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(en) France, OCL CA #338 - An update on the situation in Iran (ca, de, fr, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 7 Apr 2024 07:49:06 +0300


Here is a new interview with B., an Iranian comrade in exile whose interesting remarks we had already published in issues 331 and 332 of Courant Alternatif (June and summer 2023). Without necessarily sharing his (geo)political opinions, it seems relevant to us to pass on his information on the current situation in Iran; while the promising revolts which have shaken the country in recent months seem to have been quickly forgotten. ---- Where is the movement? ---- In the street, the movement has stopped. For me, there are four people responsible for the weakening of the movement, consciously or unconsciously united: the regime, obviously, with its Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards); the moderate religious people of the regime, who said that we should not revolt but vote for them, that they were going to change things little by little, as they had promised for a long time; certain Kurdish "ethnofascist" groups like the PDK (which controls Iraqi Kurdistan), financed by Saudi Arabia; finally, the royalists, also financed by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia financed the Kurdish royalists and ethnofascists of the KDP in the event of a civil war, in response to the Iranian state financing Shiite groups in Saudi Arabia (all the oil there is in regions populated by Shiites). The royalists and the PDK were each invited to Riyadh.

When these groups wanted to intervene in the revolution, the regime played the role of amalgam by threatening that the continuation of the revolt would open the door to Daesh, and that it was the only one able to guarantee independence and security. , because all the opposing groups were supported by foreign powers.
The moderates, for their part, would like to be considered by the regime as a potential way out of the conflict. In the past they were able to play the role of a valve, but the regime does not allow them to participate in elections. Because, currently the regime is isolated around a very hard core which shares nothing with anyone.
But in any case, when the moderates were in power in the past (presidencies of Khatami and Rouhani), they could not do anything because everything was bypassed by the Pasdarans, the Supreme Guide and the Khomeinists. of parliament. The population does not support them either, knowing that they only want power for their own interests.
We must also take into account the lack of organization of the rebels. There would have been a need for a movement to translate the revolt into concrete political proposals, but that does not exist in Iran. After so many years of repression and executions, it is difficult for people who have this kind of idea to come together, because on the other hand the intelligence services will arrest them, or arrest their family if they are exiled, and execute them.
There is a very recent poll which showed that only 35% of the population planned to potentially vote in the next elections, and that only 15% of Iranians support the regime. We are faced with a minority which governs the majority; it is a dead end for the regime, but also for us because we cannot meet this expectation.

There is still hope in Iran and in exile around people like Hamed Esmaeilion, exiled in Canada. Neither far left nor social democrat, he is for a certain social justice, for more equality, he addresses the questions of democracy and human rights, which were often ignored by groups of leftmost. The majority of Iranian youth support these ideas. We are faced with a poor society, which needs social protection and education. Liberals and royalists do not propose that. And he is moderate in the way he speaks, people like that. So it's a strategy that can work.

Riot in Tehran September 2022
But things are still happening: there is a strike that lasted two weeks in the oil sector in 2023. It affected subcontractors in the oil industry. As independent unions are not recognized in Iran, they are run by strike committees. Some workers were arrested, then released, but are awaiting trial and more than 4,000 have been fired.
The strikes don't really work, they don't last long because the workers are under the double threat of repression and lack of money. They are already poor, basically; On our side, among the exiles, the question of creating a strike fund was raised, but we do not have the means to send money there. If the regime learns that money was sent to someone in Iran, that person will be arrested and executed under the pretext of being an agent of the CIA, MI6 (British spy service) or whatever. .
The regime also knew how to play on the differences between precarious subcontracting workers and workers with higher positions in the oil industry, by giving things to the latter so that they would leave the movement. Those at the bottom found themselves alone, and that broke the movement. This division shows the importance of unions.
The demands mainly focused on working conditions, safety and wages, but at one point the question of converging with workers in other sectors, who were suffering repression, arose; to unite workers against the oligarchy.

Repression
Currently, around 20 people have been executed for participating in the movement.
For example, there is Mohammad Ghobadlou, executed for burning a trash can. As Bassidjis (Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for internal security) were killed or injured during the demonstrations, these executions are also a form of support from the regime towards them.
And the arrests continue: they have video archives, from which they continue to search for people.
Important things are happening in prisons, for example the statement signed by the 61 political prisoners who announced a hunger strike at Evin prison on February 13.
After revolting in the street, these women continue in prison. It's heroic. The heart of the movement today is happening in prisons, I think.

There were poisonings (poison or gas) of middle and high school girls in schools from the moment the movement began to weaken: the regime is so despicable that it took revenge on these girls who revolted. There were deaths but for the Islamists, killing children is not a problem.
Since then, the poisonings have stopped but the regime communicates nothing on this subject and does not answer families' questions. The latter organized rallies in front of schools and demanded investigations, but in reality everyone understood that the regime was behind these poisonings.

And we must also talk about suicides: in 2023, a thousand workers committed suicide in their workplace, because of working conditions and their salary. Some have not received a salary for a year, because the country is governed by a gang of mafiosi, who steal what they want.

Riot in Tehran September 2022
On winning the Nobel Peace Prize by Narges Mohammadi
I think that this prize clearly shows the way the West views Iran: why give it to Narges Mohammadi, who is not secular, who is a moderate religious woman who today disagrees with the regime? I specify that I support it while criticizing it; she is more progressive than her husband, a former ally of Khomeini. The West still supports moderates who have one foot in the system. In my opinion it is because they think that in the surrounding chaos, these moderates would know how to manage the country thanks to their experience in administration. But there were other people to give the Nobel Prize to, such as Nasrin Sotoudeh, secularist, lawyer, also a political prisoner.

