Wednesday, November 12, 2008
1pm Trinity College, Room 403 Aras an Phiarsaigh
Moshe Machover, Israeli socialist & anti-Zionist & Yassamine Mather, Iranian political activist & founding member of HOPI debate the situation in the middle-east in the aftermath of the US election
7.30pm Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square Square,
Joint meeting with Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Middle-East – what is the answer to the crisis?
Raymond Deane, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Moshe Machover and Yassamine Mather
Meeting at UCD, details to be confirmed
12.30pm Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square Dublin1
HOPI Ireland founding conference Join us in debate and decisions on the way forward for this vital campaign. We will be joined on the day by Yassamine Mather and Moshe Machover and hear messages from Iranian students and workers in struggle. Find out what is really going on behind the scenes. A proposed motion on the constitution has been circulated already. Please let me know if you need another copy and send amendments and motions to me as soon as possible so that I can circulate everything before Thursday.
Contact Anne on 0862343238 or Anne@hopoi.info for more details or if you want to help.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Hands off the People of Iran will be holding its first conference on 15th
November at the Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin. The event will
start at 1pm with registration from 12.30. Key items on the agenda are the
HOPI aims and constitution, setting up more formal structures and activities
over the coming year. The draft constitution will be circulated very soon
for amendments and proposals. Also we are inviting proposals for people to
go onto the steering committee.
Yassamine Mather, leading Iranian political activist and founding member of
HOPI in Britain will speak at our conference. We have also invited Moshe
Machover, an Israeli anti-zionist socialist. Moshe has written and spoken
extensively on the middle-east. Given the recent reports of Israel planned
attacks on Iran, both talks and the discussion will be very important.
We also plan to have a number of meetings from 13th-14th and we have been in
contact with university societies. If you are a member of a university group
please contact me on Annegmcshane@
Yassamine and Moshe to speak.
Also we are hoping to co-host a forum on the middle-east in Dublin on
Thursday 13th. Details to follow.
Please let me know if you can help or be involved in any of our forthcoming
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I am writing on behalf of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, FWCUI.
We have received your statement about the struggles of the Haft Tappeh workers, which reveals the brutal policies of the Islamic Republic toward the workers.
The struggles of the Iranian workers reflect their heroic position in opposition to the policies of the authorities, such as lay off, privatization, reducing the salaries, delaying the payments, banning independent organizing, imposing the puppet organizations… etc.
At this time, we are stand side by side with the movement of the Haft Tappeh workers. We call for the workers unions and activists in the world to support the demands of the Sugar Cane factory "Haft Tappeh" workers.
We call on to the Iranian authorities to answer the workers' demands, and to stop pressuring the activists and chasing them, to stop jailing and arbitrary judgments of the workers' leaders.
Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq, FWCUI, President
August 17, 2008
Iran: The 20th anniversary of 1988 "prison massacre"
Amnesty International documents the 20th anniversary of the massacre of prisoners in Iran. It notes that no one has been held accountable for this atrocity. Full text at link.
Twenty years after the then Iranian authorities began a wave of largely secret, summary and mass executions in September 1988, Amnesty International renews its call for those responsible for the “prison massacre” to be held accountable. There should be no impunity for such gross human rights violations, regardless of when they were committed.
Amnesty is also calling on the present Iranian government not to prevent relatives of the dead from visiting Khavaran Cemetary in south Tehran, on or about 29 August to mark the anniversary and demand justice for their loved ones. Hundreds of those summarily executed are buried in unmarked mass graves.
In all between 4,500 and 5,000 prisoners are believed to have been killed, including women. Those responsible for the killings should be prosecuted and tried before a regularly and legally constituted court and with all necessary procedural guarantees, in accordance with international fair trial standards.
Attacking Iran via South Ossetia
Could the conflict between Russia and Georgia be the excuse the Bush administration has been looking for to bomb Iran?
An editor I once worked for told me that when his parents and grandparents discussed the day's news over dinner, they would inevitably finish by asking each other: "Is it good for the Jews?"
"Whether it was a war or an earthquake or men landing on the moon, it would always come down to that," he recalled. "They saw everything through that lens."
This year, I've developed a comparable pathology. I am terrified that the Bush administration is going to attack Iran sometime before it leaves office on January 20. Whenever there is a new tremor in Washington or the wider world, I ask myself: Does this make an American strike against Iran more or less likely?
So it is with the recent dustup in Georgia. I fear it has increased the chances that the United States will bomb Iran.
If there is a single principle that underlies the Bush-Cheney view of the world, it is that all countries must accommodate American interests and none may be allowed to emerge as what the 2006 Quadrennial Defence Review called a "near-peer power". This is a recipe for conflict, since many countries will naturally try to increase their power whether or not the US wants them to.
"Let Hercules himself do what he may," that insightful geo-strategist William Shakespeare observed, "the cat will mew, and dog will have his day."
Russia's day is once again dawning. That is not necessarily bad. A multi-polar world shaped by balances and equilibrium is, in the end, safer and more secure for everyone.
This view, though, is abhorrent to the Bush administration. It remains caught in the post-cold war fantasy that America's brief "uni-polar moment" can last indefinitely.
