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  • Iran at a crossroads: Protests against government intensify

    Mahsa Amini poster

    Protests and strikes against the Iranian government are growing. Where have they come from and where are they going?

  • All out for 5 November: Unite against the Tories - Counterfire freesheet October 2022

    Tories in meltdown, the movement we need, protests in Iran, NHS workers balloting to strike, why they don't want us to talk about class and more in this month's Counterfire freesheet

  • Something rotten in the state of Westminster – weekly briefing

    Conor Burns in 2017

    Lindsey German on the black hole of parliamentary decay and revolts in Iran

  • Iran protests: ‘Women, Life, Freedom’

    Iran protests

    Iranian socialist S Sepehri analyses the revolutionary potential of the demonstrations there against women’s oppression

  • Is Iran finally coming in from the cold? – CounterBlast

    Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori

    The release of Nazanin Zaqhari-Ratcliffe points towards a realignment of global tensions, argues Terina Hine

  • Talking peace, making war: the dangers of Biden’s Iran gambit

    President Biden

    Biden is squandering the opportunity to end the cycle of war in the Middle East with continued provocations against Iran, writes Chris Nineham

  • Iran election: hardliners return under US stranglehold

    "File:Ebrahim Raisi in 9th Day Rally 04.jpg" | Photo: Meghdad Madadi  - Wikimedia Commons | cropped from original | CC BY 4.0 | license linked at bottom of article

    The landslide victory of Ebrahim Raisi, facilitated by inept US policy and international sanctions, spells an end to eight years of reformism, writes Susan Ram

  • Biden's presidency, the warmakers and the anti-war movement in the US

    Anti-war sentiment has already impacted on the incoming Biden administration, but it will have to be mobilised to deliver change, argues Chris Nineham

  • 2020: the year the mask fell off

    Shabbir Lakha reflects on a tumultuous year and what we must remember for the fight ahead

  • After the election, is US foreign policy likely to change?

    Biden, Yokota Air Base. Photo: Dvidshub / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-2.0, license linked at bottom of article

    As the chaotic presidential election inches towards resolution, we can expect more continuity than change in US foreign policy, argues Terina Hine

  • Trump and Biden on Iran: more continuity than change

    Trump, Biden and Iran. Photos: Gage Skidmore / edited by Shabbir Lakha / CC BY-SA 2.0, license linked at bottom of article

    Whoever holds the keys to the White House after the US election, the future relationship with Iran looks unlikely to improve, argues Terina Hine

  • We must resist continuing US aggression towards Iran

    F15 71st Fighter Squadron in flight

    The incident involving a US fighter jet and Iranian passenger plane is the latest escalation of US hostility towards Iran, writes Jamal Elaheebocus

  • The imperialism pandemic

    Anti-Trump, anti-war graffiti in Melbourne. Photo: Public Domain

    Imperialism is part and parcel of global capitalism and it can be seen very clearly in the coronavirus crisis, writes David Bush in this repost from Spring Magazine

  • Lockdown reading on revolution: some novels set in times of great upheaval

    Storming of the Bastille, 1789. Photo: Public Domain

    Lindsey German's pick of novels set in revolutionary times

  • Endless conflicts are deepening Coronavirus crisis

    Two Syrian women collect a prescription at a health clinic. Source: Flickr - DFID

    In this critical hour, all sanctions and hostilities must cease argues Chris Nineham

  • US sanctions on Iran are fuelling the spread of coronavirus

    Qom, Iran. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    Trump's sanctions on Iran are limiting the country's ability to deal with the coronavirus outbreak effectively and it's costing lives, writes Jonathan Maunders

  • Notes on the political economy of the imminent Covid-19 pandemic: Conspiracies

    Cases of Covid-19 in China. Source: Wikipedia

    Dr Yannis Gourtsoyannis addresses the conspiracies surrounding China's response to the spread of Covid-19

  • After a bruising election... What next for the left? - Counterfire Freesheet January 2020

