Saturday, June 27, 2009

Account of a previous demonstrator kept in a secret prison in Iran

This, found on Payvand Iran News,  is a report of a savage, yet needless, imprisonment experienced by a demonstrator who was arrested ten years ago in Iran.  
*  *  *
What will happen to the people who have been arrested in the protest rallies in Iran? I can tell you. I was arrested during the 1999 student demonstrations in Tehran, exactly 10 years ago.
What I did was as trivial in terms of real crime as what the protesters in Iran have done now by expressing rage over the presidential election results.

But the punishment I received was so out of proportion to my actions – and so truly criminal – that I had to flee my homeland and seek political asylum in Europe.
[In the summer of 1999] some students at Tehran University protested the closure of one of the most popular reformist newspapers. Their small demonstration was attacked by vigilantes armed with clubs who beat at least one student to death as police did nothing.

Our rage boiled over. Tens of thousands of students took to the streets demanding the dismissal of police officials. We also called on Khatami to speed up reforms and give us a more open society.

I was with a group of about 50 students on my campus which tore down a poster of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that hung in one of the buildings. Someone set fire to the picture. The riot police took the simplest course. They locked the campus gates and arrested everyone found inside.

But they did not take us to a police station. Instead, we were blindfolded and taken outside of the legal system to a place where our parents could never find us.
Inside there was nothing to sleep on and no electric light. There was no way to tell the time except by the daylight when it shone through the watchman's peephole at one end and a ventilation vent at the other.

I was in the container with four other boys. We were all barely 20. And we were inside for two weeks -- naked, powerless, and face-to-face with the fear of being totally at the mercy of our captors.
The first interrogation sessions were simply beatings. Men who were clearly convinced that we had violated all laws of God and man kicked us until we fell down. Then they kicked our faces. As they did, they shouted "Allahu Akbar," calling on God to be pleased with them. They were skinheads, but with hair and beards.

Then the real questioning began, and it, too, was to show there was no way out.

'No Correct Answers'
The interrogators wanted to know who pulled down the picture of the Supreme Leader, to what organizations I belonged, and to what organizations my friends and classmates belonged.

It did not matter what I said. There were no correct answers.

Read the complete report here ...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chomsky, Zizek and others defend Iranians' freedom of assembly

Found first on Al Giordano's The Field, this letter was posted on Revolutionary Road,
as well as on Support for the Iranian People 2009. Also, Uruknet's post has an exhaustive list of signers. 

We salute the signers!

(To the right, a dictionary photo for entry, 'oxymoron': Who is the statist fool, and whose lead should we follow?)

Open letter of support to the demonstrators in Iran!
June 19, 2009 

This morning Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded an end to the massive and forceful demonstrations protesting the controversial result of last week's election. He argued that to make concessions to popular demands and 'illegal' pressure would amount to a form of 'dictatorship', and he warned the protestors that they, rather than the police, would be held responsible for any further violence.

Khamenei's argument sounds familiar to anyone interested in the politics of collective action, since it appears to draw on the logic used by state authorities to oppose most of the great popular mobilisations of modern times, from 1789 in France to 1979 in Iran itself. These mobilisations took shape through a struggle to assert the principle that sovereignty rests with the people themselves, rather than with the state or its representatives. [...]

Needless to say it is up to the people of Iran to determine their own political course. Foreign observers inspired by the courage of those demonstrating in Iran this past week are nevertheless entitled to point out that a government which claims to represent the will of its people can only do so if it respects the most basic preconditions for the determination of such a will: the freedom of the people to assemble, unhindered, as an inclusive collective force; the capacity of the people, without restrictions on debate or access to information, to deliberate, decide and implement a shared course of action. [...]

We the undersigned call on the government of Iran to take no action that might discourage such determination.

Read list of signers, complete statement here ...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Message from Iranian Workers’ Free Trade Union

From HOPI's website. 

Forty-eight days have passed since the suppression and arrest of workers’ gathering on International Labour Day – May Day. During this time our country has witnessed important events and we witness widespread and amazing changes in the social movement.
Therefore, we workers, under the present conditions, ... see it as our right to put forward the demands of fellow workers and to raise our banner. These demands are as follows:

1. Immediate increase in the minimum wage to over 1 million tomans [$1010] a month.
2. An end to temporary contracts and new forms of work contracts.
3. The disbanding of the Labour House and the Islamic Labour Councils as government organisations in the factories and workshops, and the setting up of shoras [councils] and other workers’ organisations independent from the government.
4. Immediate payment of workers’ unpaid wages without any excuses.
5. An end to laying-off workers and payment of adequate unemployment insurance to all unemployed workers.
6. The immediate release of all political prisoners including the workers arrested on May Day, Jafar Azimzadeh, Gholamreza Khani, Said Yuzi, Said Rostami, Mehdi Farahi-Shandiz, Kaveh Mozafari, Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi, and an end to surveillance and harassment of workers and labour leaders.
7. The right to strike, protest, assemble and the freedom of speech and the press are the workers’ absolute right.
8. An end to sexual discrimination, child labour and the sacking of foreign workers.

Workers! Today we have a duty to intervene, to pose our demands independently and by relying on our own united strength, together with other sections of society, to work towards achieving our human rights.

The Free Trade Union of Iranian Workers
23 June 2009

Tehran 'like a war zone' as ayatollah refuses to back down (Guardian, June 25, 2009)

A Thousand Nedas

By Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
June 25, 2009

Neda Agha Soltani is the name of the young woman assassinated with a bullet in her heart by the Iranian government Basij Militias. No family funeral was allowed for Neda. Her family and fiancé were interviewed and the video of her ruthless murder has not ceased circulating across the globe ...

All the media outlets have been talking about Neda. That is fine with me. But how come no media outlet has spoken of the thousands of Nedas in Iraq that have been brutally murdered by the Iraqi Shiite Militias trained, armed and funded by Iran?

Hundreds of Iraqi women have suffered a worst fate than that of Neda, and only in total 3 articles and a couple of videos were circulated in their names. Not even.


Are we the black sheep of the international community? Or maybe we are just the children of Hagar, who Sarah, Abraham's first wife, banished away from the tribe...and Hagar was left wandering in a merciless desert for Water ... searching for anything to quench her thirst ...

Excuse me, but why is Neda more important ?

Read the complete article here ...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Solidarity with Iranian people: from Venezuela

First seen on Uruknet, this statement puts the lie to those 'Leftists' who take Iran and Venezuela to be politically the same.
We salute these comrades!

Solidarity with the movement of the Iranian masses – Statement of the Revolutionary Marxist Current (Venezuela)
By Revolutionary Marxist Current / Wednesday, 24 June 2009

In response to recent statements by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan Revolutionary Marxist Current has issued this statement. They express their support for the movement of the masses in Iran and explain the differences between the revolutionary movement in Venezuela and the counter-revolutionary regime in Iran.

