Sunday, 27 December 2009

One year on......

One year on from Gaza and I'm feeling emotional. Still there is no justice, no peace and people are still dying. Please make it stop.

Monday, 21 December 2009

X-Mas loses it's X-Factor

Much has been said of the campaign to get Rage Against the Machine to the christmas number one spot and I feel like adding me thoughts. I decided to not get involved in all the hype, mainly because Rage are not really my type of music. I do consider it 'shouty' but I know many would not like my choice of music.

However, I don't think musical tastes are really the issue here. I of course wanted to see Simon Cowell's corporate factory lose out and even more wanted to feel like people would reject his nonsense and am very pleased that has happened.

Many people who don't enjoy the music of Rage Against the Machine were equally delighted to see them take Christmas number one.

Of course, the music charts are irrelevant. The Christmas number one is irrelevant and nothing has radically changed as a result of this rather large upset.

But we are constantly told that X-factor matters to people. An average of 15 million people tuned into ITV on the two days of the final to see Joe McElderry defeat Olly Murs. Obviously that is a large number, but I'm not too proud to admit that I was one of those 15 million.

Why? Because there was nothing else on? Because it was vaguely interesting? But deep down did I really care? Of course not and I think nor did many of the other 15 million viewers.

We all recognise that who wins the X Factor really is not important, despite the fact that it seemed to be headline news.

This year we've seen the popular show Big Brother axed, I'm a Celebrity is supposed to heading the same way and there are even rumours that X Factor may not survive another year. So is this signaling the end of reality TV? Perhaps the recession has caused many to concentrate more on their own realities than someone elses?

So back to the topic. Enough people came out to buy the Rage track and therefore toppled Simon Cowell from his thrown of The Christmas Music King.

Some people put this down to musical snobbery but I think it's more than that. Over 500,000 people bought the record, most of them protesting against manufactured pop music. This is a good thing. It doesn't mean the revolution will automatically follow or that this will even create a big change in the music industry.

But it does demonstrate that enough people are willing to reject the corporate crap that we are fed on a daily basis. No matter how small, this was an act of resistance. At last we have proof that the British people are not all automated drones who will always do what they are told.

So let that be a lesson to the cynics who believe capitalism has taken over all of our brains. Enough people are willing to say , "fuck you I won't do what you tell me!"

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri Dies

Last night the Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri died at the age of 87 from illness.

Montazeri was the most prominent dissident cleric, and one of the most respected Shi'ite figures.

The man who had been tipped to replace Khomeini, until he fell out with him over Iran's human rights record, had been a constant thorn in the side of the leadership.

In 1997 he was placed under house arrest for five years, after claiming Khameini unfit to rule. After the recent disputed election he issued a Fatwa against the Ahmadinejad government.

During the revolution of 1979 he was repeatedly detained for organising protests and had been a leading revolutionary.

However, in the years after Montazeri had consistently claimed that the revolution had not brought the liberation it was supposed to, and hated the idea that a dictatorship could be justified in the name of Islam.

Montazeri will be missed as a beacon of those who lead the revolution but criticise the aftermath.

His death is likely to be a huge focal point for the opposition with large crowds already gathering outside his home in Qom.

May God bless his soul.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Berlusconi get's fucked up!

Silvio Berlusconi get's a bloody face after a punch......

No one deserves this more than him hahahaha shame!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Tony Blair admits to war crimes! Really......

Taken from

Link :

Stop the War exclusive: Tony Blair confesses to war crimes

Stop the War has obtained the full transcript of the interview Tony Blair gave to the BBC, in which he confesses that even though he knew he was committing a war crime, he was still right to go to war in Iraq.

By Robin Beste
Stop the War Coalition
12 December 2009

Blair and Bush - partners in war crimes

Tony Blair was interviewed on the BBC's Fern Britton Meets ... but the programme only broadcast extracts from the interview. A transcript of the whole interview has been leaked to Stop the War, which we reprint here.

I knew when I met privately with George Bush on his Texas ranch in April 2002 that attacking another country for the purposes of regime change is an illegal act of aggression under international law.

The Nuremberg Trials at the end of World War II, which tried Nazi war criminals, gave this definition: "To initiate a war of not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

Regardless of international law, George told me the United States was going to invade Iraq, which had for years been a declared aim of the neocons now dominating his government, like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.

They wanted the Bush administration to demonstrate that overwhelming US military power could be used at will to topple any regime and subjugate any country or region. Iraq, with the second largest resources of oil in the world, was a prime target.

Whatever George said was always good enough for me. But I had a problem. How could I join with George in what was so clearly a violation of international law? I knew I would not get even my own cabinet to agree to a war for regime change. Nor would it be supported by MPs in parliament, and certainly not by the British public.

Even my old pal Lord Goldsmith, who I’d appointed Attorney General – the most senior law officer in the land – told me the war would be illegal and a breach of the United Nations Charter.

Regardless of these difficulties, I told George that Britain was on board and I would commit a very large deployment of British troops -- 45,000 -- so he could say the illegal invasion was being undertaken by the "international community". My commitment turned out to be crucial for George because only four other countries agreed to help invade Iraq and they sent only a token number of soldiers -- e.g. a pathetic 194 from Poland!

Even George accepted he needed some cover to carry out what were so obviously war crimes. Which is why he agreed with me that we should find a way to bounce the United Nations into passing a resolution authorising military action against Saddam Hussein, using the fantasy that he was a real and current threat to world peace.

Intimidation, threats and bribery

So while throughout 2002 we were moving men and equipment into the Middle East in preparation for an invasion which George told me would take place within a year, we applied massive pressure on the United Nations to back the invasion. We were confident that we could get a majority. Intimidation, threats and bribery were usually enough to get the smaller nations to take our side.

At the same time I set about misleading cabinet ministers, parliament and the British people by claiming that Saddam Hussein had to be toppled because he had weapons of mass destruction which he may use at any moment in a direct threat to Britain’s vital interests.

George was using the same arguments, so I assumed that one way or another after the war the United States would produce "evidence" that Iraq did indeed have them, whether or not we produced any proof before we invaded.

So it didn’t trouble me much when I began concocting complete nonsense about the existence of Saddam’s WMDs, not least in the "dodgy" dossier which I presented to parliament on 24 September 2002 and which was so obviously a trumped up justification for what under international law could not be justified.

I’d got away with so many lies and deceptions in the past that I was confident I could bluff my way through even this tall order.

What I didn’t expect was the scale of the opposition to the war among the British people. It wasn’t very pleasant seeing two million people on the streets on 15 February 2003 -- the biggest political demonstration in British history, organised by the Stop the War Coalition.

I’d always assumed that the British people saw me as I had described myself to them -- as "a pretty straight sort of a guy". It was a shock when thousands walked through London carrying placards with my name misspelt as "Bliar".

Authorising war

Blair meets troops in Iraq

But I still expected to be able to flannel the majority of my cabinet without too much difficulty, especially if we were successful in bullying the United Nations into the second resolution authorising war.

But the UN proved a harder nut to crack than me and George had expected. Even Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Assembly on 5 February 2003 of "proof" that Saddam had WMDs didn’t work.

Colin’s claims were preposterous, but we assumed that the UN would buckle when such an "authoritative" figure made the case.

It didn't work. The Security Council wouldn't support the resolution and on 24 February we withdrew it before it got formally thrown out.

This was a setback because Hans Blix and his UN weapons' inspectors were not making it easy for us by insisting they they had found no WMD evidence in Iraq so far. On 7 March 2003 -- just two weeks before the war was due to start -- the UN inspectors asked the Security Council for a few months more time to investigate further.

That would have been disastrous for me and George. We had 300,000 troops lined up on the Iraq border ready to unleash what George told me would be called "shock and awe".

I’d already told George that I was with him whatever the UN decided, but to parliament and the British people I still claimed -- even after the second resolution had fallen -- that we were somehow carrying out the UN’s wishes by invading Iraq.