    Labour leadership contest, general strike in France, growing protest movement in India, why socialists oppose imperialism, a year of climate strikes and more in this month's Counterfire freesheet

  • Behind Trump's tantrums: the US, Iran and the continuing threat of war

    Trump having a tantrum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    The decline in the US' strategic power in the region is leading to desperate measures from Trump writes Chris Nineham

  • Lip service to the left, but moves to the right - weekly briefing

    Sir Keir Starmer at Kings College, London in 2016

    Lindsey German on retreats, witch-hunts and war

  • War with Iran is still a danger

    Trump signs Executive Order imposing sanctions on Iran, June 2019. Photo: Public Domain

    The threat of war with Iran isn't over and the anti-war movement must continue to organise against it, writes Shabbir Lakha

  • Do not be fooled: Trump is the problem

    Trump, Merkel and Macron. Photo: wikimedia commons

    European governments are frightened by Trump’s behaviour but even more frightened of upsetting relations with the US, argues Lindsey German

  • No war with Iran: Glasgow protests against Trump’s belligerence

    Gathering at the anti-war protest in Glasgow

    Over 200 people gathered at Buchanan Steps on Monday 6th January to say no to US imperialism, reports Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

  • The anti-war movement gears up to oppose war with Iran

    No War with Iran protest, London. Photo: Shabbir Lakha

    Protesters took the streets to say no to Trump's drive to war with Iran, reports Shabbir Lakha

  • Kick out the crooks - Counterfire freesheet October 2019

    Tory crisis, Corbynism, drive to war with Iran, austerity, climate strikes and more in this month's Counterfire freesheet

  • Netanyahu and Pence: Boris Johnson's warmonger allies

    Boris Johnson meets Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Flickr/Number 10

    Boris Johnson's meetings with Netanyahu and Pence were about coordinating the drive to war with Iran, writes Lucy Nichols

  • Bolton's out, but we can't trust Trump or Johnson

    John Bolton. Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

    John Bolton's sacking is good news, now we need an alternative foreign policy by an anti-war government, argues Lindsey German

  • Iran: stop this war before it starts

    'Don't attack Iran protest at Downing Street, June 2019. Photo: Jim Aindow

    We shouldn't be fooled, the British state has been deliberately ramping up military aggression with Iran, argues Alistair Cartwright

  • Nightmare time: why the left has to come out fighting – weekly briefing

    Boris Johnson as London Mayor in 2014

    No chance of a summer recess for those committed to ending austerity, inequality and warmongering, argues Lindsey German

  • Crisis in the Gulf - Stop the War statement

    Demonstrators holding placards

    A statement from Stop the War raises the alarm on the escalating threat of war with Iran over the seizures of tankers

  • Stop Boris: General Election Now - Counterfire Freesheet July 2019

    No new Tory Prime Minister, protest the Tory party conference, revolt in Sudan, does modern monetary theory work, stop the drive to war with Iran, the British state and what Engels said about revolution in this month's Counterfire freesheet

  • Britain is following Trump and escalating the threat of war with Iran

    British Royal Navy's frigate, HMS Iron Duke. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    The British Navy's seizing of an Iranian oil tanker shows Britain following Trump, trading in diplomacy for the threat of military confrontation, argues Lindsey German

  • Be in no doubt: Britain will be involved if there is war on Iran

    Donald Trump and Boris Johnson

    If there is war, Britain will be part of it, writes Chris Nineham

  • Tory values meet the rights and wrongs of women - weekly briefing

    Stop violence against women

    The nasty party displays its true colours as it flounders towards a new stewardship, observes Lindsey German   

  • Iran: act now to stop Trump’s dogs of war

    Trump signs an Executive Order in Bedminster, New Jersey, entitled “Reimposing Certain Sanctions with Respect to Iran” in 2018

    The US empire is on the march again and the anti-war movement must respond in kind and without delay, demands Chris Nineham

  • Why Iranians might be sceptical of the west's intentions

    Pro-Shah sympathisers, Iranian coup, 1953. Photo: wikimedia commons

    The warmongering from the west is the latest in a long line of imperialist interventions in the region, argues John Rees

