Monday, 29 June 2009


Interview with Lowkey

Lizzie Cocker
Morning Star

The "Iraqi rapper" with an approach to life, politics and music that's anything but low key

"People are trained to see things in a black and white way. Every day we make split-second judgements, it's almost a human way of surviving."

With his baggy jeans and T-shirt and his striking Arab looks, this young London hip-hop artist from a working-class background and a broken home is living proof that "the world is not black and white."

The British hip-hop scene has long been crying out for someone to bring listeners back into the real world and, as the prospects for more and more young people get bleaker, there has never been a better time to find out about 23-year-old Kareem Dennis, aka Lowkey.

Abhorring the mainstream, "which glorifies and condones all the worst things in life: violence, misogyny, drugs and materialism to a disgusting degree," he has nonetheless engaged traditional hip-hop audiences through his solo work and collaborations with well-respected artists like Wretch and Logic.

Determined to be as vocal as possible, the super-group Mongrel has propelled Lowkey into the indie orbit with artists from bands such as Babyshambles, Arctic Monkeys and Reverend And The Makers.

Yet despite gaining much critical acclaim over the last few years, Lowkey bypassed the potential wealth and fame his ascent from the open-mics could have brought.

Instead, he chose to channel a lot of his creative energies into engagement with the Palestinian cause. Since Tears To Laughter - his no-budget song which raised money for victims of the Israeli assault on Gaza - reached 18 in the prestigious iTunes hip-hop chart, he has become a highly appreciated performer at fundraisers.

He went down a storm at the recent Gaza Music School benefit at London's Hackney Empire, as well as performing for and participating in the Gaza 100 world record run on his birthday last Saturday.

Moments before our meeting, he and the Stop the War coalition were discussing launching a summer anti-war music festival in London's Trafalgar Square.

From a mixed British-Iraqi family (dad from Dover, mum from Baghdad), Lowkey is acutely aware of the crisis of identity such a mix can engender. "My name's Kareem, I've never felt accepted as a British person in this country, but I've never felt truly accepted as an Iraqi person - what do I know about Iraq? People accept me as an Arab because that's my racial appearance," he declares.

"I'm an Englishman amongst Arabs and an Arab amongst Englishmen. But I have to look at things my own way. I can't stand fully on either side."

"?I'm an Englishman amongst Arabs and an Arab amongst Englishmen. But I have to look at things my own way?

This contradiction is a running theme in his music, where the Gill Scott Heron inspired welding of political and emotional themes challenge the listener to think again. The song Relatives from his Dear Listener album, co-written with long-time creative partner Logic, is a dialogue between a young squaddie from London and a young man in Basra.

Lowkey deliberately assumed the role of the British soldier, swapping experiences with his collaborator as his Basra counterpart. "I was being pigeonholed and stereotyped as the Iraqi rapper," Lowkey says. "I thought it would be good to flip it and have me rap from the other perspective just to show people."

The lyrics hammer home that whether you are male, female, Palestinian, US citizen, soldier or suicide bomber, we are all human beings and "in essence we are all the same."

In February, on the back of Tears To Laughter, Lowkey was approached by Palestinian music organisation the Sabreen Association to participate in the Hip Hop For Gaza tour of the West Bank and parts of Israel.

On the trip he was to get a bitter taste of what Palestinians are forced to endure every day of their lives.

Instead of performing the nine shows scheduled, just seven came to fruition. He missed the first after being detained and interrogated for nine hours in Tel-Aviv airport, where typically the people who get detained are "those with dark features and Muslim names." His mobile phone was confiscated for two hours and on return he found that the only number barred was that of the British embassy in Israel.

He was advised against the second show in Birzeit University near Ramallah. On the same day Palestinians had flocked into the streets to demonstrate and strike in protest at the pending demolition of 88 homes in Silwad to make way for a Chessington-style theme park. More than 1,000 people faced homelessness.

His experiences of the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem and of Palestinians living in Haifa draws him to highlight how luck is the dictator of destiny.

"No matter what you do in your life, you can never be anything different from what you were born into. Palestinians with the better quality of life have Israeli citizenship, even though Israeli Arabs are treated like the lowest of the low within Israeli society.

"Then, in the Israeli-governed refugee camp, all problems are settled through gangs. There's no policing. Imagine being governed and controlled by people who hate you. They have no rights."

Lowkey's scope is emerging as part of a vital piece in the jigsaw for the peace movement, which so far has struggled to engage with the wider generation of young people who have inherited the responsibility of rebuilding a world obliterated by the wars and exploitation of those who came before.

But how can his radical take on hip hop be a medium for change? He reminds me that the genre was wrenched from blacks who had used the medium to vocalise their situation in the 1980s and transformed into "the tool of the oppressor" by those who saw knowledgeable black people as a threat in the US.

He insists that "hip hop is not dead," assuring that "in these times, particularly with the recession, it is more likely to go full circle at some point.

"The majority of rappers advertise a capitalist lifestyle which has been proven can't support itself, one which is pretty much non-existent, a fantasy. So at some point someone's going to turn round and say this whole thing we've been advertising is bullshit."

His mantra of "you can't pick up a book, go straight to the last page and say you have read it" could be applied to getting to know the man himself, and there will without doubt be plenty more time to read other pages from his story.

Unlike many artists whose success is built upon the flimsy foundations of one song or concept, the longevity of Lowkey's art is fuelled by his passion for every aspect of human interaction and his refusal to be neatly pigeonholed.


Honduran anti-imperialist patriots gather in defiance of the military coup

Chavez Code

A New York Times article has just confirmed that the US Government has been "working for several days" with the coup planners in Honduras to halt the illegal overthrow of President Zelaya. While this may indicate nobility on behalf of the Obama Administration, had they merely told the coupsters that the US Government would CUT OFF all economic aid and blockade Honduras in the event of a coup, it's almost a 100% guarantee that the military and right wing parties and business groups involved in the coup would not have gone through with it.

So, while many make excuses for the Obama Administration's "calculated" statements, had they been more firm with the coup leaders, instead of "negotiating", the coup may never have happened. Also, the State Department says they believed "dialogue" was the best way to resolve the situation, but their lack of clarity and firm position has caused multiple human rights violations to occur in Honduras and a lot of tension to take place in the region.

And during the April 2002 coup against Chávez in Venezuela, the State Department also claimed it knew of the coup and tried to "stop" it. Later, in my investigations, it was discovered through documents from State and CIA declassified under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that CIA, State and other US agencies, funded, supported, advised and armed the coup leaders....

Here is the NY Times article posted a few hours ago.


More info here


Chavez: North American Imperialism and the
Extreme Right are Behind Coup in Honduras

June 28th 2009, by ABN / Tamara Pearson

This morning military personal kidnapped Honduran president Manuel Zelaya. According to one witness, 200 soldiers arrived at the president's house at 6am this morning, 4 shots were fired and later they left in vehicles towards the air base. The soldiers also took over the government television station, Channel 8, and took it off air. Zelaya is currently speaking live on Telsur TV, from Costa Rica.

In Venezuela, protests are starting in main city plazas and outside the Honduran Embassy. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez spoke on Telsur earlier, with this statement, reported by the Bolivarian News Agency (ABN) and translated by

The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez Frias, manifested his rejection, this Sunday, of the kidnapping of the president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, by that nation's military, and said that North American imperialism and the extreme right are behind this act.

"It's a brutal coup d'etat, one of many that happened over 10 years in Latin America. Behind these soldiers are the Honduran bourgeois, the rich who converted Honduras into a Banana Republic, into a political and military base for North American imperialism," said the Venezuelan head of state.

In telephone contact with the television channel Telesur, President Chavez urged the North American president [Barack Obama] to declare his opinion on the subject and said he considers the abuse against Honduras as being against all the peoples of Latin America.

Chavez said that from different mechanisms of regional integration, the Latin American people have started to mobilize, and he indicated that this coup will be defeated in order to return dignity to [Honduras].

"We say to the coup plotters, we are standing up. Honduras is not alone," Chavez said.

He also urged the Honduran soldiers who "acted in a cowardly way" to retake the constitutional thread and return the legally and democratically elected President [Zelaya] to his duties.

"Soldier, empty out your riffle against the oligarchy and not against the people," he said, adding, "These solders are going to know what the people are when the people start to go out into the streets."

