Interview of Toward Socialism with Hamid Taqvee Leader of WPI, regarding the current situation in Iran and its impact on Iraq and the Middle East
TS: We know that the revolutionary movement in Iran has started 3 months ago and has been very active. The whole world was watching the events excitedly. We also know that it has faced brutal suppression from the regime. The protests recently have continued in Quds Day. How do you see the situation of this movement and its prospects?
Hamid Taqvee: First of all, this movement in Iran which has started 3 months ago is a revolution, meaning, its main goal and focus is on political power, the government, and the ruling system of Iran, i.e. the Islamic Republic. So, the people started a very popular and vast movement against the Islamic republic, and against the government. From the start, before the elections, and because of the elections, the people started the movement whose concern and objective was not only on “who is going to be the next president?”, but a protest against the whole system, against the whole Islamic Republic. That’s one thing. The other thing why I call it a revolution is because the vast majority of people are involved in it. It goes on in the streets. That is the main factor in the whole political situation in Iran. What the people do, what the people want, and what their slogans are, how they fight every day and night against the police and different forces the regime deploys in the streets. Politically, this is now the main factor in Iran. So, from both aspects; the first being the main question which is the Islamic Republic itself, as the people, in their protests, aim at the whole regime. The second is that the movement’s form is very vast and popular and the majority of people in Tehran and all major cities in Iran are involved in it. There is no doubt that we have a revolution in Iran. This revolution goes on, as the regime could not defeat it. On the other hand we see the fight and problems between the different factions of government are getting worse every day. Half of the Islamic republic parties or political figures like Mosawi and Rafsanjani, who are very important figures in the Islamic republic, do not recognize the current government, i.e. Ahmadinejad’s cabinet. Many of the clergy authorities already denounced khamanaei as a supreme leader, and so on and so forth. So, what we are witnessing now is a regime that got so many inner problems and cannot see any solution for them in the foreseeable future. On the other hand there is the majority of people, a mass movement against the state, and the whole Islamic Republic.
TS: Ahmadinejad yesterday delivered his speech in New York before the UN. There have been some messages exchanged between the regime and the West regarding quieting issues such as the nuclear dossier and the other conflicts. How do you see the reaction of the West to the revolution of Iran in this context?
Hamid Taqvee: Governments of the West are following their own aims and goals. The same policy they had before the current events. They are following the same goals now. They haven’t changed their policies because of what is happening in the streets of Iran. The thing is that they are trying to take advantage of that. I think they want to go and get involved in the negotiations over the main questions that they have as you mentioned the nuclear project of the Islamic republic and also its role in the region especially in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. Those are the main concerns of Western governments and they are still following the same policy. But they hope, because of the movement in Iran, the Islamic Republic is in much weaker position. So they want to take advantage of that in the negotiations with the Islamic republic. As far as Ahmdinejad as the new president, in the beginning, the governments of the West hesitated and waited a little bit to see what was going on. Then they quickly recognized Ahmdinejad as president with the justification that “it is an inner political problem in Iran, and not our concern”. Formally they say “Ahmdinejad is the president that we are recognizing as president”. That’s why Ahmdinejad went to the UN and delivered his speech as he did the years before. In this situation, when we have a revolution going on in Iran, of course they try to, somehow, have the Islamic republic in its place, and even have it control the situation. That is their policy. Strategically, in the long run, of course, the Western governments want to get rid of the Islamic government. But that doesn’t mean that their tactics are the same. They are being very pragmatic as always. And in this situation in which they know that the revolution might change everything in Iran, they don’t need or want that sort of radical change. They just want to do some changes on the top of the regime like a “Regime Change” or maximum a “velvet revolution” or something like that. Of course this revolution is neither velvet nor a scenario of a Regime Change. That is why Western governments are much more careful in dealing with the Islamic Republic. They don’t want to weaken it. They want, even, somehow, to save it; somehow support it, against what is happening in Iran, and at the same time to go on and follow their own aims and goals with an upper hand at the negotiation table.
TS: How do you see the impact of what is happening in Iran on the current situation in Iraq?
