“US and Iran help each other while they are attacking each other!”
Last year US reinstated all sanctions against Islamic Republic of Iran after abandoning the nuclear deal. Earlier in May 2019, US ended exemptions from sanctions for countries still purchasing from Iran. The US government then announced to reinforce its military presence in the region because “troubling and escalatory indications” regarding Iran.
Later in May four oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were damaged. The US Republicans are reported to have received reports that this attack was “co-ordinated and directed by the Iranian government”. The latter denied being behind the attacks.
Soon a whole wave of accusations and talks of war between Iran and US from both sides emerged. The above is really the narrative of the Western and Islamic media. What is happening? This is not the first time tensions between the two governments has escalated. What has changed? What factors are playing a role for this new development? What are the aims of both governments by starting war rhetoric? How are the people of both countries and the region affected? Is this the start of the famous “regime change”?
These are the questions that we will explore with Azar Majedi in this interview.
SL: The recent tensions between US government and Islamic Republic of Iran are well publicised. The above introduction is really what the general public have been told. What is the likelihood of war breaking out? What is the real root of the tensions? Is there a tension, or is it just war of words to intimidate the people in Iran who are constantly struggling against the Islamic regime? At the same time strengthening Trump’s position in US?
AM: At present it does not seem very likely; particularly after Trump’s statement in Japan regarding the Islamic Regime, clearly expressing that the US does not seek “regime change” in Iran. However, one cannot overrule the threat of a war in the future. The answer to this goes to the second part of the question: the root of the tension. The tension between the US and the IR goes back to the early days of the IR.
The relationship between the US and the IR has always been tense. However, there are mainly two phases in this relationship and thereby basically one can point out to two somewhat different roots. The first phase began in autumn 1980, with the occupation of the US Embassy in Tehran by some Islamic students, as a means to push back the left and the communists. Islamic Regime’s main mission was to crush the revolution of 1979 under the guise of the revolution. As the left of that period was mainly “anti-imperialist”, i.e. anti-American, a faction of the IR which came to be known as Imam’s Line, cleverly thought out a plan to disarm the leftist movement, which was rapidly growing among the workers and the youth. The occupation of the Embassy indeed disarmed the major part of the left, be it for a short time.
This opportunity gave the IR a breathing space to suppress the opposition and gather its forces for the final blow, which came in June 1981, when a coup d’état-like clamp down on the society was organised. As a result of this bloody clamp down tens of thousands of opposition, among them many communists were executed or murdered under torture. A war also started in Kurdistan in March 1980 and continued actively until the autumn of 1983, soon after the launching of the Communist Party of Iran in Kurdistan. By this time all the liberated areas were retaken by the regime.
However, during the early 80’s there was a secret arms deal between the IR and the Reagan administration, for which several meetings took place in Iran. This deal was soon exposed and created a scandal for both parties. But this deal also exposed the fact that the tension was not a deep-rooted political-ideological difference, but more a scam on both parts for political goals. For IR, it helped to subdue and suppress the society under the guise of war with the big imperialist power, or as Khomeini called it “the big Satan” and for the US it was to create an external political-ideological enemy to boost nationalism and right wing tendencies.
The second phase began after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Cold War. In search for a New World Order, Islamic movement and its main leader at the time i.e. IR came to replace the Eastern Block. The Western powers unified against a new enemy, a new “threat”. Soon the world events showed that all the propaganda around a free world were empty words.
The tension between the two worlds or the two poles heightened after the bombing of the twin towers in New York, the war on Afghanistan and later the war on Iraq in 2003. (For a critical analysis of this relationship refer to Mansoor Hekmat’s writings about the two poles of terrorism, 2001. www.hekmat.public-archive.net)
Therefore, as the West under the leadership of the US has orchestrated a verbal and ideological attack against the Islamic Regime, it has always made sure “to hold its hand as not to collapse.” These two forces needed each other to survive the new world, to suppress internal opposition, to defend the world capitalist system. They helped each other while they were attacking each other.
Going back to 40 years ago, one should remember that the IR owes its birth and power to the West; it was the West under the leadership of the US that brought the Islamic Regime to power in Iran in order to suppress a revolution that was determined to topple the monarchy, dictatorship, inequality and poverty in Iran; a regime that was called the gendarme of the west in the region. If at the time people regarded our theory as conspiracy theory, now after the publication of all the secret documents it has become clear that in order to stop the left and the communists to gain power in Iran, especially at the time of the cold war, Berzhinisky and Carter implemented the thesis of creating a green belt (green the symbol of the Islamic movement.) This so-called roadmap has come to a complete fruition after the uprisings in the region in 2010-11 resulting in the total ruin of the region.