Thursday, 25 June 2009


New Generation - New Opportunities

Gemma McKenna
Ógra Shinn Féin

Regardless of class, religion, race or gender all young people in our society have new opportunities that were not available to our parents.

As the younger generation we have a civic responsibility to cease the opportunities given to us to shape our society for the better. We need to rise to the challenges that lie ahead and although we have inherited many difficulties from the older generation we need to come forth and overcome those obstacles.

It is only though engagement and action not apathy that we can build on the foundation that have been laid down for us and also rectify the mistakes others have made

The peace process has carved the way for lasting peace and increased co-operation between republicans and unionists.

While this is currently happening through outreach programmes at interface areas between ex prisoners and community organizations, much more needs to be done. In order for our society to move forward we need to tackle sectarianism at its very core.

This can only be done by engaging and debating with unionists. Ógra Shinn Féin has begun to do this through participating in a group with all the youth wings within the north and together finding solutions to problems that affect young people.

It is currently working on tacking mental health issues that young people face.

Increased co-operation between unionists has been occurring through the power-sharing institutions. We now have a unique opportunity to debate on our differences and ultimately move our society forward together. Without us, the next generation the peace process can not be sustained or moved onwards, we have a key role in ensuring that young people support the new political agenda that all the main parties are involved in.

We have the chance to be a society where different cultures; religions and race can live side by side. This is not an easy task and building communities that welcome differences not exclude and divide can only be done by changing the mindsets of those who live within them.

Racism is becoming a key feature within Ireland and can not be tolerated. We as the youth have a duty to ensure that every-one who lives in this country has their basic rights protected and the opportunities to grow and develop.

Increasingly we are becoming a selfish and inward looking nation but this has to change in order to build and grow as a community, a society or indeed a nation, we need to respect and cherish all those who live within it.

Under the current capitalism system this has not be happening, instead the bankers have been bailed out whilst the people of the nation are losing their lively hoods.

Job cuts, education cuts, health cuts, the lists goes on.

Young people have been protesting, campaigning against the current government led by Brian Cowen in order to ensure that the next generation will have a future. The recent election results show clearly the FF and the Greens have little support.

Neo liberalism is dead and so is the legitimacy of the current government. Thus it is now time to put forward a socialist strategy for government that is centered on the people not an elite.

However, many young people are not interested in politics and most do not even vote.

Apathy is indeed our biggest challenge to affecting any change. Regardless of race, gender, religion or political views all young people should be encouraged to participate in politics in whatever way appeals to them.

Through working with different sections of societies and campaigning on key issues such as suicide prevention, drug and alcohol awareness and the current campaign of educate to be free, Ógra Shinn Féin is engaging with young people and making politics relevant to their daily lives.

By educating each other through debate and discussion we are empowering one another so we can make changes to our communities. The huge changes I talked of previously can only happen through people working together and collectively changing the way we are governed.

As the new generation we also have the opportunity to build our nation towards a united Ireland.

Differences should not be ignored but welcomed and through debate we can understand and engage with every-ones views. Now is the time to be putting forward our vision of an Ireland of inclusion and equality. It is not a strategy that should be feared as at its center is all the people of this island.

We as the new generation all have the opportunity to change and create a New Ireland but many difficulties and challenges lie ahead.

The youth are always at the forefront of any radical movement.

If we want a different Ireland, a country that is united and socialist based on the principles of equality and inclusion then we must work to create it.

Being young is not an easy task, whilst we may have energy and enthusiasm we also have roles and responsibilities.

This is due to the fact that as the young people of this society, change and direction should come from us, we can not and must not leave it up to any one else.

Saturday, 20 June 2009


Ahmadinejad won. Get over it

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett
June 15, 2009

Without any evidence, many U.S. politicians and “Iran
experts” have dismissed Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad’s reelection Friday, with 62.6 percent of the
vote, as fraud.

They ignore the fact that Ahmadinejad’s 62.6 percent of the
vote in this year’s election is essentially the same as the
61.69 percent he received in the final count of the 2005
presidential election, when he trounced former President
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The shock of the “Iran
experts” over Friday’s results is entirely self-generated,
based on their preferred assumptions and wishful thinking.

Although Iran’s elections are not free by Western
standards, the Islamic Republic has a 30-year history of
highly contested and competitive elections at the
presidential, parliamentary and local levels. Manipulation
has always been there, as it is in many other countries.

But upsets occur — as, most notably, with Mohammed
Khatami’s surprise victory in the 1997 presidential
election. Moreover, “blowouts” also occur — as in Khatami’s
reelection in 2001, Ahmadinejad’s first victory in 2005
and, we would argue, this year.

Like much of the Western media, most American “Iran
experts” overstated Mir Hossein Mousavi’s “surge” over the
campaign’s final weeks. More important, they were oblivious
— as in 2005 — to Ahmadinejad’s effectiveness as a populist
politician and campaigner. American “Iran experts” missed
how Ahmadinejad was perceived by most Iranians as having
won the nationally televised debates with his three
opponents — especially his debate with Mousavi.

Before the debates, both Mousavi and Ahmadinejad campaign
aides indicated privately that they perceived a surge of
support for Mousavi; after the debates, the same aides
concluded that Ahmadinejad’s provocatively impressive
performance and Mousavi’s desultory one had boosted the
incumbent’s standing. Ahmadinejad’s charge that Mousavi was
supported by Rafsanjani’s sons — widely perceived in
Iranian society as corrupt figures — seemed to play well
with voters. The Politico 44 Story Widget Requires Adobe
Flash Player.

Similarly, Ahmadinejad’s criticism that Mousavi’s reformist
supporters, including Khatami, had been willing to suspend
Iran’s uranium enrichment program and had won nothing from
the West for doing so tapped into popular support for the
program — and had the added advantage of being true.

More fundamentally, American “Iran experts” consistently
underestimated Ahmadinejad’s base of support. Polling in
Iran is notoriously difficult; most polls there are less
than fully professional and, hence, produce results of
questionable validity. But the one poll conducted before
Friday’s election by a Western organization that was
transparent about its methodology — a telephone poll
carried out by the Washington-based Terror-Free Tomorrow
from May 11 to 20 — found Ahmadinejad running 20 points
ahead of Mousavi. This poll was conducted before the
televised debates in which, as noted above, Ahmadinejad was
perceived to have done well while Mousavi did poorly.

American “Iran experts” assumed that “disastrous” economic
conditions in Iran would undermine Ahmadinejad’s reelection
prospects. But the International Monetary Fund projects
that Iran’s economy will actually grow modestly this year
(when the economies of most Gulf Arab states are in
recession). A significant number of Iranians — including
the religiously pious, lower-income groups, civil servants
and pensioners — appear to believe that Ahmadinejad’s
policies have benefited them.

And, while many Iranians complain about inflation, the TFT
poll found that most Iranian voters do not hold Ahmadinejad
responsible. The “Iran experts” further argue that the high
turnout on June 12 — 82 percent of the electorate — had to
favor Mousavi. But this line of analysis reflects nothing
more than assumptions.

Some “Iran experts” argue that Mousavi’s Azeri background
and “Azeri accent” mean that he was guaranteed to win
Iran’s Azeri-majority provinces; since Ahmadinejad did
better than Mousavi in these areas, fraud is the only
possible explanation.

But Ahmadinejad himself speaks Azeri quite fluently as a
consequence of his eight years serving as a popular and
successful official in two Azeri-majority provinces; during
the campaign, he artfully quoted Azeri and Turkish poetry —
in the original — in messages designed to appeal to Iran’s
Azeri community. (And we should not forget that the supreme
leader is Azeri.) The notion that Mousavi was somehow
assured of victory in Azeri-majority provinces is simply
not grounded in reality.

With regard to electoral irregularities, the specific
criticisms made by Mousavi — such as running out of ballot
paper in some precincts and not keeping polls open long
enough (even though polls stayed open for at least three
hours after the announced closing time) — could not, in
themselves, have tipped the outcome so clearly in
Ahmadinejad’s favor.

Moreover, these irregularities do not, in themselves,
amount to electoral fraud even by American legal standards.
And, compared with the U.S. presidential election in
Florida in 2000, the flaws in Iran’s electoral process seem
less significant.

