The sham elections and opening Iran for big business

Submitted by Matthew on 9 March, 2016 - 11:17 Author: Morad Shirin

Commentary in some British newspapers argues that the new diplomatic rapprochement and lucrative business deals in Iran might be threatened by the hardline faction of the Iranian regime. This is, however, a general picture that both wings of the regime are creating to keep the whole system in power.

On the one hand, “reformists” and “moderates” want to perpetuate the myth that the regime, after nearly four decades of big rhetoric and broken promises, can one day in the future provide workers, the poor and the lower layers of the petty bourgeoisie with a decent standard of living. They ask for votes yet again to ensure that the hardliners are kept in check (or even undermined). They make out that there is something really crucial and fragile at stake. But in fact there is no important decision on the regime’s future that was hanging on the vote in this sham election! On top of the glaring fact that the whole process is open only to the supporters of the regime whose Islamic credentials must be impeccable, there is no independent supervision as to what really happens to the ballot papers. What is announced depends on what is expedient to the regime’s survival.

On the other hand, the various ultra-conservative politicians and officials, mainly the “principalists”, not only want to keep their multi-billion dollar businesses, secret imports, and control of the huge foundations. They also feel they must address the concerns of what is left of the regime’s base: the poorest layers of the petty bourgeoisie who supported the regime through war with Iraq, the “families of the martyrs”, the Pasdaran, the Basij and the Hezbollahi. Many of them have been hit by the inflation, unemployment and other social and economic problems that are the result of incompetence, corruption and sanctions.

The important thing to remember is that for some time, especially once financial sanctions were imposed, all factions adopted the same policy: capitulating to the demands and terms of US imperialism, while still talking up “heroic resistance” and mutual respect. Rouhani’s “election” represented this development. For the first time there has been unanimity between all factions on the crucial and central issue of its relationship with American imperialism. The regime has surrendered and now wants to be allowed to be America’s main partner in the region.

The nuclear deal represented the final capitulation of the whole regime (i.e., all factions) to imperialism. And the imperialists knew exactly what was on offer to them. So just five days after the deal was signed, and months before it was ratified by any parliament, Sigmar Gabriel, Angela Merkel’s deputy and Economy Minister, headed a delegation of German capitalists to Iran. Many delegations from other European and Asian countries have followed. These were followed by Hassan Rouhani’s European tour in January which resulted in many more deals, including one for 118 Airbuses (worth €2 5billion). American firms like General Motors have also been visiting Iran for months and are set to expand ties in the coming months. In Britain, the Tory government has appointed the infamous pro-Pinochet Norman Lamont as its trade envoy to Iran. As part of the plan they will hold a trade and investment summit on 9 March in London.

The solidarity of European and British capitalists with their Iranians counterparts is already clear to see. Multi-billion pound deals are being signed while completely ignoring the rights of workers, women, national minorities or refugees, as well as the plight of the hundreds of political prisoners languishing in jail. The inclusion and integration of the Iranian regime includes contacts with the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center and the International Labour Organisation. In the past both have offered help and advice to the regime to set up compliant trade unions. It is the task of revolutionary Marxists to fight within these unions to point out their short-comings and limits and to provide a revolutionary perspective to workers who have joined them.