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Ahmadinejad Tells Activists He's anti-Capitalist

Source: The Real News Network (TRNN)

Nader Hashemi: While Iran's democratic movement tries to discourage US military intervention, Ahmadinejad gives fuel to the fire. 

Nader Hashemi is Assistant Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver He has a PhD from the University of Toronto. He is the author of "Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy: Toward a Democratic Theory for Muslim Societies". Nader is also co-editor of The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Democracy in Iran, to be published in early 2011.

More at The Real News

Oct. 12 - TRNN On September 21, Iranian President Ahmadinejad called a conference with representatives of American anti-war organizations and Iranian activists to discuss the situation in Iran, and facilitate peace between the two countries. 

At the conference President Ahmadinejad expressed anti-capitalist sentiments, saying the system forces countries to start wars to support their military industries, according to conference attendee Fight Back News. Ahmadinejad denounced capitalism saying "Capitalism has come to an end. It's reached a deadlock. Its historical moment has ended and efforts to restore it won't go very far." 

In an interview with The Real News, Nader Hashemi, author and Assistant Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics at the University of Denver, said that the anti-capitalist rhetoric is only a strategy to win sympathy and invalidate the the US and Israeli cause to exert military power over Iran's nuclear program. 

"I think it's an exercise in hypocrisy. I mean, one has to understand that within authoritarian societies in the Middle East, the fundamental issue that matters for ruling elites is maintaining political power. And so they will invoke any argument, whether it's in favor of capitalism or socialism, to rally opinion, whether globally or internally, in order that these ruling elites remain in power," he said. 

Hashemi said Ahmadinejad is currently trying to remove subsidies from basic commodities such as bread and gasoline, that insulate the working class, in order to free up government money for uses that will entrench its power. 

For example, Hashemi explained that a huge portion of Iran's economy has been given by the ruling clerics to the Revolutionary Guard " that they will feel invested in the ruling regime and not decide to switch sides to the green movement." 

He said those sections of the economy are run as private businesses, for the private benefit of the Revolutionary Guard.

"Yeah, it's moving in the direction of a sort of a Pakistani sort of military model where, to the extent that you are allied with the military forces, in this case the Revolutionary Guard, the more that you'll have access to economic opportunity without any checks and balances," he said.

Hashemi said Ahmadinejad also has no interest in supporting Iran's workers with trade unions. "As I speak, one of the most famous and prestigious union leaders in Iran, Mansour Osanlou, has been put in jail, severely tortured. And there's no such thing as an independent trade union in Iran."

However, despite discussion by Israel, the US, and recently Canada's former minister of justice Irwin Cotler about the need for human rights and democracy within Iran, Hashemi said it is primarily to build a case for regime change, and for military action by Israel and United States. 

He said the pro-democratic movement in Iran is strongly opposed to "the language of force" and say a military attack on Iran would undermine the internal struggle for democracy. He said that Irwin Cotler, and those that advocate for regime change and military intervention are not serious about human rights, but are motivated by bias toward the state of Israel and the desire to keep Iran from weaponizing their nuclear program.

Rather than creating an opening for democracy, he said, destabilizing the regime with military action would give Ahmadinejad an excuse to take extreme protectionist measures, and extinguish the pro-democracy movement.

"The regime in Iran would be strengthened. They will be able to declare a state of emergency, arrest thousands of people, perhaps execute thousands more, and completely crush and eradicate the pro-democracy movement. And if you're serious about human rights and democracy in Iran, you have to listen to the internal leaders within Iran, who completely repudiate the politics of people like Irwin Cotler and those people who are in favor of military action against Iran here."

He said the democratic movement within Iran would seek sanctions that put pressure on the ruling elite without starving the average Iranian. 

"[The democratic movement's] view is that they oppose broad-based sanctions that affect the average citizen in Iran, but they are supportive of carefully calibrated and targeted sanctions that focus on specific individuals who've been guilty of human rights violations," he said.

Senior Editor of The Real New, Paul Jay, got the chance to speak with peace activists who had attended the conference. They told him that their intention in meeting with President Ahmadinejad was to reduce the justification for military intervention in Iran by facilitating an effort by the president to discuss the issues. They emphasized that their main strategy to support the democratic movement in Iran was to discourage US and Israeli military intervention. 

"Iran's pro-democracy movement," said Hashemi, "is no way in favor of US-style sort of military strike, violence, turning Iran into some sort of satellite regime. The pro-democracy [movement in Iran] is very nationalistic."

Unfortunately, Hameshi said, Ahmadinejad's defiant rhetoric is actually making it much easier for the United States and Israel to make a case for attacking Iran.

To view/read full interview - Ahmadinejad Tells Activists He's anti-Capitalist

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