have to be MORE anti-imperialist than that of the Ayatollahs. It would have to MORE clearly side with those countries also threatened by US led war – Russia, China, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Venezuela, Syria, Libya etc., than that of the government led by Hasan Rouhani. It would have to be even MORE anti-Zionist and MORE pro-Palestine than the Islamic Republic of Iran. The sporadic protests in Iran in January, needless to say, were light years away from such positions. If anything, they were pro-Western, anti-Syria, anti-Palestine, and had the backing of Donald Trump and the Saudi Arabian monarchy!
This is not to discount the economic difficulties for Iranian workers. Yet economic problems, in the absence of a strong left-wing workers party, can easily be manipulated to foster and foment right-wing political movements, and some are funded by the US government. One look at the current Venezuelan “opposition” will tell us this much. An Iranian workers movement seeking to address cost of living issues and unemployment would need to clearly differentiate its demands from all liberal and pro-Western demands for the downfall of Iran.
World capitalism in its death throes is promising yet more imperialist war – with Iran possibly the next in line. Imperialism is well aware that the overthrow of Iran cannot be carried out without an internal “opposition” which is prepared to do its bidding. In Syria, such forces were mercenary terrorists. In Iran, such forces may well be pro-Western liberals. Working people should not be caught out.
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