17 IMCWP, Contribution of Tudeh Party of Iran [En]
“The Reconfiguration of the US Policy in the Middle East
At the service ofthe Perpetuation of US Global Hegemony”
The Tudeh Party of Iran would like to take this opportunity to thank the fraternal Communist Party, Turkey, for hosting and facilitating the 17th International Meeting of the Communist and Workers Parties. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all fraternal parties for extending internationalist solidarity with the people of Iran in their complex struggle for peace, democracy and social justice.
The 17th IMCWP is taking place in a very complex period of international relations and at a time of intense struggle for world peace and against capitalist barbarity. Nowhere are the catastrophic impacts of crisis more vividly demonstrated than by the ongoing wars, destabilisation and coercion of nations to submit to imperialist hegemony in the Middle East.
We are approaching the start of 2016 and the economies of the major capitalist countries have not yet recovered from the 2008 financial crisis and are perhaps even worse off. The global capitalist economic powerhouses, including Japan, are finding it very difficult to achieve stable growth. This is broadly due to the continued financialisation of the global capitalist system and its inability to eradicate the destabilising impacts of monopoly finance capital. The European Union as the world’s largest capitalist economic block remains locked in a cycle of socio-economic crisis. The moderate economic growth in the US and the UK remains weak and fragile.
In reaction to the current global situation and the rise of popular discontent in every corner of the world, the imperialist powers in the advanced capitalist countries are aggressively intensifying their efforts to recover economic ground and consolidate their economic advantage across the globe, by any means possible, including regional conflicts and armed adventures. The imposition of hegemonic domination through manipulation of local reactionary forces has been another feature of the foreign policy pursued by the US and its strategic allies in various regions of the world, from the Middle East to North Africa and Eastern Europe.
We have witnessed the eastward expansion of NATO via Ukraine. Ultra-right and fascist forces were utilized in Ukraine as provocateurs under the guise of “supporters of democracy” and similarly, various brands of Islamists forces have been used in the Middle East in line with US strategic policies. Since the 1980s, reactionary strands of “Political Islam” have been effective instruments for crushing left forces and have served as a populist ideology. In this region, reactionary Islamic forces continue to provide the pretext for the US and NATO’s direct or indirect interventions.
A key factor to consider in analyzing such global and regional developments is that at present the US has significant problems in effectively allocating its resources globally. Thus it faces a unique challenge in its attempts to consolidate its global hegemony. However, it is important to bear in mind that despite Obama’s somewhat softer foreign policy approach in contrast to that of the Neo-conservatives, and in the light of the objective economic realities, the rational elements within the US political-military-business establishment have had to consider a new approach to preserve US global hegemony. Although certain ultra-right wing elements of the Republican Party are opposing the US foreign policy-shift, so far they have failed to change its course.
Since 1997 an influential document published by the neo-conservative think tank, the “Project for the New American Century” (PNAC) has been the blueprint for all US administrations, including the administration of Barak Obama. PNAC’s main tenet is: “to promote American global leadership", in other words to perpetuate US global hegemony as the ‘single’ world superpower. This raises the following key question with respect to the US policy shift: Where, what and whom are the existential threats to the US economic and military vital interests? Here, the significant diplomatic and military policy shift by the US in the Middle East is notable. Also we note that while the US seems to be reducing its military presence in the Middle East, it has been militarising the Far East region and simultaneously encouraging Japan to form an offensive army.
From the US perspective, China is clearly the major “risk” for the US objective of being the ‘single’ global superpower. Regionally, China is considered as an existential strategic threat to the interests of the US and Japan. China is highly dependent on external energy resources and the Middle East is a strategic energy source for China and a number of other potential economic competitors of the US. Therefore, maintaining direct control over the Middle East’s flow of oil and gas is a vital geopolitical component of the US global hegemony.
It has become clear that having a massive military presence and running operations for ‘regime change’ in the Middle East is not paying the viable dividend and has become untenable for the US. It is now an established reality that the actions of the US administration and its EU allies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria have directly contributed to the mushrooming of the Islamist “Jihadist” forces across the region. It is this realisation that in the last few years has convinced the US administration to adopt the present approach as regards bringing Iran’s ruling theocratic regime into the fold.
We believe that, in spite of massive global ‘Islamophobic’ propaganda and the real or perceived threat of ‘Islamic Terrorism’, US strategists are unlikely to see “Political Islam” as a strategic threat to their long term goals in the region. In fact, all indications both historical and based on logical analysis from a Marxist socio-economic perspective will show a strong, intrinsic economic link and alignment between the objectives of imperialism and Political Islam”.
Reduction of direct US military presence in the Middle East is accompanied by the reconfiguration of its policy toward “multi-lateral containment” encompassing the key players, namely the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel. The US policy shift in the Middle East simultaneously counters and supports the regional contradictions in relation to each key player. The US uses its power to exploit the internal tensions and contradictions amongst countries by means of the so-called “carrot and stick” approach in its diplomacy. This is already resulting in even sharper sectarian divisions and setbacks and is increasing the risk of military conflicts. One recent example is the crisis in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition has been bombarding that country for nearly eight months. Also, over the last 2 weeks, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have formed a new proxy block against the intervention of Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran in Syria. The leadership of Saudi Arabia and Turkey view the US rapprochement toward the IRI as a major challenge to their position as regional powers.
To understand the US’s new approach towards Iran’s ruling theocratic regime we must go back to 2010 when the IRI started secret talks with the US in reaction to the aggravated consequences of the US financial sanctions on Iran. By imposing intensive sanctions against Iran’s economy, the US Treasury Department successfully managed to reduce Iran’s oil exports by 50% and paralysed the country’s economy. By taking Iran’s national economy hostage, the US Treasury has given Barak Obama a significant and vital bargaining power in negotiations with Iran.