  • Iran - unrepentant warmongers and gullible fools are at it again: weekly briefing

    Mike Pompeo speaking in Washington in 2012

    It’s action stations for the anti-war movement as reheated imperial aggression through the prism of Donald Trump makes a bold return, argues Lindsey German 

  • Organise now to avoid war with Iran

    Mike Pompeo speaking in Washington, June 13th 2019. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

    Despite platitudes from both sides of the Atlantic, we cannot ignore the very real risk of another disastrous conflict in the Middle East, writes Chris Nineham

  • No to Trump, no to war on Iran

    'No Iran War' at the demonstration against Trump, London, 4 June. Photo: Chrissy Brand

    Trump and his neocon advisers are taking us to the brink of yet another disastrous war in the Middle East, writes Hilary Stephenson

  • Trump and Iran: the brink of war

    Trump, Bolton, Pompeo at Nato, 2018. Photo: wikimedia commons

    Trump, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo have created a situation with Iran that is risking a new war in the Middle East, argues Chris Nineham

  • Britain must stop arming the Saudi war criminals now

    Months after an airstrike on a neighborhood populated by black Yemenis or "Muhamasheen" more than a hundred buildings still remain in rubble and survivors continue to search for any valuables in Sanaa, Yemen, 9 October 2015. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

    A new offensive in the Saudi war on Yemen will ratchet up the humanitarian crisis. We must build a huge campaign to end arms sales, writes Chris Nineham

  • Trump targets Iran: not just talk, this is serious

    Donald Trump pointing

    The Trump administration is stepping up its aggressive campaign against Iran, writes Chris Nineham

  • Our NHS: Keep the fight on the streets - Counterfire Freesheet June 2018

    Fighting for our NHS, Ireland's abortion rights victory, Grenfell one year on, Dump Trump and more - Counterfire freesheet edition 026, June 2018

  • Dump Trump and the special relationship, too

    Theresa May visits Donald Trump. Photo: wikimedia commons

    Theresa May's support for Trump is a faultline we must fully exploit, argues Jonathan Maunders

  • We cannot let Iran become another US powder keg

    Trump addresses the US nation after authorising missile strikes in Syria, April 2017. Photo: wikimedia commons

    Trump's policies point towards regime change in Iran. The anti-war movement must stand firm, argues Shabbir Lakha 

  • Trump's ditching of Iran deal is paving the way to war

    Donald Trump in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

    Trump pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear deal is a step on the path to more war in the Middle East argues Shabbir Lakha

  • Why are people in Iran protesting?

    Protests in Kermanshah, Iran, 29th December 2017. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    Since Thursday last week, Iran has been gripped by a new social unrest across a number of cities. Naz Massoumi gives some context to the unfolding crisis.

  • Trump's UN speech: a new low for the president

    donald trump

    Trump's speech on Tuesday made it absolutely clear that he is prepared to raise the stakes in terms of international conflict

  • Iran in the shadow of Trump

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    In the upcoming Presidential election in Iran domestic issues are being overshadowed by the Donald argues Sean Ledwith

  • Iran and The Donald: the US isolationism that did not happen

    The former US embassy in Tehran 2007

    Trump’s destabilising gestures in the Middle East are an alarm call to us all, asserts Chris Bambery

  • Operation resolute storm: US allies stoke sectarian conflict in Yemen

    Shi'ite Muslim rebels

    A Saudi-led coalition of ten states has launched a military campaign against one of the world's poorest nations. Muna Othman looks at the background

  • Israel’s attack in Syria: why now?

    Israeli military support for Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate and an attempt to derail talks on Iran's nuclear programme may be behind Israel's latest attacks in Syria writes Joshua Tartakovsky

  • Will there be an independent Kurdistan?