The Bolivarian Revolution and Iran
In Iran we have a situation in which the opposition denounces electoral fraud, in which this allegation gets support from the imperialist powers and in which there are street demonstrations against the election results. It is understandable that many revolutionaries in Venezuela will draw parallels between what is happening in Iran and situations we have lived through during the Bolivarian revolution. In Venezuela, more than once, the reactionary and oligarchic counter-revolution, with the support of imperialism, has attempted to create a situation of chaos in the streets with the excuse of an alleged “electoral fraud” in order to de-legitimise the election victories of the revolution (during the recall referendum, in the 2006 presidential elections, during the constitutional reform referendum in 2007, etc).

However these parallels do not correspond to reality.

The Islamic Republic – a revolutionary regime?
First of all, the Iranian regime of the Islamic Republic is not a revolutionary regime. The Iranian revolution which was victorious in 1979, was a genuine mass revolution, with the active participation of the working class, the youth, the peasantry, the soldiers, the women, etc. The decisive factor which brought down the hated Shah was the general strike of the oil workers. Millions of workers organised shoras (factory councils) in their factories and took over control and administration of these, in a similar way to what oil workers did in Venezuela during the bosses lock out and sabotage of the economy in December 2002. Millions of peasants occupied the land of the big landowners (as they are doing now in Venezuela). The students occupied their schools and universities and proceeded to democratise them putting an end to the elitism that had dominated them. The soldiers also set up their shoras (councils) and proceeded to purge the army from reactionary officers. The oppressed nationalities (Kurds, Arabs, Azeri, etc) conquered their freedom. The Iranian people as a whole threw away the yoke of imperialism.
On June 18, president Chávez once again congratulated Ahmadinejad on his reelection as a president and added the “solidarity of Venezuela in the face of the attack by world capitalism against the people of that country”. The Revolutionary Marxist Current in Venezuela, disagrees with this position and we would like to contribute to the debate ...
The Revolutionary Marxist Current stands in support of the revolutionary movement of the Iranian masses against the Islamic Republic, and particularly the movement of Iranian workers for democratic rights and economic demands, while at the same time we reject any imperialist interference.

Revolutionary Marxist Current (Venezuela), June 22, 2009

Read the complete statement here ...


The Real Situation in Iran: Moving Fast

In the fog of the swift repression that followed the Iranian elections, and intensified in some American 'leftist' corners by commentaries about a CIA-led coup by the Mousavi camp (whereas the real coup, , as described by Sahimi among others, was going the other way), a very elementary question has been completely lost sight of:

Since the Iranian authorities are so wonderfully efficient and super speedy at vote counting -- so much so, that they could announce the full results of tens of millions of votes in less than two hours after the closing of polling stations -- then, surely they could have taken just one, more, day, and counted all the votes one more time, just to make sure; with different campaigns' representatives present, etc., no?

[Afterthought: Hell, they could hold a whole new election in just one more day, and know the results by the end of the day!]

Yeah, I know. That's just an insane idea! Better to just attack peaceful demonstrators in the streets, shoot and kill people and precipitate a huge and uncontrollable crisis of legitimacy.

Here's another good one. The Press TV's man was being grilled by the BBC's anchorman about the report of the irregularities (in more than 50 cities) that the Interior Ministry had just released, and the Press TV man was adamant that they were not 'irregularities', but rather, he reminded in the language of the ministry, 'statistical miscalculations'. Interesting choice of words. For, you see, vote counting falls within the realm of arithmetic, and mostly one function of it only; you know, adding up (the votes). Statistics, on the other hand, falls within the realm of predictions (of trends). So, they are actually saying that the announced results were basically predictions they made, and very optimistically wishful ones at that, of how the voters in different localities could have, would have, or might have voted!

* * *

The situation on the streets of Iran, to get back to reality, has moved far beyond bean counting, and increasingly more radical slogans are raised on the streets. This has got the system seriously worried; hence their extreme crackdown.

The larger political questions are enormous. Most essentially, how clear is the strategic vision here, and how foresightful can this spontaneously erupted movement be? Let us not lose sight of the fact that the people took to the streets as a result of an unexpected insult of an 'outcome' of a sham election they willingly participated in. That makes for a highly contradictory movement. These contradictions cannot last long without some serious consequences. The more radical and more clear-sighted of the Iranian working classes have harbored very few illusions regarding this system's capability for being reformed in any meaningful way.

So, the spark for the movement came from a politically ambiguous place; but the insult was great enough to spark a big reaction. And, when people who have been enduring a harsh dictatorship finally take to the streets, there are a whole lot of stored-up-in-pressure-cooker grievances that will come pouring out. Hence, the dynamic situation.

On June 26, people around the world will be standing in solidarity with the Iranian people's movement for justice. Please join them and show your brotherly and sisterly love.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This one's from SB News.

Iran: Statement by Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations about Presidential Election and recent unrest
(Translated by the IASWI )

Iranian people have witnessed the presidential elections in Iran. During the debates between candidates there was never any mention of destitute conditions of the working class, non-payment of wages, temporary-work contracts, medieval sentences of floggings, killings and incarceration of workers and labor activists, suppression of May 1st events ...
While condemning all the attacks on protesters we remind all that such protests should not be led by likes of Mousavi, Khatami, Kahroubi, or any other executives or elements of the capitalist order. These protests shall become a part of justice seeking by workers and toiling masses against the capitalist order.
Iranian working class has been struggling for its basic rights for years and in the process has been vigorously attacked by the protectors of Capital. In the 80’s simultaneous with execution and incarceration of hundreds and thousands of activists of social movements, especially labour movement, they executed Jamal Cheragh Vaisi, the speaker for May 1st event in Sanandaj. In the era of so called “political reforms,” labor activists in Saghez were arrested and incarcerated for participating in May 1st events, egalitarian and freethinking writers were portrayed as hired pens, and some of them were killed in a process of chain murders.
In the past few years we have also witnessed Khaton Abad workers getting riddled with bullets; [and] Mansour Osanloo, president of the executive board of Vahed Syndicate getting his tongue cut and incarcerated ...
Workers and brave, justice seeking people of Iran and throughout the world, in their extensive, and freedom seeking protests could and should demand: the identification, arrest and prosecution of all those who ordered and implemented the recent suppressions and killings of people, and demand freedom of all those imprisoned during the recent workers’ and people’s protests. We also demand the annulment of all sentences against workers and labour activists as well as activists of women’s movement and students’ movement.

Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organizations
June 18, 2009

Read the complete statement here ...

June 26: International Day of Solidarity with Iranian People

This is from the Vahed Syndicate (Tehran's Bus Drivers' Union).

