Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

The following is based on a presentation at the International Communist Forum in London last month (February 2017).  ICF is organised by the British Marxist workers’ group Workers Fight, which is aligned with the French revolutionary movement Lutte Ouvriere.  This is part of our efforts to make available to readers several different viewpoints on the conflict in Syria.

Introduction

It is almost exactly 6 years since the wave of protests of the Arab Spring spread to Syria, in February 2011. Within only a few months of these protests, the confrontation between the protesters and the Syrian dictatorship turned into a bloody civil war, which remains as rife and brutal as ever today.

These six years of bloodshed have already claimed nearly half a million casualties and forced an estimated 4.5 million Syrians to seek shelter outside the country around 20% of the population. As to the state of the country, most of us have seen TV footage of Aleppo when it was recently retaken by government forces: it is a ghost town, covered in rubble. Some buildings still appear to be standing upright, but, on a closer look, most have been hollowed out by the blasts of many explosions. In fact many of Syria’s small and bigger towns have suffered the same treatment. As to the country’s infrastructure it has either been destroyed or else, it is falling apart for lack of maintenance.

In other words, the same tragedy which took place in Iraq as a result of the country’s invasion by the imperialist powers is being played out again in Syria, but this time, without (more…)

by Yassamine Mather

Before the death of ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on January 8 (an event that has dominated Iranian politics and news), Iranian clerics and leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had been competing with each other in making exaggerated claims about the significance of the fall of Aleppo: it was a victory against “heresy” and for the “ascendancy of Shia Islam”. One cleric called on Iranians (presumably he meant the Revolutionary Guards already in Syria) to clean up Aleppo, as the 12th Shia Imam would soon be paying a visit!

This, together with the triumphalism during the inspection of the ruins of east Aleppo by major general Qasem Soleimini (credited with commanding Iranian troops in Syria’s recent battles), should be condemned. The intervention of Iran and Russia in Syria has cost the lives of thousands of civilians. All such foreign intervention – be it by the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and Russia – should be condemned, and Iran and Russia cannot be exempt from this on the basis that they were invited by the Syrian regime.

Having said that, we now have a clearer picture of the final days of the battles in and around east Aleppo. The latest round of ‘peace talks’ between some rebel groups and Turkey, Iran and Russia gives an indication of who backed the main armed rebel groups. Most of these groups, far from being democratic, secular forces, were close to Turkey’s Islamic nationalist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The extended participation of Syrian Kurds on the same side as those fighting against ‘rebels’ in Aleppo (in other words, on the same side as Hezbollah and other Shia groups) demonstrates that accusations of Turkish involvement in arming and sponsoring a section of the rebels in east Aleppo should be taken seriously.

Free Syrian Army

By all accounts, at least since 2015, the claim that the Free Syrian Army represents moderate or secular forces has been untenable.

It is worthwhile repeating what (more…)

Redline has run articles with different perspectives on Syria – from those who emphasise imperialist involvement to those that emphasise the awfulness of the Assad regime and the need to solidarise with its victims and those fighting it.  Below is the third perspective, presented by one of our Iranian readers (Redline is blocked in Iran, but we have readers there as well as Iranian readers around the world).  This third perspective is that the Assads are brutal and corrupt dictators but the alternative is even worse, as happened in Iran in 1979 – and, for that matter, more recently in Libya.  This perspective also suggests that western leftists who place emphasis on getting rid of Assad, at virtually any cost, are playing with fire but that it is not them who have suffered the consequences of the replacement of Gaddafi and it won’t be them who will suffer the consequences of the replacement of Assad by Islamic fundamentalists – it will be the working class, women, and national and religious minorities; the western left will just walk away unscathed (and unreflective).

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As bad as the Assad regime is, the alternative is even worse

by Karim Pourhamzavi

The tragic and brutal chaos is getting close to completing its fifth year. Recently, the siege of Aleppo by the Syrian army and its allies, along with the Russian heavy bombardment, has attracted a large amount of media attention, particularly by the anti-Assad camp. The extensive advance of the troops loyal to the Syrian regime, at the time of writing, put an end to the controversial siege.

Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, did not witness a large-scale uprising in 2011, when the wider rebellion took place and steadily became a transnational armed struggle by the end of the same year. Various militant groups who fight in Syria, most prominent of which is the Nusra Front, the al-Qaeda branch in Syria, took over eastern Aleppo in 2012. The eastern part of the city includes approximately 300,000 residents and the western part, which has remained under the control of the Syrian regime to this day, is home for over one million residents, although you would not know this from ‘mainstream’ media coverage – you would think the whole of the city has been in ‘rebel’ hands and is being bombarded by the regime.