    A Kurdish state would raise the hopes of millions of Kurds, change the geopolitics of the region and challenge the integrity of the existing states writes Alastair Stephens

  • Made in Britain: how the Tories armed both sides in the Iran-Iraq war

    Margaret Thatcher

    Kit Klarenberg looks at how the Thatcher government secretly armed both sides in the war between Iran and Iraq

  • Farsi: John Rees radio interview - the road from Jerusalem to Cairo

  • The way to stop the Islamic State is a united, free Kurdistan - just what the US does not want

    A Kurdish woman flashes a victory sign on September 22, 2013, during a demonstration in Istanbul.Photograph:AFP/Ozan Kose

    Western calls to arm the Kurds and bomb Iraq are both hypocritical and dangerous, argues John Rees

  • Farsi: The rise and rise of the Islamic State - Sami Ramadani

    Farsi translation of 'The rise and rise of the Islamic State' by Sami Ramadani

  • Farsi: The agony of Gaza - Neil Faulkner

    Farsi translation of 'The agony of Gaza' by Neil Faulkner

  • Farsi: Iraq: three kinds of blowback and the threat of war stoked by western meddling - John Rees

    Farsi translation of 'Iraq: three kinds of blowback and the threat of war stoked by western meddling' by John Rees

  • Farsi: Palestine: the only solution is now the one-state solution - John Rees

    Translation of 'Palestine: the only solution is now the one-state solution' by John Rees

  • Iran: can Rouhani deliver?

    Hassan RouhaniHassan Rouhani's victory in the presidential election has prompted discussion about where Iran is going. Sean Ledwith explains

  • Iran after Ahmadinejad

    The last presidential elections saw the largest mass Iranian movement since 19789Sean Ledwith takes a critical look at this week's elections in Iran - the first presidential election since the massive wave of protests after the 2009 poll

  • Iran: why we must march to stop a war

    Feb 15 Film clipA damaging misinterpretation of events a decade ago is that the tremendous demonstrations in Britain and around the world against a war on Iraq made no impact.

  • West's double standards over Iran - Chris Bambery on Russia Today

    Chris BamberyIsrael blames Tehran for bombs allegedly targeting Israelis in India, Georgia and Thailand - propaganda to justify an attack on Iran argues Chris Bambery on Russia Today.

  • The propaganda war against Iran gathers pace

    Iran in nooseChris Bambery examines the Western propaganda campaign against Iran, and argues that despite the weakness of the claims the possibility of a war needs to be taken seriously.

  • Iran: stopping the war addicts

    dont attack iranLike the attack on Iraq, an attack on Iran will lead to slaughter and end in disaster writes Andrew Murray.

  • War with Iran: by accident or design?

    Iran tickerChris Bambery discusses the propaganda campaign being waged by the West in the build up of Western aggression against Iran.

  • Video: Speeches from protest against sanctions and war on Iran

    Tony BennSpeeches by Tony Benn, Kate Hudson, John Rees, Andrew Murray, Sarah Colborne, John McDonnell and others at Saturday's Stop the War Coalition protest against the growing threat of military action against Iran and Syria.

  • UK media peddles myths to support the case for war on Iran

    SunThere is no more evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons than there was for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction but that hasn't stopped the media stoking the flames of war.

  • Iran: Former IAEA inspector questions the 'evidence'

    In this interview with the Real News Network former International Atomic Energy Inspector (IAEA) Robert Kelly argues that the same pattern of questionable evidence used to justify war on Iraq is now appearing with Iran and he insists that the IAEA should allow peer review of its data.

  • Video: 'Guerrilla assault on Iran well underway'

    The military showdown in the Persian Gulf seems even more inevitable, with the UK foreign secretary not ruling out military action against Iran. Applying even more pressure to the country, Europe may ban Iranian oil imports by the end of the month. Chris Bambery of the International Socialist Group interviewed on Russia Today.

  • Iran: 10 reasons to protest against sanctions and war on 28 January

    Iran counterFollowing the intervention in Libya, the dangers of further western attacks in the region are very real. Here are ten reasons why a war against Iran cannot be justified and would have catastrophic consequences.

