Iran Trade Unionist, former Political Prisoner, on the Iranian election: “neither free nor fair”

June 13, 2013

Reading Marx in Tehran

By MANSOUR OSANLOO

IRAN’S presidential election on June 14 will be neither free nor fair. The candidates on the ballot have been preselected in a politically motivated vetting process that has little purpose other than ensuring the election of a compliant president who will be loyal to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, the most urgent challenge for both the next president and Ayatollah Khamenei will be to confront a rising tide of discontent resulting from a rapidly deteriorating economic situation.

The outside world is primarily focused on whether the election will signal a shift in the Iranian regime’s stand on the nuclear issue. But for the average Iranian the most important issue is the impact of this election on her pocketbook — especially for the hardworking masses, whose purchasing power has drastically decreased as they struggle to provide the most basic necessities for their families.

Iran’s industrial workers, teachers, nurses, government and service-sector employees have been hit hard. The profound mismanagement of the economy by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, coupled with stringent international sanctions, has made these workers’ plight the most important aspect of Iran’s domestic politics. Continue reading

“Hands off the People of Iran” exposes Tribunal on Iran’s 1980’s massacre of prisoners

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by “Hands Off the People of Iran”

1. Payam Akhavan (chair and spokesperson of the tribunal’s steering committee) has links to organisations that have accepted large amounts of money from the US government

2. The tribunal refuses to take a stand against war and sanctions on Iran
3. Mainstream lawyers and politicians like Sir Geoffrey Nice, John Cooper QC and Maurice Copithorne ideologically support the tribunal – why?
4. The pro-war Mujahedeen is closely involved with the tribunal
5. Many organisations and witnesses have withdrawn
6. Critical voices have been silenced
7. Conclusion: The tribunal has become part of the campaign to legitimise war and sanctions to enforce pro-western ‘regime change from above’.

The arguments in more detail: Continue reading

The Iran Tribunal and the crimes of the Islamic Republic

12 November 2012. A World to Win News Service. “I was only 19 years old when I went to the coffin room, but I… can’t escape thinking about it… I was with those who lost their lives, or lost their minds. I live with them all the time. I still both work and cry, I both live and mourn, I think about what happened.”

Another person testified, “Once they came for me and asked if I had repented. I said yes. They asked me if I was prepared to take part in executions. I said yes. I wanted to pretend that I had repented, others had thought the same way, but one day…”

These are the examples of testimony given by witnesses at a symbolic tribunal held in The Hague (Netherlands) on 25-27October that found the Islamic Republic of Iran guilty of crimes against humanity for the mass execution of political prisoners in the 1980s.

The Iran Tribunal, as it was called, took place in two stages. The first was held 18-22 June this year in London, where 75 witnesses testified in front of a “Truth Commission”. At the second session, in The Hague, around 20 witnesses testified in front of a commission of international judges.

Johann Kriegler, who led the judges, introduced himself as a member of the Truth Commission held in South Africa after the end of apartheid. Other judges had experience with similar tribunals, including British barrister Michael Mansfield who is a member of the jury panel on the Russell Tribunal inquiry on Palestine.

According to the organizers, the Iran Tribunal was inspired by the original Russell Tribunal initiated by the philosophers and Nobel Prize winners Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre and other intellectuals in 1966 to put the United States on trial for its war crimes in Vietnam. This current campaign was launched after a gathering of survivors and families of the victims. Continue reading

Israel’s Hypocrisy on a Nuclear Middle East

By Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the general debate of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly. Credit: UN Photo/J Carrier

[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the general debate of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly. Credit: UN Photo/J Carrier]

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 1 2012 (IPS) – When world leaders packed their bags and headed home last week, there was one lingering memory of the General Assembly’s high-level debate: Benjamin Netanyahu’s dramatic presentation of a cartoonish nuclear red line, which hit the front pages of most mainstream newspapers in the United States.

The Israeli prime minister warned Iran against crossing that red line even though the Jewish state itself had crossed it when it went nuclear many moons ago.

As Mouin Rabbani, contributing editor to the Middle East Report, told IPS, “The real absurdity of Netanyahu lecturing the world about nuclear weapons was precisely that – an Israeli leader lecturing the world about the dangers of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.”

The fact of the matter is that not only is Israel the region’s sole nuclear power, and not only has it on previous occasions all but threatened to use these weapons of mass destruction, but it has since its establishment consistently and steadfastly rejected ratification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Rabbani said.

“It’s a bit like listening to (Hustler magazine publisher) Larry Flynt denouncing pornography – though to be fair to Flynt, it’s unlikely he will reach the levels of hypocrisy displayed by Netanyahu,” said Rabbani, a Middle East expert who has written extensively on the politics of the volatile region.

