Crisis and Repression in Iran; Breaking Gaza's Blockade

THE UNFOLDING EVENTS in the Iranian crisis remind us, on the one hand, of the magnificent democratic mobilizations in Iran’s own history, and globally over the past century and in our own time – from Russia in 1905 to the U.S. Civil Rights movement to the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Palestinian Intifada – when people poured out to liberate their own lives and their nation.

New Working Paper: Obama, the Crisis and the Movements


Read the first draft of a report on Obama's first 100 days.
1. Obama’s Election
Introduction: The Promise of Hope and Change
The Obama Political “Movement”
A New American Politics? Or a Return to the Clinton Years
2. The Economic Crisis
Economic Crisis
World Economic Crisis
U.S. Hegemony Tested
3. Obama’s Domestic Policies
Economy
Labor
Immigration
Education
Environment
Reproductive rights
GLBTQ issues
Communities of Color
4. Obama’s Foreign Policy
5. Response to the Crisis
Anti-war
Labor
Foreclosures
Immigrant rights
Student activism
6. The Balance of Forces Today
An Adverse Situation
The Right-Wing Reaction
7. Conclusion – The Left and Its Tasks
The Left – a Motley Crew
The Question of Program
Left Unity
Today, on the other hand, they also remind us of some of the great tragedies of our era – the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 in South Africa, the Pinochet coup of September 11, 1973 in Chile, the pre-Olympic massacre in 1968 of students in Mexico City and last year’s brutal military repression against the people of Oaxaca, the 1981 Jaruzelski coup against Solidarity in Poland, the Burmese junta’s slaughter of protesters last year and, of course, the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 in Beijing.

What has happened in Iran? It is plausible, though it will now remain forever impossible to determine, that the Ahmadinejad presidential regime might have been able to win a close victory in an authentic election. Clearly, however, the massive pre-election demonstrations for Moussavi convinced the presidential apparatus, the Revolutionary Guards and the “Supreme Guide” Khamenei that nothing could be left to chance – and certainly that no second runoff round would be permitted. Even with candidates vetted for their loyalty to the system, the expectation of a massive popular turnout meant that unlike past electoral exercises, the outcome and the aftermath might not be easily controlled.

Therefore, a massive election theft was perpetrated, essentially undisguised in broad daylight – ballot box stuffing, unmonitored fraudulent counting (before as well as after the vote), and above all a pre-planned massive mobilization of repressive force against the outraged response. The pretext of democratic institutions underlying the Islamic Republic has been sacrificed. Indeed, not only the “republic” part of the façade but also much of the “Islamic” part has been stripped -- what’s occurred appears to have many qualities of a military quasi-fascist coup, albeit with Khamenei as an important figurehead.

The question now is whether this still unconsolidated presidentialist-Revolutionary Guard dictatorship can be imposed both on the population and on the decayed and divided clerical elite of mullahs that took control following the 1979 revolution. Moussavi and Rafsanjani, the main figures in the current opposition, are of course part and parcel of that old elite. If the Ahmadinejad-Revolutionary Guard repression succeeds in crushing their efforts, the democratic resistance will find new forms of struggle although the struggle will be protracted and costly.

It should go without saying that socialists anywhere in the world must stand on the side of the popular democratic resistance to election fraud, violent repression and tyranny. For those of us in the imperialist states and particularly in the USA, an important part of that solidarity with the Iranian people is our demand on our own government: HANDS OFF! The United States has no role to play in the struggle for Iranian democracy and freedom.

Nothing is so harmful to the democratic struggle in Iran as any hint of imperialist intervention, whether in the guise of “sanctions” or anything else. The right-wing politicians and “neoconservative” types who denounce Barack Obama “for failing to speak out forcefully on Iran” understand this perfectly. The existence of an unpopular Iranian dictatorship is perfectly suited to their agenda of escalating confrontation and ultimately war with Iran – an agenda they share with the Netanyahu government in Israel, posing the most catastrophic consequences for the Middle East and the world.

We stand on the side of Iranian democracy, against the dictatorship, and first and always against imperial meddling.

-- David Finkel, for the Political Committee of Solidarity

Breaking Gaza’s Blockade

SIX MONTHS AFTER the Israeli assault, Gaza remains in a state of devastation. There is almost no reconstruction of housing, infrastructure or the economy. This is due above all to a criminal blockade imposed by the Israel, Egypt, the United States and European Union for the Palestinian people’s unforgivable sin of voting for Hamas in a democratic election.

The imperial powers who are quick to decry electoral fraud and brutal intimidation of protest in Iran have no respect for the democratic rights, or the right to live, of the people of Gaza (or the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a whole). Solidarity supports all efforts to break the blockade. In particular, we draw attention to the “Viva Palestine: A Lifeline from the United States to Gaza” medical aid convoy that is set to cross the Egyptian border into Gaza in mid-July (www.viva-palestina-us.org) and the powerful example of delegations organized by Code Pink (www.codepink4peace.org). See these websites for information on how to contribute.

At this writing (June 25, 2009), the ship Free Gaza is preparing to deliver medical aid and children’s supplies to the Gaza port and has notified the Israeli government of its intent (see www.FreeGaza.org) to do so. Previously, a boat with former Green Party president Cynthia McKinney on board, preparing to deliver supplies to Gaza, was rammed and severely damaged in international waters by the Israeli navy.

Any sign that the Obama administration is serious about achieving Palestinian statehood must include ending the blockade and allowing the people of Gaza to rebuild – to say nothing of billions in reparations for the destruction and killing produced by U.S.-supplied weaponry.