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Iran stands on the side of Palestinians

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Courtesy of Khamenei’s offical website

While the corporate media in the United States focuses on Trump’s right-wing declarations, they completely ignored a recent conference in the Islamic Republic of Iran in support of the Palestinian struggle against the murderous Zionist state of Israel. While white propaganda outlets like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, right-wing outlets like Breitbart, and pro-Israel media organizations condemned the conference outright. The reality was very different.

The conference in Tehran was the 6th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada (Uprising). The conference, promoted in the Iranian Parliament earlier this month, tried to not only counter Israel’s schemes, but to show “Iran’s unyielding back-up for the oppressed Palestinian people and the legitimate Palestinian cause.” Delegations from 80 countries, over hundreds of participants, with estimates of 500700 people, coming from parliaments, such as 20 high-ranking parliamentary groupings, academia, youth and NGOs and resistance forces” were scheduled to attend the conference, organized by Amir-Abdollahian, the secretary general. Among the attendees was Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar, who said that he was “one of several hundred foreign guests, including a small group of foreign journalists, guests of the Majlis (Parliament) for an annual conference on the Palestine issue.”

This conference was, as Iranian media put it, a move to “express solidarity with the Palestinian people,” and counter the murderous Zionist state of Israel by asserting “the just cause of Palestine.” It comes at a time that there is growing US support for the Zionist state and hostility toward Iran. Assistant Speaker of the Iranian parliament Hossein Amir Abdollahian, while denying that Iran exploits the Palestinian cause, described how the two day conference, lasting from February 21 to 22, included four committees. As decided by detailed discussions of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, Iran’s legislative body, the first committee would discuss the role parliaments can play in supporting Palestine, the second would discuss how NGOs and non-profits can support Palestine, the third would be a legal committee examining human rights abuses in Palestine and resisting Israeli settlements, and the fourth is for Palestinian factions.

On February 21, the two-day conference, with the theme of “Everyone Together in Support of Palestine,” opened at the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)’s International Conference Center, a common meeting place for huge conferences in Tehran. It began with a call to Islamic prayer and the speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Majlis, Ali Larijani, who was set to preside over the conference proceedings, briefly addressing the conference and mentioning the country’s Constitution. Before moving on, it is worth noting a number of aspects of the current constitution of Iran. Article 152 declares that Iran’s foreign policy is to preserve its independence, territorial integrity, defend the rights of Muslims, non-align with “hegemonist superpowers,” maintain peaceful relations with “non-belligerent States,” and reject all forms of domination. The following articles add that any agreement resulting in “foreign control over the natural resources, economy, army, or culture of the country” will be rejected (Article 153), that Iran rejects “all forms of interference in the internal affairs of other nations” (Article 154), and that Iran may “grant political asylum to those who seek it” unless they are deemed as “traitors and saboteurs” by Iran’s laws (Article 155).

After Larijani’s speech, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, and Ayatollah, Ali Khamenei, addressed the conference, paying tribute to the “memorial of martyrs of Palestinian Intifada” when he arrived. In his speech, broadcast live on Iran’s state television, he said that “the issue of Palestine can and should be the pivot of unity for all Islamic countries,” said that the “cancerous tumor” of Israel “has been developing in several phases until it turned into the current disaster,” adding that as long as Palestine’s name and memory are preserved “it will be impossible for the Israeli regime to strengthen its foundations.” He added that Israel’s creation has been a “plot hatched by extra-regional powers,” allowing the “real being” of Palestine to be replaced by a “fake being” of Palestine, then calling for supporting Palestinian resistance no matter what.

Khamenei makes a valid point because the “usurping Zionist entity in Palestine” has been oppressing “the indigenous Palestinians and Arabs” and their homeland for many years since Zionism fundamentally is a “racist, violent, colonial, and illegitimate project. The United Nations General Assembly recognized this in November 1975 when Resolution 3379 was passed. This resolution declared that there was an “unholy alliance between South African racism and Zionism,” that Zionism was a “racist and imperialist ideology,” and that Zionism is, simply, “a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Of course, this resolution was sponsored by UN members ranging from Cuba and Libya to Morocco, and while it was supported by the Soviet Union, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, and others, it was opposed by Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western or Western-friendly nations. Sadly, on December 16, 1991, ten days before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the same Assembly voted to rescind Resolution 3379, with one sentence. This was because Israel had demanded Resolution 3379’s removal as a condition for their participation in another one of the worthless peace conferences, in this case the Madrid Peace Conference.

Back to the speech, Khamenei went farther than condemning the Zionist Israel and solidarity with Palestinians. At the beginning, he reminded the audience that February 21 is the “martyrdom anniversary of Malcolm X, an American Muslim leader” and requested for all attendees to “recite Sura Fatiha and Sura Tawhid for the soul of this martyr.” Before going on, this is significant because it means that Khamenei is honoring a Black nationalist leader who challenged the white racial-capitalist order for which he was gunned down for by Nation of Islam (NOI) assassins, possibly with the help of local or national law enforcement. He goes on say that Palestine has a “sorrowful story” because of its oppression, that while there has been “cruel occupation of that region,” with many millions becoming homeless, there has been “courageous resistance” by Palestinians. Adding to this, he noted that Mideastern countries have often supported the Palestinian people but that there have been “existing crises in several Islamic countries” which have undermined support for Palestine. These countries include Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and other “friendly” Arab countries, with alliances currently being encouraged under the Trump Administration to “counter” Iran.

Khamenei fingers on the “Zionist regime” as working to undermine such Arab unity in favor of Palestine. As an extension of this, he says that the Zionist Israel should be challenged daily by resisting the idea that the “issue of Palestine” should have a low priority and that despite differences among Islamic countries, “the issue of Palestine can and should be the pivot of unity for all Islamic countries,” making this issue the “first priority of the world of Islam and freedom fighters all over the world,” with the goal of creating harmony and unity to support the Palestinian people in “their truthful and justice-oriented fight.” Khamenei adds that this be seen as politically significant and that there are “signs of the collapse in the Zionist regime” of Israel. He says that the global environment recognizes the hostile, illegal and inhuman activities” of Zionist state, leading to possibly confrontation in the future. He goes on to describe these horrid acts as the brutal suppression of the Palestinian people, occupying Palestinian lands, building illegal settlements, and violating citizens’ basic rights, to name a few aspects. He doesn’t stop there. He argues that currently there may be a “third intifada” in place, in occupied Palestine, with Palestinians fighting on genuinely and that he hopes it will inflict another defeat, while noting that the “compromise strategies” to undermine Israel are flawed.

Khamenei goes on to say that Israel is an “illegitimate entity” which will only exist if “it is founded on the ruins of Palestine’s identity and entity.” He criticizes “compromise tactics” with Zionist Israel as not considering the “current condition of Palestine” or taking into account “the expansionist, oppressive and greedy characteristics of the Zionists” and that a “paradigm of heroic and continuous resistance and holy intifada stands against the compromise paradigm.” He then says that while Palestinian resistance has not achieved “the complete freedom of Palestine,” it has allowed Palestine to be kept alive. Such resistance, as he puts it, has a served as a “major barrier in the way of Zionist projects” whether in the narrow victory in the 1973 war, with burden put upon Hezbollah to help Palestinians fight back after 1982, “the liberation of southern Lebanon and Gaza,” and efforts of all other groups which are “involved in the Palestinian Resistance,” citing the Islamic Jihad (IJ), Hamas, Fatah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as examples. He closes by saying that dangers from the presence of Israel shouldn’t be ignored, that the needs of the Palestinian people and its resistance should be met, with no demands of “special expectations,” and that this resistance should cooperate together despite its differences or those who want to “sell it to the enemies of the Palestinian nation in their secret transactions with them.”