Ecological struggles
In the Kurdish regions, there were forest fires that local environmentalists understood were criminal; mafia groups linked to the Pasdaran wanted to recover the land and build villas or tourist facilities there.
In Ahvaz (Khouzistan), which is a region populated by an Arab minority, the water is extremely polluted by oil extraction and the cultivation of sugar cane which is also very water intensive. The city is one of the most polluted in Iran.
Similar groups have diverted rivers for export agriculture and power generation, destroying biodiversity and causing the country's largest lake, Urmia in Iranian Azerbaijan, to dry up.
Every time people oppose these destructive plans, they are thrown in prison. For example, people have been arrested and accused of espionage because they were walking in the forest with cameras - which is completely normal for naturalists: there is trafficking in endangered animals, so they will carry out species censuses using cameras.
Eight activists were sentenced to prison in 2020 for endangering national security and Professor Seyed Emami mysteriously died in prison, 48 hours after his arrest.
Nobody talks about Iranian environmental activists, because they have no external contacts, yet the situation is critical.

The regime wants a war
In my opinion, the regime is buying time to organize a war. He thinks that this could respond to their internal problems - that is to say that it would both unify and repress the people in order to stay in power - but on the other hand they are aware of not yet having the means to wage total war. So for the moment, their strategy is to carry out attacks through groups that represent them more or less directly. To understand, we must look at the evolution of regional geopolitics.
Under Trump, relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia have seriously deteriorated. With the addition of the disengagement initiated under Obama, the countries of the region (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, etc.) found themselves alone facing the Iranian threat and the groups financed and trained by Iran, as in Iraq, Syria, or the Houthis in Yemen. They then turned to China, which for its part wants to secure its "new silk roads". China signed contracts with Saudi Arabia, among other things on gas and oil, then attempted a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran - they organized meetings, but we knew very well that this would not work. wouldn't work.
Biden wanted to repair what Trump had destroyed in terms of international relations. He asked Saudi Arabia to break its contracts with China - signed but not yet implemented - and in exchange offered a form of support without direct intervention from the United States: a rapprochement with Israel, the only local power to to be able to stand up to Iran militarily. The Israeli army is supposed to help these countries develop their armies, and in exchange the Arab countries must recognize Israel, open embassies, normalize their relations. This is basically the application of the Abraham Accords, signed under Trump.
But until then, there was no will to apply them. Israel has therefore announced that it will open an embassy in Dubai and Morocco; For their part, Egypt and Jordan accepted because they are under threat from the Muslim Brotherhood within their borders. There is also an economic advantage, as Israel is a more developed country than others in the region.

Iran and China were losing; What did they do? They manipulated Hamas. A month before October 7, the Pasdaran, the Al Qassam Brigades and certain Lebanese groups such as Hezbollah, came together to resolve the conflict between Hamas in Palestine and its exiled leadership. Iran and China used the opportunity to encourage Hamas' military wing to take the initiative. The latter wanted to carry out a coup to take power over the entire movement. So they attacked Israel with the help of Iran - Hamas couldn't have planned this on its own.

Riot in Tehran September 2022
They carried out a horrific attack, killing civilians, without any benefit to the people of Gaza. Only Iran and China had an interest: they were counting on the Arab street to push the states of the region to break all relations with Israel; they wanted to destroy the Abraham Accords. But it doesn't work: there were a few demonstrations, nothing more. The Arab countries will continue to deal with Israel, it is too important for them.

Faced with this failure, what is Iran doing? It can't directly attack Israel, but it can give missiles to Yemen's Houthis, who are making their impact by attacking boats. They could also have brought Hezbollah into the war, but as it is their greatest asset in the region, they are very careful about it, hence the declarations of their leader who says he does not want war. Especially since Lebanon is in a catastrophic economic situation, Hezbollah could not sustain such an effort.

Why does the regime want to buy time to prepare for war? Currently in Iran, almost everyone is certain that the regime succeeded in having atomic weapons - they have reached 90% uranium enrichment. I think they have it, but they haven't been able to test it yet, so they're trying to save time. If they go to war now, the Americans can destroy all their bases; if they have nuclear deterrence, they will impose a balance of power. So in the meantime they are buying time by using groups like the Houthis to launch small attacks for them.
But for me, their strategy of starting a war to stay in power cannot work. Iranians I talk to tell me that if Iran goes to war, they will side with the United States. The regime thinks that the people will unite behind it, but the Iranians are against this regime.
A friend told me that according to him, a chaotic situation like in Syria would be better than the current situation, because at least they would have the means to organize and obtain weapons. I don't agree with this, I'm for peace and I don't want another country to attack Iran, but it shows the level of depression in the country. The regime has pushed people to support a possible war against their own country, and I think that is very dangerous.

Here, on the left, we have a concern at the level of geopolitical analysis: we are against everything that comes from the West and the United States, and some end up supporting the actions of terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah , the Houthis or the Chinese state which is a horror, the Russian state, etc. On Palestine, some will take a position between a far-right Israeli government and a terrorist group that is no better, without taking into account the role of Iran and China in this story.
It's because on the left, we can't get away from this thinking inherited from the Cold War, with American imperialism on one side and the rest of the world on the other. With the end of the USSR, the world is no longer divided between two blocs. New states are making themselves heard and pushing their pawns. This is the case of India, China, Russia and Iran.
These countries are developing imperialist and colonialist policies.
The international situation has changed, it is no longer the same paradigm, and the left has not yet found its way. Some on the left still think that because these states oppose the United States, we can support them. But it is a shame to support them, just as it is a shame to support Hamas or Hezbollah, even half-heartedly. When we ask ourselves why the far right is advancing, we must also take this into account.

http://oclibertaire.lautre.net/spip.php?article4100
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