  • Iran: growing western threats a result of failed Iraq war

    John Rees on RTIn this TV interview on Russia Today, Stop the War Coalition's John Rees outlines the US strategic thinking behind the increasing international pressure on Iran and how this is leading to a more dangerous world.

  • Video: Don't attack Iran | Stop the War public meeting | 5 December 2011

    Tony BennTony Benn was amongst the speakers at this Stop the War Coalition public meeting called at short notice in response to increasing Western pressure on Iran and talk of military action by Israel.

  • Target Iran?

    Recent reports suggest plans are being laid in Washington and Whitehall for an attack on Iran. The anti-war movement has never been more important.

  • Thugs on wheels - NYPD attack Occupy Wall Street protestors with motorcycles


    Video of NYPD intimidating Occupy Wall Street protesters with motorcycles - filmed on 8 October - an approach they have borrowed from the Iranian regime.

  • Iran 1979, Egypt 2011: history repeating?

    The Guardian website's rolling coverage of the Egyptian revolution today has this interesting account, by the paper's Middle East editor Ian Black, of a BBC phone-in programme. The interactive programme was a joint effort by the BBC's Arabic and Persian services, broadcast yesterday, discussing similarities and differences between the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the current upheavals in Egypt.

    'An Iranian caller warned Egyptians to take steps not to allow an Islamic government to take over. "Do you intend to let the Qur'an influence the new constitution after your regime changes?" he asked.

    The caller from Cairo replied: "Absolutely not. We have no such intentions, as the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood have already assured. This is not an Islamic uprising. We intend to bring about a united revolution and are aiming for democracy and a secular and transparent government. This will not be a move toward Islamisation of our nation. We want to be a modern secular society like the western world. You don't hear any talk of an Islamic current being discussed among the protesters."

    Another Cairene rejected the claim of an Iranian from Mashhad that the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the uprising in Egypt had "haunting similarities".

    "This is not correct," the Egyptian replied. "There are many differences between what is happening in Egypt and 1979 [in Iran]. The leadership is different. Our movement calls for democracy and freedom. It is a popular movement without a particular ideology. Our demands are obvious and simple. This is a popular movement. It is not possible to describe is as an Islamic movement, because it is a revolution of all people."

    Iranian and Arab callers both emphasised the importance of social media and Facebook.

    Many compared the Egyptian protests to Iran's Green Movement and the post-election demonstrations in June 2009. They urged the Iranian opposition to learn lessons from Tunisia and Egypt. "They should not to go home when it gets dark in the evening this time," said one caller. People in Iran should "stay out until they prevail".

    Protests are scheduled in Iran on Monday to mark the anniversary of the revolution.

    BBC callers also discussed differences between the way plainclothes police, riot police, and the army treated demonstrators in each country. One viewer emailed to say: "The Tunisian military joined the people, the Egyptian army stood aside, and their police did not dare get very violent. But the Iranian armed forces decided to obey the rulers and turned their backs on their own people."

    An Egyptian said: "These events are like a tsunami that will take down all dictatorships and will soon topple all despots in the region."'

  • The Left in Iran 1905-1940

    The book comprises a comprehensive range of crucial documents showing the foundation of left and socialist organisations in Iran in the wake of the Constitutional Revolution, and the early 1920s.

  • Hillary Clinton: Israel is making it more difficult for the US to deal with Iran

    Hillarty Clinton at AIPACIts worth persevering to read all Hillary Clinton's recent speech to the Zionist lobby organisation, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). If you push through the inches deep praise that she heeps on Israel there is something significant being said here.

  • Iran: revolution, Islamism and the left

    The prophet and the proletariat, first published in International Socialism in 1994 and later issued as a pamphlet, was one of Chris Harman's most sophisticated works of political analysis.

  • Nuclear powers push new Iran sanctions

    nuclear symbolDespite moves by Iran to defuse tension over it's nuclear programme the five nuclear powers plus Germany are pushing for new sanctions. Kate Hudson detects double standards.

  • Iran - US tightens the noose

    US tightens the nooseBlair's appearance at the Chilcot Inquiry, where he repeatedly raised the issue of Iran and US plans for a further round of sanctions, have once again raised the prospect of military action.