Later that day, it was reported that Western moderate Hassan Rouhani would address the closing ceremony of the conference and that a statement would be released at the conference’s end. Apart from Rouhani, Iranian media reported, that the Speaker of the Syrian People’s Assembly Hadiya Abbas, Iranian Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, and Iranian Lawmaker Kazem Jalali, the spokesperson for the conference, would be attending. Photographs of the conference from official media, showed that there delegations from Iran, Bosnia, Syria, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), India, Malaysia, Ghana, Palestinian Authority/State of Palestine, Lebanon, Kenya, Libya, Ecuador, Qatar, Brazil, Algeria, Oman, El Salvador, Uganda, Tanzania, Russia, China, Hezbollah, Hamas, Mauratania, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Since there were individuals from 80 countries, at most, this is only a partial list of the countries who attended.

The same day, Hezbollah’s Secretary Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah praised Iran’s support for Palestine and said that the conference sent a strong message of solidarity to the Palestinian people and that “the most important result and message of this action for the Palestinian nation is that you have not been left alone and that an important and powerful country in the region supports you,” saying that the conference’s timing coincides with recent policy changes in the US, showing the true intent of Zionist Israel. There is another reason that Nasrallah would say this. According to the SIPRI Trade Register, Iran has delivered 560 anti-tank missiles, 100 portable surface-to-air missiles (SAM), 35 mobile rocket launchers (MRL), eight Mohajer drones, five heavy artillery rockets, five anti-ship missiles, and two surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) between 1980 and 2006. While some deluded individuals could call this “terrorism” it can be more accurately called solidarity and assistance of armed Palestinian resistance to the murderous Zionist Israeli state.

In the last day of the conference, there was much activity. Apart from a Palestinian school in Tehran ringing a bell “in support of the Palestinian uprising,” Jacob Francis Mudenda, the current Speaker of Zimbabwe’s National Assembly, condemned Zionist Israel for construction of illegal settlements, praised the role of Iran in the region, and reaffirmed Zimbabwe’s support for Palestine until it turned “into a full-fledged and established country.” Others who spoke in favor of Palestinian solidarity included Hamad Saleh al-Qattane, a Kuwaiti author, and Salah Al-Zawawi, Palestine’s Ambassador to Iran, the latter saying that he appreciated Iran’s efforts and said that “US hostility…towards Muslims is becoming more evident day by day.” Other people who spoke on the sidelines of the conference include the speaker of Lebanon’s Parliament Nabih Berri who suggested that Islamic states shut down their “embassies in Washington if the U.S. decides to relocate its embassy to al-Quds, or Jerusalem in Israel,” the current head of IJ, Ramadan Abdullah Shalah, an Iranian geopolitical analyst named Alexander Azadgan who declared Trump was the first “openly shameless Zionist president” with his blunt and undiplomatic support of Zionist Israel, while praising the BDS movement, and the speaker of Iraq’s Parliament, Salim al-Jabouri who condemned Israel for failing to abide by UN resolutions. Other guests met with President Rouhani on the sidelines of the conference. These individuals were high-level government officials from Arab and Asian countries such as Hadiya Khalaf Abbas, a Syrian parliamentarian, Salim Zanoun, the speaker of the Palestinian National Council, Atef Tarawneh, the Speaker of Jordan’s House of Representatives, Pandikar Amin bin Haji Mulia, speaker of the Malaysia’s lower house of Parliament, and Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament.

Later in the day, Larijani, the speaker of the Majlis, made remarks in side meetings with Parliamentarians. While on the sidelines of the conference he told Ms. Kadaga that the Palestinian nation has legitimate rights to peace and security and told Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, the Chairman of the Pakistani National Assembly that “countries in the Persian Gulf region should forge unity and exercise vigilance to thwart plots hatched by the ill-wishers in order to prevent those sowing the seeds of discords among them” and further added that it is not acceptable to have “normalization of relations with the Zionist regime.” In other meetings he said that Palestine is an important issue for the whole world and that the “voice of the oppressed Palestinian nation” has spread worldwide.

President Rouhani gave the closing speech of the conference. He argued that the Palestinian issue has “pricked the international community’s conscience for 70 years,” shown the “ineffectiveness of international organizations,” and said that the Palestinian Intifada is “manifestation of resistance” against Israel along with being a “kind of resistance for survival.” He added that Israel is engaging in “fear-mongering” against Palestinian resistance by Muslim and Arab states. Rouhani specifically was referring to, as it put it, the attempts of Zionist Israel to “normalize its situation” by referring to “certain Arab countries as its allies against the resistance front, instead of describing them as its enemies,” and claiming that most Arab countries are not Zionist enemies but share the “same phobia about resistance.” He declared furthermore that “isn’t it time that neighbors once and for all say ‘No’ to war and fratricide?” He also closed by thanking that “all the distinguished guests, speakers, parliamentary delegations, leaders of movements and resistant currents, scholars, personalities and the political, cultural, media activists, as well as the parties and groups supporting Palestine, ambassadors, foreign diplomats and heads of the regional and international organizations” for attending the conference and saying that “dear Palestine” has suffered from the “mishap of [the] global community and shamefulness of certain Muslim countries.”

After the conference ended, a pro-Palestinian 24-point statement was released. The statement in particular voiced support for rights of the Palestinian nation, the need for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land to end, need for unity among Palestinians, that the international community needs to pressure Israel to end inhumane measures such as “killing and forced expulsion of Palestinians” and that the parliaments of Arab and Muslim countries should ban “any political and economic relations with Israel.” Beyond this, there was also a call for “collective efforts of all Muslim countries to defend legitimate rights of the Palestinian nation,” and that Muslims and freethinking people should support the Palestinian Intifada, among other aspects.

The following day, February 23, the “International Conference for Activists and NGOs Supporting Palestine,” hosted by the Iranian Parliament in Tehran, ended. During this meeting, four committees were created, including a supreme committee which comprised 25 members “including senior Palestinian officials, Palestinian NGOs, non-Palestinian NGOs and fellows from interested countries’ parliaments,” with the idea that NGOs in today’s world could not only be “the voice of Palestinian nation in the world” but ultimately could “bring about serious challenges for the Zionist regime.” The same day, a book, compiling remarks made by Khamenei on Palestine, helping readers undermine the Zionist state of Israel, was released.

In days that come, Iran will continue to oppose, undoubtedly, the Israeli attempts to create alliances with Arab countries, work with such countries, like Lebanon, to oppose the Zionist state, and unconditionally supportingthe Palestinian Intifada. In the end, we should still recognize that Iran stands on the side of the Palestinian people and should take something from this recent conference by engaging in critical solidarity with Palestinian resistance to the murderous Zionist state of Israel.

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The Reality Behind “Iranian Drone”


Image result for ZIONIST Drone CARTOON

Shortly before Syria downed an Israeli F16 fighter jet on Saturday, the occupation army claimed that an “Iranian drone” had violated the so-called “Israeli airspace”.