In the wake of Friday’s election, some “Iran experts” —
perhaps feeling burned by their misreading of contemporary
political dynamics in the Islamic Republic — argue that we
are witnessing a “conservative coup d’état,” aimed at a
complete takeover of the Iranian state.

But one could more plausibly suggest that if a “coup” is
being attempted, it has been mounted by the losers in
Friday’s election. It was Mousavi, after all, who declared
victory on Friday even before Iran’s polls closed. And
three days before the election, Mousavi supporter
Rafsanjani published a letter criticizing the leader’s
failure to rein in Ahmadinejad’s resort to “such ugly and
sin-infected phenomena as insults, lies and false
allegations.” Many Iranians took this letter as an
indication that the Mousavi camp was concerned their
candidate had fallen behind in the campaign’s closing days.

In light of these developments, many politicians and “Iran
experts” argue that the Obama administration cannot now
engage the “illegitimate” Ahmadinejad regime. Certainly,
the administration should not appear to be trying to “play”
in the current controversy in Iran about the election. In
this regard, President Barack Obama’s comments on Friday, a
few hours before the polls closed in Iran, that “just as
has been true in Lebanon, what can be true in Iran as well
is that you’re seeing people looking at new possibilities”
was extremely maladroit.

From Tehran’s perspective, this observation undercut the
credibility of Obama’s acknowledgement, in his Cairo speech
earlier this month, of U.S. complicity in overthrowing a
democratically elected Iranian government and restoring the
shah in 1953.

The Obama administration should vigorously rebut any
argument against engaging Tehran following Friday’s vote.
More broadly, Ahmadinejad’s victory may force Obama and his
senior advisers to come to terms with the deficiencies and
internal contradictions in their approach to Iran. Before
the Iranian election, the Obama administration had fallen
for the same illusion as many of its predecessors — the
illusion that Iranian politics is primarily about
personalities and finding the right personality to deal
with. That is not how Iranian politics works.

The Islamic Republic is a system with multiple power
centers; within that system, there is a strong and enduring
consensus about core issues of national security and
foreign policy, including Iran’s nuclear program and
relations with the United States. Any of the four
candidates in Friday’s election would have continued the
nuclear program as Iran’s president; none would agree to
its suspension.

Any of the four candidates would be interested in a
diplomatic opening with the United States, but that opening
would need to be comprehensive, respectful of Iran’s
legitimate national security interests and regional
importance, accepting of Iran’s right to develop and
benefit from the full range of civil nuclear technology —
including pursuit of the nuclear fuel cycle — and aimed at
genuine rapprochement.

Such an approach would also, in our judgment, be manifestly
in the interests of the United States and its allies
throughout the Middle East. It is time for the Obama
administration to get serious about pursuing this approach
— with an Iranian administration headed by the reelected
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Flynt Leverett directs The New America Foundation’s Iran Project and teaches international affairs at Pennsylvania State university. Hillary Mann Leverett is CEO of STRATEGA, a political risk consultancy. Both worked for many years on Middle East issues for the U.S. government, including as members of the National Security Council staff.

Friday, 19 June 2009


Sons of Malcolm's Sukant Chandan discusses Iran's
current crisis with a friend - Dominic Kouros Kavakeb

Dominic's piece is below my reply which follows:

Thanks Dominic for your very thoughtful piece on current
events in Iran. I think it’s an important contribution
amongst ourselves as to understand the unquestionably
complex and at times confusing events which have been
unfolding in Iran of late.

There is much with which I agree in your piece. However, I
also sense some contradictions in your piece, and some
other points which I would like to bring up and engage you
and others reading this with.

I want to come across brotherly and in a spirit of
anti-imperialism solidarity in my comments. If I inspire
any negative feelings, please excuse me, it’s certainly not
my intention.

I would like to start by stating that I am no natural
friend of the Iranian regime. I have many problems and
differences with it. I am not going to list these here, but
my differences with the regime are sometimes quite deep and

Nevertheless, believing as I do in the maximum
non-sectarian unity on an anti-imperialist internationalism
basis, I cannot ignore that Iran is a very important state
which is contributing massively to the international
struggle against imperialism and for a new multi-polar
world, a struggle that we need to understand and engage
with more and more to contribute to the re-building of that
internationalism that we lost since the 1980s.

“… since the early 90’s, which has had to deal with its own
strengths and weaknesses. The reform movement has always
been extremely broad in nature, encompassing figures such
as Hashemi Rafsanjani, the current chair of The Assembly of
Experts and former President to women’s rights activists
and left wingers. Despite its breadth and in fact most
probably because of this, the reform movement has always
lacked a clear leadership and direction.”

You are right to highlight Rafsanjani in the reform camp;
but in my understanding, he is one perhaps one of the most
problematic figures in the regime who has a massive
economic estate and protects some of the most corrupt
mullahs in the country, something which President Nejad has
attacked, but more of this later.

The point I am making is that we need to have a clear idea
of what different sections of the opposition stand for,
ie., where do they stand on Palestine (and Zionism), on
economic rights for Iran’s poor, for relations with the
West and the East, what is their attitude towards the
Non-Aligned Movement, UN reform, SCO, etc. Only then can we
really dissect the pros and cons of the opposition. But
like you say, it seems the opposition are united only in
their opposition to Nejad. So what IS the big problem with
Nejad? More on this issue in a second.

“… Economically Mousavi favours further neo-liberalisation,
although this is not something Ahmadinejad is specifically
adverse to. The difference may be where Mousavi is happy to
trade with the west, Ahmadinejad not so. To a degree this
determines their stances on foreign policy. Mousavi
ridiculed Ahmadinejad for the way in which he’s made Iran
look childish in the face of international diplomacy. The
President retorted with the idea that regardless of whether
or not Iran does what the West wants, they will always face
threats. It is impossible to beat The United States at
their own game (i.e. within the arena of the UN).”

This is a very important section of your article, in my
opinion perhaps the MOST important, as it starts to delve
into what the nature of the crisis in Iran is all about,
and what the main two camps – Nejad and Mousavi – stand for
and against. I think this aspect, and the attitude towards
regional and international issues are the two most
important points that we have to look into, make sense of
and that which can inform our political positions on the
current crisis in Iran.

In my understanding the strategies and policies of these
two camps are quite different. Mousavi seems to represent
the more elite elements in the regime, and the more
affluent urbane (esp in Tehran) sections of society. As you
say, Mousavi is in favour of privatisation and liberalising
the economy. Also standing in Mousavi’s camp, perhaps the
biggest patron is the highly problematic Rafsanjani. On the
regional and international positions, Mousavi represents a
softer approach to the West, and perhaps not as much solid
and forthright support for Lebanese Hizbullah and Hamas and
Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

One should also keep in mind that what the West fears most,
perhaps more than anything else about Iran, is it’s nuclear
program. If Iran reached a stage of technology where it
could convert civil use to military use, that would be the
end of western and Zionist hegemony of the region. Mousavi
is obviously seen by the West as the man/camp able to
scupper this. Mousavi is more susceptible to putting the
Iranian nuke program in the hands of some western dominated
‘international’ body, whereas Nejad is going it all by the
Iranians self.

Nejad has distinguished himself in clear and militant
support for the Palestinian Revolution and the Lebanese
resistance. Nejad is a great proponent of an
anti-imperialist international alliance, allying closely
with China, Russia, Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil and of course his
great friend and ours –President Chavez of Venezuela.

On these regional and international issues we outside of
Iran must place special importance; when I say ‘we’ I mean
those of us who believe in internationalism based upon the
independence, development and social justice of the
oppressed masses and nations of the world, those subject to
sanctions, invasions, occupations, covert dirty tricks etc.
If we believe in this internationalism then these are the
most important issues upon which we must judge the two
different camps.