In recent years, the Bush administration has sought at every turn to challenge Russian interests. It has worked to cut Russia out of energy pipelines, expand Nato up to Russia's borders, build missile defence bases near those borders, promote the independence of Kosovo and encourage former Soviet states like Georgia to spit in Russia's strategic eye.
This approach worked while Russia was prostrate. It was inevitable, though, that Russia would eventually begin to re-emerge as an influential power. Now it has.
Washington protested Russia's crushing of Georgia with howls of outrage. President Bush declared with a straight face that "bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."
Mouthing such pious hypocrisy is about all the US can do to reverse Russia's recent gain. The US and Russia need to cooperate on a host of strategic issues, and Georgia is not a vital interest to the US. The logical thing for the US to do now would be to take this hit and move on.
President Bush and vice-president Cheney, however, may have another idea. I'm reading their minds, and this is what I fear they are thinking:
"We're on our way out of office. The way things look now, the last confrontation between us and the bad guys will have been one that they won. We can't let our term end that way. This can't be the last word. We have to go out in a blaze of glory. Where should we set off that blaze? Iran, of course. No country has taunted us more relentlessly. By bombing Iran, we will send the world a defiant farewell message: Forget Russia - We Still Rule!"
For years before the September 11 terror raids, a clique of millenarian ideologues in Washington had been urging a US attack on Iraq. The raids gave them their excuse. Now I fear the same may be happening with Iran. Georgia could be the excuse.
American policy toward Iran has for decades been shaped by emotion, not rationality. Emotions are now running hot in Washington. Iranians have nothing to do with the Russian invasion of Georgia. I hope they do not soon have to pay a bloody price for it.
Monday, July 21, 2008
ISRAEL will almost surely attack Iran's nuclear sites in the next four to seven months — and the leaders in Washington and even Tehran should hope that the attack will be successful enough to cause at least a significant delay in the Iranian production schedule, if not complete destruction, of that country's nuclear program. Because if the attack fails, the Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war — either through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb.
It is in the interest of neither Iran nor the United States (nor, for that matter, the rest of the world) that Iran be savaged by a nuclear strike, or that both Israel and Iran suffer such a fate. We know what would ensue: a traumatic destabilization of the Middle East with resounding political and military consequences around the globe, serious injury to the West's oil supply and radioactive pollution of the earth's atmosphere and water.
But should Israel's conventional assault fail to significantly harm or stall the Iranian program, a ratcheting up of the Iranian-Israeli conflict to a nuclear level will most likely follow. Every intelligence agency in the world believes the Iranian program is geared toward making weapons, not to the peaceful applications of nuclear power. And, despite the current talk of additional economic sanctions, everyone knows that such measures have so far led nowhere and are unlikely to be applied with sufficient scope to cause Iran real pain, given Russia's and China's continued recalcitrance and Western Europe's (and America's) ambivalence in behavior, if not in rhetoric. Western intelligence agencies agree that Iran will reach the "point of no return" in acquiring the capacity to produce nuclear weapons in one to four years.
Which leaves the world with only one option if it wishes to halt Iran's march toward nuclear weaponry: the military option, meaning an aerial assault by either the United States or Israel. Clearly, America has the conventional military capacity to do the job, which would involve a protracted air assault against Iran's air defenses followed by strikes on the nuclear sites themselves. But, as a result of the Iraq imbroglio, and what is rapidly turning into the Afghan imbroglio, the American public has little enthusiasm for wars in the Islamic lands. This curtails the White House's ability to begin yet another major military campaign in pursuit of a goal that is not seen as a vital national interest by many Americans.
Which leaves only Israel — the country threatened almost daily with destruction by Iran's leaders. Thus the recent reports about Israeli plans and preparations to attack Iran (the period from Nov. 5 to Jan. 19 seems the best bet, as it gives the West half a year to try the diplomatic route but ensures that Israel will have support from a lame-duck White House).
The problem is that Israel's military capacities are far smaller than America's and, given the distances involved, the fact that the Iranian sites are widely dispersed and underground, and Israel's inadequate intelligence, it is unlikely that the Israeli conventional forces, even if allowed the use of Jordanian and Iraqi airspace (and perhaps, pending American approval, even Iraqi air strips) can destroy or perhaps significantly delay the Iranian nuclear project.
Nonetheless, Israel, believing that its very existence is at stake — and this is a feeling shared by most Israelis across the political spectrum — will certainly make the effort. Israel's leaders, from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert down, have all explicitly stated that an Iranian bomb means Israel's destruction; Iran will not be allowed to get the bomb.
The best outcome will be that an Israeli conventional strike, whether failed or not — and, given the Tehran regime's totalitarian grip, it may not be immediately clear how much damage the Israeli assault has caused — would persuade the Iranians to halt their nuclear program, or at least persuade the Western powers to significantly increase the diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran.
But the more likely result is that the international community will continue to do nothing effective and that Iran will speed up its efforts to produce the bomb that can destroy Israel. The Iranians will also likely retaliate by attacking Israel's cities with ballistic missiles (possibly topped with chemical or biological warheads); by prodding its local clients, Hezbollah and Hamas, to unleash their own armories against Israel; and by activating international Muslim terrorist networks against Israeli and Jewish — and possibly American — targets worldwide (though the Iranians may at the last moment be wary of provoking American military involvement)
Such a situation would confront Israeli leaders with two agonizing, dismal choices. One is to allow the Iranians to acquire the bomb and hope for the best — meaning a nuclear standoff, with the prospect of mutual assured destruction preventing the Iranians from actually using the weapon. The other would be to use the Iranian counterstrikes as an excuse to escalate and use the only means available that will actually destroy the Iranian nuclear project: Israel's own nuclear arsenal.
