In mid-July this year six imperialist powers, the US, Russia, China, France, England, and Germany, signed an agreement with Iran which will limit the latter’s ability to produce enriched uranium to develop nuclear weapons. In return, sanctions which were imposed on Iran by the United States after the Islamist revolution of 1979 have been removed, sanctions which were expanded by the UN in 2006. These sanctions severely damaged Iran’s economy and caused much suffering (including a doubling of the poverty rate) for the Iranian masses.
The Western imperialist powers hoped that the sanctions would lead the masses to rise up against the regime – in practice the sanctions only weakened the winds of revolt. Thus the United States and her allies failed in their attempts to defeat both the regime and the people of Iran. This failure is yet another link in the chain of failures and embroilments garnered by the Imperialist Axis of Evil. Everywhere in the Middle East that imperialism has attempted to exploit to its advantage its superior military power, more harm than good has been done to its own interests (e.g., the emergence of the Islamic State Organization out of the ruins of Iraq and Syria and, specifically, from the American prisons in Iraq, notorious for their brutality).
The historic economic crisis which began in 2008 buried any possibility for yet another American military intervention, and this led to a tactical change by the US administration. But strategic goals remain unchanged. This is the reason that Iran is gradually being transformed from a bitter enemy to a partner in creating the order which the Americans want to see prevail in the Middle East. This does not mean that there won’t be places where US imperialism and Iran will be on different sides of the barricade. The reason for this is that the US is not the only imperialist country in the region. Apparently, Iran will try to take advantage of the contradictions between the various imperialist powers struggling for control of the region in order to strengthen its own power and influence.
A similar slap in the face was received by various Israeli governments which for a decade exacerbated in an unprecedented fashion the abuse and suffering heaped upon the residents of the Gaza Strip, whether this be under siege and starvation or by means of wholesale massacres. This policy of Israel was implemented on the assumption that the residents of Gaza will exert pressure on the Hamas and perhaps will even try to topple the leadership in favor of more a “moderate” Fatah-style one. However, the masses of Gaza continue to see Israel as the murderous enemy and Hamas as representing their spirit of resistance. If any initiative to topple the Hamas regime in fact exists, it is from the side of the more radical Islamists organizations who consider Hamas a collaborator of Israel and America and the Hamas leaders as heretics.
We have no doubt that Hamas indeed is looking for any way possible to follow the path of Fatah and to turn itself into a tool of Israel vis-à-vis the oppression of the Palestinian people. Hamas is ready for this in exchange for a piece of the action in the exploitation of the workers of Gaza like those on the backs of whom the Gulf States became rich. As these lines are being written, Hamas is struggling with all its might to maintain the calm and suppress any attempts of resistance from sons and daughters of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. Just like Fatah, Hamas is ready and eager at any moment to reach an agreement with Israel on the basis of 1967 borders. But as much as the capitalist class interests of the Hamas regime make it impossible for it to do more than simply sabotage the struggle of national liberation for all of Palestine, Israel has no right to overthrow this elected government of the Palestinian people, a bourgeois rule which can only be toppled by a revolutionary uprising of the workers and poor fellahin.
Until the Islamist revolution in 1979, Iran was ruled by the Pahlavi dynasty which came to power in a military coup in 1921. The founder of the dynasty, Reza Shah Pahlavi, became a fervent supporter of Adolf Hitler. In August 1941, British and Soviet forces invaded Iran, overthrew the Shah and replaced him with his son Muhammad. After the war, Stalin tried to extend the area of Soviet influence in northern Iran by assisting the establishment of the Kurdish Republic under Qazi Muhammad.
