Iran: Standing firm against imperialist-backed ‘colour revolution’
Presidential elections were held in Iran on 12 June, as they have been regularly since the victory of the Islamic revolution 30 years ago. The incumbent President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad scored a decisive victory, receiving 63.3 per cent of the vote (24.5 million votes), obviating the need for a second round of voting, whilst his closest rival, Hossein Moussavi received 34.2 per cent (13.2 million votes). The remaining 2.5 per cent was shared between two minor candidates.
The conduct both of the election, and of the preceding campaign, with its rallies, televised debates, and so on, was free and fair. However, Moussavi challenged the result as soon as it was announced, having earlier claimed victory even before the polls closed, and in the capital, Tehran, as well as, to a lesser extent, other major cities, crowds, mostly drawn from the middle and upper classes, turned out to demonstrate, demanding that the result be annulled and the decisive, democratic verdict of the poor majority be overturned.
In many instances, these protests soon descended into violent provocations and riots, with attacks on security forces and revolutionary guards, the torching of vehicles, banks and public buildings, the looting of shops, and so on. Larger, and peaceful, demonstrations were also held in support of President Ahmadinejad and the revolutionary government, but, in contrast to the anti-government demonstrations, which have received blanket coverage and support, not to say incitement, in the west, these have been either ignored or dismissed by the western media.
It immediately become an article of faith in imperialist circles, trumpeted by Obama and Brown, through to the revisionists of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the Trotskyite Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), that the elections had been rigged and the true winner cheated of his prize. So pervasive has this claim been that it is largely forgotten or unnoticed that not a single shred of evidence has been produced to support it. It is simply a manifestation of how effective is the Goebbelsian technique, that the bigger the lie, and the more often it is repeated, the more likely it is to be believed; and how wedded to this stratagem is not only the bourgeoisie, but equally its hirelings in the working class movement.
What we have seen in Iran, therefore, in the days after the election is not the spontaneous outpouring of popular anger against a repressive regime (although undoubtedly many of the demonstrators are themselves honest in their intentions and have some legitimate grievances related to issues of personal freedoms and so on), but rather a well prepared and carefully scripted, imperialist-inspired attempt at regime change, along the lines of previous ‘colour revolutions’ in Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia and Thailand. The crucial difference is that, unlike Georgia, in particular, the present Iranian leadership has genuine, deep-seated and well-founded support among the popular masses, and, unlike Thailand, the apparatus of the state, including its “bodies of armed men”, are largely supportive of the elected President and disinclined to throw away the Iranian people’s hard-won gains, for which they have shed so much blood, both in the struggle against the hated rule of the imperialist puppet, the late Shah Reza Pahlavi, and then in the imperialist-inspired, decade-long Iran-Iraq war.
In his article, “The ‘stolen elections’ hoax”, James Petras wrote:
“What is astonishing about the West’s universal condemnation of the electoral outcome as fraudulent is that not a single shred of evidence in either written or observational form has been presented either before or a week after the vote count. During the entire electoral campaign, no credible (or even dubious) charge of voter tampering was raised. As long as the Western media believed their own propaganda of an imminent victory for their candidate, the electoral process was described as highly competitive, with heated public debates and unprecedented levels of public activity and unhindered by public proselytising. The belief in a free and open election was so strong that the Western leaders and mass media believed that their favoured candidate would win.
“The Western media relied on its reporters covering the mass demonstrations of opposition supporters, ignoring and downplaying the huge turnout for Ahmadinejad. Worse still, the Western media ignored the class composition of the competing demonstrations – the fact that the incumbent candidate was drawing his support from the far more numerous poor working class, peasant, artisan and public employee sectors while the bulk of the opposition demonstrators was drawn from the upper and middle class students, business and professional class.
“Moreover, most Western opinion leaders and reporters based in Tehran extrapolated their projections from their observations in the capital – few venture into the provinces, small and medium size cities and villages where Ahmadinejad has his mass base of support. Moreover the opposition’s supporters were an activist minority of students easily mobilised for street activities, while Ahmadinejad’s support drew on the majority of working youth and household women workers who would express their views at the ballot box and had little time or inclination to engage in street politics.”
Indeed, far from there being any evidence that the poll was rigged, the available evidence all points to the fact that it represented the popular will. Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty, who both work for mainstream US think tanks, conducted the only western opinion poll in Iran prior to polling day. In their 15 June Washington Post article, they wrote:
“The election results in Iran may reflect the will of the Iranian people. Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin – greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday’s election.
“While Western news reports from Tehran in the days leading up to the voting portrayed an Iranian public enthusiastic about Ahmadinejad’s principal opponent, Mir Hossein Moussavi, our scientific sampling from across all 30 of Iran’s provinces showed Ahmadinejad well ahead…
“The breadth of Ahmadinejad’s support was apparent in our pre-election survey. During the campaign, for instance, Moussavi emphasised his identity as an Azeri, the second-largest ethnic group in Iran after Persians, to woo Azeri voters. Our survey indicated, though, that Azeris favoured Ahmadinejad by 2 to 1 over Moussavi.
