Blog Feeds

Spirit of Contradiction

offsite link The Party and the Ballot Box Sun Jul 14, 2019 22:24 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason

offsite link On The Decline and Fall of The American Empire and Socialism Sat Jan 26, 2019 01:52 | S. Duncan

offsite link What is Dogmatism and Why Does It Matter? Wed Mar 21, 2018 08:10 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link The Case of Comrade Dallas Mon Mar 19, 2018 19:44 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link Review: Do Religions Evolve? Mon Aug 14, 2017 19:54 | Dara McHugh

Spirit of Contradiction >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link Public Services Card: Some still forced to comply

offsite link Catholic Church: Dark influence still active Anthony

offsite link Tom Parlon launches new career in comedy Anthony

offsite link Presumption of innocence does not universally apply in Ireland Anthony

offsite link The poor standard of Irish political journalism Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Ukrainian Military After 5 Years Of Warfare Tue Dec 10, 2019 19:34 | Scott
https://southfront.org/ukra... Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson Prior to the Maidan coup of 2014, Ukraine?s military existed in a political vacuum, suffering from benign neglect

offsite link The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs: An Interview with Andrei Martyanov by Yvonne Lorenzo Tue Dec 10, 2019 17:05 | The Saker
Interview by Yvonne Lorenzo for The Saker Blog I started to write these words on ?Veteran?s Day? 2019, and find myself in agreement with a post on the American Conservative

offsite link Making sense of the Paris summit: a quick analysis Tue Dec 10, 2019 03:37 | The Saker
The first thing we need to do is the remember what each participant wanted from this summit.  Here is a summary of what I think (not how they officially stated

offsite link Exceeded expectations: the Turks tested the S-400 Tue Dec 10, 2019 03:10 | Scott
Russian S-400s tested in Turkey Translated by Scott Hunor Source: Gazeta.ru https://www.gazeta.ru/army/... The Turks counted on the high combat qualities of the Russian s-400 anti-aircraft missile system and the complexes

offsite link Moveable Feast Cafe 2019/12/09 ? Open Thread Mon Dec 09, 2019 20:00 | Herb Swanson
2019/12/09 20:00:01Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of

The Saker >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link Latest Updates Thu Nov 21, 2019 20:32 | Human Rights

offsite link US Holds China To Account For Human Rights Violations Sun Oct 13, 2019 19:12 | Human Rights

offsite link UN Human Rights Council Should Address Human Rights Crisis in Cambodia Sat Aug 31, 2019 13:41 | Human Rights

offsite link Fijian women still face Human Rights violations Mon Aug 26, 2019 18:49 | Human Rights

offsite link Saudi Human Rights Violation Fri Aug 09, 2019 20:41 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Iran: Sanctions mean war on the people

category international | anti-war / imperialism | opinion/analysis author Friday October 19, 2012 13:16author by Yassamine Mather Report this post to the editors

Hopi’s principled opposition to the Iran Tribunal is not because we are soft on the Islamic republic, as our opponents have alleged. On the contrary, we are committed to the revolutionary overthrow of the Islamic regime and all its factions. However, we believe alliances pretending to pursue a ‘non-political’, ‘human rights’ (read rightwing, pro-imperialist) agenda are a serious threat to the future of the revolutionary movement of workers in Iran. Those sections of the left who cannot see (or who pretend they cannot see) the serious risks posed by their collaboration with those involved in regime change from above, such as the Iran Tribunal, will become mere pawns in a game where the winner is international capital (and that inevitably includes Iranian capital).

If you want to find out what economic chaos looks like, forget about Athens or Madrid: Tehran is the capital to study. Sanctions have crippled the country to such an extent that for most Iranians day-to-day life is becoming impossible. It is true that not a single shot has been fired, but sanctions are indeed a form of warfare, imposing hunger and destitution on the population. And if the US presidential race remains close in these last days before the poll, the Obama administration could yet consider a military strike.

Of course, Iran’s economy is not crippled just because of sanctions. Decades of obedience to the International Monetary Fund have left the country with a privatised, corruption-riven economy. The gap between rich and poor is wider than at any time in living memory. Food and fuel subsidies have been abolished by Islamic clerics - to the applause of the IMF and World Bank. In other words, even without sanctions Iran would have had all the features of a third-world capitalist country suffering from the effects of the global economic crisis. But sanctions have made life so intolerable that people will tell you that hunger and poverty, combined with this constant fear of military conflict, is worse than war itself.

