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TV International: Iran elections

TV International

* Visit TV International English site to see programme of week of July 3, 2005 on www.anternasional.tv in which Maryam Namazie interviews Bahram Soroush on dangers of UK incitement to religious hatred bill; Azar Majedi on the tragedy of Iraq and Fariborz Pooya on the US and Iranian election.

* Landslide victory or velvet coup d’etat? Interview with Hamid Taqvaee on Ahmadinejad’s presidential ‘election’ in Iran

* No hero of Iranian workers, Bahram Soroush


* Visit TV International English site to see programme of week of July 3, 2005 on www.anternasional.tv in which Maryam Namazie interviews Bahram Soroush on dangers of UK incitement to religious hatred bill; Azar Majedi on the tragedy of Iraq and Fariborz Pooya on the US and Iranian election.

Questions raised:

Stephen Zunes says that Iranian voters were forced to choose between two flawed candidates where the relatively liberal contender came across as an out-of-touch elitist and his ultra-conservative opponent who put together a majority coalition based upon a pseudo-populist campaign promoting a more moral and value-centred society – a situation that should not be too unfamiliar to American voters. Is that what happened and are the two comparable?

A criticism of Islam is already being deemed racism – Islamophobia – and now with the incitement to religious hatred bill in the UK, it could be a prosecutable offence. Will it further silence critics?

Leader in the Guardian few days ago says that ‘Iraq is both a tragedy and a mystery, since the nature of what is going on in that country is obscure to Iraqis and outsiders alike. What is the most basic cause of the tragedy in Iraq?

TV International English is a weekly hour-long news analysis and commentary programme that focuses on the Middle East and rights and freedoms from a progressive and Left standpoint. Watch TV International English every Sunday from 11.00 - 12.00pm Tehran time (7.30-8.30pm London time). The programme is broadcast on Satellite: Telstar 12, Centre Frequency: 12608 MHz, Symbol Rate: 19279, FEC: 2/3, Polarization: Horizontal. It can also be viewed on its website: www.anternasional.tv/english. To see previous programmes, click on archives. To see a segment of a programme, first download the programme; after which you will be able to rewind and fast forward as needed.

If you are interested in helping Maryam Namazie and TV International English by transcribing interviews and suggesting issues for discussion, please contact her directly on m.namazie@ukonline.co.uk

* Landslide victory or velvet coup d’etat?

Interview with Hamid Taqvaee on Ahmadinejad’s presidential ‘election’ in Iran

Maryam Namazie: Ahmadinejad, the right-wing candidate of the repressive security forces, the pasdaran and the Baseej won what the media is calling a landslide presidential election victory; his so-called election has been dubbed a surprise political upset in Iran. What has happened exactly?

Hamid Taqvaee: I think the so-called election of Ahmadinejad is a desperate attempt by the most reactionary and right-wing faction of the Islamic regime in Iran to intimidate the population at large and suppress the people’s opposition movement. The ‘election’ is more like a coup d’etat - a velvet coup – which took place via ‘election’ rigging and fraud rather than via military means. By putting forth someone like Ahmadinejad, the right-wing is under the illusion that it can survive the widespread mass opposition movement.

However, this ‘election’ clearly revealed that the Islamic Republic cannot address the problems it faces, nor unify its own ranks and lessen its factional infighting. That is the real result of the ‘election’; it will provide a new base for the deepening of the regime’s crisis, which it has already failed to resolve.

Maryam Namazie: In past interviews you stated that the result of the so-called election in Iran is usually based on the balance of power, which faction has the upper hand and on behind the scene discussions between the various factions. In this situation, does this mean the right has the upper hand or that the usual process was not followed?

Hamid Taqvaee: As I said, it is not the right-wing as a whole, but its most reactionary core that has the upper hand - the upper hand in the sense that they could control the ‘election’ process. They in fact ‘elected’ their own candidate. In this sense, they had the upper hand but only in this sense. They do not have the upper hand politically, which is why I call it some sort of coup. The result was a surprise for the other candidates and even for the other segments of the right-wing faction. It was not a decision based on their factional compromises or agreements. Rafsanjani actually thought he would be ‘elected’ as president and most of the regime’s factions supported him.

The people, however, did not care a whit about this ‘election and showed as much right from the start that they were against it. The as far as the various factions of the regime are concerned, most thought Rafsanjani would be selected as he had the west’s support, was experienced and was the one with seniority in the Islamic Republic. This all convinced many of the regime’s factions that Rafsanjani would be the one who would be pulled out of the ballot box and become president. This is not what happened. One segment of the right-wing faction put forth its own relatively unknown candidate, because it could control the process. Fro their perspective, this person is supposed to unify the regime’s factions and suppress the popular movement in Iran. As I said, though, this is an illusion. There is no way a person like Ahmadinejad could unify the regime behind him; he too will be unable to deal with the crisis that the regime is facing.

Maryam Namazie: You did mention the fact that they look to him not only to unify the factions but also to suppress the revolutionary movement that is widespread and escalating in Iran. Why is it not possible for him to do so?