Given the fundamentalist, self-sacrificial mindset of the mullahs who run Iran, Israel knows that deterrence may not work as well as it did with the comparatively rational men who ran the Kremlin and White House during the cold war. They are likely to use any bomb they build, both because of ideology and because of fear of Israeli nuclear pre-emption. Thus an Israeli nuclear strike to prevent the Iranians from taking the final steps toward getting the bomb is probable. The alternative is letting Tehran have its bomb. In either case, a Middle Eastern nuclear holocaust would be in the cards.
Iran's leaders would do well to rethink their gamble and suspend their nuclear program. Bar this, the best they could hope for is that Israel's conventional air assault will destroy their nuclear facilities. To be sure, this would mean thousands of Iranian casualties and international humiliation. But the alternative is an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland. Some Iranians may believe that this is a worthwhile gamble if the prospect is Israel's demise. But most Iranians probably don't.
Benny Morris, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Ben-Gurion University, is the author, most recently, of "1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War."
Thursday, July 3, 2008
In her latest article on political islam, Yassamine Mathers looks at how the womens movement has fared in Iran. She also addresses how imperialism offers no answers for women. Full text at link.
The women’s movement in Iran has become the subject of many claims and counter-claims over the last few years. Bush and the pro-war lobby tell us that Iranian women deserve a better regime and, of course, by that they mean the kind of ‘regime change’ we have seen in Iraq or Afghanistan.
It is ironic that political correctness has discouraged many western feminists from challenging ‘islamist feminism’. Iranian women, who are amongst the worst victims of fundamentalism, have no intention of following this trend and indeed over the last few years many of them have written extensively against the defenders of ‘islamist feminism’.
If women’s liberation means freedom from economic, social, political and cultural constraints, then the women’s movement in Iran cannot find any solution in islamic discourse - any more than they can find it in the kind of bourgeois secularism proposed by defenders of regime change.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Yassamine Mather continues her analysis of Political Islam. Here she illustrates how the left both in Iran and Internationally had illusions in the Tehran government. Full text at link.
The defenders of Iran’s islamic regime, including those on the international left who maintain illusions in the radicalism of political islam, refer to Iran’s foreign policy, especially in the first decade of its existence after the 1979 uprising, as a sign of anti-imperialism within the islamic movement. But they are silent about Iran’s foreign policy during Irangate or in support of US policy during the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is therefore necessary to examine the ‘anti-imperialist’ credentials of the islamic regime in the early 1980s, even though no-one associated with the Iranian regime has ever claimed to be anti-imperialist, using instead terms such as ‘anti-west’ or ‘anti-foreigner’.
Hopi's two day school reflects its resonance in the working class.
Chris Strafford reports on the HOPI School which had sessions on Women, Sanctions, Working class in Iran, National Minorities and 1979. Full text at link.
Hopi chair Mark Fischer opened the event by explaining that Hopi’s message has found a “resonance” in the workers’ movement. Two important unions, PCS and Aslef, have affiliated, proving the majority of the Stop the War Coalition leadership wrong. At both conferences the delegates found Hopi’s principled stand - against imperialist war, against the theocratic regime - was not too complex, but blindingly obvious. Mark reminded comrades of the growing threat of imperialist attacks on Iran, either directly from the USA or from its regional watchdog, Israel.
A recorded message from Tehran students was played. They thanked Hopi for its valuable solidarity work, especially in raising the case of all those leaders who had been arrested. The students were adamant in opposing every imperialist threat, which had given the regime a pretext to suppress democratic opposition.Azar Majedi (Organisation of Women’s Liberation Iran) began the final session by declaring that “no-one thinks an attack would save anyone”. Comrade Majedi went on to describe the brutal crackdown on women and all those opposing the theocratic regime since 1981. She explained that the women’s movement in Iran has deep historical roots going back to opposition to the shah.
Related Link: http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker/726/principled.html
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
from the June 20, 2008 edition
Istanbul, Turkey - Pressure is building on Iran. This week Europe agreed to
new sanctions and President Bush again suggested something more serious -
possible military strikes - if the Islamic Republic doesn't bend to the will
of the international community on its nuclear program.
But increasingly military analysts are warning of severe consequences if the
US begins a shooting war with Iran. While Iranian forces are no match for
American technology on a conventional battlefield, Iran has shown that it
can bite back in unconventional ways.
Iranian networks in Iraq and Afghanistan could imperil US interests there;
American forces throughout the Gulf region could be targeted by asymmetric
methods and lethal rocket barrages; and Iranian partners across the region -
such as Hezbollah in Lebanon - could be mobilized to engage in an anti-US
Iran's response could also be global, analysts say, but the scale would
depend on the scale of the US attack. "One very important issue from a US
intelligence perspective, [the Iranian reaction] is probably more
unpredictable than the Al Qaeda threat," says Magnus Ranstorp at the Center
for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College in
"I doubt very much our ability to manage some of the consequences,
Ranstorp, noting that Iranian revenge attacks in the past have been marked
by "plausible deniability" and have had global reach.