Sanctions

The first sanctions against Iran were imposed in 1979. However, Tehran was able to circumvent the worst of their effects until 2006, when measures relating to Iran’s nuclear industry were introduced, to be followed by further UN resolutions between 2007 and 2010. But the situation was transformed with the new wave of sanctions that started in January this year, when the United States and European Union took steps to ensure Iran could not sell its oil overseas and imposed restrictions on all Iranian banks and financial institutions. In the first few months of 2012 the Islamic government deluded itself that these were short-term steps and therefore spent its reserves of foreign currency in order to maintain the value of the Iranian rial. However, as the new sanctions began to bite, in the face of US and Israeli military threats, the exchange rate plummeted.

A series of United Nations-backed measures reduced the country’s oil exports from 2.5 million barrels a day to 1.5 million in early 2012. Major shipping companies now refuse to send their tankers to Iranian ports, in fear of the severe fines imposed on sanction-busters. Any international bank doing business in Iran is now deprived access to the US market and unsurprisingly most financial institutions have ended their dealings with Tehran as a result. In July new EU sanctions banned oil imports from Iran entirely. Europe was purchasing 20% of Iranian exports - hence the devastating effect on the Iranian rial.

In early October the currency lost 75% of its value against the dollar, and the rate of inflation is now so high that many shops are refusing to sell goods, as they know prices will rise from one hour to the next and what they receive in sales today could be worthless tomorrow. In Ferdowsi Square, where most major currency exchange dealers work, some have hung signs saying, “Dollars not bought or exchanged” in protest against the government’s plans to set a fixed rate for the rial.

Wary of riots in response to food shortages, the Iranian government has announced a classification of imports into 10 categories, based on how essential they are. Importers of essential goods will be able to buy dollars at a subsidised rate, while importers of goods classified as non-essential will have to pay hand over fist to obtain dollars.1 However, a thriving black market in luxury goods - including those dubbed ‘unIslamic’ - has characterised the 33-year rule of Tehran’s corrupt, religious, capitalist regime and few expect this to change.

Prices for staple foods, such as milk, bread, rice, yogurt and vegetables, have doubled since the beginning of the year. Chicken, the cheapest meat, is so scarce that every time supplies become available there are long queues and sometimes riots. Unemployment is thought to be around three times higher than the official rate of 12%, and millions of unskilled factory workers are on wages well below the official poverty line of 10 million rials (about $250) a month.

On October 12 yet another set of sanctions was finalised by EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. The aim was to “further restrict Iran’s ability to move money around efficiently - a step to aggravate the current financial crisis of the Iranian regime inside the country”.2 A number of international airlines responded by stopping their flights to Tehran. The message conveyed by this relentless pressure is clear: you are under siege, and you are isolated. It is a form of psychological warfare - not just against Iran’s rulers, but against the population. According to Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a proponent of still tougher measures, “repetition is the key to success of message-penetration”.3

Throughout the last few years supporters of sanctions have told us they are not directed at the Iranian people. No, they are ‘targeted’ sanctions, aimed only at the regime. Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, senior clerics and military generals have been the main beneficiaries of privatisation and, as a result, they own a considerable chunk of Iran’s economy. The rest, including whatever is left of public services, is dependent on state funds, which are squeezed further by sanctions. As for the fortunes of senior clerics and their offsprings, it is safe to say little of it remains inside Iran - by 2007 they were already ensuring that their personal wealth had left the country for the safety of foreign banks. The main victims of sanctions have been the mass of the people - including workers made redundant, as senior ayatollahs and leaders of the Pasdaran Revolutionary Guards have closed down their businesses and moved their money into Swiss bank accounts. Iran’s car industry has shed almost half of its workforce and oil workers have also lost their jobs, as oil exports have gone into free fall.

Effects

Launching our anti-sanctions campaign in 2009, Hands Off the People of Iran declared: “The current proposals of the US government to enforce sanctions on Iran’s oil industry would unquestionably cause chaos for a society depending on oil for its national income. They are also a disaster for the cause of democracy because they limit working class struggle.

“Radical democratic change in Iran (and indeed in the imperialist countries such as the US and UK) can only come from below. It cannot be gifted by the likes of [green leader Mir-Hossein] Moussavi, or imposed by the imperialists. Not that either would wish to see such change. We have to aid such advances through promoting working class internationalism - the core politics that Hopi implacably stands for.” 4

However, the effects of current sanctions are far worse than we predicted in 2009. There is a serious shortage of drugs affecting both the rich and the poor. Tehran residents report long queues of poorer sections of the population outside chemists in more affluent suburbs trying to sell their prescriptions so that they can buy food for their families. Hospital notice boards are full of adverts for the sale of kidneys and other organs - a new method of raising funds.

