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Consolidating the Electoral Coup in Iran

By Reza Fiyouzat


In the aftermath of the electoral coup in Iran, the push forward by the people to force the state authorities to submit to some accountability, openly questioning the legitimacy of the state in the process, has caused a great deal of fear in both ruling factions. But, more critically, in order to consolidate the coup, the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad faction has to move carefully, so as not to inflame more intense hatred and discord among the ruling factions themselves. Hence, the insistence of the coup leaders to put the biggest blames on 'foreign arrogant powers', especially the British.


And ergo the editorial in Iran's daily Kayhan, by Hossein Shariatmadari, declaring Mousavi a foreign agent, stating, "It has to be asked whether the actions of (Mousavi and his supporters) are in response to instructions of American authorities," adding that Mousavi was trying to "escape punishment for murdering innocent people, holding riots, cooperating with foreigners and acting as America's fifth column inside the country," (see: MSNBC).


Meanwhile, they are doing their best to keep an iron fist on any form of open and mass dissent, lest the storm of the people's fury blow to hell the entire house of conceit.  


The first step in the consolidation of the coup has been carried out: the overwhelming presence of security forces on the streets, leading to a de facto martial law state of affairs, in which any assembly of more than three people can be attacked and shot at, at will, with one hundred percent impunity.


More than a thousand people have been arrested and very likely being tortured as I write these lines, to force 'confessions' out of them (just like the Americans in Guantanamo forced 'confessions' out of people linking Saddam to Al-Qaida). Six people were already hanged in the Evin prison on Wednesday, July 1; another six were hanged in Qom on July 2. There are also reports of 20 more hangings outside Tehran, in Karaj, on July 4th; some of the hanged were arrested between 2004-2008 on drugs charges, but their hanging in the current tense atmosphere is meant to instill terror in people's hearts. Meanwhile, more names of martyrs from post-election demonstrations are being unearthed, raising the total of names released to 26 (excluding the Basiji's members killed). Most of the dead have been shot in the head.


Additionally, the calls by senior clerics for trying the British embassy staff for fomenting an uprising show that the authorities will resort to any and all forms of fabrication and intimidation. All this, to instill terror in the hearts of our people; to drive them back to their homes and out of the streets, to drive them back to solitude and fear, to despondency.


But, more will need to be done if this coup is to be consolidated solidly. Most importantly, they have to get key figures of the loyal opposition to give up their protests (like they did with Mohsen Rezaee, the other conservative candidate in the stolen elections, who quickly enough jumped ship). 


So, for those loyal opposition figures refusing to shut up and put up, a whole host of 'legal' measures await. One such has been suggested by the Basiji's: they want to bring charges of 'treason' for his 'call to an uprising against the system' against Mousavi, for daring to call the election results illegitimate. Other 'legal' means will include what Ahmadinejad stated explicitly in his televised debates: corruption charges against those not going along with the coup (and 'files' filled with 'evidence' of any 'guilt' you'd like to order up can be made out of pure air, by these alchemists of deceit).


And, of course, as always, they have to crush the most daring of the popular dissenters: university students. Universities -- historically bastions of the most radical of the dissenting classes, consistently standing against oppressive machineries erected by both the Pahlavi and later the theocratic dictatorships -- have always played a key role in the overall national movements for justice in Iran. Hence, the need for the harshest crackdown on the university campuses. 


*  *  *


For American readers not entirely familiar with life under a theocracy, it can be instructive to consider the social conditions that drove the gay/lesbian/transgender community to an uprising, some forty years ago in New York City's Greenwich Village, demanding of the society and the state to respect their human rights; to respect the rights of those portrayed arbitrarily as the 'others'.


The spark for the Stonewall uprising came as a result of constant police harassment and vicious raids of their places of gathering; however, the root causes for the expressed grievances in that uprising laid in the injustices meted out to the gay community going back decades. So, take the kind of pernicious harassment experienced by the gay community at the hands of the American state's police forces, and expand it to just about all the different spheres of life subjected to unconditional control by the Iranian state, and you will get a realistic picture of the constant rage felt by an absolute majority of the Iranian people under that theocracy.


Imagine that the state's 'security forces' had the authority to stop you in the streets to harass you, and impose arbitrary penalties for the clothes you're wearing. Imagine that the state authorities had given themselves the right, backed by armed thugs, to lash you for the smell of alcohol on your breath.


Imagine that to protest against any of the thousands of insults and intrusions suffered daily, every time a group of you gathered to voice any protest, no matter how mildly, you got attacked by plainclothes thugs wielding knives and sticks breaking up your protest, breaking your limbs, beating you senseless, and when the police arrived, they'd arrest you (not the thugs), and off you get taken to some prison cell, without any rights to a fair hearing, without the right to petition against your unjust imprisonment.


Then, imagine that whenever the authorities wished, they could actually kill you, and then, when your family and loved ones went to collect your dead body from the state authorities, the authorities would demand that your loved ones pay the 'bullet charge'; meaning literally, pay for the bullets they used to kill you!


Now, imagine that you have to live under such fascistic conditions (and there is no other name for it) for decades. A very ugly picture.


Once you have expanded on the social conditions that gave rise to the Stonewall uprising, expanding it a hundredfold to all spheres of social and private life, then you can see the true meaning of the Iranian mass uprising in the aftermath of the 2009 stolen presidential 'elections'.  The stolen elections were merely the straw that broke the people's patience, but were by no means the only grievances being aired in those massive demonstrations bringing onto the streets of Tehran alone some hundreds of thousands of people, and millions across the nation. No amount of sophism can hide the true nature of militaristic theocracy in Iran, a phenomenon maintained through sheer violence.


