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Iran: Khamenei accuses United States and Israel of stoking ‘riots’.

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Iran protests: Security forces wade in at Tehran university BBC.

There have been violent scenes at a prestigious university in Tehran overnight, as anti-government protests continue to sweep the country.

Reports said a large number of students at Sharif University of Technology were trapped in a car park that had been surrounded by security personnel.

One video appeared to show students running away as gunshots ring out.

The anti-government protests erupted on 17 September, after the death of a woman detained by the morality police.

In his first public comments, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described Mahsa Amini’s death as a “bitter incident” that “deeply broke my heart”.

But he denounced the nationwide protests as “riots” that he claimed had been “planned” by the United States and Israel, “as well as their paid agents, with the help of some traitorous Iranians abroad”.

****

Of interest to readers of this Blog is this article from the Counterfire site.

Iran protests: ‘Women, Life, Freedom’

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

The prospects for a revolutionary movement

“The potential is great. This is the maturation of movements over many iterations. As the crisis of the system has been growing, protests have developed and receded, but the crisis then has come back at a higher level. In turn, the revolt has involved larger sections of the population, or more fundamental issues. And this is how you breakdown sexism, this is how women become empowered, this is how solidarity matures, old ideas breakdown, and the separation of issues melts away. Universality starts to develop. This is how classes become fit to rule.”

The regime itself has limited options. Really it has one: militarisation of the streets and widespread repression. This will be used against wider society, whether through the guard and security apparatus taking effective control over all government institutions, or, as some fear, a coup to suspend the reformists from making noise, and a suspension of parliament. The latter is less likely since the former is more attractive, but it cannot be ruled out.

This raises the question of what next. The rebellion will not go on forever. A massacre triggered the strikes in 1979. This could happen again, or we could see the protests spreading to workplaces on their own. That would be very hopeful sign. Even if strike action receded for a time, it would not be likely to be the end of the story.

The rulers of Iran are no longer able to govern in the old way, and the people are not willing to be ruled in the old way. This is usually what socialists have posited as the ingredients of revolution, following Lenin. However, this is not an automatic process. However, the role of women’s issues in spearheading and becoming the beacon in the fight against the authoritarian state is a huge gain. Things have shifted massively, ideologically and in the balance of forces in society. There is widespread solidarity, and women are leading a fight which has become a universal and common cause.

*****

It has to be said that Sepheri’s analysis below is extremely welcome even if she does not go into details of the main target of the demands against the Morality Police: Velayat-e faqih—or guardianship of the Islamic jurist—the system of governance that has underpinned the way Iran operates since the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

A point worth noting is that this is the opposite of the trajectory for what passes as individual identity politics in the US and the West; that is ‘Identity’ as ‘Politics’. Struggle in the form now appearing in Iran transforms all of us, in a common liberation. That does not erase our individual identity, it empowers and unifies, rather than fragmenting, activism. It clarifies a real sense of who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them’. It opens up the possibility of working-class transformation.

Meanwhile:

History: there is an interesting outline, in English, of the Iranian and international left’s stands during the movement that ended with the creation of the Islamic Republic here:

A POLITICAL MEMOIR Barry Sheppard.

Barry Sheppard was a member of the US Socialist Workers Party for 28 years, and a central leader for most of that time.” This is from his his two-volume critical memoir of his activism in the SWP.(the concluding sections in Vol 2 concern as Louis Proyect put it, “its transformation into a bizarre cult around Jack Barnes”.

Whatever one may think of the politics of this group Shepard offers in this section a clear account of the Iranian revolution that ended in the Islamic Republic. It offers insights relevant to the presence upheaval.

Volume 2: CHAPTER SIXTEEN: THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION

1979:

The HKS also initiated an Ad Hoc International Women’s Day Committee to hold a celebration on March 8 of the international holiday. Kateh Vafadari was the head of the committee. Women handing out leaflets for the meeting were harassed and threatened with violence. In response to the women’s demand that the Islamic Revolutionary Committee defend their right to hold a planning meeting on March 3, two armed guards were sent. When about 70 thugs armed with knives broke into the meeting, one of the guards lowered his automatic rifle at the thugs and said, “you take one step closer and I’ll shoot you.” The attackers retreated, but the women decided they couldn’t continue their meeting. As they marched outside, the angriest were the women workers. Many wore the
chador. Raising their fists at the goons, they shouted, “We went in front of tanks! Do you think we are afraid of you?”
There were several rallies on March 8 and thousands attended them. “What sparked the outpouring in Iran,” The Militant reported, “was a March 7 statement by Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini that female government workers could not go ‘naked’ to work” but must wear the chador. “The government had also made statements against equal rights for women in divorce, against co-education, abortion,
and laws outlawing polygamy.” The Ad Hoc Committee changed its name to the Committee to Defend Women’s Rights. As The Militant report noted:“High school women took the lead in the big demonstration that followed these rallies. Thousands of these students had gone on
strike that day for women’s equality. Some 20,000 women marched from Tehran University to the offices of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan, denouncing government attacks on women’s rights….


