To reach a correct judgment concerning recent developments in Iran and the self-styled re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it is vital to view the whole picture: national and international.
For some, otherwise objective, anti-imperialist forces outside Iran, the national and historical context of the election campaign have become blurred by the internal and external response to it. The principal source of the distortion has been the response of the U.S. government to Ahmadinejad’s “victory.”
However, using the U.S. response as a starting point for an objective assessment of recent events is a dubious practice. Worse, it risks falling into the intelligence communities “wilderness of mirrors.” For neither the U.S. nor the Tehran dictatorship speak with one voice or one intention.
One example illustrates this duplicity. Only a few months ago while the U.S. government and mass media disseminated the possibility of opening a third military front in Iran, the Iranian regime itself huffed and puffed anti-Zionist anti-USA rhetoric whilst simultaneously seeking economic and military cooperation with the U.S. For its part the U.S. government was discretely offering non-interference in return for Iranian co-operation and non-intervention in the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.
In this context few suggested all-out solidarity with the fundamentalist fascists in Afghanistan, who in turn are opposed by the fundamentalist nationalists in Iran on a religious, not political, basis.
The green light from Tehran for the U.S. Afghan military and economic campaign also enabled the U.S. to silence its sabre-rattling while maintaining its anti-Iranian rhetoric.
Thus the reinstatement of Ahmadinejad was greeted by the U.S. with muted expressions of concern for the democratic process and crocodile tears for the deaths of post-election demonstrators gunned down by Ahmadinejad’s thugs for expressing their own democratic concerns in major cites throughout Iran.
Virtually from the outset, the Iranian election was likely to be rigged. Such an outcome is always possible when a dictatorship faces widespread opposition. However, mass participation in the election also places the dictatorial regime on the back foot.
Since his last “election,” Ahmadinejad has postured around the world as a great leader, boasted of his conversations with God, denied the Nazi Holocaust, trampled on human rights in Iran, jailed his opponents. However, above all, Ahmadinejad is a willing and enthusiastic representative of the Iranian theocratic and mercantile class. The same class which has squandered for almost 30 years the anti-imperialist ambition of the ’79 revolution, repressed working class and student organizations, indulged in brutal and primitive torture and executions, imposed severe restrictions on the rights of women as well as those with other religious convictions, and now dresses in pseudo anti-imperialist clothes. The reality is the president has no clothes.
This must be the basis for any progressive assessment of political reality in Iran. Wide sections of the Iranian population have taken this as their starting point and have expressed their opposition on the streets. It is their experience which informs and motivates the protest, and like all dictatorships faced with democratic people’s opposition, the regime has responded with violence and tragedy.
Now it is the Iranian masses and their autonomous organizations which need support. The clerical regime is continuing with its posturing, hiding behind its trade links with other nations, claiming conspiracies, seeking scapegoats and responding with its customary iron fist.
There are many comparisons in the history of world politics, but whatever subtleties of difference there are, the theocratic regime in Iran has clearly demonstrated it is on the wrong side of history. Supporters of the movement for peace, independence, freedom and liberty in Iran should not be dragged alongside.
Navid Shomali is secretary of the International Department of the Tudeh Party of Iran (Party of the Masses), Iran’s Communist Party.