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The jackals at Tehran's gates: The quest for democracy in Iran against a century of imperialist terror

By Saeed Vaseghi

It was nauseating to hear that Mafia Don, Mister G.W., to tell Iran's government to treat the democracy demonstrators with the utmost respect. This 'order' is given by the president of a country that suppressed democracy in Iran for decades, because democracy in the Middle East, as elsewhere, implies people's sovereignty over their own resources and this is irreconcilable with the imperialist policies of domination and exploitation.

The recent demonstrations in Iran are a natural part of the democracy process and the development and maturing of Iran's civil society. But the US is hoping to use the discontent as a window of opportunity to destabilize Iran again.

Once again Iran's democracy is confronted by the imperialist threats of termination. Fifty years ago, in August 1953 in Tehran, the Americans, and their British sidekick, overthrow the democratically-elected government of Mohammed Mossadeq in order to plunder Iran's oil and natural resources. For decades after the coup d'etat, the US policymakers openly referred to Iran's oil as 'our' oil. By all accounts Mossadeq was a model of a democratic and pragmatic leader. However, in the eyes of the Imperialists, Mossadeq was guilty of presuming that Iran's resources belonged to Iranians. The coup secured Iranian oil for the Anglo-American oil concerns and devastated the prospects for democracy in the Middle East. The variants of the blueprint of the 1953 Tehran coup d'etat were used elsewhere including against democratically-elected Salvador Allende in Chile.

After the coup d'etat of 1953, US-sponsored state terror took over in Iran and democracy was totally extinguished. In the aftermath of the coup it was not sufficient to make an example of Mossadeq. After all, it was the Iranian nation who elected Mossadeq. Iranians had consistently shown that they had ideas above their station, ambitions and dreams of democracy that could have spread and changed the Middle East and Central Asia for good, for good of its people and not of the oil companies. Iranians' history of democratic ambitions was an unacceptable threat to the imperialist interests.

To imperialists there was no doubt that Iranians were persistent repeat offenders in seeking democracy. In 1906 Iran had its constitutional revolution that created a parliament and made the king, who until then was an absolute ruler, a constitutional monarch. Iran's 1906 constitutional revolution was the first major example of a political system in Asia moving towards a modern parliamentary democracy. Before that, in 1891 Iranians had successfully rebelled and reversed the British takeover of their tobacco trade rights.

Much oil was at stake, democracy in the Middle East is the main threat to imperialist interests and could not be tolerated. Something had to be done, Iranians had to be given a lesson with exemplary and demonstrative qualities, otherwise the Arabs too could get the wrong ideas. After the coup d'etat the terrorist puppet regime of the Shah was installed. Iranians were subjected to 26 years of repression and total isolation from any practice of democracy. Instead of the development of a democratic culture, a generation of Iranians, to the resentment of many of them, were brought up on a diet of the worst trash that capitalism could offer. The isolation of Iranians from democracy and self-determination had devastating and long lasting consequences. During that twenty-six years, at a time when Iranians desperately needed civilian infrastructure for health and education, Iran was sold billions of dollars of the latest US military weapons. The Shah used his weapons and power to suppress Iranian and Arab aspirations for democracy and to secure the region for the oil companies.

Terror and corruption are the two main instruments of imperialist policy, that are used for subjugation of the people of Middle East. Indeed racists claim that these are the most effective tools to deal with the Middle East people. Today, the practice of this policy can be seen clearly in Iraq where the occupying troops shoot into demonstrators and the US airlifted a convicted fraudster to lead Iraq. To fascists, who brag about their carrot and stick policy, Middle Easterners are not the descendants of the great civilization of their lands but darkies who deserve no better than thieves and tyrants to rule them.

That is a brief overview of the historical background that partly explains the eruption of a volcano of frustration and emotions of an oppressed nation during the Iranian revolution in 1979. The televised pictures of chanting Iranians were beamed across the world, but there were no serious efforts, by the mainstream media commentators, to explain the context of a century history of coup d'etats and violent suppressions of democracy that gave rise to such a volcanic release of emotions. Instead, Iranians were portrayed as a backward fanatical people and not as the victims of one hundred years of Imperialist exploitations and terror.