I don’t need to stress that Iran has been under sanctions
ever since 1979, has seen the region beset by Western
intervention, stunting the economic development of the
region, creating divisions, occupations and wars. Those
asserting their independence in the world against ‘the
great satan’, ie., the heroes of the Palestinian
Revolution, an the Lebanese Hizbullah are close allies of
Nejad and Iran. Furthermore, Nejad’s Iran has been the
leading force behind trying to get the regions powers to
come to the defence of the Palestinians, and as such, to
the defence of themselves, as there is no progress for the
region without an end to US Hegemonic control of the region
which is exercised foremostly through its attack dog – the
zionist state. Iran is surrounded by two imperialist
occupations – in Iraq and Afgahnistan, and have been
threatened with a preemptive nuclear strike for some years

On the other hand we have Mousavi and his camp, whose
slogan is ‘Iran first’, which is a veiled attack on the
anti-imperialist militancy of Nejad. Yes, we have problems
with Nejad’s comments on certain things, esp the holocaust,
but this is a detail and not a strategic problem with
Nejad. It is rumoured that Mousavi might lessen support for
the Palestinian Revolution and Hizbullah; I am not so sure
about this, but one thing is clear: the West know who their
preferred candidate is, and I don’t need to say that the
West are fundamental to the problems of the region, and
their friends are not ours.

What is possibly some of the most interesting aspects of
Nejad rule is his populism. Nejad has in a most vociferous
and surprising manner attacked the corruption and elitism
of ruling sections in Iran, including attacking corrupt
mullahs. He has given increased economic rights to some of
societies poorest, and is an incredibly humble and modest
president – something which is striking to everyone.

It is also true at the sametime that his economic strategy
hasn’t perhaps benefitted the economy on the whole as it
has led to inflation. But those who follow the reformist
press in Iran like myself, know that all the criticism
against Nejad’s policies are not to have better policies
for the poor, but intended in defending some of societies
privileged sections; as the reformist camp support
neo-liberal policies. For those of us who believe in a
leadership which seeks to empower some of the poorest in
society, on a platform of anti-corruption of the elites,
with a clear militant anti-imperialist internationalism,
then Nejad is your man, and his is your camp. ‘But what
about the socialist and left opposition, the too want
rights for the poor!’ I hear some cry, more on this in a

“What has been the state response, besides Ahmadinejad’s
bizarre trip to Russia to celebrate his victory?”

Why was it ‘bizarre’? Nejad’s trip to Russia and to the
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is all part of the
important anti-imperialist (‘multi-polar world’) rise
across the world. The SCO is the closest thing to an
anti-imperialist bloc which in the future can push the West
out of Asia, and this process is in progress right now with
this article outlining these developments.

So I would argue far from Nejad’s trip being ‘bizarre’, it
shows him in one of his elements – being amongst those who
are leading the rise of a new multi-polar world, ie, and
end to US/western hegemony, which is the grand prize for
which we have been struggle for since nearly seven

And as Nejad has gone over for the SCO conference, it is
maybe another dig at Mousavi – saying to him ‘this is where
my primary allies are, and I am not one for pussy-footing
with the west’.

“Yes there has been repression of the most brutal kind.
We’ve all seen the images of blood stained University
halls, motorbiked thugs chasing protestors and street
clashes … “In addition foreign media has been restricted,
the internet and mobile phone calls limited and other
repressive techniques that can only be inflicted by state

You mention the brutal repression, but don’t mention the
context in which they have taken place. I would put this
repression into context of the provocations of some of the
students who wanted to burn down the Basij base. It’s
tragic and sad, but not surprising that those who want to
burn down the building of the revolutionary guards, then
see the guards hitting back, it has to be said AFTER they
were besieged. Who were these students? What is the sense
in these provocations? Tragic deaths are the result, and a
deepening of the sense of confrontation, which I don’t
think is to anyone’s advantage in Iran.

Students are mainstays of the banned opposition movements,
and there has been a long history of student based
anti-regime elements, and the regime clamping down on them.
It’s been terrible that students have been attacked on
their campuses and some reportedly killed, but we have to
also put some responsibility at least on those students who
are out to overthrow the regime, which results in the
regime coming down hard on some students.

As for the restrictions on the foreign media etc, I think
Obama let it out of the bag when he successfully for
Twitter to keep them online when they were going to be shut
today for maintenance work. I don’t think any of us are so
naïve as to be blind to the fact that mainstream Western
media outlets are arms of the western states and serve
their states, not the Iranians. And seeing that the
Iranians have plenty of examples as to the dirty role of
these agencies in many other peoples affairs,, then no-one
can accuse them, let alone those advocating
non-western-intervention in Iran, that they have strict
restrictions on them.

“One thing that is absolutely clear is that any repression
of any protest is unacceptable. People have the right to
protest and political expression and any attempts to halt
this must be rejected.”

So would you support the protests of people burning down
government buildings? The seriousness of the situation in
Iran is partly highlighted when you go on to state:

“The simple answer is that as far as the imperialists are
concerned, this could be the perfect opportunity to
dismantle Iran as an obstacle to the domination of the
Middle East. The Iraq war has only strengthened Iran as a
regional power; all the worse that it is prepared to stand
up to the West. Very few countries are as vocal as Iran on
issues such as Palestine and very few countries, if any,
can or will not provide the support that the resistance
across the Middle East needs.”

So seeing that this is the perfect opportunity for the West
to push their strategies in regard to Iran (which I agree
with of course) it is natural for their direct and indirect
allies to do all that they can in Iran to make things hard
for the regime. I am sure you know that there are many
kinds of groupings in Iran which are in a war with the
state and have backing by the West (the MKO is an obvious
example), and many others who are supported, based,
financed etc by the West. In this context, I think the
Iranian sate is much more relaxed than I thought they might
be, with very little police around on the Mousavi protests,
apart from when after there was some skirmishes, especially
around the Guards base issue.

“… The simple answer is that as far as the imperialists are
concerned, this could be the perfect opportunity to
dismantle Iran as an obstacle to the domination of the
Middle East. The Iraq war has only strengthened Iran as a
regional power; all the worse that it is prepared to stand
up to the West. Very few countries are as vocal as Iran on
issues such as Palestine and very few countries, if any,
can or will not provide the support that the resistance
across the Middle East needs.

“We must be clear that we will not allow the West to hijack
this movement and use it to its advantage. Since 1989
western powers have used genuinely democratic movements to
further their own aims, as seen across Eastern Europe and
beyond. The same cannot and must not happen with Iran. …
The Iranian people are displaying that they are not ‘too
oppressed to fight back’ or in any way too weak to fight
their own battles. They do not want western intervention
and they do not need western intervention.”

“The Iranian left needs to play a better role and provide
some organisation to the movement. … Victory to the Iranian
people; against both their oppressors in the regime and the
global imperialist project.”

The question of the Iranian and anti-imperialism in the
context of Iran is a very important issue that needs a lot
of debate. My position is that the Iranian left are
playing, for the most part, directly or indirectly the job
of the West. I saw an Iranian leftist (perhaps some of you
know who he is, as I recognise him, but don’t know his
name) on Newsnight the other day, giving an Iranian voice
to the West’s attitude towards Iran.

Some socialists in the West are supporting the left who are
active in the Mousavi camp. This is very ironic, because
here you have a ‘left’ allied to a political camp of the
corrupt elites, and those who want to water down the
Iranian state’s anti-imperialism. This is not new, as this
has happens and is happening in many areas around the world
from Venezuela, Zimbabwe, China, Lebanon, Iraq and many
other places, where the left are allied to the west’s
allies who are often some far from socialistic groupings.

If the Iranian left were a major mass force in Iran; if
they had a good anti-imperialist practice and position; if
they had a good chance at capturing power: perhaps people
should seriously consider supporting them. But it seems
they are very marginal, so establishing one’s position on
Iran from an anti-imperialist perspective based merely on
these minute leftist elements is at best missing the whole
nature of this clash in Iran, and at worst is avoiding some
hard decisions and allowing the West to take the political
advantage in terms of how current events in Iran are
reported and (mis)understood.

It’s also very dangerous to the left groups in Iran itself
to think that they are getting support from those in the
West, as it may add to their sense of confidence in
confronting the state, which will lead to more arrests,
jail and unfortunately deaths for some more.

I don’t know how much you have thought about your
concluding slogan:

“Victory to the Iranian people; against both their
oppressors in the regime and the global imperialist

But for me it raises some problems: when the main clash is
between two camps, why should we not discuss this central
issue rather than be drawn into subsidiary issues about
opposing the West and the oppressors in the regime?

Also those amongst the left who are supporting the Mousavi
camp because some Iranian left-wingers are in and around
that camp, fail to recognise a much more important issue
which effects the Iranian masses and poor and the masses of
the people in the region, and in relation to which, the
world anti-imperialist movement. For those in the left who
believe in social justice on a national and international
scale, Nejad’s camp is advocating this, in the face of
resistance of the Mousavi camp.

