Iran

The coronavirus has hit Iran especially badly due to government blunders, misinformation and US sanctions. This crisis has exposed all the rottenness of Iranian capitalism and brought the masses' anger at the regime, which was already heating up, close to boiling point.

Early Friday morning (3 Jan 2020), in an act of supreme arrogance the Trump administration carried out the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, as well as top Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes in Baghdad airport. Yet again, US imperialism is adding to the instability in the Middle East.

Note: this dramatic development means we have postponed Alan Woods’ new year article, which will be published tomorrow.

The November protest movement in Iran was drowned in blood, but the fight isn’t over. Anger is ripe on the streets, and for the first time ever, a serious, organised attempt at protest is being led by nine organisations representing workers and the poor. We publish their joint statement and call to protest on 23 December (tomorrow). We do not know what will transpire, but this is an important development and a sign of where things are headed.

Two weeks have passed since the eruption of protests all over Iran after the regime introduced a surprise cut to fuel subsidies. Despite a heroic struggle by the people on the streets, the movement was crushed by the regime within five days. But this was far from a triumphant victory for a regime that is now weaker than ever before.

The protests sparked on 15 November by fuel rationing and increased prices in numerous cities spread across the country, affecting at least 100 cities and towns by 18 November. Since then, it has become increasingly difficult to follow developments, due to an almost total internet shutdown in the country. Amnesty International has confirmed that at least 106 people have been killed in 21 different cities across the country, but these are only fully named and confirmed victims.

A few years ago, a conversation was leaked between a commander of the revolutionary guards, and a group of Basiji militiamen, discussing the Green Movement that shook Iran in 2009. In that conversation the commander said something along the lines of “these guys [referring to the people in the Green Movement] are just uptown pretty boys, there is nothing to be afraid of, but once the barefoot people of the poor and destitute areas come out, that is when we have to be afraid.” Well, that day has come.

Protests broke out in Iran on November 15, 2019, after the government unexpectedly announced a major increase in fuel prices at midnight on Friday. Protesters took to the streets in many cities across the country, switching off their cars on the streets and blocking the roads.

A series of attacks on Saudi oil installations have set sparks flying once again in the Middle East. Only months after a last-minute cancellation of a US strike on Iran – and weeks after reaching out for talks without any preconditions – US President Donald Trump is yet again filling the twittersphere with threats and intimidation. Meanwhile, oil prices shot up by 20 percent and the ripple effects are already working their way through the sensitive oil and currency markets.

Sparks have been flying recently between the US government and the Iranian regime. Last night, US president Trump ordered missile strikes on Iran, but then abruptly cancelled them. The incident was the peak (to this point) of weeks of tensions between the two governments. The aborted strike came after Iran shot down a US military drone somewhere near the Strait of Hormuz. The US claims the drone was in international airspace. Iranian authorities, however, claim the drone was inside Iranian airspace when it was shot down.

In a video recorded yesterday (20 June), Hamid Alizadeh, writer for In Defence of Marxism, discusses the rising tensions between the USA and Iran, with Washington accusing the Tehran regime (amongst other things) of attacking two oil tankers. It is clear that the bellicose Trump administration, along with their reactionary allies in the Middle East, are looking to thwart the power and influence of Iran in the region, in order to assert their own imperialist interests.