After the 1979 revolution the US inflicted further setbacks to the development of economic and democratic infrastructure in Iran through encouraging the Iran-Iraq war. Recently released documents have shown that the US supported and encouraged Saddam's regime to go to war against Iran. The tragic Iran-Iraq war was a US-sponsored war. The US and UK supplied Saddam's regime with technology for weapons of mass destruction, later on they occupied Iraq on the pretext that some of the weapons they sold Iraq had remained unaccounted and could be used against them. Tragically, the long suffering people of the ancient civilization of Iraq, which share so much of their history and culture with Iranians, continue to pay for the crimes of their Imperialist tormentors.

Despite all the setbacks and interruptions, Iran is now the biggest indigenous developing democracy in the Middle East. Iranian democracy if allowed to develop and mature could help to transform and stabilize the region. Iran has an elected reformist president, a reformist-dominated elected parliament and elected municipal councils for the governance of cities, towns and villages. The seeds of democracy are sown wide in Iran and Iranians need time and space to nurse, develop and shape their renewed democracy. In Iran there is now a passionate and vigorous debate between the modernizers and the conservatives on the choices for the processes of reform and institutionalization of democracy. Iranians are developing and evolving their own model of democracy and culture of pluralism so long forbidden in their country by foreign powers.

Democracies do not develop in isolation from economic and cultural development. The economies and the democracies of Imperialist countries were developed on policies that require periodic projection of an ever-increasing level of violence, as recently witnessed in Iraq. Despite a century of setbacks, Iranian democracy compares well with those of their detractors. In UK after centuries of development of democratic institutions, the house of lords is an un-elected chamber with some members having a birth-right to lord it on people and become lawmakers. In the US more than a 100 million dollars of big business money is needed to campaign for the presidency, even then the family pedigree and the dynasty of a candidate may overcome the people's choice as in Bush vs. Gore election 2000. In both UK and US the news media, controlled by a small clique of super rich elite, influence election outcomes. In contrast, Iran's reformist President Khatami was elected by an overwhelming majority of the people on a ticket of democratic reform and empowerment of people and the main foreign policy doctrines of Khatami administration are dialogue among civilizations and global coalition for peace.

Fifty years after the Tehran coup d'etat of 1953 the Jackals are back and menacing Iran again. The same coupe runners, the same demolishers of Iranians' dreams of democracy are back, just as Iran is at a critical stage of the evolution of its democratic institutions. Having laid waste to the ancient civilized land of Iraq, having looted its resources, demolished its heritage and humiliated its proud and hospitable people, the US is now threatening to do the same in Iran using exactly the same bogus pretexts of weapons of mass destruction and Al-Qaeda that were used against Iraq. No doubt, if it comes to a war in Iran, the learned scholars and experts of the mainstream media will continue to ignore all the clear signs that shout 'it is oil stupid' and instead will endlessly debate the merits of the bogus reasons for the intervention.

Eighty years ago Winston Churchill used weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to quash anti-imperialist rebellion by a people he called 'savages.' Today, as the occupiers' troops shoot into Iraqi demonstrators, that racist attitude persists and explains much of the mainstream indifference to the misery inflicted on the people of Middle East. The great game, as the imperialists called it, is back and once again Iran is at its center. For the people of Middle East and central Asia it is not a 'great game,' it is terror that blights their lives and shatters their dreams of democracy and peace.

It is nice to dream of a time when the US will respect Iranians' rights of self-determination, lift the sanctions and engage in mutually beneficial trade and cultural cooperation with Iran. However, in addition to the racist problem of domination ideology, currently a large part of the US economy and technology is connected to and feeds from the military industrial complex that needs war and tension to thrive.

About the author:
Saeed Vaseghi is a University Professor and lives in London.

... Payvand News - 7/2/03 ... --

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