Tel Aviv aimed from this move to say that its strikes on military posts in Syria were just “defensive” or that they come in the context of “retaliation.”

However, the Command of Syria’s Allies dismissed such claims, stressing that the drone which the Zionist regime was talking about was operating over the Syrian airspace.

“Our drone took off from Tifur airport and was carrying out a normal anti-ISIL mission over Syrian Badiyah,” Syria’s Allies Command said in a statement.

“We hail the brave retaliation of Damascus,” the statement said referring to the downing of the Israeli F16.

It also vowed that any new Israeli aggression on Syria “won’t go unanswered.”

The Zionist entity tried since the first moment to justify its aggression on Syria. However, such claims were immediately refuted, in a clear message to the Zionist entity that says: “The era when you can strike Syria without any retaliation has gone!”

And this conclusion falls in line with Israeli daily Haaretz comments soon after the attack.

“Syrian President Bashar Assad has shifted from stage of threats to stage of action after his army regained control of 80% of Syria’s territory,” Haaretz said.

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Making Sense of the Iran Protests

(L-r) Susan Glasser, Maziar Bahari and Suzanne Maloney discuss the Iran protests. [Courtesy Brookings Institution]

On Dec. 28, 2017, protests began in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city and home to the shrine of Imam Reza. Initially aimed at President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, protests quickly spread out of control to smaller cities such as Bandar Abbas, Ahvaz, Shiraz and Rasht. The country-wide protests led to the deaths of 21 people and the arrests of more than 400.

On Jan. 5, 2018, the Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion on “The Protests in Iran,” moderated by POLITICO columnist Susan Glasser. She described the protests as “remarkable but little understood” developments which “seemed to surprise just about everybody.”

According to Maziar Bahari, founder of, “no one knows who exactly” is protesting, as there have been various slogans being chanted, including some in support of the Pahlavis and some in support of Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri, who played a key role in the 1979 Islamic Revolution and was set to be Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s successor prior to a falling out between them. Bahari, whose memoir, Then They Came for Me, (available from the Washington Report’s Middle East Books and More) describes his experience being arrested in Iran during the 2009 Green Movement, added that Iran is experiencing widespread discontent that is “fertile ground for protests.”

In comparison to 2009, Bahari said, the protesters today “do not have a clear objective,” which has kept the middle classes from supporting them. Furthermore, the regime and Revolutionary Guards are “struggling for answers” as well as for a narrative—the protests have been called a plan of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S.

Suzanne Maloney, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy, added that the protests have a “lack of an obvious figurehead” and are much smaller than the protests of 2009. However, the protesters are largely coming from the lower classes, which is the base of the Islamic Republic, Mahoney noted, and “it’s got to be deeply unnerving” for the regime.

While Bahari argued that the protesters do not separate the reformists and hardliners in the government, Maloney described President Rouhani as “the last best effort” for reform in Iran. Rouhani, however, has “run up against what’s possible in the Islamic Republic,” Maloney said. Further, she added, the JCPOA nuclear agreement was sold to the Iranians as something that would open the economy, and that has just not happened.

On whether or not President Donald Trump was right to voice his support for the demonstrators, Bahari stated that “they are going to blame America for everything in Iran” no matter what the president does. Bahari emphasized that, for one thing, the travel ban needs to be lifted, as it created anger toward the U.S. Maloney added that in 2009, during the Green Movement, she supported President Barack Obama’s decision to stay silent, but has since come to regret it, calling it a “reasonable calculation” at the time because Obama did not want to do anything that would hurt the potential for nuclear talks. Maloney also stated that the U.S. “should never stay on the sidelines” when it comes to the rights of people, and that “sometimes we simply have to do what is right to do.”

The most recent protests largely faded after a week, and the long-term effects or continuation of the protests is unclear. Just as it was when the protests began, the future may be hard to predict.

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Long live the raging movement of the people of Iran!


Revolution is the midwife of every old society, which is pregnant with a new one. The grassroots movement in Iran that is entering its 5th day is an expression of the rejection of the totality of the criminal mafia in power; a power that is not accountable to the people and is trying to squeeze the life out of the poverty-stricken masses. This is a movement of wisdom against ignorance, a movement against poverty, unemployment, corruption, multi-milliard dollars embezzlement by the officials, looting of the meager savings of the millions of working people, and political repression. This is the cry of anger of millions of people who have waited patiently for years and are now challenging the regime of the Islamic Republic and are shaking its base.

The recent uprising is expression of the accumulated anger and dissatisfaction of the masses from the neo-liberal economic policies of the regime. This anger has built up during the past several decades. The regime of the Islamic Republic has intensified the implementation of the dictates of the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Consequently, the economic condition of the masses has declined rapidly, the level of poverty has risen, inflation has skyrocketed, the cost of living has sharply increased, the purchasing power of the general population has declined, the price of water, gasoline, electricity, and other fuel has increased.

In the past several years, especially in 2017, there were many strikes, demonstration and protests by different sectors of the society; workers, teachers, retirees, unemployed, nurses, many thousand individuals who are the direct victims of looted bank savings, etc. It was expected that a general protest will develop in response to this condition. Adding to this is the intensification of the inner fight between the factions of the regime of the Islamic Republic. The protesters used this fight in their own service and targeted all factions of the regime of the Islamic Republic. All social and political sectors of the society are participating in these protests, from communists to revolutionaries, from ordinary masses to organized forces, from the monarchists to reactionary and proimperialist Mojahedeen and to individual agents of Zionists and imperialists.

This uprising is spontaneous, mainly by the youth, does not have an organized leadership at this moment. Despite all shortcomings, this uprising is a genuine expression of discontent of the general population from four decades criminal rule of the Islamic Republic. The protest movement started with economic demands and is moving forward towards political issues. The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) hails the just and bold movement of Iranian people against the Islamic Republic that has ruled for nearly foty years using repression and extreme violence. We insist on the unity of the masses and on a clear and sharp stand against the aggressive imperialist powers and their agents who try to derail the movement.

There is not yet sign of an increase in the number of workers in the streets. A general strike will force the regime to retreat and will provide the opportunity for the street demonstrators to continue protesting with a lower cost. The unbalanced class forces, the lack of political organization and leadership, and the exhaustion of the street protesters will not produce a condition in favor of the movement. In the Middle East, the U.S. imperialists and Israeli Zionists are trying to penetrate any movement against the regimes that do not bend to their dictates. This is particularly true about Iran. The presence of agents and lackeys of the US imperialists and Israeli Zionists in a movement does not necessarily express the nature of the movement.

In the present uprising in Iran, the role of these agents is not dominant. This is a spontaneous movement from bottom-up and not from top-down. At the same time, the communists, left, and progressive forces must be very vigilant and analyze the erroneous slogans and stands that are expressed in the marches and expose the nature of them to the masses. If the demands “bread, job, housing, liberty, social justice, and the republic” are more clearly expressed, if the slogans in support of the overthrown old order – the hereditary monarchy – and the slogans that compromise with faction of the regime are rejected from the ranks of the movement, then one can hope, with the rise of revolutionary forces in particular the Marxist-Leninists who are the true representatives of most radical social demands and who are strongly opposed to imperialist interventions, that the movement will achieve its goals.