Finally, we have to constantly revise and understand the
contradictions within the struggles of the peoples of the
South, such as the one taking place in Iran, and also the
machinations of the West and especially the USA and UK.
This is especially important as we have entered into a
crucial phase of the anti-imperialist struggle, where the
US and the West have taken a massive beating thanks to the
twin tracks of resistance in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon,
Somalia, Afghanistan etc, and the rise of the third world
economies led by China, but also Brazil, Venezuela, Iran
etc. If Obama is a good guy personally, he is being used by
the elites to further their aims by other more crafty and
subtle means, but trying to enforce their retreating
hegemonic position all the same.

Obama’s speech in Cairo, far from a new positive era with
the region, has led or perhaps has problematically
contributed to the current crisis in Iran, in the sense
that Mousavi’s camp and followers think they can throw out
the militants (Nejad etc) now they have a ‘good guy’ to
deal with in Obama. And also Obama’s speech has egged on
those Tehrani elites who think they got a nod from Obama to
get rid of that little upstart and friend of the resistance
– President Nejad.

The anti-imperialist approach, as expressed by Tupac Amaru,
Simon Bolivar, through to Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Leila
Khaled, Lumumba and today with Hizbullah and Chavez is
never to stop intensifying your struggle; increase one’s
assertiveness and confidence in material, spiritual,
cultural and armed strength is the ONLY path to complete
liberation. In this, I know who I am with in Iran, despites
all the hype from the west, a hype which I don’t trust; and
I take this position despite my differences, sometimes
serious, with the Iranian regime.

Look forward to yours and others thoughts and reflections
on this issue.

Sukant Chandan

'Iran. 1979 and 2009.'
By Dominic Kouros Kavakeb

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?

Last week the Iranian Presidential elections took place
with the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being most strongly
challenged by former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi. A
close election was widely expected, yet the final result
was in Ahmadinejad’s favour by 63% to Mousavi’s 34%. This
immediately led to widespread suspicion amongst Mousavi
supporters that the vote had been rigged to exaggerate the
current Presidents votes.

The purpose of this article is not to attain whether or not
there was indeed electoral fraud. The point is to examine
this new wave of protest and the situation as a whole.
However, for purposes of clarity it is necessary to state a
few things. Firstly, Ahmadinejad was expected to win. A
telephone poll was conducted by an international group,
independent from the regime and had Ahmadinejad as wining 2
to 1. Personally, I expected Ahmadinejad to win albeit with
slightly less of a majority. The main arguments from those
who suspect fraud are based on how the result was
announced. In addition Ahmadinejad’s support seemed to
spread far more evenly than previously expected, with him
winning in areas that were considered Mousavi territory. So
it is clear that we cannot be sure whether or not the vote
was fixed.

What is an indisputable fact is that over the past 5 days
millions of people have taken to the streets to protest. In
anytime this is a deeply encouraging, inspiring and very
exciting moment. Much of the talk on the Iranian street is
about the 1979 revolution and how the same atmosphere has
gripped the country. It is probably true to say that the
first people out onto the streets were disgruntled Mousavi
fans from the middle class who would benefit from the
neo-liberal economic policies proposed by Mousavi as well
the social freedoms; however this is no longer the case. As
time has passed the movement has become much more than this
and now encapsulates all layers of Iranian society. Indeed
the control Mousavi has from this movement is entirely
questionable and in all probability actually rather

It would seem that the election was result was the spark
that the lit the fire of Iranian society, which had been
building up for many years. Iran has had a very strong
reform movement, since the early 90’s, which has had to
deal with its own strengths and weaknesses. The reform
movement has always been extremely broad in nature,
encompassing figures such as Hashemi Rafsanjani, the
current chair of The Assembly of Experts and former
President to women’s rights activists and left wingers.
Despite its breadth and in fact most probably because of
this, the reform movement has always lacked a clear
leadership and direction. This is mirrored by the current
events where you have massive protest, yet very little
coordinated direction.

It is also important to be able to understand the
limitations of the reform movement in terms of their
demands. The majority of the movement does not challenge
the Islamic regime itself nor the principles of the ’79
revolution. Watching the live debate between Ahmadinejad
and Mousavi at times it was almost as if they were trying
to ‘out Khomeini’ one another. Both spoke about their
dedication to the revolution and how they were the true
interpreters of Khomeini’s message. So where do the real
differences lie? This question will give us some insight
into the feelings of the Iranian people. Economically
Mousavi favours further neo-liberalisation, although this
is not something Ahmadinejad is specifically adverse to.
The difference may be where Mousavi is happy to trade with
the west, Ahmadinejad not so. To a degree this determines
their stances on foreign policy. Mousavi ridiculed
Ahmadinejad for the way in which he’s made Iran look
childish in the face of international diplomacy. The
President retorted with the idea that regardless of whether
or not Iran does what the West wants, they will always face
threats. It is impossible to beat The United States at
their own game (i.e. within the arena of the UN).

Mousavi was seen by many as being a candidate who would
open Iranian society and provide the freedoms that are
enjoyed by the bourgeois in the west. Therefore when he
lost it is easy to see why so many were so angry, although
that does not explain the large scale popular protest that
we have seen. It seems as if every section of society with
any qualm against the regime has come out to use this
opportunity, in a usually repressive state, to protest.
This is a window of chance for those who want change and
they are determined to use it. It is also important to note
that many of the protestors are not explicitly against the
Islamic regime. Having spoken to come of my family in Iran,
they are angry about the election and want to see change,
but within the foundations of the revolution. This is not a
movement that is challenging Islamic rule, in the abstract.

What has been the state response, besides Ahmadinejad’s
bizarre trip to Russia to celebrate his victory? Yes there
has been repression of the most brutal kind. We’ve all seen
the images of blood stained University halls, motorbiked
thugs chasing protestors and street clashes. In addition
foreign media has been restricted, the internet and mobile
phone calls limited and other repressive techniques that
can only be inflicted by state apparatus. However, the
official line is strangely subdued. The Grand Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei is due to give a speech tomorrow following Friday
prayers, and many expect to see a few surprises. Anyone who
attempts to simplistically align Ahmadinejad with the
religious elite is making a grave error. It is true that
Khamenei formally endorsed Ahmadinejad for a second term
but the reality is not so straight forward. Ahmadinejad’s 4
year term was marked by constant bickering between the
executive and the religious sections of the ruling class.
The fear amongst the religious establishment was that the
President was going too far to antagonise the west and
subsequently was damaging the trade deals that have been in
place since the 90’s. During the campaign period Khamenei
himself came forward to discredit a claim by Ahmadinejad
that Mousavi’s wife and campaigner, Zahra Rahnavand, is not
a real Doctor. So it is clear that are real splits opening
up inside the regime, which certainly does not bode well
for its long term survival.

One thing that is absolutely clear is that any repression
of any protest is unacceptable. People have the right to
protest and political expression and any attempts to halt
this must be rejected. Reports from the last couple of days
actually show a shift in the attitude of the Iranian police
towards the protestors. Rather than be used by the state as
a tool of repression they have begun to protect the
protestors from the feared Basiji and the other thugs.
Robert Fisk wrote yesterday in the Independent of the
Police holding back the armed thugs from attacking the
demonstrations; a moment last seen when the Iranian armed
forces turn on the Shah in the 1979 revolution.

However, we must also understand Iran in a global context.
This situation is very different to a General Strike in
France where we can analyse this as the state vs. the
people. As already outlined such an analysis is far too
simplistic. We have to question why the situation in Iran
is grabbing so many headlines and the attention of the
world. When in Egypt the state rigged the elections and
massive protests erupted, why did this not receive the same
coverage? The simple answer is that as far as the
imperialists are concerned, this could be the perfect
opportunity to dismantle Iran as an obstacle to the
domination of the Middle East. The Iraq war has only
strengthened Iran as a regional power; all the worse that
it is prepared to stand up to the West. Very few countries
are as vocal as Iran on issues such as Palestine and very
few countries, if any, can or will not provide the support
that the resistance across the Middle East needs.