"If you attack Iran you are unleashing a firestorm of reaction internally
that will only strengthen revolutionary forces, and externally in the
region," says Ranstorp. "It's a nightmare scenario for any contingency
planner, and I think you really enter the twilight zone if you strike Iran."
Though the US military has since early 2007 accused Iran's Qods Force - an
elite element of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) - of providing
anti-US militias in Iraq with lethal roadside bombs, and of training and
backing "special groups" in actions that the US government alleges have cost
"thousands" of lives, US commanders have played down Iran's military
Even Admiral William Fallon, who publicly opposed a US strike on Iran before
he resigned in April, dismissed Iran as a military threat. "Get serious,"
Adm. Fallon told Esquire in March. "These guys are ants. When the time
comes, you crush them."
But that has not kept Iran from rhetorical chest-beating, with an active
military manpower of 540,000 - the largest in the Middle East - dependent on
some of the lowest per capita defense spending in the region. Iran "can deal
fatal blows to aggressor America by unpredictable and creative tactical
moves," the senior commander Brig. Gen. Gholam Ali Rashid said in late May.
"It is meaningless to back down before an enemy who has targeted the roots
of our existence."
Iran's supreme religious leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei also warned of
far-reaching revenge in 2006. "The Americans should know that if they
assault Iran, their interests will be harmed anywhere in the world that is
possible," he said. "The Iranian nation will respond to any blow with double
Analysts say Iran has a number of tools to make good on those threats and
take pride in taking on a more powerful enemy. "This is not something they
are shying away from," says Alex Vatanka, a Middle East security analyst at
Jane's Information Group in Washington.
"They say: 'Conventional warfare is not something we can win against the US,
but we have other assets in the toolbox,' " says Mr. Vatanka, noting that
the IRGC commander appointed last fall has been "marketed as this genius
behind asymmetric warfare doctrine."
"What they are really worried about is the idea of massive aerial attacks on
literally thousands of targets inside Iran," says Vatanka, also an adjunct
scholar at the Middle East Institute. "Their reading of America's intentions
in that scenario would be twofold: One is to obviously dismantle as much as
possible the nuclear program; and [the other], indirectly try to weaken the
Any US-Iran conflict would push up oil prices, and though Iran could disrupt
shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf, its weak economy depends on oil
But nearby US forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Gulf provide a host of
targets. Iran claimed last October that it could rain down 11,000 rockets
upon "the enemy" within one minute of an attack and that rate "would
Further afield, Israel is within range of Iran's Shahab-3 ballistic
missiles, and Hezbollah claims its rockets - enhanced and resupplied by Iran
since the 2006 war to an estimated 30,000 - can now hit anywhere in the
Jewish state, including its nuclear plant at Dimona.
Closer to home, Iran has honed a swarming tactic, in which small and lightly
armed speedboats come at far larger warships from different directions. A
classified Pentagon war game in 2002 simulated just such an attack and in it
the Navy lost 16 major warships, according to a report in The New York Times
"The sheer numbers involved overloaded their ability, both mentally and
electronically, to handle the attack," Lt. Gen. K. Van Riper, a retired
Marine Corps officer who commanded the swarming force, told the Times. "The
whole thing was over in five, maybe 10 minutes."
During the 1990s, Iranian agents were believed to be behind the
assassinations of scores of regime opponents in Europe, and German
prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Iran's intelligence minister.
Iran and Hezbollah are alleged to have collaborated in the May 1992 bombing
of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in revenge for Israel's killing of a
Hezbollah leader months before. Argentine prosecutors charge that they
jointly struck again in 1994, bombing a Jewish community center in the
Argentine capital that killed 85, one month after Israel attacked a
Hezbollah base in Lebanon.
With some 30,000 on the payroll by one count, Iranian intelligence "is a
superpower in intelligence terms in the region; they have global reach
because of their reconnaissance ability and quite sophisticated ways of
inflicting pain," says Ranstorp. "They have been expanding their influence..
Who would have predicted that Argentina would be the area that Hezbollah and
the Iranians collectively would respond?"
Past examples show that "Tehran recognizes that at times its interest are
best served by restraint," says a report on consequences of a strike on Iran
published this week by Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt of The
Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
But Iran could target the US, too, depending on the magnitude of any US
strike. "Iran's capacity for terror and subversion remains one of its most
potent levers in the event of a confrontation with the United States," says
the report, adding that "success" in delaying Iran's nuclear programs could
If "US and world opinion were so angered by the strikes that they refused to
support further pressure against Iran's nuclear ambitions, then prevention
could paradoxically [eventually ensure] Iran's open pursuit of nuclear
weapons," concludes the report.
And the long list of unconventional tactics should not be taken for granted
in Tehran, says Vatanka, noting that the Islamic system's top priority is
"So the Iranians have to be careful," says Vatanka. "Just because the US
doesn't have the will right now, or the ability to produce the kind of stick
that they would fear, doesn't mean the way of confrontation is going to pay
off for them in the long run."
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The demonstration slogans were:Workers would die rather than accept representation by fake unions!Death to Saedi !( Saedi is the member of the Islamic Majles [parliament] for the city of Shoush where the factory is located) The fact that the Iranian Dictatorship are prepared to send in the military against the striking workers is both a sign of their desperation and their determination to crush independent unions at any cost. They fully realise that independent unions would organise strong opposition to the Iranian Dictatorships programme of privatisation.