Statement of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company about the recent unrest sparked by discontent with the claimed results of the 2009 election

Vahed Syndicate (June 22, 2009)– Any Suppression or threat of civil liberty condemned

In line with the recognition of the labour rights, we request that June 26 Action Day – Justice for Iranian workers – to include the human rights of all Iranians who have been deprived of their rights.

In recent days, we continue witnessing the magnificent demonstration of millions of people from all ages, genders, and national and religious minorities in Iran. They request that their basic human rights, particularly the right to freedom and to choose independently and without deception be recognized. These rights are not only constitutional in most of the countries, but also have been protected against all odds.

Amid such turmoil, one witnesses threats, arrests, murders and brutal suppression that one fears only to escalate on all its aspects, resulting in more innocent bloodshed, more protests, and certainly no retreats. Iranian society is facing a deep political-economical crisis. Million-strong silent protests, ironically loud with un-spoken words, have turned into iconic stature and are expanding from all sides. These protests demand reaction from each and every responsible individual and institution.

As previously expressed in a statement published on-line in May of this year, since the Vahead Syndicate does not view any of the candidates support the activities of the workers’ organizations in Iran, it would not endorse any presidential candidate in the election. Vahed members nevertheless have the right to participate or not to participate in the elections and vote for their individually selected candidate.

Moreover, the fact remains that demands of almost an absolute majority of the Iranians go far beyond the demands of a particular group. In the past, we have emphasized that until the freedom of choice and right to organize are not recognized, talk of any social or particular right would be more of a mockery than a reality.

Read the complete statement here ...

CIA-backed coup in Iran?

This is by Louis Proyect, and is a very apt analysis (posted, June 22, on his blog, Unrepentant Marxist).

A velvet revolution in Iran?

The post-election crisis in Iran has prompted individuals and groups on the left to reduce it to an imperialist plot to foment a “color” or “velvet” revolution. In doing so, they are following the lead of Ali Khamenei.
As might be expected given its Manichean brand of Marxism that divides the world between the “imperialist” and “anti-imperialist” camps, the Workers World Party stood firmly behind Ahmadinejad. After denying that fraud took place, they made the elections sound like a referendum on the world revolution:
Ahmadinejad is closely identified with militant support for the mass-based resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon, and also with the determined public defense of Iran’s nuclear power program. With a high vote for him, the Iranians thumb their noses at the imperialists. This also explains the strong hostility from the U.S. ruling class.
[...] Although Counterpunch started off printing articles that took the side of the protestors, it is now pretty much in the Manichean camp led by Paul Craig Roberts, their expert commentator on economics and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan. Here’s from his latest offering:
The unexamined question is Mousavi and his motives. Why would Mousavi unleash demonstrations that are obviously being used by a hostile West to discredit the government of the Iranian Revolution that overthrew the US puppet government? Are these the actions of a “moderate”? Or are these the actions of a disgruntled man who kept his disaffection from his colleagues in order to gain the opportunity to discredit the regime with street protests? Is Mousavi being manipulated by organizations funded with US government money?

Of course, this methodology of dividing the world between two opposing camps is nothing new. The CP’s perfected it in the 1930s, labeling Trotsky’s criticisms of the Soviet Government as giving aid and comfort to the Nazis. Here’s what comrade Stalin had to say in a 1937 plenum report felicitously titled, “Defects in Party Work and Measures for Liquidating Trotskyite and Other Double Dealers”:
At the trial in 1937, Piatakov, Radek, and Sokolnikov took a different course. They did not deny that the Trotskyists and Zinovievists had a political platform. They admitted they had a definite political platform, admitted it and unfolded in their testimony. But they unfolded it not in order to rally the working class, to rally the people to support the Trotskyist platform, but rather to damn it and brand it as an anti-people and anti-proletarian platform. The restoration of capitalism, the liquidation of the collective farms and state-farms, the re-establishment of a system of exploitation, alliance with the Fascist forces of Germany and Japan to bring nearer a war with the Soviet Union, a struggle for war and against the policy of peace, the territorial dismemberment of the Soviet Union with the Ukraine to the Germans and the Maritime Province to the Japanese, the scheming for the military defeat of the Soviet Union in the event of an attack on it by hostile states and, as a means for achieving these aims: wrecking, diversionism, industrial terror against the leaders of Soviet power, espionage on behalf of Japano-German Fascist forces-such was the political platform of present-day Trotskyism as unfolded by Piatakov, Radek, and Sokolnikov.
Read the complete analysis here ...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nawal El Saadawi to Iranian men and women demonstrating

Found here ... 
We salute Nawal El Saadawi!

From Nawal El Saadawi to Iranian men and women demonstrating in the the streets

This is a revolution of the Iranian people against internal and external dictatorships and exploitation, against local and global powers, political, economic and religious powers. Iranian men and women, young and old, are fighting against oppression, inequality, injustices and domination. This is the voice of Iranian people. It is heard clearly all over the world. No power can stop them before they achieve their goals. No power can erase their blood.

Nawal El Saadawi
21 June 2001

Regrouping Against Repression in Iran

The video clip below is from Al Giordano's The Field.

But, first ... It is refreshingly reassuring to see more able voices coming out in opposition to idiocy, when it comes to presenting realistic analyses of what's going on in Iran. I have known for a long time that, though the Clueless Leftists (CL, from here) are a loud bunch, their numbers are small. So, although it may seem like it at times, not all Americans leftists are CL: which is to say, not lost in the fog of stupidity and cowardice, refusing to stand with the people in Iran, and instead standing steadfast with the murderous machinery that is shooting the people in the streets. 

Anybody not standing with the people, in this very unambiguous people-v-state situation, are standing with a most vicious dictatorship the Iranians have had to endure. 

And PA'LEEEEASE stop the nonsense fantasies (you're not fooling anybody, stop fooling yourself)  that, by standing with a theocratic machine, you're defending the 'Muslim world'. What a bunch of patronizing, ignorant, Orientalist horse shit!

'The Muslim World'; as if it's this homogenous thing (and it has to be a 'thing', since no social grouping of such a huge magnitude and diversity can so lazily be portrayed as something totally homogenous) existing without a trace of any deep, internal divisions like class divisions, gender divisions, people-v-state divisions, ideological divisions; as if this thing does not consist of countless nationalities, hundreds of language groups, living across the oceans and continents, in numerous metropolitan centers, and all the way to the most underdeveloped rural areas; as if this thing presented as a monolith is not, in short, actually fractured a thousandfold just like the 'Christian world', the 'Jewish world' and the 'Buddhist World'.
The real insult in this 'thinking' is that it actually equates a vicious theocratic dictatorship, protected by hired shock-troops shooting unarmed, peaceful demonstrators in the streets as representative of the 'Muslim World'!! In defense of its muddle headed views, desperation must indeed need to resort to absurdities. 