The Party of Labour of Iran calls on the masses in the streets to be vigilant and avoid the premature violence. The agents of imperialists and Zionists and the sell-out circles do not value the human life. They only look for their interest. Every call on the masses should be carefully examined and its source be investigated. The rights to formation of independent guilds, the right to employment and housing and unemployment insurance, the freedom of association and assembly, the separation of religion from the state and education, the abolition of gender segregation and compulsory veils and dress code, and the freedom of all political prisoners are part of the demands of the street demonstrators.

The Party of Labour of Iran gives its whole hearted support to these demands and believes that no faction of the Islamic regime has the will to fulfill these just and popular demands of the masses. The Party of Labour of Iran ( Toufan) strongly condemns the brutal killings of the protesters and calls on the fraternal Parties and Organizations in the ”Internatinal Conference of the Marxist Leninist Parties and Organizetions” and on the revolutionary and progressive forces and individuals to condemn the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its crimes and to demand the immediate and unconditional release of all detained street protesters.

The remedy for the workers and the working people is unity and organization!

The Party of Labour of Iran

(Toufan) January 1, 2018

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US Likely Took Course to Demolish Iran Nuclear Deal 


Russia, as well as the European Union, remains committed to the Iran nuclear deal, despite the recent US waiver of sanctions against the country.

Moscow would oppose any attempts to undermine the existing nuclear agreement between P5+1 countries and Iran, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has stated.

“The JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] cannot be amended and we will oppose any attempts to hamper it,” Ryabkov said.

The minister went on by saying that Trump’s move raises questions concerning his negotiability on international issues, adding that Moscow will insistently explain to Washington the viciousness of its sanction policy towards both Tehran and Pyongyang.

“We have a very negative stance on yesterday’s decisions and statements announced by Washington, our worst expectations are coming true,” Ryabkov said commenting on Trump’s words, saying that the US thus demonstrate their preference for the use of power to solve issues.

The minister underlined that statements by US President Donald Trump will be very carefully studied in the DPRK and other countries and may influence the existing tensions on the Korean peninsula.

“According to our estimates, our American colleagues act in such a way as to constantly find opportunities to increase tensions on the Korean peninsula. Despite the signs that there has been some shift in the direction toward political dialogue, here we also note intra-Korean contacts, which are very important — despite this, Washington is looking for ways to constantly remind everyone, including in Northeast Asia, that it is committed to pressuring and methods of force, and, using this same American terminology, keeping all the options on the table,” the deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry added.

The diplomat added that there was no sense in overestimating Trump’s decision on waiving the sanctions, as the United States was seeking to undermine the JCPOA and is reinforcing a categorical approach to Iran-related issues.

“The prospect of the US withdrawal from the Iran deal will deliver a very serious blow to the whole system of international agreements and to the enhancing of the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” Ryabkov said.

Speaking about a new deal on Iran, which the US has claimed to elaborate, the minister stressed that Moscow could hardly understand how it might look like.

“We do not understand what our American colleagues mean when they start to negotiate the development of some new agreement, which, as they think, will ‘correct the shortcomings’ of the existing agreement,” Ryabkov said.

“It has been announced in advance that Iran, Russia and China are not invited to negotiations concerning this agreement. This is the US’ decision, the content of the talks and their subject is unclear. But for us, strictly speaking, they are of little interest because the JCPOA is not subject to correction,” Ryabkov stressed.

US Sanctions

“Of course, the decisions on enlargement of the sanction list [as for Iran] by including 14 individuals and entities, including the citizens of foreign states, not only the Iranian institutions and organizations, spark concerns,” Ryabkov has commented on the US sanctions on 14 individuals and entities over Iran’s human rights abuses and ballistic missile program, including the ones from China and Malaysia.

The minister called on the international community to consolidate efforts aimed at securing the Iranian nuclear deal.

“We think that in this context, the international community should double its efforts aimed at consolidation of the approach to the protection of the JCPOA shared by Russia, the Europeans and China in favor of its strict and full implementation by all the participants,” Ryabkov said.

The statement was made in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s announcement on January 12 of his decision to waive sanctions on Iran as required by the JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal. Trump, however, specified it would be the last time he signs the waiver unless the deal is modified.

This move follows the common path the US president took in relation to the Islamic Republic ever since his election campaign. When elected, he reaffirmed opposition to the deal officially in late October 2017, refusing to re-certify it and accusing Tehran of violating the spirit of the agreement.

However, the president still does not contest Tehran’s compliance with the deal at the international level, while at the same time not excluding the possibility of withdrawing from the deal if the agreement is not improved. Other JCPOA signatories have called on the United States to comply with the agreement’s provisions, saying that the deal had yielded results and was non-negotiable.


Trump Decides to Extend Iran Sanctions Waiver, But for the Last Time — WH

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Trump’s Iran Statement: A View From Europe


Featured image: The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (Source: LobeLog)

It is with some reluctance that I write about President Donald Trump’s latest statement on Iran, because the statement is so full of half-truths, untruths, and logical fallacies that it is bad for one’s blood pressure to have to dwell on it for any length of time.

I will try to limit damage to my constitution by focussing on just a few of the statement’s most disturbing features.

The statement reveals a shocking attitude towards the European allies of the United States. For months these allies have been telling the Trump administration that the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a satisfactory and useful nuclear non-proliferation instrument, and that they attach the highest importance to preserving it.

President Trump’s statement does not just ignore what his European allies have been saying. It threatens these allies with the very outcome they want to avoid—the demise of the JCPOA—if they decline or fail to bend to the President’s will:

Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal. This is a last chance. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately.

This is an extraordinary way to treat long-standing allies. It amounts to putting a metaphorical gun to their heads. If the criminal underworld is paying attention, it will surely elect President Trump gangster-of-the-month. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was right: the time has come for Europe to wean itself from the United States.

Equally shocking, but less surprising because, alas, we have grown accustomed to this tendency, is a disregard for the sovereign rights of states and for the legally binding international treaties and UN resolutions that limit those rights.

Iran has a sovereign right to possess the means to enrich uranium. Currently that right is limited in two ways. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) binds Iran to using enrichment technology solely for peaceful purposes and in conformity with a nuclear safeguards agreement. UN Security Council resolution 2231 endorses tight limits on Iran’s enrichment capacity, and production of enriched uranium, until the start of 2031.

Iran also has a sovereign right to develop and possess missiles for the purpose of delivering conventional (non-nuclear) warheads. There are no international treaty restrictions on this right. UNSC resolution 2231 “calls upon” Iran not to develop missiles that would be capable of delivering nuclear pay-loads but does not legally bind Iran in this respect. (So, contrary to President Trump’s claim, Iran’s missile tests and related activities are not “illicit” or violations of any UN resolution.)

It follows that President Trump has no right to dictate limits or restrictions over and beyond those just described. Instead, if he and his advisers believe that the sunset clauses of the JCPOA (certain restrictions on Iran’s enrichment right lapse between 2026 and 2031) and Iranian missiles threaten international peace and security, they must convene the UN Security Council and submit for the Council’s consideration a resolution that would give legally binding effect to the restrictions and prohibitions they consider necessary.

That is how the Trump administration ought to proceed. The probability of it doing so is close to zero, however. Even this administration is capable of perceiving that the Council would decline to adopt any such resolution.

Why? In 2018 there is no evidence that an expansion of Iran’s enrichment capacity after 2030 (if it takes place) will threaten international peace and security—or that Iranian possession of short- and medium-range missiles poses any more of a threat than their possession by Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan, India, South Korea, and Brazil, to name but a few. Only after the International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded a root-and-branch investigation into the totality of Iran’s nuclear program, and produced findings, can the Council reasonably form a view on whether some kind of successor to the JCPOA (and/or missile restrictions) is needed to head off a threat to peace and security.

