The 2009 imperialist-backed “Green Revolution” in Iran

The June 12, 2009, presidential election in Iran revealed a bitter split within the Islamic Republic’s political elite. Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner over several rivals. Mass demonstrations ensued, mainly in the middle-class and upper-middle-class areas of Tehran, where the opposition candidates had their main base of support. The WSWS criticized the dubious claims of a supposed popular revolt in Iran, promoted as the “Green Revolution” by the Western media.

The WSWS based its approach to this crisis on a historical analysis of the Iranian Revolution and the fundamental lessons of the 20th century, above all the necessity for the working class to adopt an independent political standpoint rather than line up behind one or another faction of the bourgeoisie.

The crisis in Iran was seized on by the US and European governments to advance their own imperialist interests. In a fashion similar to that employed in backing various “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in order to install regimes more to its liking, the imperialist propaganda machine used a “human rights” campaign to orchestrate support for a favored wing of the bitterly divided political establishment in Tehran.

As the WSWS explained, the Obama administration, the European imperialist powers and their liberal backers like the New York Times and the Nation magazine had new allies in the campaign against Iran—the middle-class “left” groups that had opposed the Bush administration but now were lining up behind Obama. This would later be replicated in their support for the wars in Libya and Syria. The WSWS wrote:

​The June 12 Iranian election has become the occasion for virtually the entire milieu of “progressive” and “left” organizations in the US and internationally to line up behind their own governments in support of the opposition movement headed by the defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi.

These groups have not only uncritically embraced Moussavi’s claims that the election was stolen, they have ignored the right-wing economic and foreign policies of the opposition, the bourgeois character of its leadership, and the fact that its main social base consists of better-off sections of the middle class. That the mass of Iranian workers abstained from the protests that followed the election, and that imperialist governments in the US and Europe have uniformly rallied behind the opposition, evokes no second thoughts about the Moussavi movement’s supposedly democratic and progressive character.

A broad-based political phenomenon such as that which has unfolded in response to the events in Iran is indicative of sharp shifts in the political orientation of definite social layers. In this case, it reflects the movement of middle-class layers that once dominated left-wing public opinion into the camp of the political right.

As the Iranian crisis dragged on for months, the trajectory of the middle-class protest movement that had coalesced around Moussavi became more and more clear, and in the process exposed the various pseudo-left organizations, including the French New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) and the British International Marxist Tendency, which masquerade as socialist or Marxist.

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