  • Iranian elections crisis

    A pivotal and unpredictable process of events are taking place in Iran that have serious implications, not only for the lives of Iranians, but for the future of political Islam.

    What the courageous protests and the violent repression on the streets represent is a struggle over the true legacy of the Iranian revolution which established the Islamic Republic 30 years ago. To understand the complexity of the current situation, we need to address a number of important questions.

    Sunday’s Chatham House report has answered key questions over vote-rigging. It found a turnout of more than 100% was recorded in conservative provinces Mazandaran and Yazd. But putting the election result to one side, if the protests have demonstrated one thing it is the breadth and scale of Mousavi’s “green wave”. Not limited to the middle-class, northern Tehran ‘elite’ the movement has shown its deep social roots.

    Of course millions of Iranians did vote for Ahmadinejad and for valid reasons - in support of his populist hand outs, pension rises and state subsidies. For example, he introduced a law that provided insurance to three million female domestic carpet-weavers. He cleverly grouped Mousavi with the corrupt political powerhouse ex-President Rafsanjani whose family had funded the reformist campaign.

    However this tactic was far more effective in 2005 - when he could pit himself against the likes of Rafsanjani as the unknown blacksmith’s son ready to ‘cut the hands of the oil mafia’. He could revive the economic populism of the 80s, which benefited the poor, in stark contrast to Rafsanjani’s 90s economic liberalization which increased inflation and inequality. In 2009, as a President who has failed to deliver on promises of reducing corruption and inequality (both have increased) and against an ‘establishment’ candidate like Mousavi - whose term as Prime Minister in the 80s associates him precisely with those populist policies - it just didn’t wash.

    More importantly, with 70-80% of Iranian industry still state owned, organisations that were set-up in the 80s to provide social and welfare programmes have now become massive capitalist enterprises owned and controlled by the state bureaucracy including the military. The Revolutionary Guard, for example, controls 30% of the Iranian economy. In power, Ahmadinejad has shown to defend and represent the interests of this bureaucracy.

    Hence during the election campaign it was in fact Mousavi who was greeted as the ‘man of the mostazafin (oppressed)’ even in Ahmadinejad strongholds like the eastern town of Birjand.

    Mousavi’s mix of revolutionary credentials and call for greater social and political freedoms, in which his wife Zahra Rahnavard played a decisive role in representing the grievances of women, gathered greater momentum than the campaign which saw the election of reformist President Khatami in 1997.

    We cannot underestimate how deep the crisis goes. Twenty years ago, it was Rafsanjani and Khamenei’s conservative alliance that wrestled control of power over the ‘leftists’ (like Mousavi) at the top. Now Rafsanjani’s daughter has been arrested and he himself is in the religious city of Qom (where Khamenei is already unpopular) trying to convince the clergy to move against Khamenei. Five senior clerics have already protested but as Iranian academic Ali Ansari argues a serious intervention from an essentially quietest clergy ‘could be decisive’

    What’s behind all this? One factor is Khamenei himself. Lacking the political charisma, popularity and authority of Khomeini, he has relied on constitutional changes and an alliance with radical conservative elements to maintain and strengthen his position as Supreme Leader. Another is the reformist demise. Despite being a formidable force in the 1990s the Presidency and parliament majority, by 2005 they had lost all centres of power to conservatives.

    There were reasons for this. Khatami held the movement back at its peak, condemning university students in 1999 who had risen up to defend the banning of a reformist newspaper. A demoralised movement then boycotted the Presidential election in 2005 - another reason behind Ahmadinejad’s victory (interestingly he only just beat Karoubi to second place in the first round).

    This time round the reformist voters turned out in huge numbers knowing a high-turnout would benefit them (with 70% of Iranians living in the cities). This explains the explosion of anger over the election result and refusal to halt demonstrations.

