Iran’s clerical rulers are maneuvering to contain and suppress massive protests that continue to rock that country.

This unprecedented mass uprising was sparked by outrage over the government’s rush to declare Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the absolute winner in the June 12 presidential elections, before votes could have been adequately counted, and despite every indication that his leading opponent, Mir-Hossain Mousavi, was headed either for outright victory or a runoff with Ahmadinejad.

Although corporate media have focused much of their attention on the mass uprising of Iran’s students, many reports show that this is a multi-class movement involving not only students but also workers, women of all classes, intellectuals, business people and even sections of the clerical establishment itself.

Clearly, the election battle is a reflection of wide unrest that has been fermenting for some time. The Ahmadinejad government’s economic policies are a focal point of discontent, with the country experiencing electricity rationing, mass unemployment and rampant inflation. Iran’s trade unionists have battled stepped-up repression. Iran’s women have been fighting the regime’s efforts to send them back to medieval-type subjugation. Reports indicate wide dissatisfaction with a foreign policy based on adventurist provocation that has isolated the country and empowered reactionary elements elsewhere.

American working people have an interest in supporting Iran’s working class and democratic movements in their struggle against reactionary clerical forces, who are using militia violence and other repressive measures to try to stem the tide for progressive change in their country.

At the same time, the crisis should not be used as an excuse for military actions or other steps to sharpen tensions with Iran. Only a U.S. foreign policy of diplomacy and regional and international cooperation can secure both peace and social justice.