Coming to the third part of the question one must say that there are both a war of words and underlying tension. The US/West will try to stop the rise of the left and communism in Iran with all its means. Historically it organised a coup d’état in 1953 in a time of political turbulence to reinstate the Shah; then in 1979 brought the Islamists to Iran to crush a revolution. All throughout the life of the IR it has supported a so-called reformist faction of the regime, which was formed to rescue the regime from people’s protests and desire to topple the regime.
Now that the whole country is risen to get rid of this regime, the worker’s movement has grown both in size and political maturity, calling for workers’ councils, the left radicalism in the society has come to the fore, the West is not going to risk attacking the IR unless they are sure they can replace it with another reactionary rightwing regime, that is a “regime change.” During the past one and a half year of political protests the US has tested the water many times, gave a wide platform to the supporters of the old regime, preparing for a regime change. However, it seems it has realised the rightwing political groups do not have much chance in Iran, at least at present. The repeat of the 1979 seems very difficult, if not unlikely.
SL: Do the right wing pro-west opposition forces to the Islamic regime have any chance of taking power in Iran? Who are they?
AM: On their own, no; But with the total support of the West they have a chance. Iranian society is very different to those of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria or Egypt, those countries that the West have either ruined or managed to impose a tougher grip on the people, the case of Egypt. Since the revolution of the 1979 communism has been a real force in the country. Even the bloody clamp down of the 80’s did not succeed to uproot it.
As it was mentioned above in 1983 in the midst of the bloody suppression, in a very dark era, a Communist party was launched in the liberated area of Kurdistan. In 1991 after the first war on Iraq which gave a boost to Kurdish nationalism in Iraq and subsequently in Iran, the Worker-communist party was launched by Mansoor Hekmat that in the first 10 years of its existence became the largest revolutionary communist party if not in the world, definitely in the region; a real threat to the regime and capitalist order. It became well-known in the society for its militant activities against the regime abroad, through its shortwave radio and last but not least the theoretical and political works of its leader, Mansoor Hekmat.
Moreover, Iranian working class has grown both in terms of number and political awareness and maturity. In 1979, the Iranian working class was young and composed mainly of peasant migrants to the urban areas. Now they are mainly urban, modern and well-educated. The recent uprising brought to the fore the radicalism, militancy and class-awareness of the working class. In the midst of full scale workers’ protests the demand for creation of workers’ councils and introduction of workers control was proposed by a young worker leader of the Haft-Tape sugarcane plant, Esmaeil Bakshi, and soon it found echo in many parts of the society. The call for a council movement did not remain limited to the factories or workplaces but the whole society.
A defeated revolution and the cause of its defeat, continuation of communist political and theoretical activism despite a brutal clamp down, the realisation by the people at large of the state’s hypocrisy in its war against imperialism, the experience of a religious state, they have all contributed to the political maturity and sophistication of the society. The society has become polarised politically and in terms of class. It is not easy to subdue such a society and dupe it to accept another rightwing political alternative; particularly the pro old regime tendencies. However, if a war breaks out people might be forced to accept such a regime as a way of putting a stop to the war.
Generally speaking there were three main socio-political movements in Iran which Mansoor Hekmat classified them as pro-Western nationalists, state-reformists and Worker-communists (not the party but a social movement). By the escalation of political uprising in the country and the loss of hope for IR’s survival a large section of the state-reformists have shifted to the side of pro-Western nationalists, which basically want to revive the old regime; not necessarily a monarchy, but same political system, i.e. a capitalist system integrated in the international political economy. At the moment eyes are set on Reza Pahlavi the Shah’s son. But the harder they try the less success they find among the large sections of the society.
SL: Does any attack from US against Islamic regime strengthen or weaken the struggle of people in Iran for a better world?
Worker-communist party - Hekmatist too is striving to overthrow the Islamic Republic. What differentiates our efforts to those of other opposition forces?
⏭Azar Majedi is a member of Hekmatist Party leadership & Chairperson of Organisation for Women’s Liberation