Those CLs, not-too-ironically, are the most consistent purveyors of right wing conservatism, of doing nothing, of assuming that the powerful are Gods and nothing in this world is possible unless the powerful are behind it. Well, the PEOPLE too are powerful! The CL's reflexive, knee jerk 'analyses' are filled with defeatism, total and utter submission to the status quo and its claims of omnipotence, replete with distrust of the people, and, as some wise man said, their political rhetoric is nothing but the recognition of the impotence that they experience perpetually in their own society, formulated into 'arguments'.

But, again, let's see the full half of the glass. We must rejoice and be happy and joyful that not all American leftists have gone off the deep end, ending  up in bed with a theocratic dictatorship.

Note: The clip was taken on June 21. The two most voluminously voiced slogans in the clip: "Natarsid, Natarsid, Maa hameh baa ham hastim," (don't fear, don't fear, we are all together), and "Marg bar dictator," (death to dictator). 

Power to the people, no delay! 
Long live the people's movement! 

Regrouping Against Repression in Iran
Al Giordano - June 21, 2009 at 8:53 am

This video comes from today's events in Iran, according to the Vigilante Journalist website.

In contrast with yesterday's scattershot street battles, during which state authorities largely succeeded in preventing a critical mass of demonstrators from assembling together, those marching in this scene have succeeded in restoring a sense of strength in numbers to the protests against the regime.

What's amazing is that they've accomplished this with so many means of communications blocked and with much of the visible leadership arrested or disappeared. They're not following orders from "leaders." Today's demonstration is a manifestation of a collective impulse toward organization.

I agree with Gandhi when he said, “My non-violence does not admit of running away from danger and leaving dear ones unprotected. Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice."

Read the complete post here ...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Basij opens fire on protesters

Speaks for itself. 
But just in case you're one of those cynical cats prowling about ... 
At first sight, the crowd looks small. And it is. That's what you're going to think. 
But then why open fire on such an insignificant crowd? Is it because you're a dictator who won't stand for any sort of opposition?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What Now in Iran?

Found this on Payvand Iran News. Not a totally bad analysis. But, the end section of the article (quoted here), sets out the different paths that can unfold from this point. 

The most important part the analysis is that it correctly maintains that there are THREE camps (not just two) in the current struggle: the conservatives, the reformists, and the PEOPLE! This last one is completely missing from the analysis of most people. Everybody thinks this is just a power play between the two factions of the system, and so some 'leftists' too cynical to see that people do have their own mind, are construing this whole thing as a CIA-directed velvet revolution. CIA can only WISH they were that good! But, the people in Iran decided to insert themselves as a force independent of both ruling factions and have pushed the issue well past what the 'reformists' are comfortable with. 

Electoral Coup in Iran: How Ahmadinejad won
By Saeed Rahnema
[...] Both factions are now faced with a complex impasse; if Moussavi backs down, this would be political suicide for him, turning him into another compromising figure like former President Khatami. If Ahmadinejad's side backs down, the legitimacy of the military-security establishment and the Supreme Leader would take a further (and near irreparable) blow.

There are some key and difficult questions at this critical political moment: Which faction will back down? If the "reformist" camp persists, and public revolt expands, will the regime resort to an even more bloody and total suppression? In this case, would the street demonstrations be elevated to a revolutionary movement with the aim of toppling the whole Islamic regime, or would it retreat and dissipate? In the case that the "reformist" movement does back down, would the public revolt also die down, or will some elements separate themselves from the rest and follow a more radical and independent path in confronting the regime?

It should be noted that both factions of the regime are afraid of an uncontrollable escalation of tensions and civil disobedience, and it is quite possible that they reach some sort of middle ground concessions. If this happens, it will no doubt have a negative impact on the movements within civil society. Some groups will accept the compromises, some will be disappointed and depoliticized, and others will continue their resistance independently. However, even though the post-election events might appear as a new revolution, the protest movement is not in a position and does not have the organizational means to challenge the Islamic regime in its totality in a direct assault.

Nonetheless, whatever the results of this election and the factional conflicts, this is the most critical turning point in 30 years of the Islamic Republic. The remarkably vibrant civil society led by the women's movement, youth, teachers and workers, acted cautiously and shrewdly. They entered the election process with specific demands and cast their votes against the favoured candidate of the establishment.

If they had boycotted the elections, for fear of legitimizing the status quo, the regime would not be in the disastrous mess it now finds itself in. With a lower participation rate, Ahmadinejad would have won the majority of the votes, the regime would not have needed to resort to the shameful rigging, they would not be facing the mass disgruntlement and street riots, and the regime would not have had to savagely suppress peaceful street demonstrations, making itself even more disgraced in the eyes of Iranians and the rest of the world. The regime, in a sense, succeeded in declaring its favoured candidate the winner, but itself became the loser in the process. Iranian civil society is moving step-by-step towards establishing its democratic and secular counter hegemony.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Iran Khodro Auto Workers Begin Work Slowdown

Spotted first on Uruknet, this is by Narco News' Al Giordano. His blog, The Field, is where this was posted first. We highly recommend the blog! Also, his fantastic article posted on this weekend's Counterpunch is a great must-read; read it here.

Iran Khodro Auto Workers Begin Work Slowdown to Protest the Regime
by Al Giordano - June 18, 2009 at 6:32 pm

The workers of the Khodro automobile company in Iran today issued the following declaration (translated for The Field from the original Farsi by Iraj Omidvar):
Strike in Iran Khodro:
We declare our solidarity with the movement of the people of Iran.

Autoworker, Fellow Laborers (Laborer Friends): What we witness today, is an insult to the intelligence of the people, and disregard for their votes, the trampling of the principles of the Constitution by the government. It is our duty to join this people's movement.

We the workers of Iran Khodro, Thursday 28/3/88 in each working shift will stop working for half an hour to protest the suppression of students, workers, women, and the Constitution and declare our solidarity with the movement of the people of Iran. The morning and afternoon shifts from 10 to 10:30. The night shift from 3 to 3:30.

Laborers of Iran-Khodor
This announcement - to my knowledge this is the first place it appears in English anywhere - obtained by The Field by the auto workers of the largest automobile producer in Iran, is significant on multiple levels.

The obvious one is that once the workers begin to flex their muscles on the means of production, no illegitimate regime can continue standing.

Another is that it reveals the malicious lie spread by some that the Iranian resistance is an upper class phenomenon restricted to one or two regions for what it is: untrue.

Read the complete report here ...

Khamenei fully supports the 'elected president' Ahmadinejad

"I vote for me!"

