Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some Post-1979 Iranian History Revisited--Conclusion

(Revisiting some of the following post-1979 Iranian people’s history might help U.S. anti-war activists understand better some of the historical background of what is currently happening within Iran in 2009. See parts 1 and 2 below).

In addition to providing the Iranian government with a pretext to repress secular anti-imperialist proponents of more democratization of Iranian society during the 1980s, the 1980 to 1988 Iraq-Iran War that Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath regime in Iraq started in September 1980 also produced great suffering for the people of both Iran and Iraq. Almost one million Iranians were maimed or killed, for example, as a result of the Iraq-Iran War of the 1980s; and many Iranian cities were extensively damaged during this war.

But on July 18, 1988, the Iranian government agreed to accept UN Security Council Resolution 598 which called for a cease-fire with Iraq; and the 1980 and 1988 Iraq-Iran War finally ended. Six days later, however, the People’s Mojahadeen guerrilla group launched a military incursion into Iran.

Iranian government authorities apparently then used this military attack as a pretext to carry out another round of mass executions of both imprisoned secular anti-imperialist left Iranian activists and imprisoned People’s Mojahadeen activists. According to the Human Rights Watch web site:

“In 1988, the Iranian government summarily and extra-judicially executed thousands of political prisoners held in Iranian jails…The majority of those executed were serving prison sentences for their political activities…Those who had been sentenced, however, had not been sentenced to death….”

Dissident Iranian activists and Amnesty International estimated that between 2,800 and 4,481 Iranian political prisoners were then executed in 1988 by Islamic Republic authorities. Although most of the executed Iranian political prisoners in 1988 were members and supporters of the People’s Mojahadeen group, hundreds of imprisoned members and supporters of the Tudeh Party, the Peoples’ Fedayeen group and the Kurdish Democratic Party were also apparently executed by the Iranian government authorities in 1988.

The economic destruction caused by the eight year Iraq-Iran War and the generally unfriendly policy of the U.S. government towards Iran during the years since the U.S. embassy was seized by Iranian students (except during the “Iran-Contragate Scandal” period of the Republican Reagan Administration when the U.S. government arranged for weapons to be shipped to the Islamic Republic of Iran) hurt the post-revolutionary Iranian economy, prior to the death of Ayatollah Khomeini on June 3, 1989. But Iran’s oil wealth has enabled the Islamic Republic to apparently satisfy the economic needs of some people within Iranian society--although many other people in Iran still seem to be having economic difficulties.

By 1989, 80 percent of the Iranian economy was controlled by the Iranian government and banks, insurance companies and all major industries in Iran were now nationalized. Although one-third of Iranian workers were provided jobs by Iran’s public sector in 1988, during that same year about 30 percent of all Iranian workers were still apparently unemployed.

In 1989, the average inflation rate in Iran’s economy also apparently exceeded 23 percent; and by 1993 the annual inflation rate in Iran had increased to 40 percent. As a result, when the Iranian government announced cuts in price controls and government subsidies of basic necessities during the 1990s, street protests broke out in Tehran and other Iranian cities.

By 1997, young people in Iran composed 25 percent of Iran’s population of 67 million; and the number of university students in Iran had grown from only 160,000 in 1977 to 1.25 million in 1997, as a result of the Iranian government’s increased investment in Iranian higher education.

During the 1990s, however, the Iranian government began to privatize Iran’s economy more by transferring control of state-run enterprises to Islamic clergy-controlled private foundations, thus turning these foundations into powerful business corporations, according to the 2006 Democracy In Iran book.

The size of Iran’s college-educated middle-class also began to increase in the 1990s; and this seemed to lead to increased political support for Iranian electoral candidates who favored more liberalization and more democratization of Iranian society.

The conservative clerical political leadership in Iran, however, responded to the 1990s electoral success of candidates favoring more democratization and liberalization by shutting down 19 pro-reformist newspapers in Iran in May 1999; and by disqualifying 3,600 candidates who favored more democratization, including 80 incumbent candidates, from participating in the 2004 Iranian parliamentary elections.

Although U.S. Secretary of State Clinton’s husband-—former Democratic President Bill Clinton--signed an executive order banning all U.S. trade and investment in Iran in May 1995, European governments have adopted less hostile economic policies in relation to Iran than has the U.S. government, in recent years.

In Iran, “European multinational companies” have “formed business partnerships in various sectors of the economy—including oil and gas, telecommunications, consumer electronics and automotive—especially after a bill in 2002,” passed by Iran’s parliament, “eased some of the restrictions on foreign investments,” according to the Democracy In Iran book.

After the former Mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was elected president of Iran in June 2005 with 62 percent of the Iranian popular vote, on a platform of pledging to redistribute more of the wealth of Iran to the most impoverished people in Iran, both the Republican Bush Administration and the Israeli government seemed more eager to launch a military attack on Iran.

But, as this revisiting of Iran’s post-1979 history has shown, people in Iran have suffered, historically, as a result of U.S. intervention in Iran’s internal political affairs since World War II. And a U.S. government-supported Israeli military attack against Iran in 2009--regardless of which pretext is used by the Obama-Clinton Administration or the Netanyanu Israeli government--will likely create additional suffering for people in Iran.

So it’s not surprising that a February 2007 statement issued by the political committee of The Union of Iranian Socialists in North America declared that “The people of Iran vehemently oppose the intervention of any foreign power in their country” and “any kind of aggressive actions by the U.S. and its allies, either military or economic, should be condemned by progressive anti-war activists.” (end of article)

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