We must be clear that we will not allow the West to hijack
this movement and use it to its advantage. Since 1989
western powers have used genuinely democratic movements to
further their own aims, as seen across Eastern Europe and
beyond. The same cannot and must not happen with Iran. The
vast majority of Iranian people themselves reject Western
influence in their affairs; the revolution of 1979 was
based around sweeping aside foreign rule. The collective
memory of the ghost of 1953 when Iranian Nationalist leader
Dr Mossadeq was overthrown in a CIA coup has not been
forgotten. Western powers must stay firmly out of this
affair. For years the liberal imperialists have argued that
we must intervene in countries with human rights abuses,
because the people of these nations are not capable of
doing it themselves. If this new movement in Iran proves
one thing it is that this formulation is false. The Iranian
people are displaying that they are not ‘too oppressed to
fight back’ or in any way too weak to fight their own
battles. They do not want western intervention and they do
not need western intervention.

So what will happen next? I honestly don’t know. Clearly we
have a series of events on a scale not seen in Iran since
1979. However, for all of the parallels this is not 1979
again. Protestors on both sides are chanting Islamic
slogans and we will not see an overthrow of the Islamic
Republic. There may well be changes in personnel, policies
and other reforms but I expect it to go no further, at
least at this stage. The Iranian left needs to play a
better role and provide some organisation to the movement.
But like 1979 the Iranian left is cutting itself off from
society. They are not central to these protests and would
rather see the Western powers launch an invasion than any
continuation of the current regime. At lot rests on what
the Supreme Leader has to say tomorrow, so we shall have to
wait and see.

Regardless, this is an exciting moment for Iran. This wave
of protest is unconditionally a good thing and healthy for
Iranian society. It is the product of years of social and
political unrest combined with the current economic crisis.
Victory to the Iranian people; against both their
oppressors in the regime and the global imperialist


The Independent:

On hearing a foreign voice, people came up saying: "Tell
the world how they have stolen our election." One woman in
a headscarf and full length black tunic said: "We hate this
regime and its stupid friends in Russia, Venezuela and

Anti-Imperialist Camp:

It is not clear whether Moussavi's broad coalition is going
to give up or not as the rift is very deep. It is obvious
that important sectors of the middle class hope for a
political liberalisation and cultural latitude, and these
are legitimate demands; however, the current opposition
organically mixes them with concessions to the West and an
expressly capitalist line of the economic elites. It is
this combination that is unacceptable and eventually is the
millstone around the necks of those who actually demand
more political freedom. Uncompromising anti-imperialism is
the prerequisite for any democratic movement. The
middle-class mainstream-despite some "leftist rhetoric"-is
in every respect moving towards adaptation to the West.

From a friend on the Iranian opposition on Twitter:

Yesterday or the day before the US administration directed
twitter to halt its weekend maintenance in order to help
the Iranian people at this moment of history [see here].
The expected effect of twitter on Iran was compared to the
effect of the Khomeni cassettes. I joined twitter yesterday
to see what is going on, and I saw your brave movement at
work. Most of the things that I saw had to do with tactics
on the ground, but I also saw people dismissing the Iranian
state by declaring that the riot police was wearing Hamas
badges. I am sure that we can not consider this
anti-imperialist, even the SWP will have problems with
that. Nor is it easy to just pass that when liberal
Iranians want to show how bad their state is they do so by
picturing it as resistance friendly.

I also came across another comments about using Arabs to
stop the movement, most likely meaning Hizbollah. The use
of both names was evoked as self-evidently derogatory, as
if for the writers and the intended audience it is clear
that this organizations are shit. There were no
condemnations of this. There was also an entry critiquing
Nejad for wasting Iran's money on wars that don't concern
Iran. Not to mention that I saw during the elections
interviews with Iranians who are voting Musavi because they
are sick and tired of being labelled a terrorist nation
that supports terrorist organizations.

While I am aware that this is a minute sample of the
movement, it is the idea that these sort of things are
proposed to the public as a self-evident of Nejad's shit
that matters. At the same time I didn't see a single pro
resistance comment--this is the more representative
observation, if you want. It is not enough to reject US
intervention in Iranian affairs in order to be
anti-Imperialist in Iran; Musavi can do that; you also have
to be pro-resistance too.

Iran is the bastion of resistance in the region. If it
falls many things are over.


Beijing cautions US over Iran

Asia Times Online
By M K Bhadrakumar

China has broken silence on the developing situation in
Iran. This comes against the backdrop of a discernible
shift in Washington's posturing toward political
developments in Iran.

The government-owned China Daily featured its main
editorial comment on Thursday titled "For Peace in Iran".
It comes amid reports in the Western media that the former
president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is rallying the Qom
clergy to put pressure on the Guardians Council - and, in
turn, on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei - to annul last
Friday's presidential election that gave Mahmud Ahmadinejad
another four-year term.

Beijing fears a confrontation looming and counsels Obama to
keep the pledge in his Cairo speech not to repeat such
errors in the US's Middle East policy as the overthrow of
the elected government of Mohammed Mosaddeq in Iran in
1953. Beijing also warns about letting the genie of popular
unrest get out of the bottle in a highly volatile region
that is waiting to explode. Tehran on Friday saw its sixth
day of massive protests by supporters of Mir Hossein
Mousavi, whom they say was cheated out of victory.

A parallel with Thailand Meanwhile, China's special envoy
on Middle East, Wu Sike, is setting out on an extensive
fortnight-long regional tour on Saturday (which,
significantly, will be rounded off with consultations in
Moscow) to fathom the political temperature in capitals as
varied as Cairo and Tel Aviv, Amman and Damascus, and
Beirut and Ramallah.

Beijing also made a political statement when a substantive
bilateral was scheduled between President Hu Jintao and
Ahmadinejad on Tuesday on the sidelines of the summit
meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in
Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Conceivably, Hu would have discussed the Iran situation
with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev during his
official visit to Moscow that followed the SCO summit.
Earlier, Moscow welcomed Ahmadinejad's re-election. Both
China and Russia abhor "color" revolutions, especially
something as intriguing as Twitter, which Moscow came
across a few months ago in Moldova and raises hackles about
the US's interventionist global strategy.

China anticipated the backlash against Ahmadinejad's
victory. On Monday, The Global Times newspaper quoted the
former Chinese ambassador to Iran, Hua Liming, that the
Iranian situation would get back to normalcy only if a
negotiated agreement was reached among the "major centers
of political power ... But, if not, the recent turmoil in
Thailand will possibly be repeated". It is quite revealing
that the veteran Chinese diplomat drew a parallel with

However, Hua underscored that Ahmadinejad does enjoy
popularity and has "lots of support in this nationalist
country because he has the courage to state his own opinion
and dares to carry out his policies". The consensus opinion
of Chinese academic community is also that Ahmadinejad's
re-election will "test" Obama.

Thus, Thursday's China Daily editorial is broadly in the
nature of an appeal to the Obama administration not to
spoil its new Middle East policy, which is shaping well,
through impetuous actions. Significantly, the editorial
upheld the authenticity of Ahmadinejad's election victory:
"Win and loss are two sides of an election coin. Some
candidates are less inclined to accept defeat."

The daily pointed out that a pre-election public opinion
poll conducted by the Washington Post newspaper showed
Ahmadinejad having a 2-1 lead over his nearest rival and
some opinion polls in Iran also indicated more or less the
same, whereas, actually, "he won the election on a lower
margin. Thus, the opposition's allegations against
Ahmadinejad come as a trifle surprising".

The editorial warns: "Attempts to push the so-called color
revolution toward chaos will prove very dangerous. A
destabilized Iran is in nobody's interest if we want to
maintain peace and stability in the Middle East, and the
world beyond." It pointedly recalled that the US's "Cold
War intervention in Iran" made US-Iran relationship a
troubled one, "with US presidents trying to stick their
nose into Iran's internal business".

Theocracy versus republicanism Beijing understands Iran's
revolutionary politics very well. China was one of the few
countries that warmly hosted Ruhollah Khomeini as president
(in 1981 and 1989). In contrast, India, which professes
"civilizational" ties with Iran, was much too confused
about Iran's revolutionary legacy to be able to correctly
estimate Khamenei's political instincts favoring
republicanism. Most of the Indian elites aren't even aware
that Khamenei studied as a youth in Moscow's Patrice
Lumumba University.

Be that as it may, the Hu-Ahmadinejad meeting in
Yekaterinburg on Tuesday once again shows Beijing has a
very clear idea about the ebb and flow of Iran's politics.
Hu demonstrably accorded to Ahmadinejad the full honor as
Beijing's valued interlocutor.