Today's Friday prayer address to the nation by Khamenei just finished. For the full version you can go to bigger places. Here is a short version of highlights, entirely in paraphrase:

He was jubilant that forty million people had voted in the elections, and by their grace the Islamic Republic has found invigorated legitimacy on equal par with the percentages that participated in the first ever referendum in 1979. He also compared the forty million turnout to the 25 million in the 2005 elections.

Our system, he stated, does not allow for cheating. We have created a very healthy and vibrant system, in which it is impossible to cheat. How can eleven million votes be changed? He declared also that the Guardian Council agrees with him.

He emphasized that, therefore, the decisiveness of Ahmadinejad's victory was beyond any doubt. If, he argued, the difference in the results were of some few hundred thousand, or a million, say, there would be cause for concern. But when the difference in the numbers is some eleven million, well ... there is no argument to be had.

He rejoiced in the sound foundations of a religious democracy that Iran had created, one that could be the 'third way', as he formulated it. There are secular democracies, there are secular dictatorships, and we have created the religious democracy. A third way.

He expressed absolute trust in the legal foundation of the nation, which provides the proper channels through which people with disputes can pursue any matters regarding the elections. We are a nation of laws, he said, in which you must follow the laws. No matter who you are.

He declared that the western media, the leaders in some European countries, England be named, and the U.S., in this latest episode of our nation's history, showed their true face. Leaders in America declare that they are pleased to see the people in the streets, and yet they send letters suggesting better relations? Which are we to believe?

The foreign media created a lie. They tried to say that these elections were between the opponents of the system and the supporters of the system. That's a lie. These were elections between different supporters of the system. We have always had differences between us. Some of us have had differences for decades. But we all support the system. These elections were between people who are from this system, of this system and would give their life to this system. 

We cannot tolerate anybody taking to the streets every time they lose an election, and want to force their will on the government by occupying the streets, disrupting all life for others. What have they, these ordinary people, done to deserve their streets to be occupied? We cannot therefore allow illegality to pressure us into accepting any unreasonable demands, when there are legal means to pursue if any doubts exist. We will not tolerate illegal activities.

* * *
So, Khamenei made it pretty clear that Ahmadinejad was elected, the elections were over, and it's time to get on with other matters. Anybody thinking they can disrupt the business-as-usual will be treated with a hand filled with all the 'legal' tools at the disposal of the state, since, as he emphasized, this kind of taking to the street has been portrayed by the international media as questioning the legitimacy of the state, which nobody can question, especially now, after forty million people participated in the elections.

So, the ball is in the opposition's court now. Let's see how they response; let's hope they are prepared for the next step, and have some plans. The next turn will not be an easy one.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can't Keep a Good People Down

One left-seeming analysis being presented about the election results in Iran is the 'class analysis', epitomized by a few articles that have appeared in recent days (no names necessary, since that makes things personal, and I'm trying to keep it political here). I even heard the 'class analysis' (sic.) used on BBC! BBC's approach was actually not too different from those presented by some on the U.S. left.

Real class analysis looks for and explains historical and materialist trends in a society ('materialist' meaning here, containing real-social substance); all else is superficial journalism.

Not taking into account Iran's complex social history at all, and amazingly enough not even considering the very context of a theocratic setup as relevant, superficial journalism's entire argument is constructed on a presupposition never examined: that Iran is just another regular country, with a generally democratic-looking system, with its own peculiar way of holding elections, which we must respect, run as best as they can (of course, they have problems, but who doesn't?); but, all in all, there's regular opportunity for people to express their choices, just like in the U.S. (and God knows they have deep problems of their own with democracy). So, no matter how disappointed the losers in the Iranian elections, they simply 'should bite the bullet', and move on.
Along with the 'bite the bullet' attitude, some analysis must be presented, of course, since we are writing a political piece. So, let's see what it is. It is claimed that, first of all, Ahmadinejad got exactly the same proportion of votes as he did last time, in 2005, when he beat Hashemi Rafsanjani. But, since that's the only historical reference looked up by lazy journalism, all the social changes that have happened between then and now lose their significance in the accounts of superficial observers.

Now, this is my last two cents on the numbers part or the elections (for those who say Ahmadinejad got the same voters' percentage in this year's elections as he did in 2005). The 2005 elections were held in two rounds. In the first round the voter turnout was about 63%, but (and this is the significant number) went down to only 48% in the second round.

Why? Because in the first round, a 'reformist' candidate (Karrubi) was in the running, but he got bumped off in the first round. So, people faced with the very uninspiring contest between Mr. Corruption himself (Rafsanjani) and Ahmadinejad (former Pasdar), they chose to stay home for the most part. So, Ahmadinejad's 61% in the second round back then, was from only 48% of the voters. That is NOT equal to (in fact, it's just over half) the same percentage of 85% the government says participated this year.

There is another significant piece of knowledge in the above numbers. If you pause a little and pay attention to the difference between the elections turnout in the first and the second round in 2005 (going from 61% to 48%), you should be able to see what Iranians know for a fact: that the turnout increases ONLY when reformists run. So, the huge jump from 48% turnout to 85% can be attributed to the fact that people had come to vote Ahmadinejad out of office! The fact that millions of people spontaneously took to the streets across the country proves it.

Read the complete article here ... 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri calls it 'rigged'

This, just spotted on, news of Montazeri coming out in support of the opposition camp, confirms the split in the Iranian establishment. It's payback time! And we cheer! 

Deepen the Crisis!  Spread the Outrage!

Iran's senior ayatollah slams election, confirming split
By Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers / June 16, 2009

TEHRAN, Iran — Supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his main rival in the disputed presidential election, Mir Hossein Mousavi, massed in competing rallies Tuesday as the country's most senior Islamic cleric threw his weight behind opposition charges that Ahmadinejad's re-election was rigged.

"No one in their right mind can believe" the official results from Friday's contest, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri said of the landslide victory claimed by Ahmadinejad. Montazeri accused the regime of handling Mousavi's charges of fraud and the massive protests of his backers "in the worst way possible."

"A government not respecting people's vote has no religious or political legitimacy," he declared in comments on his official Web site. "I ask the police and army personals (personnel) not to 'sell their religion,' and beware that receiving orders will not excuse them before God."

As many as three more protesters were reported killed in clashes during Tuesday's opposition demonstration in Vanak Square — adding to eight who were confirmed killed in Monday's protests.

Read the complete report here ...

Changing the Face of Iranian Politics

Iranian Youth Make History
Counterpunch/16 June 2009

Glued to my computer screen, I watch young Iranians making a theater of defiance through their peaceful protests in the streets of Tehran and other big cities in my country. They are making history. My soul is tormented by the images of young men and women enduring the beatings by the members of the anti-riot police, while calmly protesting the grand theft of their votes.