The above is based on reports from Iran translated by Yassamine Mather. For more information and background on the strike go to the link below.
Latest News by pat c Mon May 19, 2008 19:35
Thousands of Haft Tapeh sugar cane workers marched through Shush on 17 May 17. The 3,000 marchers, were joined along the way by local people, swelling their ranks to 5,000,.After first gathering outside the Governor’s Office at 8.00 a.m., they then marched with their families and supporters, towards the city centre. The slogans included: “Livelihood and dignity is our certain right”, “Legal cases must be closed”, “Head of security must be fired”, and “Haft-Tapeh workers are hungry”.
Around 11.30 a.m. the security forces attacked the marchers with tear gas. Two workers are reported to have been taken to hospital injured, one of whom has been kept in the hospital.The sugar cane workers, are demanding the dropping of the threatened legal actions against worker activists, which are based on fabricated charges, resignation of the director and management of the company, and the firing of the head of the factory security who has played a particularly vicious role in persecuting workers.
Five workers have been summoned to appear before court on20th May. This is the third strike by sugar cane workers in the past year.A march by around 2,000 workers on Thursday was also attacked by the security forces, resulting in five injuries. Some family members of the workers described the brutality of the police in interviews to international radio stations.
Over 6,000 workers march on 15th day of strike
Thousands of Haft Tapeh sugar cane workers marched again on Sunday and Monday through the town of Shush ahead of the sham trial of five of their colleagues on Tuesday 20 May, which the workers are fighting to stop. As in the last few days, the people of the town also joined the march today. At one point the workers blocked the main highway in the area.
On mondays march, the workers shouted slogans for the payment of unpaid wages and the scrapping of the legal actions against their colleagues. Another slogan reverberating through the streets today was for the release of jailed workers: “Jailed workers must be freed!”A large mobilisation is also expected today at the court.Workers from around Iran have expressed their support for the strike.
The Free Union of Iranian Workers, workers of Ahvaz Pipe Manufacturing Company and workers from Iran Khodro Car Manufacturing Company issued statements on Monday to express their solidarity with the workers and to condemn the impending action against the five activists. Last week several workers’ organisations issued a Joint Statement to condemn the persecution of the sugar cane workers, as well as calling for the immediate and unconditional release of currently jailed workers Javanmir Moradi, Taha Azadi, Sheis Amani and Mansoor Ossanlou.A video clip of Mondays march is embedded here.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
A boy (Amin Maher) climbs into the car and starts arguing with an unseendriver, his mother (Mania Akbari), who lectures her adolescent son on theliberation that her divorce has brought her. "Every time I step in the car you start," he shouts. She doggedly drills alesson in women’s rights into the defiant boy and he's downright insolent with hiseye-rolling carping and bratty screams until he literally flees theconversation by bailing out of the car. The long, unbroken take ends and wecut to the driver, an elegant woman in red lipstick, sunglasses, a colourful and a modest scarf.There's no doubt that Kiarostami is giving us a lesson in social politics,but the education lies in the mosaic pieced together from conversations andsituations. The prostitute climbs in because she assumes only a man would bedriving around Tehran at night. A woman pours her heart out when the manleaves her and our driver is surprisingly uncomforting. And Amin, the mouthychild who is alternately articulate and impulsively emotional, becomes afrightening glimpse into the next generation of men sure of the proper placeof women in Iranian society.
Iranian film night at the Caz barracka Books Barrack Street - Thursday 15th 8pm
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Hopi Ireland held a number of successful meetings last week to coincide with International Women’s Day.
Dali Jeyran spoke at a lunchtime meeting in Dublin at Lourdes Community and Youth Services (LCYS) on March 5. She focused on the life of women in today’s Iran, and explained her opposition to US and UN sanctions or military intervention, which would only make things even worse for the vast majority. Afterwards there were about 45 minutes of questions and discussion before people had to rush back to work. LYCS asked to be kept informed of future Hopi events.
The next day she spoke to three meetings held in community centres in Finglas, Dublin, jointly organised by Hopi and Parents Alone Support Service. All three were well attended and the discussion was wide-ranging. Bernie Hughes, the chair, opened the meetings with a reminder of the origins of Women’s Day in the struggles of working class women in New York in 1908. Clara Zetkin, inspirational Marxist and pioneer of the working class women’s movement, then took the initiative in 1910 in making the day an important part of the political calendar for all those committed to women’s liberation.
Comrade Jeyran talked of the sexual apartheid that exists for women in Iran today. She connected the mental and physical insecurity for women with both the regime itself and the threat of war. She argued that this threat was being used by Ahmadinejad to suppress the people further. The regime is only playing at pretending to be anti-imperialist when it fact it would be willing to hatch any deal with the US in return for greater influence in the Middle East.
Dali described the anti-woman nature of sharia law and pointed to the fact that girls as young as 13 are now prostitutes in Iran. Many women feel so stressed at the conditions they live in that they resort to suicide, with self-immolation being a particular problem.
