The Iranian elections and the crisis

Iranian society is convulsed by a political crisis on a scale not seen for over a decade. Masses of Iranian people have taken to the streets since the results of the rigged elections. Their outrage is justified. The levels of blatant vote-rigging on show was crazy even by the standards of Iran’s Islamic Republic regime. The final result underlined that the whole process was compromised from top to bottom:
• Ahmadinejad was declared winner by the official media even before some polling stations had closed
• Hundreds of candidates were barred from standing in the first place
• The percentage of votes for each candidate were clearly choreographed – throughout results night none of the candidates’ vote varied by more than three percent

The main ‘reformist’ candidate Mir-Hossain Moussavi immediately declared the elections a “charade” and claimed Iran was moving towards tyranny. Thousands of protesters (not all of them backers of Moussavi) poured onto the streets and confrontations between the people and the state’s armed forces have escalated by the hour.

On June 15, official news outlets reported that an opposition rally had been called off after rumours circulated that state-sponsored militias had been issued with live rounds for the first time. (The truth may be somewhat different – see below).

Iranian society remains on a knife-edge. Hopi supporters are in daily contact with Iran and are pushing for maximum solidarity from the workers’ movement here to progressive forces in that country. We are determined that the upsurge against theocratic rule is not derailed by demoguoges and sell-out merchants from within the regime itself.

The main danger of that comes from Moussavi himself, the ‘reformist’ darling of the Western media.
While he correctly denounces these elections as a “charade”, what about the highly dubious results of the nine previous presidential elections in Iran’s Islamic Republic? In the 2009 election, he did not bat an eyelid when the Council of Guardians disqualified over 400 candidates. He did not think the process was a “charade” when the supreme religious leader intervened time and time again to defend Ahmadinejad.

Even now, although he is furious about losing the elections, he is not calling on the Iranian people to mobilise – he fears losing control of the masses. Instead, he is calling on the ‘Religious centres of Guidance’ (elite shia Ayatollahs) to denounce the result. He is no fan of radical democracy and mass movements. And neither are the heads of imperialist governments like the US and UK, of course. They want to see a safe, orderly transition in Iran to a compliant, pro-western regime. The truth about the June 15 rally – reportedly cancelled because of safety fears – is that it was abandoned after Moussavi met with Khameini (Iran’s supreme leader) to share fears for the stability of the regime itself.

And, like his predecessor Mohammad Khatami, Moussavi is well aware that the survival of the ‘Islamic order’ is in his interests. That is why, even when he is clearly a victim of the supreme leader’s lunacy, he cannot afford to see mass protest broaden, deepen and start to demand more fundamental change. This split within the ranks of the regime itself has allowed the smouldering anger below to find expression on the streets. However, we should not confuse the ordinary Iranians confronting the militias with establishment politicians like Moussavi – the interests of the two are distinct and, at the end of the day, in total opposition to each other.

Hopi stands against any interference by western imperialist governments in Iran – whether this takes the form of military attack, sanctions or a sponsored ‘colour revolution’ a la Moussavi. We say that the Iranian people themselves – the students’, women’s and working class movements – must fight for their own independent interests. A war would be a disaster for the working people of that country; but the barbaric rule of the theocracy is also intolerable and should be fought from below.

Iranian students report a June 14 wave of attacks on students in the Tehran, Babol and Isfahan universities with many badly beaten and at least one dead. Unless the protest movement becomes stronger and clearer in its aims, there is a real danger that the trend around Ahmadinejad will use the pretext of the disruption to launch a wave of repression across society as a whole.

We must do all in our power to stop this and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Iran.

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