Ten years ago, on the week of July 8-14, I marched with the defiant students who shook the Islamic Republic through their street protests in Tehran and 23 other cities. Putting their lives on the line, they fought for change. Chanting “Death to the Dictator,” they challenged Islamic Republic’s most sacred institution, velayate faghih. They questioned the unquestionable, broke all taboos, and brought the Islamic Republic’s growing crisis of legitimacy to the open.


Ten years later, once again, Iranians are back to the streets in most heroic, and peaceful street politics. The cry of “Death to the Dictator” is heard everywhere. Is history repeating itself?

Read the complete article here ...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Larger Context of the Iranian Elections

Much fury is being expressed by all sides, foreign and domestic, regarding the outcome of the 2009 Iranian presidential elections held on June 12. The rapid announcement of the total results, in a mere few hours after the closing of the polls, came as a shock to the supporters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the main 'reformist' challenger to Ahmadinejad. Since then, there have been massive spontaneous demonstrations in Tehran as well as in other major cities, such as Shiraz, Tabriz and Rasht. At least eight people have been killed (updated on June  17) in the clashes between the security forces and Mousavi supporters.

So, let's put things in some context.

The presidential elections of June 12 were held within a theocratic system. In this system, in order to run for a political office, candidates must swear allegiance to the theocratic setup. From its inception, therefore, the theocracy has divided the entire population into two major political groups: khodi (literally meaning, 'of us'; those who support the theocracy), and the gheyre-khodi (the others). This is the exact language used, and participation in the elections are reserved purely for the benefit of the khodi's (believers in the system), who have been divided into different camps from the beginning of the theocracy. In older days, they were split between the left wing, conservative and the pragmatist camps, and more recently the opposing factions have changed some of their tactics and underlying economic policies, and are organized into the 'conservative' and 'reformist' camps. Within each camp, there are further divisions.
Now, let's look at the circumstances of these particular 2009 'elections', bearing in mind again that the election process was and has always been un-free, to begin with.

First, let's look at one particular opinion poll that is claimed to have predicted a landslide win by Ahmadinejad; the poll taken by The Center for Public Opinion (see pdf here

This poll, taken between May 11 and May 20, indicates a 34% support for Ahmadinejad and 14% for Mousavi; Karrubi and Rezaee receive respectively 2% and 1%. However, 27% of those polled did not know whom they supported. Of those who 'did not know', more than 60%, through their answers to other questions, were characterized by the pollsters as 'reformist minded'. Further, 22% of the respondents are unaccounted for (apparently 15% refused to answer any questions, but the remaining 7% is unexplained). That brings the potential split between the two leading candidates at about 45% for Ahmadinejad and about 30% for Mousavi (discounting the 22% unaccounted).

Further, as the pollsters admitted when releasing their findings, the most likely scenario was, in their view, one in which a second round would be necessary, since they couldn't see anybody having the potential to sweep the elections in the first round.

Further still, in an election campaign, such as it is in Iran, that runs only four weeks, to have concluded an opinion poll in the first week of it, before it has even warmed up, (as somebody said it on TV news) would be akin to basing your ideas of the likely outcome of an American presidential elections based on information gained in an opinion poll conducted nine months or a year before the elections. Not good. 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Iran Protests against Election Results

The Aftermath of Iran 2009 Elections

The actual results of the 2009 presidential elections in Iran may never be known factually. But the actual tallies of the votes cast may have never had anything to do with anything in the first place.

This does not mean that, in the aftermath of the announcement of the election results, the outrage displayed on the streets by the supporters of the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, America's favorite horse in the race, does not indicate real hurt. Those Americans who, to this day, are still bitter about the non-election of Al Gore in the 2000 debacle, can get an idea of the Iranians' sense of betrayal if they take their outrage at the clearly stolen outcome in 2000 and intensify it by a factor of ... oh, about a million.

At least in the American version in 2000, they took their merry time to go through a totally legalistic looking, convoluted process to deny Al Gore his victory at the polls.

In the Iranian version, in contrast, they didn't bother with realistic looking anything: not realistic final numbers nor a realistic looking process; opposition candidates' campaigners had limited or no access to major transit points in the ballot boxes' moves and in the ballot-counting process, and quite honestly, the first-round 'landslide' looks particularly unrealistic. They must be in some kind of hurry for something, since a run-off second round would have finalized everything by the last week of June, regardless. But, no; they just took it clean, and took it in the least amount of time possible.

Observers sympathetic with Ahmadinejad will definitely object that surely he had a very solid support base, especially in the rural areas (about 32% of the population) and among the poor and the lower working classes, particularly in smaller cities and towns, and had a respectable enough following even in the big cities; clearly the more numerous classes were on his side. Ahmadinejad's support base, further, is much more politically active and more positively inspired by Ahmadinejad's politics, whereas Mousavi supporters were not so much inspired positively by their candidate's charisma or oratory skills (both thoroughly lacking) or concrete programs (totally missing), as they were motivated by their dislike for Ahmadinejad.

Stolen or not, these 'elections' produced (what I would characterize as) what the officialdom of Iran has decided to present to the world as their spokesperson and part director of the system.

Read the complete article here ...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Widespread arrests in aftermath of Iran elections

According to BBC Persian, there has been widespread arrests of political figures in Iran. "A large number of political activists in Iran, including famous supporters of the two reformist candidates in the tenth presidential elections have been detained."

Among the arrested are the secretary-general and other members of the Iran's Islamic Participation Front, and two members of the Organization of the Islamic Revolution Mujaheddin, both of which were major organizations supporting the reformist faction and among the most important supporters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Likewise, Ahmad Zeyd-Abadi, secretery-general of an organization supporting Mehdi Karrubi's candidacy, was detained.

Among the detained: Mohsen Mir-Damadi (secretary-general of Participation Front) and his wife, Zahra Mojaradi; Saeed Shari'ati, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, Zohreh Aghajari (member, Participation Front), Behzad Nabavi and Mostafa Tajzadeh (both from Islamic Revolution Mujaheddin).

Read the report (in Farsi) here ...

Mousavi's Letter to Khamenei (in Farsi)

Ahmadinejad declares victory, Mousavi decries 'vote rigging'

Ahmadinejad wins Iran presidential election/BBC
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been re-elected as president of Iran in a resounding victory, the interior minister says. He won some 62.6% of the vote in an election marked by a high turnout of 85%, official figures show.

Supporters of pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi have cried foul and clashed with riot police in Tehran, while public protests have been banned.

Iran's Supreme Leader congratulated Mr Ahmadinejad on his win, and urged his rivals against "provocations".

In a statement, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the high turnout and described the count as a "real celebration" and called for calm in the aftermath of the result.

