Site Navigation

Iran: A snub for the West

Ahmajinedad wasn't the candidate of the establishment, but of the lower classes

16. June 2009
Anti-imperialist Camp

1. From an anti-imperialist point of view, the overwhelming victory of Ahmadinejad in the elections is positive, because the incumbent and president-elect stands for confrontation with the U.S.-led new order for the Near East.

2.    Even the Western media had to admit that it is the poor who strongly support the president. His allegations of corruption promptly gained him the epithet “populist” in the West—an indirect admission that he enjoys broad support from below.

3.    The capitalist establishment around Rafsanjani (number two of the regime and chairperson of the Assembly of Experts) and a broad coalition of Islamic forces from the “left” to the “right” actually didn’t support Ahmadinejad, but his contender Mousavi. Ayatollah Khamenei (number one and successor to Khomeini), after the elections sided with the victor; however that doesn’t mean that Ahmadinejad was his favourite candidate, because Ahmadinejad’s fiery attacks against the ruling elite gave everyone in the establishment the creeps. Khamenei’s decision was made to reinforce the stability of the system.

4.    We cannot rule out electoral fraud. Fraud happens in almost any elections in the Third World and even in the West, when opposing interests clash—and not only then. The West overlooks such imperfections if the “right” candidate wins. Only when this is not the case, they scream bloody murder. There are strong political indications that Ahmadinejad actually won by a large margin: First, he doesn’t control the state apparatus, but at most one faction within it. In a certain sense he is not part of the establishment. Reversing the results of the elections would have required a sort of coup. That in turn would have required the full support of the state apparatus, or Ahmadinejad would have had to take preventive action against those parts that oppose him. That didn’t happen. Under the conditions of a complicated factional relations and conflicts within the ruling elite the alleged giant fraud is very unlikely.

5.    The extremely high turnout of over 80 percent is a sign of the strength and the stability of the political system of the Islamic Republic despite the strong factional fights. Such heavy polls are absolutely unheard of in the West. This high voter turnout is as much a slap in the face of Western double standards as Ahmadinejad’s victory, because the West on one hand denigrates Iran as a dictatorship and on the other hand legitimises and supports the worst dictatorships in the region, and particularly as in elections in the West there is no real opposition and only the various candidates of the elite compete, while the elections in Iran actually were about deciding the course.

6.    It is not clear whether Moussavi’s broad coalition is going to give up or not as the rift is very deep. It is obvious that important sectors of the middle class hope for a political liberalisation and cultural latitude, and these are legitimate demands; however, the current opposition organically mixes them with concessions to the West and an expressly capitalist line of the economic elites. It is this combination that is unacceptable and eventually is the millstone around the necks of those who actually demand more political freedom. Uncompromising anti-imperialism is the prerequisite for any democratic movement. The middle-class mainstream—despite some “leftist rhetoric”—is in every respect moving towards adaptation to the West.

7.    Our joy over the success of Ahmadinejad does not mean that we overlook the deep-seated problems of Iran and its regime. The lack of democratic and cultural freedoms also means oppression of national and religious minorities. Ahmadinejad transferred some wealth to the lower classes, but he was not able to relieve the economic difficulties and the structural poverty. He has nothing to offer to deviate from the capitalist path of (under)development on the fringes of the global economic regime of free trade. In addition there is the dreadful game his regime plays in Iraq, where Teheran has been supporting the U.S.-led occupation and the creation of a paradoxical U.S.-Iranian joint “protectorate.” When confronting the U.S., Iranian foreign policy often supports anti-imperialist forces (e.g. Hizbullah and Hamas), but its fundamental line is regional hegemony with a sectarian element. Because of this, the interests of the masses in pursuing a social revolution in the framework of a global anti-imperialist project often fall by the wayside.

A more detailed analysis of the election results should follow.

Anti-Imperialist Camp
14 June 2009