Further sanctions imposed by US imperialism and its allies on Iran in December 2011 and July 2012 have aggravated the economic and social problems faced by workers and other exploited layers.
After July’s “chicken crisis” the plummeting currency is now set to cause many other crises as the regime struggles to provide working families with imported food products and many other basic necessities at prices that they can afford.
The sanctions are not the only cause of the plunging currency and the worsening situation in Iranian society. They are merely exacerbating deep-rooted structural problems of Iran’s stunted capitalism dating back to the Shah’s regime. But the current dictatorship has taken endemic corruption, mismanagement, nepotism and incompetence to a new level.
The trigger for the latest protests (3 October) at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar — one of the traditional bastions of the regime — has been the massive fall in the currency. The rial lost 40 per cent of its value in a week!
On 1 October alone the regime’s currency fell by 18 per cent!
The rial now stands at a record low against the US dollar and, despite the official rate of 12,260, it has been exchanged for around 36,100 to the dollar on the “free market”.
The rial’s fall has cut the merchants’ profit rates and they have taken to the streets in protests targetting Ahmadinejad and his allies. Although the regime sent in the riot police and arrested many “speculators” and other protesters, this can be seen as yet another move against Ahmadinejad and his conservative faction.
Following the crushing defeat of the “reformists” in 2009, the infighting of the regime has been between two conservative factions. The battle has been building up in anticipation of the June 2013 presidential “election”.
Although Ahmadinejad is barred from running, he is trying to help someone from his faction get elected. His faction, however, has fallen out of favour with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the “Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution”, who is promoting other conservatives.
In April 2011 the regime’s faction fights burst into the public domain when Ahmadinejad sacked the Intelligence Minister, Heydar Moslehi, and Khamenei forced the “President” to reinstate him!
Since then many allies of Ahmadinejad have been accused of or tried for corruption and other abuses of power.
The latest is Ali-Akbar Javanfekr, the head of IRNA (the state news agency), who is also Ahmadinejad's press adviser and unofficial spokesman.
Javanfekr has been jailed for six months for “insulting Islamic and traditional values”!
Khamenei seems to have given the green light to the media to rough up Ahmadinejad and for the judiciary to arrest his allies. During a TV interview on 4 September Ahmadinejad was asked what his government had done with $700 billion of oil revenue during his seven years as President. This amount has been widely publicised to be equal to Iran’s total revenue since the first wells began pumping oil!
The regime’s “parliament”, dominated by conservatives opposed to Ahmadinejad, has now voted to consider suspending plans for the second phase of food and fuel subsidy cuts. This is a clear blow against Ahmadinejad’s faction which introduced the first phase of subsidy cuts in late 2010.
While the various factions of the Iranian bourgeoisie are slugging it out, the workers and their families are getting closer to the brink of starvation.
Only a resurgence in workers’ struggles can stop hunger and re-build the workers’ movement for the bigger fights ahead.