"Enemies may want to spoil the sweetness of this event... with some kind of ill-intentioned provocations," the ayatollah said.

Mr Mousavi has also claimed victory, calling the result a "dangerous charade", as his backers vowed to appeal for a re-run.

Read the complete report here ...

Related report:
Iran Election Update: Reformist Candidate’s Headquarters Seized and Locked (International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran; 13 June 2009)

Friday, June 12, 2009

URGENT: Ahmad Sa'adat on Hunger Strike!

From Uruknet (via The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat).

Solidarity needed now: Ahmad Sa'adat enters second week of hunger strike
The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat / June 11, 2009

Ahmad Sa'adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has entered the second week of his hunger strike to protest the policy of isolation and solitary confinement practiced by the Israeli prison administration against Palestinian prisoners.

This is an urgent situation and requires broad solidarity and public support for the Palestinian prisoners within the jails of the occupier and in solidarity with Ahmad Sa'adat. Palestinian prisoners are suffering, subject to isolation and constant movement from prison to prison in an attempt to undermine the prisoners' strength, solidarity and steadfastness. They are denied family visits and prisoner leaders are particularly subject to the policy of isolation. The escalation of Israeli attacks on prisoners' rights - secured through many years of struggle - took place immediately following the war crimes and assault on Gaza and has continued since.

Ahmad Sa'adat's own isolation - since March - was recently extended. Entering the second week of hunger strike, his health is at risk in order to shed light on the suffering of Palestinian prisoners and in rejection of these policies aimed at Palestinian prisoners and their steadfast commitment to the struggle to free Palestine, despite the torture, inhumanity and abuse of the prison administration.

Now is the time for Palestinian, Arab and international action and unity in support of Palestinian prisoners, who stand every day behind bars and on the front lines of struggle to liberate Palestine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Americans for Mousavi

"Did you know he's, like, really green all over?"

Thanks to Liz Burbank for this document, titled, Middle East Elections 2009: Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq, prepared by the Congressional Research Service, authored by Casey L. Addis and Kenneth Katzman (dated May 18, 2009). 

Two paragraphs (from page 7 of this report prepared for the members and committees of U.S. Congress) should suffice to make clear who the American establishment would like to win in the Iranian presidential elections (not that the American establishment was ambiguous about their dislike for Ahmadinejad!):
"Virtually all observers believe that the Administration perceives that Ahmadinejad’s defeat would benefit U.S. interests by enhancing the potential for Iran to meet international demands to curb its nuclear program. In [a] Financial Times interview ... Musavi ruled out suspending the enrichment of uranium, but it is widely believed that he might be more amenable to accepting international community incentives to curb that program—or to avoiding further penalties by continuing enrichment at current levels—than is Ahmadinejad.

"There also is a view in the Administration that a Musavi presidency would proceed more cautiously on support for Shiite Islamist and other Islamist movements, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Iraqi Shiite militias, and dissident movements in the Gulf states. This increases the prospects for a lessening of tensions between Iran and its neighbors and other countries in the region. On the other hand, some argue that Iran’s foreign policy is a product of consensus in Iran’s leadership and that Iran’s policy under a Musavi presidency would differ little from that observed under Ahmadinejad. "

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mir-Hossein Mousavi's Iran/Contra Connection?

What do Michael Ledeen (the American 'neo-conservative'), Mir-Hossein Mousavi (the Iranian presidential candidate of 'chagne') and Adnan Khashoggi (the opulent Saudi Arabian jet-setter) have in common?

They are all good friends and associates of Manuchehr Ghorbanifar (an Iranian arms merchant, an alleged MOSSAD double agent, and a key figure in the Iran/Contra Affair, the arms-for-hostages deals between Iran and the Reagan administration). In one or two, at most three, degrees of separation, these people hung out in the same circles and very likely drank to the same toasts.

You can find all kinds of trivia about Ghorbanifar in the Walsh Report on the Iran/Contra affair. In Chapter 8, for example, we learn:
"Ghorbanifar, an Iranian exile and former CIA informant who had been discredited by the agency as a fabricator, was a driving force behind these proposals [for arms-for-hostages deal];" or, "Ghorbanifar, as broker for Iran, borrowed funds for the weapons payments from Khashoggi, who loaned millions of dollars to Ghorbanifar in "bridge financing'" for the deals. Ghorbanifar repaid Khashoggi with a 20 percent commission after being paid by the Iranians," (see:
Here is a bit from an article by Time magazine that shows Ghorbanifar's circle of associates; it is from a January 1987 cover story (The Murky World of Weapons Dealers; January 19, 1987):
"By [Ghorbanifar's] own account he was a refugee from the revolutionary government of Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini, which confiscated his businesses in Iran, yet he later became a trusted friend and kitchen adviser to Mir Hussein Mousavi, Prime Minister in the Khomeini government. Some U.S. officials who have dealt with Ghorbanifar praise him highly. Says Michael Ledeen, adviser to the Pentagon on counterterrorism: "[Ghorbanifar] is one of the most honest, educated, honorable men I have ever known." Others call him a liar who, as one puts it, could not tell the truth about the clothes he is wearing," (emphasis added).
This second bit is from Chapter 1 of Walsh Iran/Contra Report: (
"On or about November 25, 1985, Ledeen received a frantic phone call from Ghorbanifar, asking him to relay a message from [Mir-Hossein Mousavi] the prime minister of Iran to President Reagan regarding the shipment of the wrong type of HAWKs. Ledeen said the message essentially was "we've been holding up our part of the bargain, and here you people are now cheating us and tricking us and deceiving us and you had better correct this situation right away.''
"In early May, North and CIA annuitant George Cave met in London with Ghorbanifar and Nir, where the groundwork finally was laid for a meeting between McFarlane and high-level Iranian officials, as well as financial arrangements for the arms deal. Among the officials Ghorbanifar said would meet with an American delegation were the president and prime minister [Mousavi] of Iran and the speaker of the Iranian parliament," (emphasis added).
And to remind how Michael Ledeen became involved in the Iran/Contra affair in 1985, here is a bit from Chapter 15 of Walsh Report (
"[McFarlane] authorized Michael A. Ledeen, a part-time NSC consultant on anti-terrorism, to ask Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to check on a report that the Israelis had access to good sources on Iran. By early August 1985, Ledeen's talks had led to a direct approach by Israeli officials to McFarlane, to obtain President Reagan's approval to ship U.S.-supplied TOW missiles to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages in Beirut. McFarlane said he briefed the President, Regan, Shultz, Weinberger, Casey and perhaps the Vice President about the proposal in July and August 1985.40 McFarlane said that Casey recommended that Congress not be informed of the arms sales."
There you have it. Now, I'm no investigative journalist, so I'll leave it to the professionals to dig deeper into this.