Still, most Middle East leaders, speaking during the high-level debate here, seem to have accepted Israel’s double standards on nuclear politics – and with hardly an aggressive response to Netanyahu’s address to the Assembly. Continue reading

The imperialist threat and the Islamic Republic of Iran, 33 years after its foundation

27 February 2012,  A World to Win News Service.

By N. Peyman

The threats against Iran, the sanctions and other economic pressures and the military movements and manoeuvres all testify to the intensification of the contradictions between the US and Iranian regime, 33 years after its foundation. These contradictions have reached such a critical point that an air strike or other form of military intervention against Iran by the US and some of its allies has become a clear possibility.

Why have relations between Iran and the Western powers, especially the US, been so tense for most of the last three decades, and why are they now fast approaching such a dangerous point? What are the forces driving the imperialist powers to another war in a region that is already overloaded with various wars?

These questions are even more striking if we take into account the fact that both the Western powers and the Iranian regime are undergoing crises internally.

According to the constant barrage from the mainstream media, the main concern of the Western powers is Iran’s nuclear programme. They argue that the Iranian regime intends to build nuclear weapons. So the Western imperialists are pushing harder and harder to force the Iranian regime to stop enriching uranium, while Iran denies this charge and claims its nuclear programme is for purely civilian purposes.

The pressure so far has included UN Security Council approval for several rounds of economic sanctions against Iranian institutions and the personnel involved in its nuclear programme. Now the US and EU have taken it upon themselves to impose further sanctions against Iran’s central bank. On July 1 of this year a ban on the importation of Iranian oil will take effect. These measures are meant to block Iranian exports and make it impossible for the country to import for lack of foreign currency.

But is the US and Western powers’ concern about Iran’s nuclear programme the real driving force behind the current crisis?

Despite the claims of the mainstream media and political officials whose job is to repeat and spread Western imperialist ruling class propaganda, the claims about the Iranian regime’s nuclear programme are highly questionable. In fact their assertions have repeatedly been challenged by genuine experts, investigative reporters and observers familiar with the issue.

First of all, the Western powers and the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  have not, so far, been able to provide any credible evidence, let alone proof. Even their intelligence and military officials have not been able to back the claims of their leaders. So they seem to be making so much noise and heading toward war based on a case built on the “suspected intentions” of the Iranian regime that no one has been able to prove.

The US and its allies also claim if Iran succeeds in making nuclear bombs, it would start attacking other countries, especially Israel, and endanger American and Western security.

There seems to be a consensus among experts, however, that even if the US and its allies are right about the Iranian regime’s intentions, it could become capable of making only one or a very few bombs in the near future. There is no way that it could match the nuclear arsenal of Israel, said to include more than 200 warheads, let alone the nuclear capability of the imperialist powers. According to experts, this cannot change the military balance of power in the region.

There is also the argument put forward by some imperialist apologists that if Iran goes nuclear, that would start a nuclear arms race in the region, so that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other countries would have to compete. First of all, experts familiar with the region’s economic and political situation argue that political problems in some countries such as Egypt and the lack of infrastructure in others such as Saudi Arabia would make it impossible for them to undertake full-scale nuclear programmes. Secondly, this nuclear arms race has already been started with India and Pakistan. Thirdly, countries such as Turkey are not waiting for Iran to go nuclear. They are already working on it.

So not only is there no definitive evidence that Iran is making nuclear bombs, the arguments about the danger that an Iranian nuclear programme would represent for the security of the world and the stability of the region are exaggerated and do not match the reality. In fact, these arguments are little more than justifications for a hidden agenda – the preparations by the US and its allies for a war against Iran.

Also, as everyone now knows, or should know by now, the US and its allies have repeatedly made up various excuses to start wars in different parts of the world. The most memorable example is the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the cover of accusations about the Saddam Hussein regime’s possession of weapons of mass destruction that proved to be a pure invention by George W. Bush and Tony Blair. This has cast even more doubt on the Western powers’ real intentions. Many people all over the world simply don’t trust the US imperialists and their allies on this issue.

Thus it is not difficult to conclude that even if the Iranian regime’s nuclear programme is a concern, it is not the main issue. It cannot, in itself, explain the US’s agenda –  why it is intensifying the contradictions with Iran and building a case for and preparing military intervention.