But under British pressure the Soviet Union chose to leave Iran rather than organize revolutionary mass resistance. The Iranian army, with the assistance of neighbors and under the orchestration of British and American imperialism conquered Mahabad, the capital of the Kurdish Republic declared in 1946. The leaders of the Kurdish Republic were hanged in the city’s central square in 1947. The repression of the Kurdish Republic and support for the Shah’s monarchical regime once again exposed the reactionary nature of the United States and Britain – they talk endlessly about democracy but actually support dictatorship. In this way, a decade earlier, democratic Spain was also sacrificed to fascism, and volunteers who wanted to go and fight there for democracy were persecuted by the Western regimes.
Western and Israeli Involvement in Iran
The Iranian elections of 1951 brought to power the National Front Party headed by Mohammad Mossadegh which nationalized the country’s oil without threatening the monarchy and the rule of the Shah. Until July 1952, the Tudeh Party of Iran, a communist party, opposed Mossadegh and considered him an agent of American imperialism, but after July 1952 Tudeh supported Mossadegh. However as early as August, Tudeh began attempts to undermine Mossadegh’s rule without offering itself as an alternative.
As has happened many times throughout history, the National Front government which represented the interests of certain wings of the Iranian bourgeoisie was afraid of its own shadow (and of losing control of the masses) and did not foment a bourgeois democratic revolution. This in turn opened the path to its toppling in a military coup orchestrated by the American CIA and the British MI6 in August 1953, despite the protests of the Iranian masses.
From then and until its overthrow in 1979, the regime of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi became a policeman for the United States and Israel. Israel helped the Shah build a modern army to fulfill his role and Israel’s Mossad assisted him in founding his notoriously cruel Security Service, the SAVAK. Therefore, when Israel boasts and brags about being “the only democracy in the Middle East” (a particularly boldfaced lie) it is worth remembering the role it played in liquidating the democratic aspirations of the region’s peoples. Perhaps the greater irony is that on the eve of the Islamic Revolution, Israel and Iran were about to close a deal to jointly develop missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads (and even after the Revolution, Israel continued selling arms to Iran).
Before Khomeini came to power there was real potential for a successful socialist revolution in Iran. The Iranian Left enjoyed wide support and the masses, who wanted revolution, began organizing workers’ councils (shura). But the great majority of the Iranian Left, which included the Communist Party and the radical leftist organization Mujahideen Khalq, under pressure from the Stalinist Soviet leadership, politically supported Khomeini and refused to foment a socialist revolution. After Khomeini’s rise to power the Left and the supporters of the Shah were brutally suppressed. For this reason Iran’s Islamist revolution should be seen as a counter- revolution as it aimed to eliminate any possibility of a socialist revolution and keep Iran a capitalist market state under an Islamic veil.
After Khomeini’s rise to power, the United States pushed Iraq under by Saddam Hussein to wage a war against Iran. This war, which continued for eight years, led to the death of no fewer than one million people. Despite all this, and in the absence of an alternative the regime of the Ayatollahs held out and even strengthened its position. With the failure of the attempt to defeat Iran by force, the effort of the imperialist West was shifted in favor of economic sanctions which brought about similar “achievements.”
Therefore, when Western television screens, saturated with Zionist and American propaganda, broadcast videos clips in which the Iranian masses call for “Death to America! Death to Israel!” it should be remembered that there are good reasons for these calls but that anti-Semitism is not one of them. Despite the fact that Iran’s political regime, the representative of the local tycoons, is crawling at an increasing pace towards a strategic alliance with Western imperialism, it really has no choice but to convey to the Iranian people “business as usual” with regard to expressions of hatred toward the United States and Israel.
Will Iran Become the Policeman of the Middle East?
Iran, it turns out, in return for its renouncing its military nuclear program, will once again assume, like in the days before the Islamic Revolution, the role of the regional policeman. As these relations progressively deepen, the anti-imperialist rhetoric of the regime will increasingly soften. Meanwhile, in his last speech, the Supreme Leader Khamenei said that Iran will not abandon its friends the Palestinians, the Yemenis, the oppressed in Bahrain and the fighters in Lebanon, because the attitude towards the arrogant United States will not change. We encourage the masses struggling against oppression to carefully weigh the likelihood of such promises.
