Saturday, March 28, 2009

Iran History Revisited: Part 6

(See parts 1-5 below)

In January 2007, the editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti-based Arab Times, Ahmed Al-Jarallah, reported that “A reliable source said President Bush… held a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Robert Gates…and other assistants in the White House where they discussed the plan to attack Iran in minute detail.” Yet in 2009 President Bush’s Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, is still the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

And as Eric Margolis observed in the February 16, 2009 issue of the Khaleeq Times:

“The CIA… funds at least one extremist Pakistani Sunni group that launches raids into Iran, attacking government posts, soldiers and civilians. Further covert American aid goes to armed separatist groups among Iran’s Arab and Azeri minorities…The US Congress has repeatedly voted hundreds of millions for such covert operations.

“The US has also waged a…financial and economic war against…Iran…

“Israeli elections produced a sharp move to the right, increasing chances Israel may make good on threats to attack Iran…”

Yet most U.S. high school social studies departments, ironically, still don’t require their students to study much 20th-century Iranian history.

In response to growing anti-British mass nationalist pressure in Iran during the 1930s, Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime agreed to annul one of its previously agreed to oil concessions to UK imperialism in Khuzistan on November 27, 1932. Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime then began to pursue a more nationalist policy; and some reforms were also introduced by Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime during the 1930s which Westernized Iranian society somewhat and provided public school educational opportunities for the children of Iran’s middle-class families.

Political repression of Iranian left intellectuals continued, however, during the 1930s by this regime. In April 1937, for example, Dr. Taghi Erani and 52 members of his Donya magazine discussion group were arrested by the Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime and charged with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Communist Act of 1931. At their subsequent November 1938 trial, Erani attacked the constitutionality of the regime’s Anti-Communist Act of 1931 as a violation of the right to freedom of expression. But all 53 defendants were convicted. Ten of the convicted Iranian left defendants were then sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment.

The leader of the Donya journal circle, Erani, died in an Iranian prison, however, on February 4, 1940--apparently as a result of deliberate negligence by the Reza Shah Pahlavi regime’s prison hospital authorities. But in September 1941, the other imprisoned left intellectuals of the Donya circle were granted amnesty and released, after Reza Shah Pahlavi’s authoritarian regime--which was seen as too politically supportive of Nazi Germany--was overthrown by a joint military invasion of Iran by the foreign troops of the Soviet and UK governments. The released Donya journal circle prisoners then joined other Iranian leftists in establishing the Tudeh Party in October 1941.

One reason that Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime was pro-Nazi Germany in its politics in early 1941 was that between 1933 and 1941 Nazi Germany had helped this regime modernize and industrialize Iran and had become Iran’s largest trading partner. Between 1929 and 1941, for example, the number of Iranians who were urban workers rather than peasants jumped from 300,000 to 600,000; and the size of Iran’s middle-class and intelligentsia also increased.

Despite Reza Shah Pahlavi’s nationalism and his regime’s pro-Nazi, pro-German political orientation during the late 1930s, in 1933 his government added another 60 years to the term of the British-owned Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s lucrative oil production concession. In 1935, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s name was also changed to the Anglo Iranian Oil Company when the name of the country was officially changed from “Persia” to “Iran” during that same year. (end of part 6)

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