“Much commentary has portrayed Iranian youth and the internet as harbingers of change in this election. But our poll found that only a third of Iranians even have access to the internet, while 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad of all age groups.
“The only demographic groups in which our survey found Moussavi leading or competitive with Ahmadinejad were university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians.”
The authors, whose work was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, were anxious to dismiss any idea that their findings were coloured by any popular fear of speaking out and giving vent to true feelings. They noted:
“Some might argue that the professed support for Ahmadinejad we found simply reflected fearful respondents’ reluctance to provide honest answers to pollsters. Yet the integrity of our results is confirmed by the politically risky responses Iranians were willing to give to a host of questions. For instance, nearly four in five Iranians – including most Ahmadinejad supporters – said they wanted to change the political system to give them the right to elect Iran’s supreme leader, who is not currently subject to popular vote. Similarly, Iranians chose free elections and a free press as their most important priorities for their government, virtually tied with improving the national economy. These were hardly ‘politically correct’ responses to voice publicly in a largely authoritarian society.” (‘The Iranian people speak’.)
Whilst all four candidates represented factions within the national bourgeoisie, and, of course, stand for a political paradigm rooted in Islamic theology, nevertheless, in voting for Ahmadinejad, the majority of the Iranian electorate showed mature judgement of both their class and national interests, as this brief review of his policies illustrates:
It is interesting to note that the share of the vote won by Ahmadinejad is broadly comparable to that secured by such leaders as Chavez in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, Lula in Brazil and Zuma in South Africa.
Whilst nobody in Iranian mainstream politics openly questions the country’s nuclear programme (it was national policy even under the shah), Ahmadinejad’s opponents launched a full scale attack on both his domestic and international policies, advocating privatisation, neo-liberalism and an end to subsidies, and claiming that the President’s staunch anti-imperialism had made the country a “laughing stock”. Whatever their protestations to the contrary, therefore, it is clear that an opposition win would have led to a real danger of unprincipled compromises on the nuclear front and this above all made Moussavi the favoured candidate of Washington, London, Paris and Berlin. Moreover, as his campaign developed, Moussavi drew more and more upon support from such figures as former president Rafsanjani, who represents the big national bourgeoisie and whose family is widely detested for its blatant corruption.
Trying, therefore, to put a ‘left’ gloss on their customary support for counter-revolution, has led the opportunist left into frenzied verbal contortions, remarkable even by their bizarre and shameless standards. Hence this priceless gem from Socialist Worker:
“Once in office, Ahmadinejad tapped into record-high state oil revenues in an attempt to consolidate his political base. Handouts to the poor, bonuses to government employees and local development projects were central to his economic policy. And by boosting consumption of workers and the poor, this state spending boosted the income of the bazaar – the small business interests that are the backbone of the Iranian hard right.” (‘Iran boils over’ by Lee Sustar)
Let nobody ever accuse our Trotskyite friends of advocating policies that favour the poor!
Whilst the Troto-revisionist fraternity tie themselves in knots trying to paint black white and counter-revolution as revolution, the imperialists themselves are as clear as the Iranian masses as to their class interests. Barack Obama may think that one glib speech in Cairo, acknowledging, but pointedly not apologising for, the fact, long known to the entire world, that the CIA was instrumental in the 1953 overthrow of Iranian nationalist leader Mohammed Mosaddeq following his nationalisation of his country’s oil industry, absolves US imperialism of any suggestion of involvement in the current turmoil, but he has done nothing to curb or cancel the current CIA destabilisation programmes put in place in the country since at least 2007.
In his article ‘Are the Iranian election protests another US-orchestrated ‘colour revolution’, Paul Craig Roberts set out the background using a number of impeccably bourgeois sources:
“Commentators are ‘explaining’ the Iran elections based on their own illusions, delusions, emotions, and vested interests. Whether or not the poll results predicting Ahmadinejad’s win are sound, there is, so far, no evidence beyond surmise that the election was stolen. However, there are credible reports that the CIA has been working for two years to destabilise the Iranian government.
“On May 23, 2007, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito reported on ABC News: ‘The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert ‘black’ operation to destabilise the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell ABC News.’
“On May 27, 2007, the London [Daily] Telegraph independently reported: ‘Mr Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilise, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.’
“A few days previously, the Telegraph reported on May 16, 2007, that Bush administration neocon warmonger John Bolton told the Telegraph that a US military attack on Iran would ‘be a ‘last option’ after economic sanctions and attempts to foment a popular revolution had failed’.
“On June 29, 2008, Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker: ‘Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilise the country’s religious leadership.’
“The protests in Tehran no doubt have many sincere participants. The protests also have the hallmarks of the CIA orchestrated protests in Georgia and Ukraine. It requires total blindness not to see this.”
Lalkar sends its greetings to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran and wishes them every success in safeguarding the country’s independence and crushing imperialist-backed attempts at destabilisation and ‘regime change’.