Iran has reached a deal with the big capitalist powers, the terms of which it will mean limits on Iranian nuclear production in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions. Morad Shirin of the Iranian Revolutionary Marxist Tendency spoke to Solidarity just before the deal was struck.
The Iranian regime is in a very tight spot economically.
The sanctions that came in in 2012 have significantly reduced its exports. They have also been locked out of the SWIFT banking system, which means that they cannot recoup money from sales.
They have been diplomatically isolated since Chavez’s death, Assad’s woes and so on.
In some ways Iran has been weakened, but there are also new opportunities for Iranian imperialism. Javad Zarif, the foreign minister recently wrote an opinion piece in the Financial Times, calling for “a fair and balanced deal” to address “shared challenges of a far greater magnitude”. He says there is a historic choice between co-operation and conflict, and co-operation is the way to combat “violent extremism”.
So Iran has been working with other powers in dealing with IS in Iraq; as things improve they’ll be able to expand their influence in the region more generally.
The nuclear deal is really the opening for Iran to be locked in closer with others in the region. This will be reactionary co-operation — they could be intervening to put down progressive rebellions, or workers’ strikes — but it will also be hitting Islamists.
Iran may get a lot of foreign capital, expertise and technology, and the economy will improve. Workers’ confidence can be expected to improve with more employment and so on. So we can hope for an upward trajectory of the workers’ movement.
Lots of organisations, such as the Solidarity Center, run by the AFL-CIO and the International Labour Organisation, will come into Iran and try to set up trade unions which are, shall we say, compliant.
This will present the revolutionary left with a challenge — how to have a policy to relate to these changes and openings, which will likely be very popular, but also how to explain their limitations and connect them to longer-term goals of the workers’ movement.
The new situation will wipe out the excuses that parts of the so-called left have used to refuse solidarity to the Iranian workers’ movement.
The new developments will show that the Iranian regime is not an anti-imperialist regime in any way.
Iranian teachers' leader jailed
On 27 June, Esmail Abdi, a leader of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, was arrested.
Esmail was trying to obtain a visa to attend the seventh Education International World Congress in Ottawa, Canada. His passport was confiscated and he was ordered to return to Tehran to meet with prosecutors.
Upon reporting to the prosecutors’ office he was arrested and a ten year jail sentence imposed on him.
More than 70 teachers rallied outside the prosecutors’ office to support Esmail as he was arrested.
Esmail is the latest of Iran’s trade unionists to be jailed. Most recently the Iranian regime cracked down on the Tehran bus workers’ union, arresting several of its activists in the lead-up to May day celebrations.
Earlier this year, the Iranian teachers organised nationwide rallies to protest against poverty wages.
The international education union federation Education International is asking for trade unionists to join them in calling for Esmail’s release.
The UK National Union of Teachers has written a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condeming Esmail’s arrest and calling for his release.