The referendum for or against an Islamic Republic was held March 30-31. The “yes” won, but the referendum did not create general enthusiasm. Foley reported that the Kurds and Turkmenis (another oppressed nationality) did not vote nor did a large percentage of the Arabs in Khuzestan. The government claimed an overwhelming turnout, but Foley, observing the polling stations in Tehran, thought the official figures were inflated. However, a large section of the population in the Persian areas did vote “yes,” he reported.


The pro-Moscow Tudeh Party urged a “yes” vote, a position echoed by the CP in the United States. Writing in the March 21 Daily World, Tom Foley said, “The Tudeh Party in its statement declared its support for the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and for the creation of an Islamic Republic.” In the same issue it smeared the big women’s demonstrations: “…the question of the behind the scenes hand of the CIA cannot help but be raised. It [the demonstrations] has the stamp of their typical handiwork: utilize a legitimate demand in order to disrupt the revolutionary process.” The HKS, too small to mount a boycott campaign, said the vote was undemocratic and explained that the content of an “Islamic Republic” was unknown and left up in the air. Shortly after the vote, Bazargan attacked those opposed to the vote, singling out the Trotskyists. Following his address there was stepped up harassment from the Imam’s committees of activists selling Kagar. One woman comrade was badly beaten in Ahwaz.

See also: CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: IRAN.

*****

HKS, Hezb-e Kargaran-e Sosialist [HKS] –Socialist Workers Party. Trotskyist.

Militant, paper of the American Socialist Workers Party (not the British ‘Militant’ group whose leading figure Ted Grant, had left the Trotskyist Fourth International long ago).

Today:

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 3, 2022 at 2:59 pm

4 Responses

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  1. The Morning Star’s report is all the more welcoming considering the crazed Stalinists who reply to it (they’ve probably scared everyone else off following them in recent years …)

    februarycallendar

    October 3, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    • Andrew Coates

      October 3, 2022 at 7:39 pm

  2. In respect of Iran at least, the CPB and the Star are continuing the CPGB tradition of adopting the line of the local CP. This approach meant that the party and the Star took some very stupid positions in the first years of the Iranian revolution, claiming to discern a difference between the anti-popular politics of the ‘reactionary forces’ and the so-called ‘Imam’s line’, which the Tudeh party supported. It wasn’t till the Iman’s goons arrested Tudeh leader Kianouri, tortured him and then put him on TV to denounce communism that the Tudeh admitted what was already obvious to anyone following developments there: the Imam himself was at the head of the ‘reactionary forces’. Overnight, CODIR, the ‘Committee for the Defence of the Iranian Revolution’ which was the main vehicle for publicising the Tudeh line in Britain, renamed itself the ‘Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights’. Happily, the Tudeh, such as it is now, has continued to take its post-1983 realistic line on the Tehran regime, which accounts for the sensible coverage in the Star.

    Francis

    October 3, 2022 at 7:58 pm

    • Some years ago, early new millenium, I went to a couple of Liberation (Founded in 1954 as the Movement for Colonial Freedom), conferences ( the late Stan Newens, 1930 – 2021, did a lot of work for them and promoted the organisation on the wider left and got people to join).

      There were contributions from Iranian exiles who were very probably, if not certainly, from the Tudeh and allies

      LIberation has consistently covered Iran:

      Protest wave continues to engulf Iran
      by Liberation. Published July 28, 2022.

      “Simmering unrest in Iran has been spilling over into open street protests against the theocratic dictatorship as Western sanctions continue to bite and the economy tanks. Jane Green assesses how the struggle against the theocratic dictatorship in Iran is unfolding.”

      https://liberationorg.co.uk/comment-analysis/protest-wave-continues-to-engulf-iran/

      The links to this: ODIR Campaigns for Peace, Human Rights and Democracy in Iran

      CODIR was established in 1981 by a group of British labour and trade union activists in collaboration with Iranian democrats living in exile in the UK.

      The main aim of the organisation since its inception has been to provide truthful and unbiased information and analysis about the reality of life in Iran.

      CODIR campaigned against the eight year fratricidal Iran-Iraq war. It has also worked hard against the brutal suppression of human rights and other abuses committed by the regime in Iran.

      CODIR campaigns have won the support of many progressive MPs, MEPs, trade unions and trades councils. CODIR enjoys the widest support amongst trade unions in the UK with UNISON; FBU; Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union; USDAW; BECTU; the Scottish TUC; TGWU London region; Scottish TGWU; and Scottish UNISON all on the list of its affiliates for many years now.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that British public opinion can demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran. CODIR also publishes press releases and statements on important developments in Iran or about Iran.

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with the Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Iran.

      CODIR operates branches in several English-speaking countries as well as Britain, including the United States, Canada, and Cyprus. It also works with members of the European Parliament. CODIR maintains good working relations with the IndustriALL Global Union, as well as trade unions across a number of countries in Europe. At present, 6 trade unions are nationally affiliated to CODIR, including the FBU; NASUWT; RMT; UCU; UNISON; and UNITE.

      http://codir.net/

      Protests in Iran – regime change must come from the people. October the Ist.

      http://codir.net/?p=2895

      Andrew Coates

      October 3, 2022 at 9:27 pm


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