But, as the Stonewall uprising showed, you cannot keep people down forever and subject them to irrational and arbitrary harassment, without the people finally rising up and demanding justice.


*  *  *


In this age of very late capitalism, the knowledge and expertise as well as the equipment and the machinery abound plentifully enough for any state to take on a fascistic formation. Burma is a good example, as is North Korea; Saudi Arabia definitely fits closely enough. As does the Iranian theocracy. As does Israel; particularly as Israel manifests its existence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (and its fascistic existence in the Occupied Territories is not at all disconnected from its 'democratic' facade inside Israel proper).


The incomplete definition for fascism that is taken to be the classic definition given by Mussolini, i.e., the merging of capital and the state (or takeover of state by corporations) is not a sufficient definition. Most of the advanced capitalist states for the past five hundred years -- from the Genoa's mercantilists, to the Dutch and the British imperialists, to the unified Germany post-1871, to modern Japan and the U.S. -- have been capitalist states in complete symbiotic organizational unity with capital/corporations; therefore a symbiotic organization merging the two does not give a full definition of fascism. 


I think at least two more fundamental characteristics make the definition complete:

1. specialized, excessively oppressive 'policing' apparatuses, whose main target of oppression is 'its own people', and

2. a purist ideology, bestowing on its beholders a superior position in the human world, thereby justifying expansionist* policies when needed


(*Note that there is a huge (class) difference between the expansionism of the ruling classes and the internationalism/solidarity of the working classes)   


Both characteristics (specialized oppressive apparatuses plus a purist ideology), as well as the first one (the merging of capital and state), apply to the case of Iran.


The biggest capitalists in Iran, besides the state itself, control the various foundations that were set up after the consolidation of the counter-revolutionary theocracy in Iran, by 1979-80. These foundations were set up to absorb all the industries and companies whose assets were being expropriated. In later years, these holdings grew to also include companies established by these foundations' expropriated capital. These foundations have throughout the decades accumulated more industries and companies, and their assets dwarf any of the nearest private competitors in the country.


Importantly, though these foundations are nominally 'private', they are in fact controlled indirectly by the state and/or directly by its loyal members. Further, during the years of Ahmadinejad in office, most of the 'privatization' taking place consisted of the transfer of more industries and companies to the ownership of these foundations, leading to a further concentration of wealth in the state (see: Together with the state-owned military industries and the ideological armed forces, these foundations form a giant military-business-clerical complex controlling the most important levers of power in the country.


It is this very concentration of power and wealth that allowed the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad gang some years back to calculate that they could indeed do away with other factions within the ruling elite and, subsequently, allowed them the organizational wherewithal to organize the electoral coup they just pulled off. The plan was/is to render the state more cohesive and bereft of any pesky quarrels about 'reform', which the system is fundamentally incapable of undergoing anyway.


*  *  *


There is a video clip of an extremely chilling nature, available online (in Farsi, no subtitles:, of a post-election meeting of a group of conservatives, including Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, a most fascistic clerical leader, who literally OK'd vote rigging before the elections (


In the clip, you will not observe the slightest of lighthearted jubilation among the attendees, as would be expected from a group of people who had just won a clean, hard-fought election campaign. Quite the contrary, a sinister, hushed tone of guilt-ridden sickly purpose saturates every utterance made by Ahmadinejad.


In the clip, Ahmadinejad speaks in allusions and metaphors, which, when listened to carefully, shed some light on the general strategy the coup organizers are likely to adopt. Ahmadinejad talks about the completion of the first difficult phase of the struggle, and the start of the second, more difficult phase, which, as he puts it, will require ALL the capabilities of the system; the executive, judicial and 'spiritual' (meaning the solid backing of certain of the clerical classes). He also talks about the 'big wave of enthusiasm, both internal and external', for this divine movement toward the 'Purist Mohammedan Islam' (Islam-e Naab-e Mohammadi).


[The reference to the wave of enthusiasm from abroad is usual propaganda of course, but there is also a very telling subtext here: there are reports of foreign, Arab sounding, goon squads which have been shipped in, paid handsomely and put up in hotels across Tehran (the Iranian paid goons brought from provincial small towns and villages, by contrast, get paid much less, and are put up in modest dormitories).]


There is also a very chilling reference by Ahmadinejad in the clip about the need to take care of the universities.


Ahmadinejad, the co-conspirator, also talks about the 'joyous nature of fighting corruption', a judicial tactic they will be lining up for the next wave of eliminations of the loyal opposition; and, of course, all this has to happen fast, hence his reference to the urgency of the task at hand, and how time is of the essence; hence, in his words, "Let's operationalize our plans".


Among international developments that must bring some joy to the coup leaders in Iran is Obama administration's behind-the-scenes manipulations to stop the G8 from issuing any new calls for (or actual proposals for) expanded sanctions against the government of Iran (see:


To conclude then, in the aftermath of the electoral coup pulled by Ahmadinejad-Khamenei and the resultant outrage expressed by millions of Iranians, those 'leftists' vociferous in conjuring up imaginary coups, remote-controlled from Langley, VA, should rejoice in knowing that their favorite state formation in Iran will last a while longer. And will be doing so through pure terror, kangaroo courts and summary executions, fraudulent deal makings and concentration of even more conceit at the very top of the state ideological apparatuses.


But, to their chagrin, and to the chagrin of people in love with authoritarian states, the people of Iran have not given up, nor feel cowed. They may be momentarily pushed back into their homes, but this movement is far from over.  


About the author: Reza Fiyouzat can be reached at:

He keeps a blog at:

... Payvand News - 07/06/09 ... --

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