But despite all of that Iranian women continue to struggle for their rights. They organise independent education and other assistance, including protection for women under threat. They also hold meetings and other events to discuss and campaign, although they do so against the odds. At the moment the political climate in Iran is extremely oppressive because of the threat of war. Women’s Day in Iran this year was very low-key because of the danger to protestors and the large number of activists in prison.
But demonstrations did take place in Brussels and elsewhere in solidarity with Iranian women. Hopi Ireland took part in a number of events, including a feminist walking tour of Dublin and an event in Cork organised by the Independent Workers Union. We also held a meeting at that event and signed up 30 new activists to the campaign. We were able to draw attention to the need for solidarity that is based on opposition to imperialist intervention and independent working class action in solidarity with those in struggle in Iran. We are glad to report that there was a great deal of interest and support for the campaign.
... and elsewhere
Edinburgh: Around 40 students, many from the university’s Stop the War Society, attended the official launch of Edinburgh University Hopi on February 27. The organisers had prepared Iranian food and the meeting was part informal, part discussion. Hopi secretary Yassamine Mather spoke about the continued threat of war against Iran and the effects of existing sanctions on workers and the poor. She pointed out that inside Iran labour and student activists were amazed at the illusions held about the regime by some in the Stop the War Coalition.
Oxford: Over 50 students attended a Radical Forum meeting on February 28 addressed by comrade Mather on shia islam and the women’s movement. She gave a brief history of the women’s movement in Iran from the early 1900s to the present and argued that the current strength of Iranian women has been achieved in opposition to the islamic regime, not, as some apologists claim, thanks to it. There are plans to set up a Hopi branch at Oxford University.
London: Hopi steering committee member Torab Saleth spoke at the March 1 conference organised by the Critique journal on ‘1968 and its influence on the Iranian left’. Comrade Saleth spoke of the origins of the Trotskyist movement in Iran after 1968, while emphasising that the majority of the Iranian left in that period were influenced by Latin American guerrilla movements or Maoism. In response to questions, comrade Saleth described the current situation regarding workers’ protests in Iran in opposition to the regime’s neoliberal economic policies.
Glasgow: On March 4 comrade Mather spoke on ‘The threat of war and social movements in Iran’ at a seminar at Glasgow University’s Centre for the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements, attended mainly by academics. Again she warned against the continuing imperialist threats and pointed to the genuine anti-imperialists inside Iran - most importantly the workers’, students’ and women’s movements.
Brussels: Three members of Hopi’s steering committee were at the March 8 demonstration called by the Campaign Against Misogynist Legislation in Iran. Houzan Mahmoud spoke about the plight of Iraqi women under occupation at the rally held in front of the US embassy at the start of the demonstration. At the subsequent rally at Brussels University, Hopi’s solidarity message was read out in English and French.
London: Yassamine Mather addressed a Jewish Socialists’ Group meeting on March 9 on the topic of ‘Women, peace and liberation in Iran’. Yassamine ridiculed the US pretence that it cared about the rights of Iranian women, or anyone else; but said the anti-war movement was losing credibility and weakening itself if it pretended nothing was wrong in Iran. Sharia law had been part of the legal system under the shah, said comrade Mather, but was of course strengthened under the islamic regime. Under the law of retribution, a family could pay money for taking a life - and a woman’s life was accounted as worth half that of a man. Likewise evidence from two women witnesses was only weighed against that of one male.
What is the truth about Muqtada al-Sadr’s connections with Iran? Yassamine Mather looks at al-Sadr’s pragmatic opportunism and puts the record straight
The inter-shia fighting in late March and early April in Basra and Baghdad has once again been used by both imperialist warmongers and apologists for the islamic regime in Iran to create confusion and spread misinformation about various factions of the shia United Iraqi Alliance - Dawa, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri), and the Mahdi army (until September 2007) - and their relations with Iran.
On Tuesday April 8 general David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, made the latest in a long string of accusations against Iran and its “destructive” role in Iraq, including its financing of militia groups. He implied Iran had supported the Mahdi army in the recent battle for Basra, conveniently failing to mention Tehran’s support for the US occupation government in Baghdad. Ironically the same false claims are being used by Tehran apologists to ‘prove’ Iran’s credentials as an anti-imperialist force supporting the Iraqi resistance.1
However, the realities of the current inter-shia conflict are more complicated and, as most news agencies reported last week, it was in fact pressure from the Iranian regime, intervening on behalf of Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, that forced Muqtada al-Sadr to order his Mahdi followers to cease fire;2 and it is the same pressure that forced him this week to contemplate disbanding his militia if “the highest shi’ite religious authority demands it”,3 as well as call off the anti-occupation demonstration planned for April 9.4
A week is a long time in politics and an even longer one in shia politics. On March 31, al-Sadr repeated his criticism on Al Jazeera TV of Iran’s interference in Iraq and in particular of ‘supreme leader’ Ali Khamenei: “On my last visit to Khamenei I advised him - no, I reminded him - that I do not agree with Iran’s political and military aims in Iraq, and Iran must end this interference in the affairs of Iraq.” In the same interview with Al Jazeera, al-Sadr called on the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to oppose the occupation:
“I appeal to these parties to add legitimacy to the resistance and to stand by, not against, the Iraqi people because the Iraqi people need Arabs as much as they need any other person … The occupation is trying to divide sunnis and shias. It is trying to drive a wedge between Sadris and the sunnis. I love the sunnis. I am a shia, but we are all Iraqis.”