Hamid Taqvaee: Actually, that is the whole story. If they could, they would not have needed a ‘reformist’ movement in the first place. I mean, Khatami’s ‘election’ to the presidency eight years ago was proof enough that they could not control the situation and needed a buffer in order to suppress the popular movement. Now the hardcore of the regime which had always been pro-naked suppression is on its own with no buffer and that is the basic reason that this system cannot survive. It needed a reformist wing to persuade the people that there was hope for changes without a revolution allowing the regime to survive. Now they are face to face with the revolutionary movement and no buffer whatsoever. The armed forces are also not unified and easily controllable. The core of their crisis is that they cannot suppress the people’s movement against the regime.

Maryam Namazie: How will this extreme right-wing faction in control of the government - naked and bare without any sort of buffer like the reformist faction to protect it - effect the revolutionary movement in Iran?

Hamid Taqvaee: In the short-term, I think, they might be able to intimidate people, mostly psychologically; this would have a negative impact but would be very short lived. And very soon, there would be backlash against the extreme right-wing on a massive scale and the regime would be in a much worse situation than ever before. The thing is that this faction cannot unify its own ranks and that is their main problem; now the regime is facing a much deeper crisis and it is much weaker as we predicted. Right now Rafsanjani, the so-called reformists and others are not pleased with what has happened even if they too do not want to see people’s intervention in the situation nor will they openly challenge them. They have their own objections to the presidency of Ahmadinejad. It seems on the surface that they are unified and that the winner is representing the right-wing faction of the regime, but actually the right-wing is in a very weak position. The whole of society and even their own friends are against them; they are in a much worse situation now.

Maryam Namazie: Ahmadinejad has promised he is going to build an exemplary and powerful Islamic society; what is interesting is that for the last two decades and more they have promoted themselves as a powerful Islamic society. Doesn’t it seem contradictory that they all agree that it is still not an Islamic society?

Hamid Taqvaee: It is just propaganda; they have been saying this for 26 years now. It is true that Iran is not an Islamic society but a society against Islam and Islamic government. But he has to say something. He is not a major politician; he does not even have support within the rank of the government. He has just been put forward as a puppet for the extreme right wing core of the regime in order to advance their policies. The situation now is different from before – there is no reformist vs. conservative division in the government any longer. This has come to the end with the results of this ‘election’. What we have now is various gangs fighting for a share of power.

Maryam Namazie: Ahmadinejad is portrayed as someone who has won the hearts of the majority of the poor religious people in Iran; this contradicts what you say about the anti-Islamic backlash.

Hamid Taqvaee: That is just a lie, a big lie. I do not think that he received even one percent of the votes. Those who did vote voted for Rafsanjani; this is obvious. Everyone knows that. Even Rafsanjani complained of the fraud. He wrote to the supreme spiritual leader, Khamenei, about this but nothing happened. In the first round, too, all other candidates such as Moin and Kahroobi said as much. Clearly, you cannot rely on these figures. Nobody knew who Ahmadinejad was before this ‘election’. Even if a small number of the population wanted to vote, they would not have voted for him. There was no reason to vote for him. I think he had the smallest number of votes in this ‘election’ – both in the first and second rounds. It was just rigged.

Maryam Namazie: What do you think the overall political outcome of this election would be?

Hamid Taqvaee: I think that there is no hope of any change in Iran without revolution; illusions of democracy or elections within the Islamic Republic have ended. No-one believes that one can bring about any change or reform in Iran without challenging the whole system and toppling the Islamic regime. In this sense the revolution has won the broadest base in society, the reformist 2nd Khordad Islamic movement has ended and anyone who had any illusion of achieving anything by participating in this election or in a referendum, now understands that the only way is revolution. In this sense, the revolution has found a vaster base in society. I think it showed that our analysis and policy was correct and now most people think like us that revolution is the only way.

The above interview was broadcast on TV International English on June 26, 2005 and transcribed by Fariborz Pooya.

* No hero of Iranian workers

Bahram Soroush

Robert Tait describes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the newly ‘elected’ president of the Islamic regime of Iran, as a ‘devout working class hero’ (The Guardian, Tues June 21st, 2005). An interview with a stallholder around a religious shrine in South Tehran seems to have bolstered this astonishing claim. Had he chosen to speak to workers themselves in the industries nearby, I’m sure he would have arrived at a different conclusion.

Ultra-conservative Ahmadinejad is a former commander of the regime’s paramilitary force (Pasdaran) and an ex-leader of the vigilante Baseej militia, responsible for the brutal suppression of political dissidents, students and labour activists. He is also wanted for terrorist activities abroad. Not surprisingly, he was the favoured candidate of Iran’s paramilitary forces and Baseej militias.

Workers in Iran stayed away from these so-called elections in their millions. They were right not to have faith in a show masqueraded as elections, where only Muslim males faithful to the regime can run, while opposition political parties and candidates are all suppressed.

They rightly despise a regime that has imposed unimaginable poverty on them, smashed labour organisations, banned strikes, persecuted workers’ leaders and enforced brutal repression on the whole of society. Mr Ahmadinejad is a top executive of such a regime.

To call such a reviled figure a hero of Iranian working class beggars belief; it is a monumental insult to Iranian workers.

ENDS

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