A third feature of the statement is the damage that it will do to the international standing of the United States.

Many states will be worried about the statement’s implications for the law-based international order to which they are attached. The last thing they want is a world in which the president of the United States feels entitled to form a posse and go after whomever he chooses.

They will also be worried that this statement suggests that President Trump is a man possessed by demons. One of those demons is his hatred of President Barack Obama. Trump’s desire to destroy one of Obama’s achievements is obvious from the statement.

Less obvious is President Trump’s faith in what he hears from those he has chosen to befriend. Anyone looking for a summary of the anti-Iranian propaganda churned out in recent years by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and associated Washington think-tanks need look no further than this statement. To the rest of the world this suggests that it is idle to look to the current White House for balanced, objective, rational analyses of international situations. That is disquieting.

The hope now must be that Europe, Russia, and China, with the backing of most of the world, can persuade Iran to scorn the US provocation that now seems inevitable: US withdrawal from the JCPOA and the re-introduction of US nuclear-related sanctions.

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What to make of Iran’s demonstrations


What to make of Iran’s demonstrations

People march in support of the Islamic Revolution, Tehran, Dec. 30

Anti-Government Protesters Set Garbage Cans on Fire, Tehran, Dec. 30

Anti-government protesters set garbage cans on fire, Tehran, Dec. 30

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 and seem to have already evolved over the course of a few days. From the beginning, Iranian government officials have stated that people have a right to demonstrate, but that acts of sabotage and violence would be dealt with forcefully.

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. From there, some of the marches become more militant and aggressive, with garbage cans and police cars set ablaze. By the night of Dec. 31, 2017, protests took on the form of armed attacks on government buildings and police stations. By Jan. 3, hundreds had been arrested and 21 people have been killed.

Global and national context of the current protests

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 in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain and Gaza. In Iraq and Afghanistan, Iranian influence has only grown since the U.S. invasions and occupations — a phenomenon that U.S. foreign policymakers would like to reverse. Their grand ambition is to return Iran to the U.S. sphere of influence, as it was between 1953 and 1979, when it served alongside as Israel as the pillar of U.S. national security strategy in the region.

Therefore, Western media coverage about Iranian politics in 2018 is about as objective and informative as listening to the Spanish crown’s assessment of Inca politics in the 1500s or reading the British colonizers’ dispatches on political struggles in Africa in the 1800s.

Iranian society cannot be understood if reduced to the simplistic framework of “the dictatorial regime” versus “the suffering people.” This is the formula utilized to demonize foreign governments, to lay the groundwork for sanctions, war, regime change, assassinations and other punitive measures. It has nothing in common with the Marxist method, which looks at a society’s contending classes and class fractions, its political history and social reality.

Iran is a capitalist society where competing bourgeois factions jockey for position and control, dominating different state institutions and influencing different media outlets. The major axes of domestic struggle in recent years have dealt with the size of the social safety net, the potential relaxation of religious laws, the approach to ethnic and religious minorities, as well as economic development strategies. On foreign policy, major struggles have been waged on how much to confront the United States and directly engage in regional conflicts.

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. Within both camps, there are major differences in economic program. These currents measure their strength through bourgeois-democratic processes, not a monarchical form or being “chosen” by the Supreme Leader as is sometimes suggested wrongly. The system is, however, overseen by a clerical authority, itself riven with struggle, which retains a veto power over policy and ensures that the level of open struggle and debate does not endanger the political system as a whole.

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, as with the protests against ethnic chauvinism, which carried on without major incident. The initial protests in the current wave likewise did not result in the deployment of the Revolutionary Guard, or meet repression until some protesters openly called to overthrow the Islamic Republic, and escalated into physical confrontation with the state. These can be understood as the Iranian state’s “red lines” in the toleration of the protests.

Corporate media hype

Following this corporate media coverage today, 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 support this. Corporate media reports put the number of total protesters at “tens of thousands.” Video clips posted on social media suggest quite modest turnouts, ranging from dozens to no more than hundreds. Even if there have been tens of thousands of protesters, for context, we have to keep in mind that Iran has a population of 80 million.

To be sure, all protests tend to speak for far more beyond their immediate participants, but the level of support is not so easy to determine.

Western media report these demonstrations in Iran as being the largest demonstrations since the mass demonstrations that followed the 2009 elections. This is technically true, even if we consider the likely more accurate estimate of “thousands” not “tens of thousands.” But the 2009 demonstrations were attended by hundreds of thousands, maybe millionsof people. Even then, the people protesting the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not represent a majority of the population, as large as the turnout was. The recent demonstrations are not comparable to those in scale.

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. Ironically, they were planned in advance of the recent round of opposition protests, and in commemoration of mass demonstrations in 2009 by supporters of the Islamic Republic. The turnout for the Dec. 30 demonstrations was huge, totaling in millions across the country.

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. These kinds of false media practices serve the purpose of giving their audience the impression that the anti-government demonstrations have had huge turnouts, even in cases where they later publish tiny corrections.

It is possible, although not likely, that anti-government protests will grow massively in the coming days. But, factually, as of this writing, the turnout to opposition rallies is quite small compared to the recent pro-Islamic Republic turnout, or the opposition turnout in 2009.

The character of the protests

When analyzing an opposition movement anywhere in the world, there are certain questions we must ask. What is the political character of the opposition movement? Does it have an anti-capitalist character? Is it a working-class movement? Does it represent an expansion of the country’s independence or does it promote its submission to the dictates of multinational corporations? U.S. ruling class institutions also ask these same types of questions and, based on the answers, provide or withhold support.

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. It has been speculated that the rapid rise in the price of eggs and poultry, an estimated 40 percent rise in recent weeks, has triggered the protests. This type of inflation, as well as high youth unemployment, were among some of the main complaints voiced in the protests. Similarly, the Rouhani government’s proposed budget for next year includes cuts in fuel subsidies and cash subsidies, which may also have contributed.

The very first demonstration was in Mashhad, in northeastern Iran near the border of Afghanistan. This was followed with a protest in Qom, in central Iran. Both Mashhad and Qom are holy cities in Shi’a Islam, the two biggest destinations for pilgrimage. This starting point could not be more different from northern Tehran where the 2009 protests were centered. This would suggest, and there are other reports to this effect, that the protests were launched, not by people wishing to overthrow the Islamic Republic but, by people critical of President Rouhani’s administration and in favor of a stricter form of Islamic government rule.

The political tendency grouped around former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also has been strongly critical of Rouhani for the nuclear deal, which they consider to have been too concessionary to the West. Small protests also took place at universities in recent days along these lines, calling President Rouhani a “disgrace” and chanting “down with the dictator.”

Rouhani responded to the first protests by trying to turn them around on his “hard-line” opponents and synchronize them with his own political agenda about government waste: “People are not only criticizing [the government for] the economic situation. People have something to say about corruption and transparency. People want to know what is going on in the lawmaking, judicial and other sectors.”

In this sense, the initial protests can be understood as the struggle between political factions spilling into the streets and each attempting to mobilize popular support behind them. People with strong grievances, quite possibly with different and diametrically opposed political orientations, were drawn to them. As the protests have continued, regardless of the wishes of the individual participants, they have also provided space for the growing initiative of counter-revolutionary, pro-Western armed elements. This is not a completed fact, but is the emerging trend at the time of this writing.