Hamid Taqvee:I think that it is a new factor that would weaken the Islamic movement all over the world and especially the Middle East, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon in particular. I think it has a big international impact, because people of Iran are challenging the backbone of the Islamic movement in the region and the world. Not only because the Islamic Republic is directly involved in what is happening in Iraq through the Shi’a groups in the south of Iraq or has got close relations with Hamas or Hezbollah, not only because of that, but more importantly, ideologically, strategically and politically, it is a fight between the people of Iran and the backbone and alternative that the Islamic Republic represents for all Islamists in the world. Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Muktada al sadr and others in Iraq all of whom goals, aim, and ideal is to build some sort of a society and government like the Islamic government; like the Islamic Republic. Now the Islamic Government has been challenged by its own people in Iran, and now that everybody in the world knows that this brutal regime is shooting its people in the streets, killing them, raping them, torturing them, everybody knows those sort of things about the Islamic Republic now, it has a direct impact and would weaken very dramatically the position of Islamists everywhere in the world.
My example is what has happened few days ago in Iran in the Quds Day where the Islamic republic celebrate it every year with a gesture of supporting the cause of Palestinians and Muslims all over the world and that sort of thing while raising slogans against Israel and Zionism. But this year the people got to the streets with tens of thousands, not only in Tehran but around 10 -12 cities all over Iran, raised slogans against the Islamic Republic like: “Gaza is here” and “killings in Gaza and Iran must both be condemned” and “Death to Russia” instead of the traditional yearly slogan of Quds Day “Death to Israel” as Russia is directly support the Islamic Republic. So the people have changed the whole situation. The Quds Day does not represent the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran towards Palestine or the other Islamists in the regime but a day, starting this year on ward, that represent the protests of the people of Iran against the Islamic republic and the Islamic government. That shows what sort of impact the movement in Iran would have on the Islamist groups in the region. As far as Iraq is concerned, the weakening of Iran has a direct impact on the whole political situation in Iraq. I think that the position of Islamists and especially that of the Shi’a groups in Iraq would be weakened much more than before. The Islamic Republic would not have as many claims or influences in Iraq anymore. It would be weaker and weaker. In this sense, I think the movement in Iran is helping the people of Iraq to rise for their own rights with their own independent slogans against the government in Iraq.
TS: Some in the Left say that what is happening in Iran is not a revolution. They justify that by saying that there is no independent workers rank and/or there is no political party that plays the role of a leader. How do you answer these claims?
Hamid Taqvee: First of all, and theoretically, revolution is an objective event. It has nothing to do with political forces or parties or even the role of those parties in those events. Revolution is a mass movement with the main question of political power, a mass movement against the government, with the aim of getting rid of that government. I think that’s the revolution everywhere in the world. That is the definition of the revolution. But what sort of revolution is it? ; what is the role of parties and of classes in it? Is that revolution going to succeed or be defeated? All remain open questions that their answers depend on the involvement and the role of any party and any class, be it the ruling class or the working class in those events. But the revolution itself is something objective that is happening in Iran. It is of course a revolution. Those claims or views about revolution not only lack the right theory, as the problem is not theoretical here, it is political. Those groups and forces that claim that (there is no revolution), don’t have that scenario in front of them. Even before those events started, they did not believe in any radical or progressive movement in Iran In their theories. They claim that the Islamic Republic now is well established, that there is not a movement against that government in Iran, or if there was, it is controlled by the Right opposition, and that the left is very weak. Most of these groups look at their own situation and get into that conclusion that the left is weak. What they really mean is that “We are weak. We do not have much power”. That is the main thing. They say “working class is nowhere” or “what is happening has nothing to do with the working class or its policies” and so on and so forth.
So, it is a political position before those events unfolded, they had that position which painted everything dark. As if nothing is happening in Iran, or if everything is happening under the control of the ruling class, the Right opposition, or the Islamic Republic itself, that the Left is nowhere, that the working class movement is nowhere, and it plays no role. Of course with that sort of perspective and strategy, when they confront a mass movement like the one happening in Iran, they have to deny it, otherwise they would have to deny themselves. They have to deny it. They have to say that there is no revolution and that what is happening is not a revolution. We expected this position. My answer to those groups as always is that, what is weak and not present in the political situation in Iran is “You” and your groups and parties. The working class is there. Just on May Day this year around 40-50 days before the starting of that current revolution in Iran, we saw one most powerful May Days in Iran. We had ten organizations in the Working Class movement called for a gathering in Tehran, in Park Laleh, which is a traditional place for protests. Around 2000 people gathered there in the last few minutes, despite the fact that police was everywhere, and the Islamic Republic knew about the gathering and was prepared and arrested around 40-50 activists. Despite all of those efforts by the Islamic Republic around 2000 people showed up with a very radical resolution they published after that event. That is what had happened 40 days before the revolution broke out in addition to many other events happened. I remember that in that May Day, these groups said that that action or movement or call for the gathering in central park was wrong and that workers shouldn’t do that because the Islamic Republic would kill many people and arrest many others. That was