There was still one major glitch to get past. On 7 March 2003, the same day Blix asked for more time for the weapons inspections, Lord Goldsmith warned me that British forces could face legal action if they participated in an invasion.

If this got out, my war plans might fall at the last hurdle. I had to get him to change his advice otherwise I might not even get the backing of my cabinet.

Pinned against a wall

To make matters even worse, Lord Boyce, then chief of the defence staff, said he needed "unequivocal" advice that the invasion was lawful. Goldsmith had to be made to alter his advice and say the invasion would be legal, otherwise I was in deep trouble. I got another old pal, Lord Falconer, to lean on Goldsmith, who he literally pinned against a wall.

It was touch and go but two days before the start of war Goldsmith made the changes I demanded.

Many senior law officials in Goldsmith’s office were unhappy about this. One of them, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, resigned on the day I got the revised legal advice, as a protest against her boss Goldsmith colluding in what she said was an illegal war of aggression. Too late of course to have any effect on my plans and no one remembers her pointless sacrifice today.

The resignations from government by Robin Cook and Clare Short were also too late to get in my way. Cook made his resignation speech in parliament on 18 March 2003, during the MPs debate on my motion for war. He could have upset the cart completely, if he'd resigned two weeks earlier and led a campaign to get my war plans rejected by parliament.

But he didn't, and the rest is history.

With almost all the cabinet lining up behind me, getting the votes of Labour MPs in parliament – who were the people who had the real power to scupper my plans -- would be a doddle.

That didn't stop me sending Cherie into parliament to talk individually to every female MP and make sure we could rely on their votes.

I knew that more than a few of the Labour MPs in their heart of hearts thought they should oppose a war for which my case was so threadbare. But telling them I would have to resign if I lost the vote had a somewhat salutory effect on the waverers, who realised that this could mean a general election at which they might lose their seat.

And a doddle it proved to be. 139 Labour MPs did vote against the war, which was one of the biggest revolts in parliamentary history, but with the backing of the Tories I still sailed in with a majority of 412 votes to 149.

No WMDs? So what?

It goes without saying that I was right to take the decision to go to war. It's irrelevant that no WMDs were discovered after the war, despite me telling parliament there was "no doubt" they were in Iraq somewhere.

I was right whether or not waging war for regime change is one of the worst of all international war crimes.

I was right whether or not most people in Britain were against what they saw as an unjustified war.

I was right despite the price paid by the Iraqi people, with one million killed, five million refugees and the utter destruction of their country.

I was right despite the 179 British soldiers killed in Iraq, and the many hundreds more seriously wounded.

I was right despite the war costing the British public ££8.4 billion for a war the majority never supported.

I was right even though the war made the Middle East -- already the world’s most volatile region -- even more unstable.

I was right even though the war made the world increasingly insecure, as Londoners learned so tragically in July 2005 when 56 of them lost their lives in terrorist bombings.

I was right, despite many MPs who voted for the war – including my then deputy prime minister John Prescott – now saying they would not have supported the war knowing what they do today. By which I suppose they mean the lies and deception I told -- with the more than willing help of Jack Straw, Alistair Campbell, Geoff Hoon and others. This is a feeble excuse, given that the anti-war movement had exposed all of my lies before the war started -- at least for those who wanted to know the truth.


Christian faith

It was my Christian faith that gave me the moral courage and guidance I needed to do what was right – as I know George's Christianity did for him too. It was only after I left office and converted to Roman Catholicism that I could reveal how important my religion had been in helping me prevail in waging an illegal war against the wishes of most people in Britain.

Going to war with George hasn’t made me the most popular guy around. There are plenty of people still trying to get me indicted for war crimes. I do get a bit embarrassed when confronted by parents of British soldiers who were killed in Iraq, like Peter Brierley who refused to shake my hand because he said it had the blood of his son Shaun on it.

But that’s the price you pay for being right.

And it’s certainly done nothing to harm my employment prospects since I left office -- a little earlier than I intended, due I must admit, to my support for Israel in its 2006 attack on Lebanon. This was an act of warmongering too far, even for my own party which had allowed me to get away with going to war more times than any prime minister in British history.

I’ve already earned in the past two years something like £15 million. I get around £100,000 for a 30 minute speech to the world’s prosperous and powerful, who love hearing why I am right and how my religion gives me the moral guidance to be right.

My Iraq connections have done no harm to my earning power either. I get £1 million a year for one day’s work a month from the bank JP Morgan, which has lots of lucrative investments in "reconstruction" projects – that is for rebuilding what me and George destroyed in the Iraq war.

I’m not too troubled by the appearance I’ll be making soon in front of the Iraq Inquiry because Gordon Brown – who may not be my best friend but who backed me 100 percent in my decision to take Britain to war -- has handpicked a bunch of very compliant placeholders, who I know hold me in very high regard.

Sir John Chilcot and his committee are already showing that they have no intention of revealing the full extent of my duplicity in going to war, and there’s no chance that they will suggest in any way that I should be held accountable for what I did.

And of course that is only as it should be. Because I was right.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Fairouz - Zahrat Al Madaan

A video made with English first project of this type so it's a bit rough around the edges!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Stop Islamophobia & Racism in EC1





Emily Thornberry
Weyman Bennet (joint secretary of UAF)
A rep from Muslim Council of Britain
James Haywood (NUS NEC)
A rep from City Uni UCU
Ceinwen Hilton (City & Islington College NUT)

Last month 3 Muslim students were stabbed in a racist attack outside City University. We need people from all community to stand together and say we oppose racism and Islamophobia and show solidarity with the Muslim community.

Monday, 9 November 2009

UAF Statement on racist attacks at city university

We the undersigned are shocked and disturbed by the racist attacks on Asians and Muslims studying at City University in Islington. We call on people of all community backgrounds to come together in unity and solidarity against the racists who seek to divide and weaken us all.

The attacks on Muslims and Asians cannot be separated from the increase in racist and Islamophobic discourse in wider society and the rise of the fascist British National Party. The BNP's leader Nick Griffin calls Islam a "vicious, wicked faith" and a "mortal enemy of all our fundamental values". These words of hate give racist thugs the confidence to go out and attack Muslims on the streets.

We are proud of the multiracial and multicultural society we live in, and the atmosphere of peace and mutual respect that has been built up over the years. Accordingly we condemn the attacks on City University students, condemn the climate of hatred against Muslims that encourages these attacks – and condemn the fascist BNP for its role in whipping up racist bigotry and violence on our streets.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Three Muslim Students Stabbed at City University in Racist Attack

On Thursday last week, three Muslim students were stabbed in a racist attack outside City University.

All week a group of racists had gathered outside the Prayer Room on St Johns Street, Islington hurling racist abuse at Muslims using the facility.

On Thursday evening the gang attacked a group of Muslims with bricks and the situation ended with three being stabbed.

This comes two weeks after leader of the BNP Nick Griffin appeared on BBC Question time, amid claims from anti-fascists that this will lead to a rise in racist attacks.

More information to follow......

Statement from the Federation of Islamic Societies

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Rest in Peace Chris Harman

I honestly don't know what to say or think. Chris Harman died in Cairo in the early hours of this morning. What a loss.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Whose streets?