Presence of reactionary slogans

For years, the omnipresent media broadcast TV channels, most prominently among them the BBC and Voice of America, have promoted the idea that economic problems in Iran are primarily, or at least partly, due to the virtually unlimited support that the Islamic Republic provides Palestine. According to this propaganda line, as long as there are economic needs in Iran, no support should go to Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen or elsewhere. Rumor has it that truckloads of solid gold are headed from Iran directly to Gaza and Damascus on a regular basis!

This view was reflected in a commonly repeated chant at several protests. It is really the return of a common chant of the 2009 Green Movement: “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I give my life for Iran,” or the even more chauvinistic variant: “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, Sacrifice both for Iran.”

As the days went on, overt demands for the overthrow of the political system were expressed through the chant: “Down with the dictator.” This amorphous slogan has been used by forces as diverse as Rouhani’s conservative opponents and the pro-Western liberals of the 2009 “Green movement” who desire the overthrow of the political system. 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.

A movement whose most popular demand is opposition to Iran’s support for Palestine cannot be progressive. A movement whose idea of improved economic management is merging the country’s economy into the world capitalist system, dominated by the U.S. and its junior imperialist partners, cannot be progressive. Merely having legitimate economic and political grievances does not make a movement progressive. The question is what political force and program will gain initiative.

Here in the U.S., some of the supporters of Trump’s fascistic policies are workers with legitimate grievances against the capitalist economy, the political system and the Democrats. They feel squeezed and threatened by a system that has eroded their living standards and threatens to throw them into the ranks of the unemployed and the homeless. They hate the political establishment, the federal government and the status quo. Yet, in the absence of class consciousness, they buy into Trump’s racist, sexist and bigoted solution to the real problems. Despite having legitimate grievances, they are reactionary.

The Trump administration, U.S. politicians, and the corporate media quickly determined this to be an opposition movement they can throw their support behind. So have the Israeli and Saudi governments, the latter of which has been accused of generating thousands of fake Twitter accounts to amplify the movement’s reach worldwide. They are betting that the movement’s own trajectory will serve imperialist interests, or that it is amorphous enough that it can be influenced and guided, and a pro-imperialist current can be nurtured within it.

Is Iran’s economy really in shambles?

Western media coverage of Iran routinely portrays the economy as being in “dire straits.” “Deteriorating,” “depleted,” “going downhill” are common descriptors. This kind of characterization often serves as the background for the analysis to follow.

But an objective analysis of any country’s economy should be based on facts and trends, not subjective characterizations. The World Bank, which can hardly be accused of having a pro-Iran bias, writes: “The Iranian economy bounced back sharply in 2016 at an estimated 6.4 percent. Latest data available for the first half of the Iranian calendar year 2016 (ending in March 2017) suggest that the Iranian economy grew at an accelerated pace of 9.2 percent (year over year) in the second quarter.” This is hardly an economy that is about to collapse.

Iran’s is not a traditional, agrarian economy either. Nor is it a single commodity oil economy. As one example, auto manufacturing in Iran has surpassed annual production of 1.5 million, by far the largest in the region and 12th in the world. The economy has been growing steadily for well over a decade, with the exception of the peak effect of the sanctions – 2014-2015 – when it actually contracted by 2 percent.

Economic growth does not mean, of course, that people do not suffer economic hardship. It is not just a question of the total size of the economy but also the distribution of the wealth and the resources. 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.

In aggregate economic terms the number of people living in poverty has dramatically decreased since the 1979 revolution. Prior to the revolution, according to UN data, 55 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. Today, the World Bank states: “Poverty is estimated to have fallen from 13.1 percent to 8.1 percent between 2009 and 2013.”

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. Some members of this new super-rich layer of society make it a point to show off their wealth. They drive around in hundred thousand dollar cars, live in unimaginably opulent mansions that have elevators for their automobiles, and dress in fashionable clothes comparable to Hollywood celebrities.

Inequality drives resentment

Iran is not an impoverished country where hunger and destitution have reached a breaking point. While parts of the working class suffer through real and painful hardships, as far as capitalist economies go, particularly in oppressed countries, Iran is not a country in deep economic distress.

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.

For the Iranian working class, and even more so for the middle class, the opulent lifestyle of this class creates strong resentment at the obvious social injustice. The presence of this parasitic class renders the existence of some progressive social safety policies superfluous. That periodically large-scale embezzlement cases are exposed in high-profile trials reinforces the impression that all the wealth is being stolen by the government and those close to it.

It is instructive to look at two issues that have reportedly prompted anger about the government’s proposed budget. Next year’s budget is scheduled to increase the price of gasoline. But this is not a country in which energy prices are breaking the backs of workers. In Iran, gasoline is heavily subsidized. The price of gasoline is among the lowest in the world, the sixth lowest according to the site Currently, the government spends approximately $100 billion per year on subsidies for fuel, bread, sugar, rice, cooking oil and medicine.

Another point reportedly driving the anger at the economy is the planned reduction in the government’s cash subsidies. About 90 percent of the population receives direct cash subsidies. The way this works is that, every month, the government deposits money directly into citizens’ bank accounts. This amounts to about a $30 billion annual government expense. Many of those wishing Iran to implement what they see as sound economic policies like in the U.S. do not realize that subsidies for food, fuel and medicine are considered a gross violation of market economic principles. Cash subsidies for 90 percent of the population? Not a chance.

Role of agents

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. After the 2009 protests, several agents in possession of weaponry were arrested. Foreign agents (likely working for the CIA or the Mossad) successfully carried out several assassinations of nuclear scientists within Iran.

The United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, all sworn enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, regularly contribute to anti-government forces and are not shy about acknowledging those efforts. Their strategists admit that riding the wave of, and influencing, a protest movement would be an ideal scenario for taking down the Iranian government. That some of the most well-funded and high-powered security agencies on the planet have as a top priority the undermining and overthrow of the Iranian government is not imaginary; it is real.

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, how it is perceived domestically and internationally, and the direction in which street actions are led, particularly where there is no clear leadership or ideological cohesiveness among the protesters.

An example of a possible action by agents is a grizzly video which surfaced of two people lying on the ground, bleeding to death in the town of Doroud, in the province of Lorestan. This is a town with a population of about 150,000. Government officials have claimed that the police had nothing to do with these two deaths, nor had they even shot any bullets in Doroud. It seems improbable that in Doroud, the police would just shoot two people and leave their bodies on the street to bleed to death.

Similarly, armed attacks on police stations and government buildings cannot be the work of ordinary people or the spontaneous protest movement. Ordinary people do not have arms in Iran. So, 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. This is especially so in a case of such rapid militarization of the civil conflict.

Trump, U.S. officials express support

President Trump tweeted on Dec. 30, 2017: “The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most….” Note Trump’s inclusion of the U.S. “vast military power”’ as a not so subtle threat.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement: “Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos.”

Just so that we do not think these are empty words, we can look at comments U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made in June to Congress: The U.S. is working toward “support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government.”

Of course, the support Tillerson refers to is a violation of international law. No country has the right to actively support opposition forces, or the transition of power, in another country, peaceful or not. But 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.