But, I do have to wonder aloud: Seeing how we cannot ignore his 'neo-con' credentials and that Michael Ledeen maintained his very good relations with Ghorbanifar, (who at least used to be) a good friend of Mir-Hossein Mousavi (the 'candidate of change' in the Iranian presidential elections); and given the support that Mousavi's candidacy has been receiving from the American 'moderates', maybe this kind of 'change' is the 'regime change' the Americans have had in mind for Iran? 

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Upcoming Presidential Elections in Iran

"I'm sooooo gonna get reelected!"

Searching for and finding similar instances of political brand making committed in wildly different settings and situations can be instructive. Followers of things Iranian may have noticed a couple of parallels between the campaigns of Iranian presidential candidates for the June 12 elections and those of the U.S. presidential elections past.

Most definitely, these are superficial likenesses, but they could also point to deeper parallels. For one, both political systems protect and prolong the rule of an absolute minority. Another deep similarity is that in both political setups, exclusively for the participation of the ruling elites (no matter how many factions they come in), a certain level of 'democracy' (meaning here, tolerance) is institutionally allowed/required.

Now to the superficial similarities. In these presidential elections, Iranians have a 'candidate of change' (yes, literally the same slogan) in the person of Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Now, this is very interesting, since Mir-Hossein Mousavi, currently a member of the 'reformist' camp, was the prime minister (when the post existed) from 1981 to 1989. Back then he was a member of the 'left wing' due to his advocacy for a state-run economy. Nowadays, he has changed indeed and supports all manner of privatization (as do all 'reformers').

Mousavi's premiership coincided with the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), during which his economic management carried the country through very rough times. Among other innovations, he introduced the coupon system that made sure everybody received the minimum ration of needed nutrients during those hard times.

He was also deeply involved in the arms-for-hostages deals with the Reagan administrations in the1980s, and was close to Manuchehr Ghorbanifar, one of the central figures in the arms-for-hostages deals.

Mousavi's premiership also coincided with the bloodiest period of post-revolutionary internal violence against the people in Iran. Not only was the country engulfed in a World War I-type of high-fatality military conflict for eight years (which required active-to-the-point-of-forceful recruiting of people to send to the fronts), the new regime was also going through its consolidation; a period that has historically included eradication of internal opponents. During this period, thousands of dissidents were jailed, tortured and executed in summary executions after phony 'trials'.

In one ominous event, at the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq war, in the summer of 1988, according to human rights organizations in and outside Iran, between two and five thousand political prisoners were summarily executed. Among the executed were some who had served their sentences, or could qualify for early release. But, in a deliberate move to 'clean up' the political prisons, the government (headed partly by Mousavi) pushed for rushed executions of thousands of these prisoners.

Beside Mousavi's 'Elections for Change' slogan that mirrors Obama's, another interesting parallel is how Mousavi is situating himself to breach some of the divide between the so-called reformists with the conservatives; just like Obama promising to represent the Democrats and Republicans (not necessarily all the people, mind you).

In elaborate speeches, Mousavi has been mesmerizing university audiences thirsting for anything other than stale lectures filled with long quotations from Koran in Arabic verse, which most people don't understand, riddled with militant-sounding speechifying typical of the ideological conservatives. Mousavi has been spreading the news that, unlike others, he believes that 'principled orthodoxy' (osool-geraa'ee) and 'reformism' are but two sides of the same coin, and both are needed for an Islamic society to thrive in the modern world. He calls himself a 'conservative reformer' or a 'reformist conservative', and does not care which particular way you say it. Mousavi, besides having the biggest following supposedly and the best chance of ousting the incumbent president Ahmadinejad, seems also to be the candidate Western 'moderates' like to see win.

* * *

Another trend that has traveled well across the oceans is the 'Anybody But' phenomenon. This year, it finally reached our shores, and we now have the much awaited, 'Anybody but Ahmadinejad!' In many ways, he is Iran's George W. Bush. Just as much as Bush was hated by all but the most dedicated American right-wingers, Ahmadinejad is hated by all but the most dedicated Iranian right-wingers (the Basiji's and the Revolutionary Guards).

And just like George Bush Jr., Ahmadinejad is un-liked so thoroughly that he has split the Iranian conservatives. There are as many (if not more) conservatives against him as there are for him; hence, the decision by another conservative, Mohsen Rezaee, a former Revolutionary Guards chief commander, to run for the presidency in these elections. Some other bigwig conservatives who have chosen to distance themselves from Ahmadinejad include: Ali Larijani (former chief nuclear negotiator), Mohammad Reza Bahonar (first deputy speaker of Majles), and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (current Tehran mayor).

Indeed, Ahmadinejad is so not-liked by some conservatives, that he has driven some to the 'reformist' camp, presumably to assure Ahmadinejad's ouster. According to reports, "some major figures in the conservative/principlist camp, led by Mr. Emad Afrough, the Tehran deputy to the 7th Majles (the parliament), announced the formation of a committee in support of Mr. Mousavi," (The Hard-Liners in a Panic).

In short, just like Bush Jr., Ahmadinejad is too much of a divider, does not play well with others, is an anti-unifier of first degree, and that has become a source of deep worry in the Iranian elite establishment.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

US Embassies may invite Iranians for July 4; only small talk allowed

This piece of news is everywhere now. This particular one (see below) is from the Boston Globe

A few years ago, while working in Beijing, an unfortunate colleague who didn't know much about my political persuasions, included me among the recipients of a group email invitation to the July 4 celebrations held at the American embassy in Beijing. 

In the unkind reply I send back, it was stated that on July 4, 1776, a nation was born that was ruled by a minority of rich white male slave-owners dedicated to the complete annihilation, meaning genocide, of the entire population of the Original Peoples and Nations on the sub-continent. In the reply, I also used this line from the very opening of a song by Public Enemy, titled, Louder Than a Bomb: 
Picture us going out on a forth of July,
And if you heard we were celebrating, that's a worldwide lie!
Now, let's see how many invitations go out, and also see how many Iranian diplomats are ready to shake the hands of fellow spooks employed by the Big Satan embassies around the world. I also wonder if my former colleague will end up shaking any Iranian diplomatic hands. 

The really funny part, though, is that the Iranian diplomats can be invited, but no US diplomat can talk to them beyond small talk! 

Embassies may invite Iranians July 4
(Reuters / June 3, 2009)

WASHINGTON - US embassies are allowed to invite Iranian officials to their July Fourth celebrations for the first time in 30 years in a sign of Washington's effort to reach out to Tehran, the State Department said yesterday.

However, the United States has not removed its blanket ban on its diplomats having substantive conversations with Iranian officials without prior authorization, it added, suggesting any such contacts will be limited to small talk for now.

Read the complete report here ...