My video from protest outside BBC for giving platform to Nazi Nick Griffin.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, 19 October 2009

Song of the Day - 19-10-09

Klashnekoff - Son of Niah

Definitely one of the greatest tunes to come from the UK Hip Hop scene. Everything about this song is great. Klash's delivery is incredible, especially when he comes into the final verse after the break. The bass line is big and the melody is as beautiful as it is haunting. "
Now triple nine is the reflection of the ripplin' time/ While cripple minds run blind into the eye of the storm "

Full lyrics below video

Yo my thoughts grow like herb in wild fields of mango
A certain man of jankrow, I'm flexed like flamingo
I'm buffalo, this shit gets venomous like Kosovo
The manimal, man of maneuver undetectable
I'm out the manor smokin' the poisonous vegetable
Soakin' in herbs and drawin' the vital mineral
Channel my inner Chi, regain my energy
Can't ya see me, I'm a soldier
Penetrate the pain barrier
Carry the legacy that's left by my father
Dictate my work manifest into scripture
I paint my pictures with sound clash
Ya sound crash no counteractions
I cut my dubs from the stomach of the mountains
Buildin' the rhythm from the natural surroundings
Surrounded in red mist
Yo, grabbin' my Charlie Bronson, manifestin' ya death wish
Now in these days of Daggo my mind stays raggo
Rugged like Brilo, these eyes bleed weeping willow
Its parose, sleepin' on pistol like pillow
Cushion the agro and escape into the astro
Communicate one to one via my afro
The Son of Niah, a killer born natural
But still I'm neutral cause I can shoot you
Or twenty one gun salute you, whatever suit you
In times of crucial I consolidate Sukidu
Seein' my future through the eyes of a desert eagle
There's no sequel 'til my soul settle
I can't settle, yo, settle, it's the continuous struggle
The environment is hostile
I'm stressed out, blowin' sess out my nostril
Apostles warnin' of storms on the coastal
Contact the locals, we symbolise now with subliminal loco's
It goes deeper than big bangs and black holes
On roads, I stop to admire a black rose
She's so beautiful, I chose not to pick it
While other wicked man would have dig it
Now triple nine is the reflection of the ripplin' time
While cripple minds run blind into the eye of the storm
I've fought wars and returned war torn
My wife was scorned, she took the life of my first born
So be warned, these days of times are now transformed
A pen is a now formed of states and collateral
As clapped opium petrels, a rose sent to capture you
From Clapton to Katmandu, what can a man do?
It said man handle my inner feeling, sealing the inner angles
Maintain my balance while walkin' on broken ankles
My moods manifest into red shades of scandals
Home of website of the seed we weave
My chest heave, I breathe to ventilate this grief
I'm seekin' relief in a brief glimpse of Parrowdice
Beget left paralyzed from the Jankrows and parasites
My eyesight, from great heights of hindsight
I'm tryin' to line the blind mind with divine light
But find my life to be a start to the death
So fuck vex, my mind state is Semtex
Explosive guides of venomous viper
Stalk the beats like a wild tiger
The Son of Niah, spit my phlegm on the flames of desire

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Song of the Day - 17/10/09

Mos Def ft. Pharoahe Monche & Nate Dogg - Oh No

One of the greatest hip hop tunes ever. Pharoahe's verse absolutely kills it. Best verse ever? Maybe.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Song of the Day - 08/10/09

Hatem Al Iraqi - Ma Rayed

A great song from Iraqi singer Hatem Al Iraqi.

Lyric Translation:

بس اخذك ياحبيبي وامشي
bas a5thak ya 7baybi w amshee
i'll just take you my darling/love and walk/ go away

مارايد من الدنيا كلشي بس اخذك ياحبيبي وامشي
ma areed men eldinya klshi bas a5thak ya 7baybi
i dont want anything from this world other than to just take you my darling and walk

فضلتك على الناس كلها ميهمني الدنيا واهله
fathaltak 3ala alnaas kulha myhimne aldinya w ahlah
i valued you over everyone else, (ie you have a high standing placeto me)..i dont care about the world and its people

مادام اضمك بين رمشي
ma daam athumak been rmshay
whilst i can take and hug you between my eyelashes (basically athumak means to take into your arms/what ever it is.. to give hugs)

اريد اخذك راح اخذك كون اخذك راح اخذك
areed a5thak..raa7 a5thak..koon a5thak.. raa7 a5thak
i want to take you.. i am going to take you... i will be taking you.. i am going to take you

يا حبيبي ومشي
ya 7abaybe w amshe
o my darling/love and walk/go

وياك اطير بغير جنحان نعيش ببلد ما يوصله انسان
wayaak a6eer begeer jin7aan, n3eesh bibld ma yoosla insaan
with you i will fly without any wings, we'll live in a country/land that no human/ person will get ti (ie we'll be by ourselves)

ارحل وياك لاخر الكون وتشوفك بكل لحظه لعيون
ar7al wayaak la5r alkoon w tshoofak bkl la7tha al3yoon
i'll go away with you to the ends of the world/universe, and my eyes will see you every second/moment

تدري العشق شي احلى من شي
tidree al3ishiq shay a7la men shay
you know that passion/love is the best of everything there is (the sweetest thing)

اريد اخذك راح اخذك كون اخذك راح اخذك
areed a5thak..raa7 a5thak..koon a5thak.. raa7 a5thak
i want to take you.. i am going to take you... i will be taking you.. i am going to take you

يا حبيبي ومشي
ya 7abaybe w amshe
o my darling/love and walk/go

لو غبت عني يا ضوء العين تدري الدقيقه تصير سنتين
lo gebt 3ani ya thoo2 el3een tidree aldaqeeqa tseer snteen
if you are away from me, the light of my eyes, you know that the minute will become two years

لمن تصير قبال عيني ير تاح قلبي من تجيني
lamn tseer qbaal 3eeni yirtaa7 qalbi men tjeeni
when you are before me, when you come to me, my heart rests/becomes comfortable and happy
انت اميري وانت عرشي
inta ameeri w inta 3arshi
you are my prince, you are my throne

اريد اخذك راح اخذك كون اخذك راح اخذك
areed a5thak..raa7 a5thak..koon a5thak.. raa7 a5thak
i want to take you.. i am going to take you... i will be taking you.. i am going to take you

يا حبيبي ومشي
ya 7abaybe w amshe
o my darling/love and walk/go

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Song of the Day - 07/10/09

Zero 7 - Somersault (Dangermouse remix ft. MF Doom)

A real treat for you all today. This is one of the best remixes ever. Dangermouse turn's Zero 7's Somersault into a beautiful, relaxing and very clever tune. MF Doom absolutely smacks it too "Butterflies at the very mention; the flutter of her eyelashes helped to clear the tension."

My Reply to Chandan - "Supporting the Movement, Not the Leaders"

Supporting the Movement, Not the Leaders

This response has been a long time coming and some things have changed or at least become clearer since this debate was begun. However, it is worth returning to this conversation and addressing some of the issues raised by Chandan in his response to my comment on the struggle that was, at the time, taking place in Iran.

Firstly I deem it necessary to try to summarise the position being laid forward by Chandan, which I hope I can do fairly and in such a manner that does not misrepresent his ideas in any shape or form. It is my belief that Chandan tries to portray the internal election crisis in Iran as being about two distinct camps. The first is an anti-imperialist leadership, headed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which in all ways is a blow to the western powers in their quest for Middle Eastern domination. The second group, challenging this leadership, is a movement of pro-western middle class protestors who wish to rid the country of Ahmadinejad in favour of Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

All of Chandan’s wrong conclusions stem from this flawed analysis. An analysis which actually echoes the simplicity of the western media, which Chandan is always keen to attack, in their reporting of the situation in Iran. Before I move to reject this bipolar characterization I will first express some sympathy with the view of Chandan. I must be honest and admit that when I first saw the scenes that were unfolding in Iran my sentiments were far closer to that of my colleague. I was immediately suspicious and suspected western interference in Iran and a potential threat of outside instability affecting the country. Indeed this is an understandable first position. When news agencies such as the BBC become cheerleaders for any political movement one must always be wary.

But the understanding and the niceties stop there. Chandan’s analysis is hugely flawed in two ways. Firstly, the Iranian regime is not the progressive anti-imperialist obstacle to imperialism that he hopes it is. Secondly, the movement for change is not a movement for Mousavi, for more neo-liberalism and for western rule. It is far broader than that as a result of a number of factors.

To deal with the first question of Iran as an anti-imperialist block. When we see the bold statements coming from Tehran against The United States, Israel and the west more generally it is very easy to fall into the trap of seeing Iran as a strong anti-imperialist force. But what does it really mean to be an anti-imperialist? Does it mean simply making bold statements or is there more to it? Well yes of course there is.

Real anti-imperialism should be about supporting the struggles of ordinary people against foreign and colonial rule. Obviously in this situation leaderships will arise from such anti-colonial movements, such as Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon and so on. We can and should provide support to these genuine movements. However, Iran is a very different case to both of these groups and it is so for more reasons than simply that the other groups make up opposition forces, where as Iran is a government.

On the question of imperialism the Iranian government is a deeply hypocritical force. It will be more than happy to use the language of anti-imperialism whilst at the very same time do deals with imperialist powers. It is not that well documented that Iran (although not under Ahmadinejad at the time) supported both the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, in order to increase its regional superiority. And this has indeed happened. Even today the Iranian government is happy to make deals with Nour Al-Maliki’s government in Iraq. Are these the actions of a progressive anti-imperialist force? There is of course an impression that Iran is hard against the west, many people you speak to in Arab countries will talk of how they support Ahmadinejad. There is no doubt that Iran is a problem for the west and that is why there is a conflict. At the same time, however, I have spoken to many Palestinians and Lebanese who ask why a country that seems to be so supportive in words can never actually produce the goods when the time comes for resistance.

So the question is why does Iran use the language of anti-imperialism? This has the potential to be a rather lengthy answer, but I shall try to be as succinct as possible. The current Iranian establishment’s origins lie in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution, when the Iranian left failed to seize power. The Shah was overthrown but a political vacuum had been left wide open, and due to various reasons genuine workers power could not fill this void. Therefore a different social force was able to cleverly maneuver itself into the power role. This social force was a conglomerate of a middle class intelligentsia, wealthy merchants and the religious establishment and it used a particular tool for consolidating its power. That tool was anti-imperialism.

This middle class movement used anti-imperialist slogans to unite the people behind its banner at a time when the left was flip flopping between a number of bizarre positions. Undoubtedly, it became even easier when Iran found itself in an indirect conflict with the worlds biggest imperialist power, The United States, through the medium of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. However, these slogans were only used to cover the real motives of this middle class movement as it set about brutally crushing all other potential threats inside Iranian society. A point worth noting when activists refer to the current ‘Green’ movement inside Iran as being middle class.

So clearly we can see that anti-imperialist rhetoric is nothing new to the leaders of Iran. It is also nothing new to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was first elected on essentially two platforms. The first was standing up to western rule, but the second was to re-organise internal Iranian society. He portrayed himself as a man of the poor who would redistribute the oil wealth as well as stopping the widespread corruption. After four years in power he has achieved neither. The gap between rich and poor has widened and the level of corruption is higher than ever before. That is why many wanted to vote against the current President. So what has he done to hide his inability to deliver? Once again relied on the anti-western rhetoric to maintain a power base. It is one thing to mess up the internal politics of a country; it is another altogether to unashamedly use the misery of the Palestinians to hide the mess and provide an excuse for repression. Hamas don’t want Ahmadinejad. Hezbollah in Lebanon don’t want him. Even the Mehdi Army in Iraq understands his uselessness. Therefore we should. And so should Sukant Chandan.

The second point to address is on the nature of the movement for democracy. I believe Chandan’s response to my description of the reform movement, as being extremely broad, to be most disappointing. So I shall reiterate some of the points here, whilst also expanding upon them. The reform movement has always been broad. From its conception it has contained many different groups, with various ideas and politics and also from varying social classes.

The movement today is no different. It is plain and simply wrong to identify the whole movement with Mousavi. Chandan’s criticisms of Mousavi are indeed fair, although it is worth pointing to the new wave of privatization in the country; all policies of Ahmadinejad. However, of course Mousavi represents a layer of the ruling class and gained most support from the middle classes who saw an opportunity to make economic gain from his victory. Whether or not he will be any less virulent in support for resistance to the west we cannot be sure on. He claimed he would stand up to the west as much as Ahmadinejad, although this would most likely be in a less confrontational and less obvious way.

Back to the nature of the movement. I have to question whether or not Chandan even watched the footage of the demonstrations in Tehran?! Clearly not everybody on that demonstration was from the middle classes. Very quickly the protests spiraled out of the control of Mousavi and he was left straggling. There were of course many students; in fact students led much of the action. But as the situation developed, wider forces were drawn into action. Anyone with any qualm with the state took to the streets. Speaking to members of my own family in Iran this impression became even clearer. All sorts of oppressed and exploited groups saw this as a window of opportunity, the likes of which they hadn’t seen since 1979. An opportunity for change.

We have to understand the diversity of the movement. For this very diversity led to the chaos and lack of direction that led to the situation becoming so confused. There were those who aligned themselves with Mir-Hossein Mousavi and looked to reformist leaders for change from within. Some saw forms of radical direct action as the answer; hence the blowing up of a government building which Chandan refers to in his reply. I mean the blowing up of a government building! How very middle class! There were even those who argued for mass militant action from the working class and peasantry.

Some of these sections will be questionable in their intentions and their motives but others were genuinely normal people wanting democratic change in their country. The election process had come to symbolize a more endemic problem within Iran. The revolution was only thirty years ago and many will still remember it. It was an amazing and deeply democratic moment when ordinary people worked to create a new society. It had achieved the goal of eliminating western rule, but it did not achieve the other aspect. This was the idea of the Iranian people finally becoming masters of their own destiny. Prior to the election political participation was low and there was no confidence in the state institutions. All of a sudden a dodgy election result was produced and the immediate thought emerged of ‘where is our say in our country?’ We, the Iranian people, created a revolution. So why do we not have power still? The election was merely a spark to the revolt. Not the very reason itself as to why people revolted.

So in addition to the very ‘dodgy’ elements within the protests there was a substantial layer of ordinary people with genuine issues. It was even reported to me that some of the protestors were likening themselves to Palestinians with the government behaving like Israel. In addition there were workers who had seen their strikes attacked as well as students who had faced massive repression throughout the years, such as the 1999 student crushing in which students were murdered in their own halls.

So what is obvious is that many different forces were at play during the demonstrations, some more progressive than others. But would it not be sectarian, what Chandan accuses me of being, to argue against the protests because we don’t agree with some of the politics of some of the participants?

Having attacked the flawed analysis upon which Chandan’s conclusions are based, let me now express the dangers of his conclusions, of which there are too many to go into any great depth. Firstly, not challenging the anti-imperialism of the Ahmadinejad government will mean that it is able to keep a monopoly on anti-imperialism. We do not want Ahmadinejad to embody anti-imperialism, the reasons for which have already been expressed.

Most worryingly we must look at the very scary conclusions that Chandan drew about the state repression. Because he saw the movement as being regressive and the Iranian leadership progressive, he came to a position of supporting the repression. Chandan goes as far as to blame the repression of the students on the students themselves for provocating the state! This is unacceptable. My family was on these demonstrations and I refute this fully. I don’t think Chandan would be likely to argue that the people of Gaza deserved what happened last January because Hamas provoked Israel. I don’t think he would argue that the British police have a right to smash up demonstrations in London because the protestors were behaving in a ‘provocative manner’. He also claims that there were ‘not that many police on the Iranian streets’! This is pure madness. There clearly were! I can’t even make a coherent point about this because it is just blatant misinformation!

Aligning yourself with a state that is using massive repression is just wrong for any left wing activist. It is the same logic that led some on the left to support the crushing of the Tiananmen movement by Deng Xiaoping in China, twenty years ago. Doing this gives a level of legitimacy to the repression but more importantly plays right into the hands of the imperialists. When the Iranian people look to the left for support and solidarity and find only an empty void, where will they turn to? They will look to the likes of the imperialists as being their only voice of support. That has already begun to happen in Iran and it is a hard battle to dissuade many disillusioned and weary activists that outside help is not the answer.

To conclude I could explain the stance of Chandan as being a product of his own political beliefs. At this stage I don’t intend to do this. All I wish to say is that the attitude that he portrays is not progressive. It fails to understand this is not about the west and Iran most crucially. Of course we must always consider the threat of imperialism and understand that its spectre will be looming over any internal struggle. But that is not a good enough reason to dismiss these protests and dismiss the Iranian people. Chandan ends his response with a swipe at my own final remark. I say victory to the Iranian people. He can only refer to the Iranian people as a ‘subsidiary point’. No peoples are subsidiary least of the Iranian people. I am proud that they have stood up to their oppressors and am proud to be Iranian when I see this happen. The Iranian people have forced themselves into the political discourse. And it is with them that I unequivocally stand.

Sukant Chandan's Response to me from 18th June 2009

Sukant Chandan Response to Iran: 1979 & 2009

Thanks Dominic for your very thoughtful piece on current events in Iran. I think it’s an important contribution amongst ourselves as to understand the unquestionably complex and at times confusing events which have been unfolding in Iran of late.

There is much with which I agree in your piece. However, I also sense some contradictions in your piece, and some other points which I would like to bring up and engage you and others reading this with.

I want to come across brotherly and in a spirit of anti-imperialism solidarity in my comments. If I inspire any negative feelings, please excuse me, it’s certainly not my intention.

I would like to start by stating that I am no natural friend of the Iranian regime. I have many problems and differences with it. I am not going to list these here, but my differences with the regime are sometimes quite deep and glaring.

Nevertheless, believing as I do in the maximum non-sectarian unity on an anti-imperialist internationalism basis, I cannot ignore that Iran is a very important state which is contributing massively to the international struggle against imperialism and for a new multi-polar world, a struggle that we need to understand and engage with more and more to contribute to the re-building of that internationalism that we lost since the 1980s.

“… since the early 90’s, which has had to deal with its own strengths and weaknesses. The reform movement has always been extremely broad in nature, encompassing figures such as Hashemi Rafsanjani, the current chair of The Assembly of Experts and former President to women’s rights activists and left wingers. Despite its breadth and in fact most probably because of this, the reform movement has always lacked a clear leadership and direction.”

You are right to highlight Rafsanjani in the reform camp; but in my understanding, he is one perhaps one of the most problematic figures in the regime who has a massive economic estate and protects some of the most corrupt mullahs in the country, something which President Nejad has attacked, but more of this later.

The point I am making is that we need to have a clear idea of what different sections of the opposition stand for, ie., where do they stand on Palestine (and Zionism), on economic rights for Iran’s poor, for relations with the West and the East, what is their attitude towards the Non-Aligned Movement, UN reform, SCO, etc. Only then can we really dissect the pros and cons of the opposition. But like you say, it seems the opposition are united only in their opposition to Nejad. So what IS the big problem with Nejad? More on this issue in a second.

“… Economically Mousavi favours further neo-liberalisation, although this is not something Ahmadinejad is specifically adverse to. The difference may be where Mousavi is happy to trade with the west, Ahmadinejad not so. To a degree this determines their stances on foreign policy. Mousavi ridiculed Ahmadinejad for the way in which he’s made Iran look childish in the face of international diplomacy. The President retorted with the idea that regardless of whether or not Iran does what the West wants, they will always face threats. It is impossible to beat The United States at their own game (i.e. within the arena of the UN).”

This is a very important section of your article, in my opinion perhaps the MOST important, as it starts to delve into what the nature of the crisis in Iran is all about, and what the main two camps – Nejad and Mousavi – stand for and against. I think this aspect, and the attitude towards regional and international issues are the two most important points that we have to look into, make sense of and that which can inform our political positions on the current crisis in Iran.

In my understanding the strategies and policies of these two camps are quite different. Mousavi seems to represent the more elite elements in the regime, and the more affluent urbane (esp in Tehran) sections of society. As you say, Mousavi is in favour of privatisation and liberalising the economy. Also standing in Mousavi’s camp, perhaps the biggest patron is the highly problematic Rafsanjani. On the regional and international positions, Mousavi represents a softer approach to the West, and perhaps not as much solid and forthright support for Lebanese Hizbullah and Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

One should also keep in mind that what the West fears most, perhaps more than anything else about Iran, is it’s nuclear program. If Iran reached a stage of technology where it could convert civil use to military use, that would be the end of western and Zionist hegemony of the region. Mousavi is obviously seen by the West as the man/camp able to scupper this. Mousavi is more susceptible to putting the Iranian nuke program in the hands of some western dominated ‘international’ body, whereas Nejad is going it all by the Iranians self.

Nejad has distinguished himself in clear and militant support for the Palestinian Revolution and the Lebanese resistance. Nejad is a great proponent of an anti-imperialist international alliance, allying closely with China, Russia, Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil and of course his great friend and ours –President Chavez of Venezuela.

On these regional and international issues we outside of Iran must place special importance; when I say ‘we’ I mean those of us who believe in internationalism based upon the independence, development and social justice of the oppressed masses and nations of the world, those subject to sanctions, invasions, occupations, covert dirty tricks etc. If we believe in this internationalism then these are the most important issues upon which we must judge the two different camps.

I don’t need to stress that Iran has been under sanctions ever since 1979, has seen the region beset by Western intervention, stunting the economic development of the region, creating divisions, occupations and wars. Those asserting their independence in the world against ‘the great satan’, ie., the heroes of the Palestinian Revolution, an the Lebanese Hizbullah are close allies of Nejad and Iran. Furthermore, Nejad’s Iran has been the leading force behind trying to get the regions powers to come to the defence of the Palestinians, and as such, to the defence of themselves, as there is no progress for the region without an end to US Hegemonic control of the region which is exercised foremostly through its attack dog – the zionist state. Iran is surrounded by two imperialist occupations – in Iraq and Afgahnistan, and have been threatened with a preemptive nuclear strike for some years now.

On the other hand we have Mousavi and his camp, whose slogan is ‘Iran first’, which is a veiled attack on the anti-imperialist militancy of Nejad. Yes, we have problems with Nejad’s comments on certain things, esp the holocaust, but this is a detail and not a strategic problem with Nejad. It is rumoured that Mousavi might lessen support for the Palestinian Revolution and Hizbullah; I am not so sure about this, but one thing is clear: the West know who their preferred candidate is, and I don’t need to say that the West are fundamental to the problems of the region, and their friends are not ours.

What is possibly some of the most interesting aspects of Nejad rule is his populism. Nejad has in a most vociferous and surprising manner attacked the corruption and elitism of ruling sections in Iran, including attacking corrupt mullahs. He has given increased economic rights to some of societies poorest, and is an incredibly humble and modest president – something which is striking to everyone.

It is also true at the sametime that his economic strategy hasn’t perhaps benefitted the economy on the whole as it has led to inflation. But those who follow the reformist press in Iran like myself, know that all the criticism against Nejad’s policies are not to have better policies for the poor, but intended in defending some of societies privileged sections; as the reformist camp support neo-liberal policies. For those of us who believe in a leadership which seeks to empower some of the poorest in society, on a platform of anti-corruption of the elites, with a clear militant anti-imperialist internationalism, then Nejad is your man, and his is your camp. ‘But what about the socialist and left opposition, the too want rights for the poor!’ I hear some cry, more on this in a moment.

“What has been the state response, besides Ahmadinejad’s bizarre trip to Russia to celebrate his victory?”

Why was it ‘bizarre’? Nejad’s trip to Russia and to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is all part of the important anti-imperialist (‘multi-polar world’) rise across the world. The SCO is the closest thing to an anti-imperialist bloc which in the future can push the West out of Asia, and this process is in progress right now with this article outlining these developments:

So I would argue far from Nejad’s trip being ‘bizarre’, it shows him in one of his elements – being amongst those who are leading the rise of a new multi-polar world, ie, and end to US/western hegemony, which is the grand prize for which we have been struggle for since nearly seven centuries.

And as Nejad has gone over for the SCO conference, it is maybe another dig at Mousavi – saying to him ‘this is where my primary allies are, and I am not one for pussy-footing with the west’.

“Yes there has been repression of the most brutal kind. We’ve all seen the images of blood stained University halls, motorbiked thugs chasing protestors and street clashes …
“In addition foreign media has been restricted, the internet and mobile phone calls limited and other repressive techniques that can only be inflicted by state apparatus.”

You mention the brutal repression, but don’t mention the context in which they have taken place. I would put this repression into context of the provocations of some of the students who wanted to burn down the Basij base. It’s tragic and sad, but not surprising that those who want to burn down the building of the revolutionary guards, then see the guards hitting back, it has to be said AFTER they were besieged. Who were these students? What is the sense in these provocations? Tragic deaths are the result, and a deepening of the sense of confrontation, which I don’t think is to anyone’s advantage in Iran.

Students are mainstays of the banned opposition movements, and there has been a long history of student based anti-regime elements, and the regime clamping down on them. It’s been terrible that students have been attacked on their campuses and some reportedly killed, but we have to also put some responsibility at least on those students who are out to overthrow the regime, which results in the regime coming down hard on some students.

As for the restrictions on the foreign media etc, I think Obama let it out of the bag when he successfully for Twitter to keep them online when they were going to be shut today for maintenance work. I don’t think any of us are so naïve as to be blind to the fact that mainstream Western media outlets are arms of the western states and serve their states, not the Iranians. And seeing that the Iranians have plenty of examples as to the dirty role of these agencies in many other peoples affairs,, then no-one can accuse them, let alone those advocating non-western-intervention in Iran, that they have strict restrictions on them.

“One thing that is absolutely clear is that any repression of any protest is unacceptable. People have the right to protest and political expression and any attempts to halt this must be rejected.”

So would you support the protests of people burning down government buildings? The seriousness of the situation in Iran is partly highlighted when you go on to state:

“The simple answer is that as far as the imperialists are concerned, this could be the perfect opportunity to dismantle Iran as an obstacle to the domination of the Middle East. The Iraq war has only strengthened Iran as a regional power; all the worse that it is prepared to stand up to the West. Very few countries are as vocal as Iran on issues such as Palestine and very few countries, if any, can or will not provide the support that the resistance across the Middle East needs.”

So seeing that this is the perfect opportunity for the West to push their strategies in regard to Iran (which I agree with of course) it is natural for their direct and indirect allies to do all that they can in Iran to make things hard for the regime. I am sure you know that there are many kinds of groupings in Iran which are in a war with the state and have backing by the West (the MKO is an obvious example), and many others who are supported, based, financed etc by the West. In this context, I think the Iranian sate is much more relaxed than I thought they might be, with very little police around on the Mousavi protests, apart from when after there was some skirmishes, especially around the Guards base issue.

“… The simple answer is that as far as the imperialists are concerned, this could be the perfect opportunity to dismantle Iran as an obstacle to the domination of the Middle East. The Iraq war has only strengthened Iran as a regional power; all the worse that it is prepared to stand up to the West. Very few countries are as vocal as Iran on issues such as Palestine and very few countries, if any, can or will not provide the support that the resistance across the Middle East needs.

“We must be clear that we will not allow the West to hijack this movement and use it to its advantage. Since 1989 western powers have used genuinely democratic movements to further their own aims, as seen across Eastern Europe and beyond. The same cannot and must not happen with Iran. … The Iranian people are displaying that they are not ‘too oppressed to fight back’ or in any way too weak to fight their own battles. They do not want western intervention and they do not need western intervention.”

“The Iranian left needs to play a better role and provide some organisation to the movement. … Victory to the Iranian people; against both their oppressors in the regime and the global imperialist project.”

The question of the Iranian and anti-imperialism in the context of Iran is a very important issue that needs a lot of debate. My position is that the Iranian left are playing, for the most part, directly or indirectly the job of the West. I saw an Iranian leftist (perhaps some of you know who he is, as I recognise him, but don’t know his name) on Newsnight the other day, giving an Iranian voice to the West’s attitude towards Iran.

Some socialists in the West are supporting the left who are active in the Mousavi camp. This is very ironic, because here you have a ‘left’ allied to a political camp of the corrupt elites, and those who want to water down the Iranian state’s anti-imperialism. This is not new, as this has happens and is happening in many areas around the world from Venezuela, Zimbabwe, China, Lebanon, Iraq and many other places, where the left are allied to the west’s allies who are often some far from socialistic groupings.

If the Iranian left were a major mass force in Iran; if they had a good anti-imperialist practice and position; if they had a good chance at capturing power: perhaps people should seriously consider supporting them. But it seems they are very marginal, so establishing one’s position on Iran from an anti-imperialist perspective based merely on these minute leftist elements is at best missing the whole nature of this clash in Iran, and at worst is avoiding some hard decisions and allowing the West to take the political advantage in terms of how current events in Iran are reported and (mis)understood.

It’s also very dangerous to the left groups in Iran itself to think that they are getting support from those in the West, as it may add to their sense of confidence in confronting the state, which will lead to more arrests, jail and unfortunately deaths for some more.

I don’t know how much you have thought about your concluding slogan:

“Victory to the Iranian people; against both their oppressors in the regime and the global imperialist project”

But for me it raises some problems: when the main clash is between two camps, why should we not discuss this central issue rather than be drawn into subsidiary issues about opposing the West and the oppressors in the regime?

Also those amongst the left who are supporting the Mousavi camp because some Iranian left-wingers are in and around that camp, fail to recognise a much more important issue which effects the Iranian masses and poor and the masses of the people in the region, and in relation to which, the world anti-imperialist movement. For those in the left who believe in social justice on a national and international scale, Nejad’s camp is advocating this, in the face of resistance of the Mousavi camp.

Finally, we have to constantly revise and understand the contradictions within the struggles of the peoples of the South, such as the one taking place in Iran, and also the machinations of the West and especially the USA and UK. This is especially important as we have entered into a crucial phase of the anti-imperialist struggle, where the US and the West have taken a massive beating thanks to the twin tracks of resistance in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan etc, and the rise of the third world economies led by China, but also Brazil, Venezuela, Iran etc. If Obama is a good guy personally, he is being used by the elites to further their aims by other more crafty and subtle means, but trying to enforce their retreating hegemonic position all the same.

Obama’s speech in Cairo, far from a new positive era with the region, has led or perhaps has problematically contributed to the current crisis in Iran, in the sense that Mousavi’s camp and followers think they can throw out the militants (Nejad etc) now they have a ‘good guy’ to deal with in Obama. And also Obama’s speech has egged on those Tehrani elites who think they got a nod from Obama to get rid of that little upstart and friend of the resistance – President Nejad.

The anti-imperialist approach, as expressed by Tupac Amaru, Simon Bolivar, through to Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Leila Khaled, Lumumba and today with Hizbullah and Chavez is never to stop intensifying your struggle; increase one’s assertiveness and confidence in material, spiritual, cultural and armed strength is the ONLY path to complete liberation. In this, I know who I am with in Iran, despites all the hype from the west, a hype which I don’t trust; and I take this position despite my differences, sometimes serious, with the Iranian regime.

Look forward to yours and others thoughts and reflections on this issue.


My Original Piece on Iran from 18th June 09

Iran: 1979 & 2009

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was a mass event, a popular uprising of a scale rarely seen before. 30 years on, the Iranian people are out in their millions once again but the questions remain, what is this really about and where is this movement going?

Last week the Iranian Presidential elections took place with the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being most strongly challenged by former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi. A close election was widely expected, yet the final result was in Ahmadinejad’s favour by 63% to Mousavi’s 34%. This immediately led to widespread suspicion amongst Mousavi supporters that the vote had been rigged to exaggerate the current Presidents votes.

The purpose of this article is not to attain whether or not there was indeed electoral fraud. The point is to examine this new wave of protest and the situation as a whole. However, for purposes of clarity it is necessary to state a few things. Firstly, Ahmadinejad was expected to win. A telephone poll was conducted by an international group, independent from the regime and had Ahmadinejad as wining 2 to 1. Personally, I expected Ahmadinejad to win albeit with slightly less of a majority. The main arguments from those who suspect fraud are based on how the result was announced. In addition Ahmadinejad’s support seemed to spread far more evenly than previously expected, with him winning in areas that were considered Mousavi territory. So it is clear that we cannot be sure whether or not the vote was fixed.

What is an indisputable fact is that over the past 5 days millions of people have taken to the streets to protest. In anytime this is a deeply encouraging, inspiring and very exciting moment. Much of the talk on the Iranian street is about the 1979 revolution and how the same atmosphere has gripped the country. It is probably true to say that the first people out onto the streets were disgruntled Mousavi fans from the middle class who would benefit from the neo-liberal economic policies proposed by Mousavi as well the social freedoms; however this is no longer the case. As time has passed the movement has become much more than this and now encapsulates all layers of Iranian society. Indeed the control Mousavi has from this movement is entirely questionable and in all probability actually rather limited.

It would seem that the election was result was the spark that the lit the fire of Iranian society, which had been building up for many years. Iran has had a very strong reform movement, since the early 90’s, which has had to deal with its own strengths and weaknesses. The reform movement has always been extremely broad in nature, encompassing figures such as Hashemi Rafsanjani, the current chair of The Assembly of Experts and former President to women’s rights activists and left wingers. Despite its breadth and in fact most probably because of this, the reform movement has always lacked a clear leadership and direction. This is mirrored by the current events where you have massive protest, yet very little coordinated direction.

It is also important to be able to understand the limitations of the reform movement in terms of their demands. The majority of the movement does not challenge the Islamic regime itself nor the principles of the ’79 revolution. Watching the live debate between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi at times it was almost as if they were trying to ‘out Khomeini’ one another. Both spoke about their dedication to the revolution and how they were the true interpreters of Khomeini’s message. So where do the real differences lie? This question will give us some insight into the feelings of the Iranian people. Economically Mousavi favours further neo-liberalisation, although this is not something Ahmadinejad is specifically adverse to. The difference may be where Mousavi is happy to trade with the west, Ahmadinejad not so. To a degree this determines their stances on foreign policy. Mousavi ridiculed Ahmadinejad for the way in which he’s made Iran look childish in the face of international diplomacy. The President retorted with the idea that regardless of whether or not Iran does what the West wants, they will always face threats. It is impossible to beat The United States at their own game (i.e. within the arena of the UN).

Mousavi was seen by many as being a candidate who would open Iranian society and provide the freedoms that are enjoyed by the bourgeois in the west. Therefore when he lost it is easy to see why so many were so angry, although that does not explain the large scale popular protest that we have seen. It seems as if every section of society with any qualm against the regime has come out to use this opportunity, in a usually repressive state, to protest. This is a window of chance for those who want change and they are determined to use it. It is also important to note that many of the protestors are not explicitly against the Islamic regime. Having spoken to come of my family in Iran, they are angry about the election and want to see change, but within the foundations of the revolution. This is not a movement that is challenging Islamic rule, in the abstract.

What has been the state response, besides Ahmadinejad’s bizarre trip to Russia to celebrate his victory? Yes there has been repression of the most brutal kind. We’ve all seen the images of blood stained University halls, motorbiked thugs chasing protestors and street clashes. In addition foreign media has been restricted, the internet and mobile phone calls limited and other repressive techniques that can only be inflicted by state apparatus. However, the official line is strangely subdued. The Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is due to give a speech tomorrow following Friday prayers, and many expect to see a few surprises. Anyone who attempts to simplistically align Ahmadinejad with the religious elite is making a grave error. It is true that Khamenei formally endorsed Ahmadinejad for a second term but the reality is not so straight forward. Ahmadinejad’s 4 year term was marked by constant bickering between the executive and the religious sections of the ruling class. The fear amongst the religious establishment was that the President was going too far to antagonise the west and subsequently was damaging the trade deals that have been in place since the 90’s. During the campaign period Khamenei himself came forward to discredit a claim by Ahmadinejad that Mousavi’s wife and campaigner, Zahra Rahnavand, is not a real Doctor. So it is clear that are real splits opening up inside the regime, which certainly does not bode well for its long term survival.

One thing that is absolutely clear is that any repression of any protest is unacceptable. People have the right to protest and political expression and any attempts to halt this must be rejected. Reports from the last couple of days actually show a shift in the attitude of the Iranian police towards the protestors. Rather than be used by the state as a tool of repression they have begun to protect the protestors from the feared Basiji and the other thugs. Robert Fisk wrote yesterday in the Independent of the Police holding back the armed thugs from attacking the demonstrations; a moment last seen when the Iranian armed forces turn on the Shah in the 1979 revolution.

However, we must also understand Iran in a global context. This situation is very different to a General Strike in France where we can analyse this as the state vs. the people. As already outlined such an analysis is far too simplistic. We have to question why the situation in Iran is grabbing so many headlines and the attention of the world. When in Egypt the state rigged the elections and massive protests erupted, why did this not receive the same coverage? The simple answer is that as far as the imperialists are concerned, this could be the perfect opportunity to dismantle Iran as an obstacle to the domination of the Middle East. The Iraq war has only strengthened Iran as a regional power; all the worse that it is prepared to stand up to the West. Very few countries are as vocal as Iran on issues such as Palestine and very few countries, if any, can or will not provide the support that the resistance across the Middle East needs.

We must be clear that we will not allow the West to hijack this movement and use it to its advantage. Since 1989 western powers have used genuinely democratic movements to further their own aims, as seen across Eastern Europe and beyond. The same cannot and must not happen with Iran. The vast majority of Iranian people themselves reject Western influence in their affairs; the revolution of 1979 was based around sweeping aside foreign rule. The collective memory of the ghost of 1953 when Iranian Nationalist leader Dr Mossadeq was overthrown in a CIA coup has not been forgotten. Western powers must stay firmly out of this affair. For years the liberal imperialists have argued that we must intervene in countries with human rights abuses, because the people of these nations are not capable of doing it themselves. If this new movement in Iran proves one thing it is that this formulation is false. The Iranian people are displaying that they are not ‘too oppressed to fight back’ or in any way too weak to fight their own battles. They do not want western intervention and they do not need western intervention.

So what will happen next? I honestly don’t know. Clearly we have a series of events on a scale not seen in Iran since 1979. However, for all of the parallels this is not 1979 again. Protestors on both sides are chanting Islamic slogans and we will not see an overthrow of the Islamic Republic. There may well be changes in personnel, policies and other reforms but I expect it to go no further, at least at this stage. The Iranian left needs to play a better role and provide some organisation to the movement. But like 1979 the Iranian left is cutting itself off from society. They are not central to these protests and would rather see the Western powers launch an invasion than any continuation of the current regime. At lot rests on what the Supreme Leader has to say tomorrow, so we shall have to wait and see.

Regardless, this is an exciting moment for Iran. This wave of protest is unconditionally a good thing and healthy for Iranian society. It is the product of years of social and political unrest combined with the current economic crisis. Victory to the Iranian people; against both their oppressors in the regime and the global imperialist project.

Song of the Day - 06/10/09

Atmosphere - Little Man

An excellent song with incredibly touching lyrics. The first verse he is talking to his son, the second his Father and the final verse to himself. A big big beat too. Big tune.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Coming Soon!!! - A return to the Iran debate with Sukant Chandan

Coming Soon......A return to the Iran Debate with Sukant Chandan

Many of you may remember a debate that started between myself and Sukant Chandan a few months ago when the Iranian election crisis took place, on facebook. It started when he responded to an article I wrote that criticised the Iranian regime for it's brutal repression and supported the popular movement. Much to my discredit I failed to continue the debate, largely because I have a massive distain for online debating.

However, I have decided that it's an important debate that should be continued and therefore in the next couple of days I will be writing a new response to Chandan. To give you a little taster, or if you missed the debate before, below are the links to the facebook notes. Watch this space.

My first article :

Sukant Chandan's Response:

Song of the Day - 05/10/09

George Wassouf - Sebt El Donia

Congratulations to George Wassouf (I'm sure he'd be delighted) for becoming my third song of the day. I'm aware that I have chosen two Arabic songs in a row but what can you do? It's my blog. George Wassouf, born in Syria, but known as a Lebanese singer is an Arabic music legend with over 30 albums. Below is his song 'Sebt El Donia' with English lyrics. For the music video please visit

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Iran - Accountable to Whom?

Iran - Accountable to Whom?
by Dominic Kavakeb

Much of the discourse on Iran and its nuclear weaponry has centered around the threat of war and sanctions from The United States. On the other hand, from the left’s perspective, the blatant hypocrisy shown by global powers in condemning Iran’s quest for nuclear power. However, as much as we should dismiss the need for Iran to be accountable to the west, it must be accountable to it’s own people.

During George W. Bush’s eight-year tenure as US President the question of Iran and its nuclear ambitions was flagged up time and time again. The United Nations Conference two weeks ago proved that Barak Obama is certainly not willing to let the issue go away and once again the controversy has re-emerged.

It is easy to draw the parallels between Iraq and Iran. Talk of stopping Iran from gaining WMD’s is of course eerily similar to the ramblings of Bush and Blair in the run up to the 2003 invasion. Therefore many have argued that the nuclear issue is being used as another smokescreen to invade a foreign country. This coupled with the outrageous hypocrisy of western governments who, whilst carrying their own nuclear arsenals, are happy to ignore the fact that Israel has had nuclear weapons for many years leads many to reject the protests of the west. And rightly so.

There is of course no case for attacking Iran or indeed placing sanctions upon the country. Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has allowed outside inspectors and according to Mohamad El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is complying fully.

There still lies a huge level of ambiguity over whether Iran is even attempting to build nuclear weapons and whether it’s program extends beyond peaceful civilian power. The most likely situation is that this is typical Iranian bravado, playing chicken with the west, as a way of deflecting internal criticism. So we are right to reject the US and others for using Iran’s nuclear program as an excuse for aggression. But for Iranian activists the debate shouldn’t stop at this first conclusion.

The position that some put forward, that the Iranian government has the right to do whatever it likes without any accountable at all, is wrong. If we criticize western governments for their use of nuclear power than we should of course be uniform, even though the question of Iran falls under the context of imperialism. We must be able to make an anti-imperialist argument that is also to the benefit of the Iranian people.

We must understand that imperialism itself feeds on oppressed people, in the sense that it allows governments, such as the Iranian, to use outside threats to stifle it’s own people and at the same time causes internal activists to gravely side with the imperialists.

This is no attempt to highlight the dangers and ills of nuclear power but some points are worth stating. Of course as Socialists we wish to see a world without nuclear weapons and indeed a world without war. However, there can also be a considerable environmental impact of building nuclear technology.

In 2007 an earthquake rocked the west coast of Honshu Island, Japan, causing the shut down of Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station. Serious concerns were raised about the potential dangers of radioactive leakage on the local population as a result of the earthquake. Iran is a country that is fairly earthquake prone itself. You have to ask how much thought has gone into the consideration of the effect of an earthquake in a nuclear active country?

This is just one example of the potential problems caused by nuclear power and given this we can begin to see why any government that wishes to claim a ‘right to nuclear power’ must behave in an accountable way. That is not to solely single Iran out, as no doubt all other nuclear powers are no more accountable, but it is none-the-less a point worth considering.

This article does not wish to go into any great depth on the Iranian form of government or indeed how accountable it is to its people, but judging from the tragic events of a few months ago when pro-democracy demonstrations were brutally crushed, we can be fairly sure in ascertaining that Iran is not the pinnacle example of democracy.

Whether or not external inspectors should be going into Iran or that it’s plans should come under international scrutiny should not be the point. What Iran really needs is groups of ordinary citizens and independent scientists as well as direct representatives to be allowed access to the nuclear power sites in order to provide accountability. Not accountability to the US or the western agenda but to the Iranian people. If the Iranian people deem that nuclear power is erroneous to their health then they should have the right to demand its end and nobody else. As it goes we don’t really know how well the Iranian people support the country’s nuclear program although some indicators suggest there is a level of support. No doubt that support increases with every threat made against Iran.

Sadly, as we know all too well, the western governments couldn’t care less about the Iranian people. They are more than happy to hijack their cause but, like Iraq and Afghanistan, would also be equally content with bombing them to death. So of course we should reject all the fuss being made by the west towards Iran. There is no excuse for aggression either militarily or economically. But at the same time we must remember that the Iranian people do have the right, in fact only the Iranian people have the right, to control their government and decide on whether or not Iran goes nuclear.


Song of the Day - 04/10/09

Mohamad Fouad - Law

Beautiful song and very funny and touching video from Egyptian singer Mohamad Fouad.

Lyric Translation:


everybody have past and memories ...your heart forget but ia m sure your eyes still remember
i will go and leave you with the world and the past and tomorrow
If you want to remember me just close your eyes for minute and you will see the truth ..ahha If

If you bring bake the memories of your life and flip with you memories
you think you will find lover how you can trust and make you dream come true
i took the smile from my lips and gave that to you . i made you warm when your cold i was crying for you so your eyes doesn't be sad

If you want to remember me just close your eyes for a minute and you will see the truth. ahhha If

If you really my lover come to me complain scream at me before you leave
If you really my lover don't leave me don't betray me . you and live are on me
Ifyou really my lover don't leave my heart when it broken stay with my heart when it on fire and when it's crying when it's on pain and happiness
stay with my heart .and like my heart forgive you before please let your heart forgive me

If you want to remember me just close your eyes for a minute and you will see the truth

just because i loved you and gone crazy about you .. I'm paying all this with tears and pain with long nights
i wont blame you of what you did to me .
me and my heart will accept any ending

If you want to remember me just close you eyes for a minute and you will see the truth

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Manchester United 2-2 Sunderland

Manchester United 2-2 Sunderland

United salvage a point at home to Sunderland with a 92nd minute own goal from Anton Ferdinand. The Black Cats took the lead twice and deserved at least a point from the game.

Darren Bent gave Sunderland a well deserved a lead after just 7 minutes into the first half which Sunderland dominated. United could barely manage a shot and undoubtedly found themselves on the end of one of Alex Ferguson's famous 'hairdryer' treatments.

The Champions came out strong for the second half with verteran Paul Scholes replacing Anderson. The change produced immediate dividends as Anderson was involved heavily on 51 minutes when Dimitar Berbatov scored with a beautiful overhead kick.

However united did not capitalise on the momentum and just 7 minutes later Kenwyne Jones gave Sunderland the lead for the second time with a header that Ben Foster failed to get to first. The inevitable pressure came from United although they never looked like scoring the equaliser until the second minute of stoppage time when Patrice Evra's shot came off the leg of Anton Ferdinand to beat the helpless Craig Gordon.

Just minutes earlier former United midfielder Kieran Richardson received his second yellow card of the game after immaturely kicking the ball away in dissent.

It was a below the par performance from The Champions who will feel lucky to have gained a point even though it was a game they would always expect to win.

Global Nuclear Powers

Global Nuclear Powers

In light of the current controversy around Iran I thought rather than write another extended piece about nuclear hypocrisy and so on, this table may be of interest. Try to find Iran in here. I spent several hours but I couldn't find Iran anywhere.

Taken from the Federation of American Scientists

Country Total Inventory
Russia 13,000
United States 9,400
France 300
China 240
United Kingdom 185
Israel 80
Pakistan 70-90
India 60-80
North Korea

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