Tasks of the anti-war movement

Understanding the line-up and character of the different forces in Iran is not an easy task for people in the U.S. It is not just that people have limited information and knowledge about what is going on in Iran. It is that the U.S. government and the corporate media deliberately misinform and obfuscate in the interests of the U.S. ruling class.

Further, unfortunately, a big chunk of liberal and progressive organizations routinely follow the lead of the State Department in deciding what is a democratic movement and what is not. Many will jump at the opportunity, without reservation or even close study, to support a “pro-democracy” movement in a country targeted by Washington. But they never quite find the time to take any action on victims of U.S. acts of aggression, say in Yemen, where arch-reactionary Saudi Arabia, with the material and moral support of the U.S., has driven the people into the abyss of death by starvation, infectious diseases and aerial bombings.

But the main task of revolutionaries and progressives in the U.S. is not to simply analyze developments in Iran, or elsewhere. Our task is to do what we can to stop the vast military that Trump boasts of from inflicting more death and destruction on the people around the world. 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!

Background reading:

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Iran’s Protests Take Place Against a Backdrop of Inequality


By Negin 

Image result for Iran's CIA Protests CARTOON

As 2017 came to a close, a groundswell of Iranian protesters captured international attention. The demonstrators’ slogans questioned everything from the price of eggs to the legitimacy of the highest levels of government, as viewers from around the world sought to pin down the precise motivations for their displeasure. At this time, the protesters may offer more questions than answers. Reports are building conflicting narratives as to who the protesters are, what brought them into the streets, and what they hope to accomplish.

Though there may be cacophony of analyses — many of them surely to be discredited in coming days and weeks — some facts still remain undisputed. Primarily among them: the protests are taking place against a backdrop of economic frustration and inequality within Iran.

Economic concerns have been simmering for some time. As Iranian writer Amir Ahmadi Arian noted in the New York Times, inequality has become front and center as the wealthy display their opulence with luxury cars in city streets, while the rest of the country struggles. The economy was a focal point in the country’s May 2017 elections. President Hassan Rouhani campaigned on the nuclear deal, promising it would bring more money into the country. But while Iran’s economy grew — by 13.4 percent in 2016 — it didn’t necessarily translate into prospects for Iranians. Unemployment rose to 12.6 percent that same year, a number that’s even higher for Iranian youth.

The discrepancy between the promise and reality of the nuclear deal hasn’t been lost on the country’s residents. In May of 2015, when hopes for the agreement were high, more than half of Iranians felt the economy was at least somewhat good. But by 2017, nearly two thirds called the country’s economic situation bad, one poll found. And they’re not optimistic about the future — fifty percent of people said they thought the economy was getting even worse.

Just as with the protests, analysts will point fingers in a variety of directions as to the cause of the country’s economic ills. Certainly, years of crippling international sanctions have played a role. And while the nuclear deal left the door open for more economic opportunities, constant uncertainty over the future of the agreement has left banks and businesses skeptical.

But regardless of the causes, the protests signal that Iran’s citizens may disagree with the government on next steps. One spark behind the recent demonstrations? President Rouhani’s conservative 2018 budget, released even as minor protests took place around the country over lost jobs and missing wages.

One particular point of ire is the budget cut to the country’s popular cash transfer program. As economist Djavad Salehi-Isfahani notes in one analysis, the program — which gave Iranians a small monthly stipend — played a role in stemming poverty rates, especially in the country’s rural areas, helping to bridge inequality between Tehran and the rest of the country. Salehi-Isfahani also points out that high inflation already cut the value of the transfers to less than a third of their original value. To top off that indignity, the government has decided to limit the number of people eligible for the program.

While the international community buzzes about the meaning behind the protests, at least one group is standing behind Rouhani’s austerity budget. The IMF released a consultation report on Iran in December, shortly before the protests took off, in which they said revisions to the cash transfer program, among other measures, would lead to “much needed fiscal space.” In a memo, Peter Bakvis, who directs the Washington, DC office of the International Trade Union Confederation, questioned this move. “It is safe to assume that no one among those participating in the recent mass protests in Iran was consulted by the IMF’s mission before it endorsed the 2018/19 budget and issued recommendations for the country’s economic and social policies.” Though the IMF does not lend to Iran, their recommendation still carries a good deal of weight.

The question to be asked: will Iran listen to groups like the IMF or the voice of its people? The government says the demonstrations have died down. But no matter the face of Iran’s protesters or the future of their movement, this much is clear: the country needs to deal with inequality, or the frustration will continue to simmer.

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“Completely spontaneous” manufactured protests in Iran


Image result for spontaneous protests in Iran CARTOON



Endless saber rattling…

It’s been going on since the Carter administration.

Iran is a much bigger country than Iraq, it has more people and its military is in great shape.

Its commanders are veterans of the bloody Iraq-Iran War and they know their business.

We can barely deal with a ragtag band of tribal fighters in Afghanistan and ex-Iraq military armed with improvised weapons in Iraq.

How is our overextended military going to deal with a real military?

What a war with Iran would be like

Iran – The country, the people, the reality

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Will Trump Use “Human Rights” to Kill the Iran Nukes Deal?


In a matter of days, Donald Trump will have the chance to scuttle the Iranian Nuclear agreement, a transaction that Trump has called “the worst deal ever.” The future of the so called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA depends largely on whether Trump opts to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran or not. If the president does in fact reimpose sanctions, (sometime after January 13) the United States will be in “material noncompliance” with the terms of the nuclear agreement and all bets will be off.  That means there are two questions that readers should be asking themselves:

1. Will Trump reimpose sanctions and kill the Obama-era nukes deal?

2. Are the protests in Iran instigated by Washington to provide cover to Trump for scrapping the JCPOA?

Take a look at this brief summary from an article at Politico:

President Donald Trump allowed the Iran nuclear deal to survive through 2017, but the new year will offer him another chance to blow up the agreement — and critics and supporters alike believe he may take it.

By mid-January, the president will face new legal deadlines to choose whether to slap U.S. sanctions back on Tehran. Senior lawmakers and some of Trump’s top national security officials are trying to preserve the agreement. But the deal’s backers fear Trump has grown more willing to reject the counsel of his foreign policy team, as he did with his recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital….

When Trump last publicly addressed the status of the Iran agreement, in mid-October, he indicated his patience had worn thin with what he has called “the worst deal ever,” and demanded that Congress and European countries take action to address what he considers the deal’s weakness.

“[I]n the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Trump said in an Oct. 13 speech.” (“How Trump could kill the Iran nuclear deal in January”, Politico)

So there it is. We do not yet know whether Trump is planning to “blow up the deal” or not. Nor do we have a clear idea of how responsible US NGOs or US agents might be in fomenting the demonstrations on the ground. What we do know, however, is that scuttling the agreement — which took years of deliberation, collaboration and compromise– will be very costly for the United States. Former US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew explained what the US can expect if it does walk away from JCPOA. Here’s an excerpt from an editorial that appeared in the New York Times in 2014.

Lew meeting with President Barack Obama and the Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

…the United States does have tremendous economic influence. But it was not this influence alone that persuaded countries across Europe and Asia to join the current sanction policy, one that required them to make costly sacrifices, curtail their purchases of Iran’s oil, and put Iran’s foreign reserves in escrow. They joined us because we made the case that Iran’s nuclear program was an uncontained threat to global stability and, most important, because we offered a concrete path to address it diplomatically — which we did….Foreign governments will not continue to make costly sacrifices at our demand….