These comments, and in particular the reference to ayatollah Khamenei, were strongly attacked by newspapers and websites close to the Iranian ‘supreme leader’. The conservative website Tabnak, referring to Al Sadr’s “impudent” comments, writes: “This person was always a suspicious character. As elders have said, excessive militancy is a sign of either ignorance or treachery ... From the very beginning this group has failed to take a single step in the interests of islam. How dare he advise ayatollah Khamenei?”5 Other pro-Khamenei sites have dug out old documents claiming to prove that Muqtada al-Sadr’s father advised the shah’s court on shia practice, giving guidance to the shah’s closest ally and minister of court, Assadallah Alam.
As far as the shia leaders in Iran are concerned, al-Sadr’s emphasis on Iraqi nationalism and his call on the Arab League to show solidarity with the Iraqi resistance were tantamount to a betrayal of shia principles and over the last week al-Sadr has come under considerable pressure from the religious hierarchy in Ghom. His conciliatory moves, culminating in the cancellation of the April 9 anti-occupation demonstration in Baghdad, prove al-Sadr’s pragmatism in dealing with the shia establishment.
However, there is nothing new in either al-Sadr’s anti-occupation rhetoric or his criticism of Iran, and he will return to those themes if and when he feels the balance of forces in Basra or Sadr city is shifting in favour of his group. Over the last few years he has repeatedly stated his opposition to Iranian interference in Iraq and advocated Iraqi political unity against ‘Persian’ influence. He believes that the religious leadership of Iraq should be in the hands of ethnic Arabs, not the ethnic Persians who currently make up the higher echelons of the shia clerical establishment in Najaf.
Maybe that is why al-Sadr has recently been spending a good deal of time in Tehran, travelling twice a week to study at a seminary in Ghom in order to become an ayatollah (and presumably to change the balance of forces amongst high-ranking clerics in Najaf). Yet he realises that until such a day he has to compromise with the existing ayatollahs and grand ayatollahs (ayatollah ol ozma), such as Khamenei and Sistani. Here lies the root of his inconsistencies.
The Iranian regime is well aware that its current dominant position in the region following the coming to power of a shia government in Iraq, thanks to the US-UK invasion, is deeply resented by all Arab regimes. In addition Iran is currently in dispute with the Arab League over three islands in the Persian Gulf allegedly occupied by Iran. The League summit has urged the United Arab Emirates to seek “legal and peaceful ways” to regain the three islands (not forgetting the dispute about the name of the waters in question - Persian Gulf according to Iran, Arab Gulf according to the League).
To call on the Arab League to intervene in a dispute amongst shia factions is seen by Iran’s theocracy as total betrayal - it is as if two factions of the IRA had asked Ian Paisley to mediate between them at the height of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Iranian clerics spent last week reminding all factions of the Iraqi shia coalition of their responsibilities regarding the future of shias in a sunni-dominated region.
No-one is in any doubt that Tehran (and all factions of the regime) considers the current occupation government in Iraq as its main ally and, although publicly Iranian leaders often call for an end to the occupation, the Farsi blogs associated with the Islamic Republic Party are perfectly candid about the risks of such a withdrawal, gently reminding the shia faithful that the government of “our brotherly neighbour”, Maliki, will fall in the absence of US troops. Ironically they share this particular stance (opposition to US military withdrawal) with their arch-enemies on the soft left in Britain, such as the Euston Manifesto and Alliance for Workers’ Liberty!
The communiqué following Ahmadinejad’s visit to Iraq in March reflects the current official position of the Iranian government: “Iran has once again stressed the need for strengthening the national unity and territorial integrity of Iraq, voicing full support for prime minister Maliki’s national reconciliation plan, aimed at encouraging the presence of Iraqis of all walks of life in the political process of the country. The two sides denounced all types of terrorism against human beings, economic centres, state facilities and religious centres in Iraq. The islamic republic of Iran also voiced full support for the Iraqi government and the nation’s resolute will to continue their all-out campaign against terrorist and criminal activities.” Iran’s president announced $1 billion in loans, as well as a clutch of trade pacts with Iran’s “brotherly” neighbour.
However, despite Iran’s commitments to the Maliki regime and the war of words between supporters of ayatollah Khamenei and al-Sadr, Iran has long-term ambitions in Iraq. That is why, in the tradition of Realpolitik pursued by islamic clerics since the day they came to power, Iran will maintain ‘good relations’ with all Iraqi shia groups and leaders (including those the USA first attempted to foist on Baghdad, like Ayad Alavi and Ahmed Chalabi), warning them all about the dangers of in-fighting, while waiting to see who will gain the upper hand in current and future conflicts.
Iran’s decision to give full support to Iraqi shia opposition groups dates back to the Iranian revolution in 1979. During the Iraq-Iran war (1980-88), the Iranian clergy organised the pro-Iran, Iraqi shia opposition parties - Sciri and the Islamic Dawa Party.
Sciri was led by ayatollah Muhammad Baqr al-Hakim, who was among about 100 people killed in a car bomb in Najaf in August 2003. At the time many blamed al-Sadr for the attack - Hakim had offered support to the US-appointed governing council. Following his death his brother, Abdel Aziz, took over as leader of Sciri and is now a minister in the Maliki government.