Propaganda

Any attempt of the Syrian regime to regain the eastern part of Aleppo was confronted by extensive propaganda in much of the western media. Not to mention the increase of multi-dimensional supports to the militants, including the Nusra Front, by the anti-Assad camp. The focus on civilian casualties whenever the Syrian army tries to regain Aleppo is, however, only one side of the story. The other side is that (more…)

by Yassamine Mather

The film director, painter, poet and photographer Abbas Kiarostami, who died on July 4 2016, was one of Iran’s most important contemporary artists.

He always said he wanted to be a painter, but he “stumbled accidentally into film making” and was known principally for his achievements in this area. He gained international recognition with three films known as the ‘Koker trilogy’ (1987-94), named after a small village in Mazandaran province in the north of Iran, although his first film was Where is the friend’s home? (1987). This was followed by Life, and nothing more (1992), when he tried to blend fiction and documentary in the aftermath of the devastating 1990 earthquake in northern Iran. In 1994, Kiarostami directed Through the olive trees, which revolved around the making of a fictional second instalment of Life, and nothing more.

Although Jafar Panahi is rightly credited for directing the award-winning film White balloon, it was Abbas Kiarostami who (more…)

There’s a good Radio NZ interview with Yposter-Yassamine1assamine Mather on the current situation in Iran. The interview is 18 minutes long and available on podcast here:  Listen

She discusses the lifting of sanctions, the Shah’s regime, the conservative clerical regime, repression, the position of women, and the internal opposition. She speaks too of hope for the future for the region with the youth of Iran being very opposed to the clerics.

And for our own Redline interview with Yassamine several years ago, read here.

Mass anti-Shah protest, Iran,  early 1979

Mass anti-Shah protest, Iran, early 1979

Thanks to the author for sending us this some years ago; it got buried but has been dug out!  We’ve very slightly edited it for our predominantly NZ readership.

by Torab Saleth [1]

The current Iranian regime which has been in power in the Islamic Republic of Iran since the 1979 revolution against the Shah, continues to confuse many observers as to its true nature. The intrinsic confusion lies precisely in the fact that it is indeed a post-revolutionary regime. The usual common sense of the “stagists”, from which we suffer a great deal within the anti-imperialist left, leads them to make the great discovery that anything post Shah must be a step in the right direction. This is as if there is no going back in human history. It is as if we have not seen, time and time again, that if a revolution does not go all the way it may get kicked back to a darker past.

So unfortunately even after almost 30 years of its brutal rule (the article was written in 2007 – Redline), we are still constantly confronted with the argument that whatever the character of the Iranian regime, and however oppressive and abhorrent it may be, it nevertheless is one which came out of a revolution against the Shah’s dictatorship, a dictatorship which had transformed Iran into a colony of US imperialism in all but name.[2] Somehow, this “logic” is then used to bestow a certain air of progressiveness upon a regime which for any observer with a little political sense is nothing but a semi-fascistic theocracy defending an even more backward and cynical capitalism than the one it replaced. Since 1979, its apologists have constantly resorted to such simplistic devices to gloss over the brutal character of this backward capitalist dictatorship.[3]

After 1979 the Iranian left was torn apart as the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party and its allies amongst the Fedayin Majority, as well as sections of the Trotskyist Fourth International, used precisely the same arguments to justify their collaboration with this “post-revolutionary” and “anti-imperialist” regime, especially after it occupied the US embassy in Tehran and took American hostages. They ended up actively justifying and even helping it in the suppression and mass execution of its leftist opponents, before it predictably (more…)

Darius Zand (right) in Kurdistan in the 1980s

Darius Zand (right) in Kurdistan in the 1980s

by Yassamine Mather

On September 12 2015, the Iranian revolutionary, Dariush Zand (‘Dr Said’), died in exile in Paris, following a short illness. Many of us who survived the terrible wars and the cold winters of Iranian Kurdistan in the 1980s no doubt owe our lives to his dedication, medical skills and determination to help his patients, most of whom were peshmerga fighters from the Fedayeen (Minority) and other left-wing groups. Having said that, whenever the conditions allowed, Dariush also treated locals and Kurdish peasants.

Dr Said was very popular both in Baghcheh, where, together with Mastoureh Ahmadzadeh (another medic and a member of the central committee of the Fedayeen), he had set up a clinic, and later in another base near the village of Vardeh, where he used an adjoining peasant house for his medical consultations. Those of us who were lucky to be present in both bases benefited from his skills directly, when he dealt with our illnesses and wounds, as well as indirectly, when the villagers brought eggs, fruit and on rare occasions chickens in gratitude.

However, Dr Said is remembered for the way he treated peshmergas injured in the unequal and often desperate battles with Revolutionary Guards and the army of Iran’s Islamic Republic. Throughout his stay in Kurdistan (he had left a lucrative medical practice, along with his wife and daughters, in Tehran) he had no (more…)