    But a far more important consequence of conservative control was the debate it precipitated in the movement which questioned the very theoretical foundation of the Islamic Republic - velaayat-e faqih (rule of the jurist). It has now reached a point where the majority opinion in the reformist movement believes the only solution for Iran is a separation of religion from the state.

    This does not, as some suggest, spell the end of political Islam. Rooftop chants of “Allahu Akbar” late into the evening (reminiscent of the Iranian revolution) and Mousavi’s ‘green’ (representing Islam and peace) movement is a reminder that religion still plays an important ideological framework. But the call for secularization of the state by an Islamist reform movement is undoubtedly a turning point. So important is this, that Mousavi was ‘ready for martyrdom’ and calling for a general strike if arrested. Indeed, the stakes are high for both the leadership and the demonstrators.

    This raises huge questions for the movement in Iran. It’s a no brainer that the interests of a powerful capitalist like Rafsanjani or Mousavi conflict sharply with the office worker throwing rocks at police and putting his life in danger. After all, the maior factor of Khatami’s demise was the continuation of Rafsanjani’s privitisation and neoliberal reforms, which alienated the poor. Unfortunately Mousavi in power is likely to follow a similar path.

    So whilst working with them, the left must form a critique of its reformist leaders. It should challenge their ties to neo-liberalism and raise the struggle of the poor and the working class.

    It must also try to win over Ahmadinejad supporters. There is evidence of this with slogans like “Baseej why kill your brothers?” (the Baseej come from the poor) and reports that some Baseeji are refusing to attack protestors. This is not to say that the Baseej have stopped attacking or killing protesters (as a daily stream of amateur video footage proves) but that crisis goes deep into even the armed conservative elements defending the regime.

    A further challenge is to organise separately from the leadership. The demoralization with Khatami stemmed from resting too much hope in his promises of reform. Mousavi is after all a key figure in the regime during some of its most horrific excesses.

    Crucially there’s the question of western powers wanting to use this movement as a way of undermining the obstacle Iran presents to their plans for the region.

    Under Khatami the government’s opportunist support for the US invasion of Afghanistan provided a valuable lesson. As a consequence, Iran found itself in the ‘axis of evil’, surrounded by US military bases in neighbouring countries Iraq and Afghanistan and a massive American naval fleet in the Persian Gulf. Ahmadinejad’s victory and popularity (in Iran and the region) relied heavily on his fiery antagonism towards the US and Israel.

    Mousavi is, in fact, not the ideal candidate for the US. He does not recognise Israel, has vowed to continue with uranium enrichment and openly committed to the ideals of the revolution - that’s why he is popular with Iranians. Though Obama’s administration is likely to deal with any Iranian leader. As activists in Egypt and Saudi Arabia will attest, the struggle for democracy will be a lot harder in Iran with a government backed by the US.

    Despite Obama’s talk of ‘not meddling’ in Iran’s affairs, the conservatives can still point to the $400 million dollar budget allocated to ‘covert operations’ in Iran, especially with the bombing of a mosque in Shiraz last month.

    Given the Iranian government’s monopoly on anti-imperialism, this is the hardest of challenges for the movement in Iran, but a critical one which must be taken up.

    But for now the main priority is to be at the forefront of the democratic struggle. Because if this movement is crushed, life for Iranians (and the left) will be a lot worse off.

    As activists in the West, we must throw our full support behind those who have taken to the streets in Iran against their rulers.

    At the same time we must also highlight the hypocrisy of our own governments and media organisations. Their support for democracy stands in stark contrast with their refusal to recognize the democratic election of Hamas in Palestine or the vote-rigging of Mobarak’s dictatorship in Egypt.

    So whilst expressing solidarity with Iranians, we must warn against the dangers of imperialist powers abusing the situation by continuing to our campaign against the existing suffocating sanctions and any catastrophic plans for war. That way, we allow the Iranian democracy movement to continue without foreign intervention or interference.

  • Iran - 1979 and 2009

    The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was a mass event, a popular uprising of a scale rarely seen before. 30 years on, the Iranian people are out in their millions once again but the questions remain, what is this really about and where is this movement going?