One year before the administration of President Hassan Rouhani took office, top officials from the US and direct representatives of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei were holding regular meetings in Oman. These strictly confidential meetings and negotiations were going on while Ahmadinejad’s government was adopting a bogus anti-US position and the regime was expanding its non-economical uranium enrichment operations as part of a false show of strength.
It is important to note that from 3 years ago, the unique feature of the negotiations between the US and Iran has been that the IRI has had to compromise from a desperately weak bargaining position. The top level and highly confidential meetings between the US and the IRI delegates have been covering a wide spectrum of issues beyond Iran’s nuclear program. The main objective of the IRI negotiators has been to alleviate the serious threat of the US financial sanctions in order to ensure the perpetuation of the rule of the theocratic regime. The US has fully taken advantage of its strong bargaining position by forcing the IRI to subscribe to the US plan for the New Middle East.
This is a major strategic victory for the US as it now holds an ongoing powerful leverage against our country. Effectively, the theocratic regime in Iran has been brought under the ‘carrot and stick’ arrangement and the US has maintained the Islamic Republic of Iran in its “multi-lateral containment”.
The agreed terms of the ‘5+1 Nuclear Deal’ are designed in such a way that it allows the US to easily resurrect the full strength of its devastating sanctions, therefore allowing it to exert covert and overt critical pressure on our country. Also the easing of existing sanctions, especially those imposed by the US, will be gradual and conditional, and will undoubtedly have many political-economic strings attached. Through its global financial power the US has been able to force other countries and companies to maintain or revive the sanctions on Iran. For example, not long ago major French Bank, BNP Paribas, was fined $8.9 billion by the US for sanction violation.
From the IRI’s perspective, while this regime has been overwhelmingly constrained by the US’s superior economic and diplomatic power, nevertheless it has now gained sufficient ground to continue its rule by suppressing internal opposition. The regime has found an opportunity to strengthen its grip on power as well as playing a ‘constructive’ role within the US’s plan for the New Middle East.
The initially uneasy coexistence of the IRI and US regional hegemony is sweetened by the promises and plans for helping to reconstruct Iran’s devastated economy through fully integrating our country into the circuits of the global capitalism. It is important to note that Iran’s economy is structurally mostly a mono-product import-oriented economy heavily dependent on oil and gas revenue, with a large and influential financial and rentier sector.
Over the past decade our Party has been very critical of the destructive and adventurist policies of the Iranian regime which has resulted in economic hardship and the threat of war and external intervention. The Tudeh Party of Iran, together with the people of Iran, welcomes those elements of the ‘5+1 Nuclear Deal’ (or the Joint Plan of Action) that will lift the threat of war and conflict and will lead to the eventual easing of the crippling economic sanctions- the burden of which is overwhelmingly on the shoulders of the ordinary and working people of Iran. We also welcome the fact that the ruling regime has been forced to abandon certain elements of its dangerous adventurist foreign policies that reached its pinnacle under the Ahmadinejad presidency and created a dangerous political situation in our nation. It is now very clear that the discredited and damaging foreign policies of the IRI, together with the phony slogans and empty “anti-American” rhetoric of the Ahmadinejad’s era cannot be and should not be mistaken for progressive and anti-imperialist policies.
Overall, the Iranian people can hardly rejoice at the prospect of the perpetuation of the ruling theocratic dictatorship whose position is now being reinforced by participation in the US’s plan for the New Middle East. Regardless of the promises of post-agreement economic recovery, our people will be facing neoliberal reforms with harsher consequences, and will have to suffer further from the continuance of the brutal oppression of trade unionists and the violation of human rights. As part of the coexistence agreement reached between Iran’s ruling theocracy and the US, Iran is required to contribute toward the debilitated global economy by offering a new pool of cheap and flexible labour, and a large import-oriented and rentier economy controlled by the very cooperative financial and mercantile capitalist strata impatient to make quick profits.
The US and its strategic allies are the ultimate winners at the expense of the Iranian people, and in fact to the detriment of the people in the region. The highly powerful mercantile and financial bourgeoisie who are politically represented by the President Rouhani government, along with the transnational corporations and financiers, are the other winners of the latest development in Iran.
More than 3 decades after the destruction of a magnificent popular and anti-imperialist revolution (1979), our country is facing serious social, economic and political crises. Our political economy is dreadfully unjust with a massive gap between the super rich (the top 1%) and the rest of the nation.
Tragically, once again in Iran’s recent history, the bolstering up of the country’s ruling dictatorship is being linked to the hegemonic interests of the US. In other words, Iran’s version of Political Islam” has been a key facilitator in providing an opportunity for imperialism, and first and foremost the US, to achieve the stated goal of PNAC: “to promote American global leadership" as far as Middle East is concerned. What is in effect taking shape is the metamorphism of the theocratic regime in Iran into a more sophisticated version of political forces ruling today’s Turkey.
Finally, it is very clear that our region is going through a very testing period in its long history and intensified and coordinated struggle of progressives to combat these threats are required. We must therefore mobilise and double our efforts to prevent the regional proxy wars that are waged by imperialism and reactionary forces alike.
The Tudeh Party of Iran along with the other progressive forces in the country is fighting a hard and arduous struggle against a brutal theocratic dictatorship and imperialism. The people of Iran and their progressive forces need the international support and solidarity of progressive forces across the globe in their fight for democracy, sovereignty, and social justice. And regionally, we must join forces to eradicate reactionary forces and put a halt to the foreign interference that has made life miserable for millions of people.