Israel is not only country opposed to this agreement. Saudi Arabia, for example, is trying to form an anti-Iranian Sunni front with Egypt and Turkey, but this front has no chance of replacing Iran. Israel is currently involved in an undeclared but pretty transparent alliance with Saudi Arabia against Iran, as has been revealed by recent events in Syria. Therefore, even when the website of Zionist Left party – Meretz – talks about “deep common interests between Israel and the moderate elements in the Arab world,” it’s worth remembering which “moderates” they’re talking about, what exactly is the attitude of these “moderates” to democracy; equally importantly what all this says about Meretz.
Netanyahu shouts justifiably, for him, that the agreement signed with Iran is not a good agreement – and it is indeed very bad for Israel. But the truth is that no agreement would be good enough for Israel and the only alternative for the Zionist government is to drag the United States into a war against Iran. Netanyahu apparently needs to be reminded that the reason Western imperialism is looking for an additional policeman, and is possibly even considering getting an entirely different policeman is, in addition to the world economic crisis, the weak, undermined position of its current policeman. Israel has proved incapable of subduing the resistance organizations and the rebellion of the Arab masses who take inspiration from the example (and it doesn’t matter at all how many betrayals and how much oppression Israel manages to foment among the Arab masses). Furthermore, the Zionist criminal hooligan behavior only further destabilizes the region.
We, of course, are not the only ones who claim that the source of Israel’s fear is much deeper than Iran’s nuclear program should warrant and is in fact the concern that a new local bully is about to enter the scene. Similar claims are raised even from within the conservative, pro-Israeli American camp.
In our opinion, revolutionary socialists should support the lifting of imperialist sanctions from Iran. But unlike most left-wing organizations in our neighborhood we openly say that in a situation in which both the US and Israel have nuclear weapons Iran also has the right to possess such weapons. In the same breath, we propose maintaining vigilance regarding the possibility of Iran’s becoming imperialism’s policeman in the region. As these lines are being written, the US and Iran are already cooperating to suppress the Sunni insurrection in Iraq which gave rise to, among other things, the Islamic State organization. While Assad’s supporters among the Palestinian Left throw in our faces that the Islamic State in Syria is being supported by the US (and naturally various proponents of conspiracy theories argue that its leaders were even trained by the Israeli Mossad), they have difficulty explaining exactly why the Islamic State is being bombed by the US in Iraq.
It’s difficult not to see that the imperialist order, which with a ruler and bloodshed the West created in the Middle East after World War I, is crumbling. But an American-Iranian alliance will not create a new order that will bring economic, social, and personal security to the masses. A new order will arise only out of a revolutionary struggle by the exploited and oppressed masses. This struggle demands forming an alliance between the working class and the poor peasants and urban poor, an alliance that will be led by the revolutionary sector of the working class.
The masses have already begun this battle, which has known and will yet know ups and downs, by raising democratic slogans. However, the role of revolutionary socialists is to persuade by word and deed that at this stage of history only a socialist revolution will realize all the democratic demands, and that any leadership which is not revolutionary-socialist will prefer a dictatorship that serves the interests of the tycoons and capitalists over a democracy that will imperil their own political power. In stark contrast to this, the socialist revolution in our region will replace the phony nation states, which were imposed by Western imperialism, by a Socialist Federation of the Peoples of the Middle East and the rule of tycoons and bourgeois capitalists with the democratic rule of workers’ and peasant councils.
 However, it should be noted that only a handful of the old military elite was imprisoned and even they were released shortly after to lead the war effort.
 Menachem Begin himself said “Khomeini is Kerensky”
 This despite the fact that the Iranian army stood by idly at the beginning of the war – because it wanted to rehabilitate itself so that it could suppress the workers and the Kurds when the war ended – while the independent Iranian militias fought valiantly.