Chinese media have closely followed the trajectory of the
US reaction to the situation in Iran, especially the
"Twitter revolution", which puts Beijing on guard about US
intentions. Indications are that the US establishment has
begun meddling in Iranian politics. Rafsanjani's camp
always keeps lines open to the West. All-in-all, a degree
of synchronization is visible involving the US's "Twitter
revolution" route, Rafsanjani's parleys with the
conservative clergy in Qom and Mousavi's
uncharacteristically defiant stance.

Obama faces multiple challenges. On the one hand, as Helene
Cooper of The New York Times reported on Thursday, the
continuing street protests in Tehran are emboldening a
corpus of (pro-Israel) conservatives in Washington to
demand that Obama should take a "more visible stance in
support of the protesters". But then, a regime change would
inevitably delay the expected US-Iran direct engagement and
upset Obama's tight calendar to ensure the negotiations
gained traction by year's end, while Iran's centrifuges in
its nuclear establishments keep spinning.

Also, a fragmented power structure in Tehran will prove
ineffectual in helping the US stabilize Afghanistan.
However, top administration officials like Vice President
Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would
like the US to "strike a stronger tone" on Iran's turmoil.
Cooper reported they are piling pressure on Obama that he
might run the risk of "coming across the wrong side of
history at a potentially transformative moment in Iran".

A Thermidorian reaction No doubt, the turmoil has an
intellectual side to it. Obama being a rare politician
gifted with intellectuality and a keen sense of history
would know that what is at stake is a well-orchestrated
attempt by the hardcore conservative clerical establishment
to roll back the four-year-old painful, zig-zag process
toward republicanism in Iran.

Mousavi is the affable front man for the mullahs, who fear
that another four years of Ahmadinejad would hurt their
vested interests. Ahmadinejad has already begun
marginalizing the clergy from the sinecures of power and
the honey pots of the Iranian economy, especially the oil

The struggle between the worldly mullahs (in alliance with
the bazaar) and the republicans is as old as the 1979
Iranian revolution, where the fedayeen of the proscribed
Tudeh party (communist cadres) were the original foot
soldiers of the revolution, but the clerics usurped the
leadership. The highly contrived political passions let
loose by the 444-day hostage crisis with the US helped the
wily Shi'ite clerics to stage the Thermidorian reaction and
isolate the progressive revolutionary leadership.
Ironically, the US once again figures as a key protagonist
in Iran's dialectics - not as a hostage, though.

Imam Khomeini was wary of the Iranian mullahs and he
created the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as an
independent force to ensure the mullahs didn't hijack the
revolution. Equally, his preference was that the government
should be headed by non-clerics. In the early years of the
revolution, the conspiracies hatched by the triumvirate of
Beheshti-Rafsanjani-Rajai who engineered the ouster of the
secularist leftist president Bani Sadr (who was Khomeini's
protege), had the agenda to establish a one-party
theocratic state. These are vignettes of Iran's
revolutionary history that might have eluded the
intellectual grasp of George W Bush, but Obama must be au
fait with the deviousness of Rafsanjani's politics.

If Rafsanjani's putsch succeeds, Iran would at best bear
resemblance to a decadent outpost of the "pro-West" Persian
Gulf. Would a dubious regime be durable? More important, is
it what Obama wishes to see as the destiny of the Iranian
people? The Arab street is also watching. Iran is an
exception in the Muslim world where people have been
empowered. Iran's multitudes of poor, who form
Ahmadinejad's support base, detest the corrupt, venal
clerical establishment. They don't even hide their visceral
hatred of the Rafsanjani family.

Alas, the political class in Washington is clueless about
the Byzantine world of Iranian clergy. Egged on by the
Israeli lobby, it is obsessed with "regime change". The
temptation will be to engineer a "color revolution". But
the consequence will be far worse than what obtains in
Ukraine. Iran is a regional power and the debris will fall
all over. The US today has neither the clout nor the
stamina to stem the lava flow of a volcanic eruption
triggered by a color revolution that may spill over Iran's

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.


Mousavi states his case
Asia Times Online
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Mir Hossein Mousavi, the reformist candidate challenging
Iran's authorities on the result of last week's
presidential elections, is a masterful tactician who wants
to overturn the re-election of his rival, President Mahmud
Ahmadinejad, with allegations of a massive conspiracy that
he claims cheated him and millions of his supporters.

These supporters, identifiable by the color green they have
adopted, have taken to the streets in the tens of thousands
and on Thursday were to stage a "day of mourning" for what
they say is a lost election. This follows a "silent" march
through the streets of the capital on Wednesday. To date,
at least 10 people - some Iranian sources say 32 - have
been killed in clashes.

Mousavi has lodged an official complaint with the powerful
12-member Guardians Council, which has ordered a partial
recount of the vote. The complaint's main flaw is that it
passes improper or questionable pre-election conduct as
something else, that is, as evidence of voting fraud.

The protest, which seeks fresh elections, is short on
specifics and long on extraneous, election-unrelated
complaints. The first two items relate to the televised
debates that were held between the candidates, rather than
anything germane to the vote count.

There is also some innuendo, such as a claim that
Ahmadinejad used state-owned means of transportation to
campaign around the country, overlooking that there is
nothing unusual about incumbent leaders using the resources
at their disposal for election purposes. All previous
presidents, including the reformist Mohammad Khatami, who
is a main supporter of Mousavi, did the same.

Another complaint by Mousavi is that Ahmadinejad had
disproportionate access to the state-controlled media. This
has indeed been a bad habit in the 30-year history of the
Islamic Republic, but perhaps less so this year because for
the first time there were television debates, six of them,
which allowed Mousavi and the other challengers free space
to present their points of view.

With respect to alleged specific irregularities, the
complaint cites a shortage of election forms that in some
places caused a "few hours delay". This is something to
complain about, but it hardly amounts to fraud, especially
as voter turnout was a record high of 85% of the eligible
46 million voters. (Ahmadinejad was credited with 64% of
the vote.)

Mousavi complains that in some areas the votes cast were
higher than the number of registered voters. But he fails
to add that some of those areas, such as Yazd, were places
where he received more votes that Ahmadinejad.

Furthermore, Mousavi complains that some of his monitors
were not accredited by the Interior Ministry and therefore
he was unable to independently monitor the elections.
However, several thousand monitors representing the various
candidates were accredited and that included hundreds of
Mousavi's eyes and ears.

They should have documented any irregularities that, per
the guidelines, should have been appended to his complaint.
Nothing is appended to Mousavi's two-page complaint,
however. He does allude to some 80 letters that he had
previously sent to the Interior Ministry, without either
appending those letters or restating their content.

Finally, item eight of the complaint cites Ahmadinejad's
recourse to the support given by various members of Iran's
armed forces, as well as Foreign Minister Manouchehr
Mottaki's brief campaigning on Ahmadinejad's behalf. These
are legitimate complaints that necessitate serious scrutiny
since by law such state individuals are forbidden to take
sides. It should be noted that Mousavi can be accused of
the same irregularity as his headquarters had a division
devoted to the armed forces.

Given the thin evidence presented by Mousavi, there can be
little chance of an annulment of the result.
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) . For his Wikipedia entry, click here. His latest book, Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11 (BookSurge Publishing , October 23, 2008) is now available.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


Anti-Imperialist Camp
Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Ahmajinedad wasn’t the candidate of the
establishment, but of the lower classes

1. From an anti-imperialist point of view, the overwhelming victory of Ahmadinejad in the elections is positive, because the incumbent and president-elect stands for confrontation with the U.S.-led new order for the “Near East”.

2. Even the Western media had to admit that it is the poor who strongly support the president. His allegations of corruption promptly gained him the epithet “populist” in the West—an indirect admission that he enjoys broad support from below.

3. The capitalist establishment around Rafsanjani (number two of the regime and chairperson of the Assembly of Experts) and a broad coalition of Islamic forces from the “left” to the “right” actually didn’t support Ahmadinejad, but his contender Mousavi. Ayatollah Khamenei (number one and successor to Khomeini), after the elections sided with the victor; however that doesn’t mean that Ahmadinejad was his favourite candidate, because Ahmadinejad’s fiery attacks against the ruling elite gave everyone in the establishment the creeps. Khamenei’s decision was made to reinforce the stability of the system.