If that is not the real issue, what are the real contradictions that are pressing so hard on both sides, and what are its real sources? Why are the US and its allies unhappy with the Iranian Islamic regime? Continue reading

Danger of War Grows..U.S.-Israeli Assault on Iran Escalates

3 January 2012--the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has ordered US warships out of the Strait of Hormuz, where nearly one-fourth of the global petroleum shipments pass every day. The US is maneuvering to cutoff Iranian exports while ensuring ongoing oil exports of neighboring countries. The EU says it will join the call for US sanctions on Iran, by the end of the month

by Larry Everest, Revolution

The danger of a U.S.-Israeli war on Iran is escalating rapidly. The U.S. and its allies are ramping up their all-around assault on Iran, including new crippling sanctions, and openly threatening to attack. Ground is being laid daily in the headlines and statements by politicians of every stripe in mainstream U.S. politics calling for aggression against Iran—all justified by unsubstantiated assertions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

Whether or not Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons technology (and there is no proof they are), this U.S. imperialist narrative and framework is an outrageous effort to turn reality upside down—the reality of which of the clashing oppressive forces in the region is the dominant threatening oppressor and bully.

Iran is a non-nuclear, Third World country. The U.S. is the world’s most powerful nuclear weapons state—with over 4,000 warheads.  It’s the only country to ever use nuclear weapons, killing 150,000-240,000 people in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan (with many more dying of the effects of radiation for years after). It’s the main backer of the one country in the Middle East that actually does have nuclear weapons—Israel.

Now the U.S. and its allies have launched a massive, all-around campaign of aggression against Iran in the name of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. These weapons are horrible, and they should be banished from the earth. If the U.S. rulers were really against these tools of mass murder they’d insist everyone get rid of them—but they’re not. They and their media mouthpieces aren’t saying word one about getting rid of their nukes, or Israel’s nukes, or Britain or France’s nukes.

Instead, the U.S. and its allies are threatening war over the possibility that Iran could get a bomb, a war that would be terrible for the people of the world. In a 2006 statement, Kurt Gottfried, Chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University, said: “The [Bush] administration is reportedly considering using the B51-11 nuclear ‘bunker buster’ against an underground facility near Natanz, Iran. The use of such a weapon would create massive clouds of radioactive fallout that could spread far from the site of the attack, including to other nations. Even if used in remote, lightly populated areas, the number of casualties could range up to more than a hundred thousand, depending on the weapon yield and weather conditions.” And any attack by the U.S. and Israel on Iran would be military aggression to preserve their military dominance—including their nuclear monopoly—in the Middle East. There is absolutely no justice in anything the U.S. is doing in pursuit of this criminal goal.

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The last half of December saw a sharp spike in the U.S.-led assault on Iran’s Islamic Republic. On December 31, President Obama signed a defense authorization bill that included by far the harshest sanctions the U.S. and its allies have yet imposed on Iran. These new sanctions target Iran’s oil exports (which account for well over half of government revenues) for the first time, as well as its financial sector. (One provision calls for punishing foreign firms and banks which purchase Iranian oil, including through its central bank.) Continue reading

Syria’s Assad’s in trouble, so Ahmadinijad tears a page from the US’ Gaddafi playbook

Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, left, and Bashar al-Assad of Syria, center, in 2007, a more confident mood before the "Arab Spring"

 

[Iran’s Ahmadinijad has not yet abandoned the alliance/partnership with the embattled and troubled Assad regime in Syria, and may have hopes it can yet be saved.  But, there are moves afoot to foster relations with whatever emerges in a post-Assad Syria.  In this maneuvering, there is a memorable whiff of the  US’ abandonment of Mubarak in Egypt, and Gaddafi in Libya, at the onset of their popular challenges, and of the insertion of external dynamics in domestic rebellions–a move now adopted by Iran and applied to Syria.  All these contrary and competitive moves are described by the New York Times, the leading narrator for US imperialism. — Frontlines ed.]

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In Shift, Iran’s President Calls for End to Syrian Crackdown

By , New York Times

September 8, 2011

For years, posters celebrating the decades-old alliance joining Syria and Iran festooned the streets and automobiles of the Syrian capital — the images of Presidents Bashar al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embroidered with roses and daffodils.

But that alliance is now strained, and on Thursday, President Ahmadinejad of Iran became the most recent, and perhaps the most unexpected, world leader to call for President Assad to end his violent crackdown of an uprising challenging his authoritarian rule in Syria.

When the Arab Spring broke out, upending the regional order, Iran seemed to emerge a winner: its regional adversary, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, was ousted from power and its most important ally, Syria, was emboldened.

But the popular demands for change swept into Syria, and now, as Mr. Assad’s forces continue to shoot unarmed demonstrators, Iran sees its fortunes fading on two fronts: its image as a guardian of Arab resistance has been battered, and its most important regional strategic ally is in danger of being ousted. Continue reading