Government employees have not been paid their full salaries for many months. Many make ends meet by selling their household goods, such as furniture. And, although unemployment is affecting every section of the working class, women have been amongst the first to lose their jobs and therefore any degree of independence in a patriarchal society. Government statistics show female unemployment to be around 43%. There are reports of an unprecedented rise in casual prostitution, while social workers have raised concerns about an increase in the level of reported violence against women and young girls, as economic hardship affects family relations.

In the midst of all this misery David Cameron dismissed speculation about an Israeli attack “that might strengthen the Islamic regime”. He called on the “international community” to “show the courage to allow sanctions against Iran to work”.5 The British prime minister is talking of the “courage” of the imperialists in inflicting devastation on ordinary Iranians. And Iran’s brutal clerical regime could not care less what happens to its population - sanctions could continue for years and the real victims will still be the Iranian people.

In a move reminiscent of Ruhollah Khomeini’s fascistic call on Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war to have more children, so that a new generation could defeat the Arab invader, Iran’s current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has also urged his subjects to reproduce more. However, there are two major problems with this: (1) the US and Israel are not Saddam Hussein - Iran’s population could rise tenfold and it would not make an iota of difference in a war against two nuclear powers; (2) the Iranian women of 2012 are not those of 1982: they are too aware of the nature of the regime to be told when they should reproduce and how many children they should have.

Given the level of economic hardship, working class actions have been few and far between - workers are forced to take on second or even third jobs to pay their extortionate rents and are forced to spend hours in queues to feed their families. However, this month has seen a number of workers’ protests. A petition addressed to Iran’s minister of labour has been secretly circulating among factories and workshops. By mid-October some 20,000 workers had signed the document, pointing out that wages agreed in March have lost half of their value - rent and food prices have doubled, and working class families cannot survive.

Meanwhile, 600 metal workers held protests outside the ministry on October 13 and managed to close one of the capital’s busiest streets for almost an hour. This was followed the next day by another demonstration outside the offices of Tehran’s provincial governor. Earlier, on October 10, hundreds of bus drivers from Tehran and the provinces had protested for four and a half hours outside Tehran’s main municipality offices. These drivers have not received the 10% pay rise promised to all city employees.

Support

These are the kinds of actions we should support. We in Hopi are true to our slogan, ‘No to imperialist war and sanctions, no to the clerical regime’. Today, at a time when sanctions have become an important weapon in imperialism’s arsenal, at a time when they are supposed to pave the way for the downfall of the regime, as the population becomes desperate, we must reiterate our opposition to ‘regime change from above’. In the absence of a movement from below, sanctions will produce one of two outcomes: either the regime will survive, becoming even more repressive; or it will be replaced by the US’s chosen coalition.

It is no accident that the latest sanctions have coincided with concerted efforts by the US/EU to finance and organise the most reactionary forces aiming to benefit from the economic chaos. The son of the shah is being promoted ad nauseam in US-funded TV stations broadcasting to Iran, while the People’s Mujahedin (MEK) have been removed from the US ‘terrorist’ list, so that they can take their place among the ‘patriotic forces’ being groomed to replace the Islamic regime.

Similarly, naive and opportunist sections of the left have rushed to join forces with ‘human rights’ organisations sponsored by the US-funded National Endowment for Democracy in the anti-regime, pro-western Iran Tribunal, and there are attempts to lure the discredited ‘leaders’ of the green movement into this unholy alliance. In the meantime labour activists languish in Iranian prisons, and those attempting to set up independent workers’ organisations are in constant danger of arrest, imprisonment and worse.


Hopi’s principled opposition to the Iran Tribunal is not because we are soft on the Islamic republic, as our opponents have alleged. On the contrary, we are committed to the revolutionary overthrow of the Islamic regime and all its factions. However, we believe alliances pretending to pursue a ‘non-political’, ‘human rights’ (read rightwing, pro-imperialist) agenda are a serious threat to the future of the revolutionary movement of workers in Iran. Those sections of the left who cannot see (or who pretend they cannot see) the serious risks posed by their collaboration with those involved in regime change from above, such as the Iran Tribunal, will become mere pawns in a game where the winner is international capital (and that inevitably includes Iranian capital).

yassamine.mather@weeklyworker.org.uk

Notes

1. www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-says-it-will-cut-imports-of-nonessential-goods/2012/10/14/7291ba34-1640-11e2-a55c-39408fbe6a4b_story.html.

2. ‘EU moves closer to new Iran sanctions’: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/10/12/uk-eu-iran-san...21012.

3. ‘Obama implements additional Iran sanctions’: www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=287319.

4. http://hopoi.org/?p=663.

5. ‘Iran sanctions need time to work, David Cameron says’: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19957218.

© 2001-2019 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy