Middle East Iran protests: A turning point?
|Ongoing protests in Iran. Is this a turning point?|
They started on Thursday in Iran’s second largest city, Masshad around the issues of high prices and unemployment. The very next day they had spread throughout the country, including to Tehran. There is actually some suspicion that the “hard liner” supporters of Ali Khameini were behind these original protests in order to embarrass President Rouhani over the deal he made with Obama. If so the whole thing certainly backfired, since within 24 hours the issue had moved to include protests against the clericals and against the Revolutionary Guard. There were also several instances of crowds trying to invade government buildings, possibly to get documents showing government corruption.
Earlier Workers’ Strikes
Yurt coal miners protesting Rouhani. They shouted him
down, blocked his car and stomped on the roof and hood.
In September and October of last year there were strikes of sugar cane workers, factory workers
Striking HEPCO workers
Echo of Arab Spring
These protests, then, seem to be taking the path that the Arab Spring did, especially in Egypt, where there was a series of strikes against privatization for several years prior to the general uprising of 2011. And that general uprising throughout the Arab world helped create a global mood of revolt that included the Occupy movement in the United States.
Bus drivers in Tehran demanding the
release of their leader Reza Shehabi.
So, now the question is whether this renewed movement in Iran will set off a new wave of working class struggle. Will it possibly encourage a similar movement in Saudi Arabia, for example, which is already experiencing a shake-up at the top? If so, it could really undermine the bitter sectarian war between the Shia and the Sunni. What affect will it have on the war in Yemen and in Syria too?
Women join the protest. Inevitably, the issue of women’s rights
will be raised if the protests continue.
Trump has tweeted support for the protests in Iran, but he’d better look out. Just like he painted all immigrants and all black people with one brush (as criminals), so he’s painted all Muslims and, especially, all Iranians as terrorists. But if Iranian workers are seen as fighting for jobs and a better living standard, that stereotype won’t fly with millions of US workers any longer. As one union carpenter had said to this writer shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed: “What will they use to scare us now that Communism is gone?”
Nothing is guaranteed. There are hints of nationalism in the protests. Probably US imperialism will try to find a way to influence the events. But we should remember the myth of the Greek goddess Athena, who sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus. Just as that myth was exactly that – a myth – so is it a myth that revolutionary movements spring to life fully formed.
Confusion and set-backs are inevitable. But if these protests continue and deepen, they have the potential to reverse the period of sectarianism, racism and division in which the working class presently finds itself. We need to watch this situation closely and lend support in any way we can.
Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!