Indeed, they would more likely blame us for walking away from a credible solution to one of the world’s greatest security threats, and would continue to re-engage with Iran. Instead of toughening the sanctions, a decision by Congress to unilaterally reject the deal would end a decade of isolation of Iran and put the United States at odds with the rest of the world…

The major importers of Iranian oil — China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey … will not agree to indefinite economic sacrifices in the name of an illusory better deal. We should think very seriously before threatening to cripple the largest banks and companies in these countries….

We must remember recent history. In 1996, in the absence of any other international support for imposing sanctions on Iran, Congress tried to force the hands of foreign companies, creating secondary sanctions that threatened to penalize them for investing in Iran’s energy sector. The idea was to force international oil companies to choose between doing business with Iran or the United States, with the expectation that all would choose us.

This outraged our foreign partners, particularly the European Union, which threatened retaliatory action and referral to the World Trade Organization and passed its own law prohibiting companies from complying. The largest oil companies of Europe and Asia stayed in Iran until, more than a decade later, we built a global consensus around the threat posed by Iran and put forward a realistic diplomatic means of addressing it.

(“The High Price of Rejecting the Iran Deal”, New York Times)

The Obama administration did not sign the Iranian nukes agreement because it wanted to, it signed it because it had to. Iranian negotiators made a number of crucial concessions that not only intensified the ongoing inspections regime, but also agreed that Iran would be treated more harshly (and unfairly) than any other nation that had ever signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

“The agreement subjects Iran to greater restrictions and more intrusive monitoring than any state with nuclear programs.”

Simply put, the US insisted that Iran accept a number of special protocols which in effect treat Iran like a second-class citizen. Iran accepted these terms so the US would stop its relentless economic strangulation which has persisted almost-continuously since 1979.

It is worth noting, that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program nor is there any evidence that they were trying to develop one. Like Saddam’s fictitious Weapons of Mass Destruction, “Iran’s nukes” are largely a myth created to justify nonstop US-Israeli aggression. Check it out:

It is essential to recognize that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapons program, nor does it possess a nuclear weapon. On February 26, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Ayatollah Khomenei, the supreme leader of Iran, ended his country’s nuclear weapons program in 2003 and “as far as we know, he’s not made the decision to go for a nuclear weapon.”

This repeats the “high-confidence” judgement of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) that was first made in November 2007.

(Micah Zenko, “Putting Iran’s Nuclear Program in Context”, Council on Foreign Relations)

Iran has no nukes, no nuclear weapons program, and no sinister nuclear project aimed at blowing up Israel or the United States. It’s all 100 percent bunkum conjured up by the same propagandists in the establishment media who concocted the mobile weapons labs, the yellowcake uranium, the aluminum tubes, curveball and the myriad other cockamamie fabrications that preceded the invasion of Iraq.

It’s also worth noting that “Forty-five US military bases encircle Iran, with over 125,000 troops in close proximity” and that both Republican and Democratic presidents have repeatedly expressed their support for regime change in Tehran. Moreover, the vast majority of Senators and Congressmen have frequently expressed their contempt for Iran while supporting covert activities to destabilize the government or punish the people. Ideally, Trump and his lieutenants would like to replace the Islamic clerics who currently rule Iran, with a puppet like the Shah who privatized oil production, ruled the country with an iron fist, and faithfully followed Washington’s diktats to the letter. The Shah’s reign of terror lasted a full 40 years during which time his CIA-trained secret police, the SAVAK, rounded up and tortured millions of innocent Iranians who were then systematically subjected to  “whipping and beating, electric shocks, extraction of teeth and nails, boiling water pumped into the rectum, heavy weights hung on the testicles, tying the prisoner to a metal table heated to a white heat, inserting a broken bottle into the anus, and rape.” This is how the United States brought freedom and democracy to the people of Iran under the Shah.

Is it any wonder why the Iranians are skeptical of Trump’s so called “supportive” tweets (such as):

“The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime…..The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food and freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!”  Donald Trump

Trump’s outspoken support for the protestors has many critics believing that Washington might be orchestrating events on the ground, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. In an excellent article at the World Socialist Web Site, Keith Jones, explains that the massive demonstrations are reaction to neoliberal policies that have exacerbated inequality while fueling social tensions. “Liberal reforms” and austerity have negatively impacted living standards in Iran just as they have everywhere else they’ve been implemented. In other words, the social explosion we are seeing unfold in Iran is not a Washington-engineered color revolution, but a the emerging signs of a class war. Here’s an excerpt from the WSWS article:

Since Dec. 28, tens of thousands have defied the Islamic Republic’s repressive apparatus and taken to the streets in cities and towns across the county. They have done so to voice their anger over food price rises, mass unemployment, gaping social inequality, years of sweeping social spending cuts and a pseudo-democratic political system that is rigged on behalf of the ruling elite and utterly impervious to the needs of working people.

The scope and intensity of this movement and its rapid embrace of slogans challenging the government and the entire autocratic political system have stunned Iranian authorities and western observers alike. Yet, it was preceded by months of worker protests against job cuts and plant closures and unpaid wages and benefits…..

The trigger for this explosion of popular discontent was the government’s latest austerity budget. It will further slash income support for ordinary Iranians, raise gas prices by as much as 50 percent, and curtail development spending, while increasing the already huge sums under the control of the Shia clergy…

The claim that the current protests are akin to those mounted by the Green Movement in 2009 is a base slander meant to justify a bigger crime. The Green challenge to the results of the 2009 Iranian presidential election was a long-prepared political operation that followed the script of similar US-orchestrated “color revolutions” in the Ukraine, Georgia, Lebanon and elsewhere. It was aimed at bringing to power those elements of the Iranian elite most eager to reach a quick rapprochement with US and European imperialism. It drew its popular support almost exclusively from the most privileged layers of the upper middle class, who were mobilized on the basis of neoliberal denunciations of the populist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for “squandering” money on the poor….

The current challenge to the Iranian regime is of an entirely different character. It is rooted in the working class, including in smaller industrial cities and district towns; draws its greatest support from young people who face an unemployment rate of 40 percent or more; and is driven by opposition to social inequality and capitalist austerity….The period in which the class struggle could be suppressed is coming to an end.

(“Working class opposition erupts in Iran: A harbinger for the world in 2018″”, World Socialist Web Site)

Iran’s protests are not the result of US meddling (although the US does undoubtedly have agents on the ground) Nor is there any real chance of regime change, in fact, from Trump’s point of view, that’s not even the main objective. In our opinion, the Trump administration is looking for a way to terminate the nuclear agreement without abrogating the deal itself.  My guess is that the administration plans to use Iran’s crackdown on protestors as a justification for rescinding the nukes deal, thus, providing cover for the allies to join Washington without fear of incurring the attendant penalties.

Trump’s recent tweets, all of which emphasize human rights, suggest the plan is already underway.

“Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”  Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2017

Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!   Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018

The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their “pockets.” The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!  Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018

Iran, the Number One State of Sponsored Terror with numerous violations of Human Rights occurring on an hourly basis, has now closed down the Internet so that peaceful demonstrators cannot communicate. Not good!  Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2017

Trump’s sudden interest in human rights is suspicious, but is it really a sign of a plan to kill the nukes deal?

We’ll see.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Will Trump Use “Human Rights” to Kill the Iran Nukes Deal?

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