Iran

For the past year Iran has experienced a deepening crisis of capitalism, which in the last few months has spiralled into hyperinflation and devaluation of the currency. A recent trip to the country provided a perspective of the current situation within, particularly how people are dealing with the worsening conditions.

Today, October 3, 2012, thousands of people took to the streets in a spontaneous demonstration around the Bazaar of Tehran. The protests spread around the Bazaar, with people shouting slogans and wrecking a bank. The protest was against the massive price hikes of the recent period, the collapse of the Rial and the fact that the regime has chosen to completely deny the existence of these problems.

The new edition of the Iranian Marxist journal, Mobareze Tabaghati, is now out, and the PDF can be downloaded here. Here we provide an English translation of the Editorial dealing with the economic crisis and its impact on the masses. Although the 2009 movement has receded, a new wave of struggle on a higher level is inevitably being prepared.

With tensions rapidly escalating over Iran’s nuclear program, and with the recent statements issued by Netanyahu in his recent encounter with Obama, the spectre of armed conflict is yet again haunting the Middle East. Having burnt their fingers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon seems to want to avoid an armed conflict and the Whitehouse prefers the use of “diplomacy”. The Israeli government, however, has threatened targeted strikes against Iran’s nuclear sites.

Over the past weeks tensions between Iran and the West have been moving towards a boiling point. The imposition of strict sanctions by the US and its allies is already being felt in Iran and threatens to cripple the economy. Alongside these sanctions, military excursions into the Gulf on both sides, Iran’s test firing of missiles, the assassination of Iranian scientists, the bringing down of an unmanned US drone by Iran, and a constant war of words is threatening to cause an armed clash between Israel and the United States on one side, and Iran on the other.

In the recent period revolutionary movements have grown and surfaced across the world. The events in the Arab world have shown how strong these movements are, indeed they have succeeded in toppling tyrannical regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Yet what all these movements have lacked is a genuine revolutionary leadership, and this serves as a barrier to genuine socialist revolution. In no country does this apply more so than in Iran.

Since Sunday, September 25th more than 6000 casual workers at the Bandar Imam petro-chemical complex – Iran’s 14th largest company, based on reported sales – in the south eastern part of Iran have been on strike. In solidarity with them, workers from at least four other petrochemical plants in the “Petrochemical Special Economic Zone” (PETZONE), housing some of the largest petrochemical complexes of Iran, have been involved in the conflict.

The last few weeks have seen an unprecedented public dispute between the president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader Ali Khamenei. The dispute officially erupted over Ahmadinejad’s dismissal of Heydar Moslehi, the minister of intelligence who was fired by Ahmadinejad (officially he resigned himself) on April 17, but was then reinstated later the same day by a direct decree from Khamenei. Following Khamenei’s decision to reinstate Moslehi – that was done in a particularly humiliating manner first in a personal letter to Moslehi and then in a public address – Ahmadinejad embarked on an 11 day boycott of his cabinet meetings and many other official meetings.

Today we start the publication of a document on the perspectives for the Iranian revolution. Note: This document was written in September last year. Important developments have taken place since then and the document should be read keeping that in mind. See articles published February 11, February 16 and February 18.

As we reported earlier, the situation in Iran is extremely tense. Most factions of the regime were confident that the mass movement of 2009 was now dead. But almost like lightning from a clear blue sky the demonstration last Monday shook the entire establishment, that was taken completely by surprise. Now it seems that the movement has provoked more serious cracks in the regime than we had anticipated.

Since the mass demonstration organised by the opposition on Monday, a tense mood has gripped the streets of Tehran. The youth has been mobilised and great pressure has been mounting for the opposition to take further action. This has led to the call from an umbrella organization of the Reformist parties to stage a demonstration on Sunday, February 20, in memory of the two protestors who were killed on the demonstration last Monday. This could tip the scales and fully revive the revolutionary mass movement of 2009.

After almost a year of lull, the revolutionary movement that started after the presidential elections of 2009 seems to be resurfacing. This was displayed on Monday, February 14, when hundreds of thousands all over Iran poured out onto the streets responding to a call made by Reformist leaders MirhosseinMousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

History is indeed being written with the fall of Mubarak and as the whole of the Middle East and North Africa erupts in one revolutionary upheaval after another. This is also now having an impact in Iran as the lines are once again being drawn for a new round of battles since the eruptions that started one and a half years ago. The focus is now on the call for a demonstration on Monday, February 14.

This month, we have seen the courageous people of the Arab world rising up and fighting for a democratic system of government. Also in Iran we continue to see rising struggles, especially in the form of strikes. They come at a time of severe cuts to subsidies to food and fuel, and are sure to continue as the pinch is felt more severely.

On August 21 the Bushehr nuclear power plant was officially launched. This marked a new stage in Iran's disputed nuclear programme. In the days preceding this event, former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, was quoted around the world as saying: "Israel has days to strike Bushehr" and further "diplomatically" hinted, “If Israel was right to destroy the Osiraq reactor [Iraqi nuclear reactor bombed by Israel in 1981], is it right to allow this one to continue? You can’t have it both ways.”