4. We cannot rule out electoral fraud. Fraud happens in almost any elections in the Third World and even in the West, when opposing interests clash—and not only then. The West overlooks such imperfections if the “right” candidate wins. Only when this is not the case, they scream bloody murder. There are strong political indications that Ahmadinejad actually won by a large margin: First, he doesn’t control the state apparatus, but at most one faction within it. In a certain sense he is not part of the establishment. Reversing the results of the elections would have required a sort of coup. That in turn would have required the full support of the state apparatus, or Ahmadinejad would have had to take preventive action against those parts that oppose him. That didn’t happen. Under the conditions of a complicated factional relations and conflicts within the ruling elite the alleged giant fraud is very unlikely.

5. The extremely high turnout of over 80 percent is a sign of the strength and the stability of the political system of the Islamic Republic despite the strong factional fights. Such heavy polls are absolutely unheard of in the West. This high voter turnout is as much a slap in the face of Western double standards as Ahmadinejad’s victory, because the West on one hand denigrates Iran as a dictatorship and on the other hand legitimises and supports the worst dictatorships in the region, and particularly as in elections in the West there is no real opposition and only the various candidates of the elite compete, while the elections in Iran actually were about deciding the course.

6. It is not clear whether Moussavi’s broad coalition is going to give up or not as the rift is very deep. It is obvious that important sectors of the middle class hope for a political liberalisation and cultural latitude, and these are legitimate demands; however, the current opposition organically mixes them with concessions to the West and an expressly capitalist line of the economic elites. It is this combination that is unacceptable and eventually is the millstone around the necks of those who actually demand more political freedom. Uncompromising anti-imperialism is the prerequisite for any democratic movement. The middle-class mainstream—despite some “leftist rhetoric”—is in every respect moving towards adaptation to the West.

7. Our joy over the success of Ahmadinejad does not mean that we overlook the deep-seated problems of Iran and its regime. The lack of democratic and cultural freedoms also means oppression of national and religious minorities. Ahmadinejad transferred some wealth to the lower classes, but he was not able to relieve the economic difficulties and the structural poverty. He has nothing to offer to deviate from the capitalist path of (under)development on the fringes of the global economic regime of free trade. In addition there is the dreadful game his regime plays in Iraq, where Teheran has been supporting the U.S.-led occupation and the creation of a paradoxical U.S.-Iranian joint “protectorate.” When confronting the U.S., Iranian foreign policy often supports anti-imperialist forces (e.g. Hizbullah and Hamas), but its fundamental line is regional hegemony with a sectarian element. Because of this, the interests of the masses in pursuing a social revolution in the framework of a global anti-imperialist project often fall by the wayside.

A more detailed analysis of the election results should follow.

Anti-Imperialist Camp
14 June 2009



These are the birth pangs of Obama's new regional order

The turmoil in Tehran reflects a refusal to accept Ahmadinejad is popular and confusion about how to respond to the US

Seumas Milne
The Guardian
Thurs 18 June

'They have elected a ­Labour government," a Savoy diner
famously declared on the night of Britain's election
landslide in 1945. "The country will never stand for it."
From the evidence so far coming out of Iran, something
similar seems to be ­happening on the streets of Tehran –
and in the western capitals just as desperate to see the
back of Iranian president ­Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Of course the movement behind opposition candidate Mir
Hossein Mousavi spreads far beyond the capital's elite, as
did the supporters of Winston Churchill against Clement
Attlee. In Iran, it includes large sections of the middle
class, students and the secular. But a similar misreading
of their own social circles for the country at large
appears to have convinced the opposition's supporters that
it can only have lost last Friday's election through fraud.

That is also reflected in the western media, whose cameras
focus so lovingly on Tehran's gilded youth and for whom
Ahmadinejad is nothing but a Holocaust-denying fanatic. The
other Ahmadinejad, who is seen to stand up for the
country's independence, expose elite corruption on TV and
use Iran's oil wealth to boost the incomes of the poor
majority, is largely invisible abroad.

While Mousavi promised market reforms and privatisation,
more personal freedom and better relations with the west,
the president increased pensions and public sector wages
and handed out cheap loans. So it's hardly surprising that
Ahmadinejad should have a solid base among the working
class, the religious, small town and rural poor – or that
he might have achieved a similar majority to that of his
first election in 2005. That's what one of the few
genuinely independent polls (the US-based Ballen-Doherty
survey) predicted last month, when the Times reported
Ahmadinejad was "expected to win".

But such details have got lost as the pressure has built in
Tehran for a "green revolution" amid unsubstantiated claims
that the election was stolen. The strongest evidence
appears to be some surprising regional results and the
speed of the official announcement, triggered by Mousavi's
declaration that he was the winner before the polls closed.
But most official figures don't look so ­implausible –
Mousavi won Tehran, for instance, by 2.2m votes to 1.8m –
and it's hard to believe that rigging alone could account
for the 11 million-vote gap between the main contenders.

If Ahmadinejad was in fact the winner, then there is an
attempted coup going on in Tehran right now, and it is
being led by Mousavi and his western-backed supporters. But
for the demonstrators facing repression in Tehran, the
conviction that they have been cheated has created its own
momentum in what is now a highly polarised society. That is
given more force by the fact that the protests are
underpinned by a split in the theocratic regime, of which
Mousavi and his allies are a powerful component.

Part of that is about a perceived threat to their own
economic interests. But the division also reflects
differences within the establishment about how to respond
to Barack Obama and the overtures from Washington. All
factions uphold Iran's right to continue nuclear
reprocessing, but Mousavi's campaign was critical of the
level of support given to Hezbollah and Hamas, while
Ahmadinejad's supporters argue that only toughness can win
western acceptance of Iran's status as a new regional

Iran is of course at the centre of an arc of crisis across
the greater Middle East, from Palestine to Pakistan: the
legacy of the Bush administration's catastrophic failure in
Iraq and the wider war on terror. And as the US attempts to
reconstitute its hegemony in the region on a new basis –
for which Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo was
supposed to set the tone – there's reason to believe that
the birth pangs of the new order may yet turn out to be as
painful as the death throes of the old.

Last Friday, even before the polls had closed in Iran, the
US president ­commented that people were ­"looking at new
possibilities" in Iran, just as they had in Lebanon's
elections the previous weekend. In fact, the unexpected
defeat of Hezbollah's opposition coalition (which
nevertheless won the largest number of votes) seems to have
had more to do with local Lebanese sectarian issues and
large-scale vote buying than the Obama effect. But the
implications of his remarks were not lost in Iran, where
the US is still spending hundreds of millions of dollars in
covert destabilisation programmes.

Obama's public engagement over the Israel-Palestine
conflict has so far elicited a commitment by Israel's
Benjamin Netanyahu to the paper ­principle of a Palestinian
state – backed by both his predecessors and George Bush and
hedged around with so many restrictions it would barely
merit Ruritanian status – but no climbdown over illegal
settlement expansion. The chances of a negotiated deal in
such conditions seem minimal, particularly in the absence
of Hamas, and the prospects that a US plan for a settlement
might then fail and plunge the region back into conflict
relatively high.

Meanwhile, ­resistance and wider violence have been growing
again in Iraq, as US occupation troops pull back from the
cities. And in Afghanistan, far from ­winding down the
occupation, Obama is ­escalating the conflict as promised,
with another 21,000 US troops being sent this ­summer to
fight the ­unwinnable war, as attacks on Nato forces have
reached an all-time peak. At the same time, the spread of
the Afghan war into ­neighbouring Pakistan has left
thousands of civilians dead, created more than two million
refugees and led to a civilian carnage from US drone
attacks across the northwest of the country.

In case anyone imagined such wars of western occupation
would become a thing of the past in the wake of the
­discredited Bush administration, ­General Dannatt, head of
the ­British army, recently set out to disabuse them.
Echoing US defence secretary Robert Gates, he insisted:
"Iraq and ­Afghanistan are not aberrations – they are
signposts for the future".

In such a context, the neutralisation of Iran as an
independent regional power would be a huge prize for the US
– defanging recalcitrants from Baghdad to Beirut – and a
route out of the strategic impasse created by the invasion
of Iraq. But so far, the signs from Tehran are still that
that's unlikely to be achieved by a colour-coded