The Dawa party is the oldest of the shia groups. It was set up in the 1950s as the religious party, al-Dawa al-Islamiya. Along with the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Al-Dawa is an integral part of the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), a coalition of religious shia parties conceived and blessed by grand ayatollah Ali Sistani. Prime minister Maliki is a leading Dawa figure.
Although anti-occupation sentiment is growing by the day amongst all Iraqis, including the shia population, the vested interests of most shia political groups and clerics, not least their allegiance to the clerics in Iran (or from Iran in the case of Sistani), ensure that they remain part of the problem - ie, the imperialist occupation - rather than part of the solution.
Of course, in Basra there is a force worthy of support: Iraq’s oil workers and their union. However, even here, the influence of the shia religion and ayatollah Sistani, at least amongst individual leaders of the union, including Hassan Jomeh,6 can only lead to compromise with this or that faction of the shia coalition. One factor that has differentiated Iranian oil workers, who played a historic role in bringing down the shah’s regime, from the oil workers in Basra is the persistence of religious allegiance amongst members of the leadership, including of Naftana, the UK support committee for the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions (or at least those we have heard). Many are influenced by Sistani, who is no more than a representative of the landowning, merchant classes in Iraq.
True to his faith, Sistani is committed to do all in his power to create the kind of social disaster that will ‘precipitate’ the return of Imam Mahdi (the nine-year-old 12th imam who fell down a well 12 centuries ago and will soon rise from it again to rescue the world). While Ahmadinejad is building motorways to aid Mahdi’s speedy return, and Muqtada al-Sadr is preparing his army, the Jaish Mahdi, pious shia capitalists are doing their best to create the kind of hell on earth that should result in the resurrection of the 12th imam. Meanwhile the ayatollah ol ozma such as Khamenei and Sistani try their utmost to fool the masses with simplistic rhetoric and silly decrees, while holding out to the poor the promise of heaven and a better life after Mahdi’s return.
Sistani produces not only a list of recommended candidates at election time: he actually produces a list of everything you should do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go back to sleep. Sistani’s website provides guidance to the faithful for every trivial aspect of their lives - from the way they should drink water, to the way they should put down a pen, to the kind of music they should listen to. The question and answer section in Farsi and English covers matters as diverse as whether it is acceptable for a shia women to carry a mobile phone to the procedure to follow if a dog should lick your clothes … Yet there is a remarkable absence of any ‘answers’ regarding what most would consider the burning issues - eg, the privatisation of Iraqi (or for that matter Iranian) oil,7 privatisation in general or the US occupation itself. Repeated attempts by devout shias (and at times not so devout ex-shias) to use the interactive Q&A section of Sistani’s website in order to obtain a response on these issues have drawn a blank.
Until the anti-imperialist, anti-war working class forces, including the Basra oil workers, rid themselves of their illusions in all the shia or sunni political parties and their conservative leaders, in Iran and in Iraq, revolutionary forces will not be able to defeat the “bringers of death and destruction in Iraq”.
The systematic destruction of Iraq could not have happened without the help of Iran and its protégés in the shia coalition of the occupation government. Of course, Baghdad has a long way to go before it attains the level of corruption achieved by its “brotherly” neighbour in Tehran, whose theocracy holds the unenviable ranking of 179th out of 179 countries on Transparency International’s ‘corruption perceptions index’.8 Nor have they yet managed the levels of privatisation achieved by the islamic regime in Iran.9
However, when it comes to exploitation, capitalism and its inevitable consequences, one can already see where the shia factions of Iraq are heading. That is why workers in Iran and Iraq - and oil workers in particular - share a common struggle against war, against occupation, but also against privatisation and rampant corruption.
1. See, for example, Sami Ramadani on the Stop the War Coalition’s website: www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id =578&Itemid=27
2. Reported on many Iranian sites, including Akhbar Rouz: www.iran-chabar.de/news.jsp?essayId=14450
3. The Independent April 8.
4. www.alalam.ir/english/enNewsPage.asp?newsid =0310 30120080408184803
6. See www.labournet.net/world/0410/iraq1.html
9. www.mehrnews.com/fa/Default.aspx?Page=6&t =Economic
No to the theocratic regime!
We recognise that there is an urgent need to establish a principled solidarity campaign with the people of Iran.
The contradictions between the interests of the neo-conservatives in power in the USA and the defenders of the rule of capital in the Islamic Republic has entered a dangerous new phase.
US imperialism and its allies are intent on regime change from above and are seriously considering options to impose this - sanctions, diplomatic pressure, limited strikes or perhaps bombing the country back to the stone age.
The main enemy is imperialism. The Iranian regime does not represent a progressive or consistent anti-imperialist force.
Our campaign demands are:
No to imperialist war! For the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of US/UK troops from Iraq and all the Gulf region!
No to any imperialist intervention. The immediate and unconditional end to sanctions on Iran.
No to the theocratic regime!
Opposition to Israeli expansionism and aggression
Support to all working class and progressive struggles in Iran against poverty and repression!
Support for socialism and democracy in Iran and therefore solidarity with all democratic, working class, socialist and secular movements in Iran.
Opposition to Israeli, British and American nuclear-weapons. For a Middle East free of nuclear-weapons as a step towards world-wide nuclear disarmament!
For the full statement: http://www.hopoi.org/main.html