The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, Vol. 5, No. 3/4 (Summer/Fall 2009)

The pink revolution in Iran and the “Left”, Takis Fotopoulos

Chapter 4. The aims of the transnational elite


It is therefore clear that the ‘unholy alliance’ I mentioned in the last chapter, essentially, is attempting a coup against the popular will, with the full support of the transnational elite and also of the reformist and “libertarian” Left which, yet again, objectively, plays the role of its cheerleader, i.e. of the fellow-traveller. This is not only because it supports the most reactionary forces within Iran itself, i.e. the reformist clerics and the bourgeois modernizers, but also because it legitimizes the regime change and the possible military blow in preparation by the Zionists and the transnational elite (in case the present coup fails) to fully enforce the New Order in the area, with incalculable implications to the world national liberation and social movements.

There is no doubt that regime change has always been the aim of the US elite (which is hegemonic within the transnational elite) and lately became the aim of the entire transnational elite. No wonder that as Scott Ritter, former UN Weapons inspector, revealed, Iran was named sixteen times as the number one threat to the national security of the United States of America in the 2006 version of the National Security Strategy.[1] As regards the effect of the recent change in the personnel of the political US elite following the US Presidential elections, Seumas Milne[2] aptly put it again:

Last Friday, even before the polls had closed in Iran, the US president commented that people were “looking at new possibilities” in Iran, just as they had in Lebanon’s elections the previous weekend. In fact, the unexpected defeat of Hezbollah’s opposition coalition (which nevertheless won the largest number of votes) seems to have had more to do with local Lebanese sectarian issues and large-scale vote buying than the Obama effect. But the implications of his remarks were not lost in Iran, where the US is still spending hundreds of millions of dollars in covert destabilisation programmes… In case anyone imagined such wars of Western occupation would become a thing of the past in the wake of the discredited Bush administration, General Dannatt, head of the British army, recently set out to disabuse them. Echoing US defence secretary Robert Gates, he insisted: “Iraq and Afghanistan are not aberrations – they are signposts for the future”. In such a context, the neutralisation of Iran as an independent regional power would be a huge prize for the US – defanging recalcitrants from Baghdad to Beirut – and a route out of the strategic impasse created by the invasion of Iraq.

In other words, “regime change” has always been and still is the ultimate aim of the US elite, irrespective of the personnel which is manning it, and only the tactics may vary from time to time–although even tactics may not be much different in the “new Obama era”, as Robert Gates made abundantly clear! This is because of the crucial geostrategic status of Iran which, as Walid Charara[3] rightly pointed out,

“it is an independent and middle-ranking regional power that has engaged in military cooperation with Russia and China. With a population of 70 million, it has enormous human and economic potential. All this makes it the last bastion still to be holding out against a permanent US takeover of the Middle East. Iran is the last surviving ally in the region of those states and organisations still opposed to Israel. Without its backing, Lebanon, Syria, Hezbollah and Palestinian armed groups, deprived of any alternative regional or international support, would be left helpless in the face of Israel's military superiority.”

Why regime change NOW?

So, the question arising here is not whether regime change is the transnational elite’s aim but why the campaign with this aim has reached a critical stage just now. Here, we have to mention a number of factors which significantly differentiate 2009-10 from any previous period, assuming of course that the deadline that the Iranian nuclear program supposedly sets at the end of 2009, as well as the anger of the transnational elite because of the supposed stealing of the last election from the reformist side and the consequent violations of human rights in the demonstrations which followed, are just ideological pretexts to justify any future intervention.

Such factors are:

  • The completion of the encirclement of Iran following the occupation of two of Iran’s neighbours (Iraq and Afghanistan) by huge Western armed forces (and growing in case of Afghanistan), which completed the previous encirclement by exiting client regimes (Pakistan, Turkey, Armenia) and newly emerging ones which are variously dependent on the transnational elite (Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan etc).

  • The growing political isolation of Iran from countries on which it used to exert significant influence in the recent past, notably Lebanon and Syria. As regards Lebanon, first, following the UN Security Council Resolution 1559, passed under the auspices of the transnational elite which effectively controls the Council, the Syrian army was forced to withdraw from Lebanon and then, following the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006, a UN force was sent in the Lebanon-Israeli border, ostensibly to protect the border Shia villages but, effectively, to protect Israel from Hezbollah, given that, as Robert Fisk put it, “the peacekeepers are really a NATO army in disguise”![4] As regards Syria, the “Obama factor” is used to a good effect by part of the Syrian elite under President Assad, which has always asked for an excuse to re-open diplomatic relations with USA (something that was formally announced in June 2009). Furthermore, it is well known that the transnational elite is in favour of an exchange of the Golan heights held by Zionist Israel in exchange for a formal peace treaty with Syria and an abandonment of its tactical alliance with Iran, part of which is the Iran-Syrian support for Hezbollah.[5] There are already signs that this process has already begun and it is not surprising that George Mitchell (Obama’s special envoy to the Mid East) very recently said that he had told Syrian President Bashar Assad that Barack Obama was "determined to facilitate a truly comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace".[6]

  • The shift in the balance of power not only externally but also inside Iran, as a result of the growing consumer society. As Saeed Leylaz, a Tehran-based economic analyst put it:[7] "The tolerance of people to resist potential sanctions has decreased. Iran consumes much more now than eight years ago, from private cars to luxury goods. The direction of the Iranian economy is in direct contradiction to our diplomacy. A country that says 'Down with the USA' shouldn't open its doors to all the world's consumer durables. In a sanctions situation, we would face very high inflation, which would be in direct contradiction to Mr Ahmadinejad's promises to the people last summer. I don't believe the people are ready to sacrifice themselves.”

  • The growing covert actions against Iran. As the New Yorker revealed a year ago, the Bush administration had been expanding covert activities in Iran, under a secret directive, in the hope of toppling the Islamic regime.[8] The magazine revealed that congressional leaders agreed to a request from Bush late last year for $400m for measures described in a “presidential finding”–a highly classified document which must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way. The finding focused on undermining Iran's nuclear programme and “trying to undermine the government through regime change,” by working with opposition groups inside Iran and by “passing money”. As the same report pointed out, “clandestine activities by the US against Iran are not new, but the scale and the scope of the operations, involving the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command, have now been expanded, according to current and former officials quoted by Hersh”. President Obama initially pretended that he would refrain from being seen to meddle in Iran's internal affairs but, as Eric Margolis pointed out[9], “recently, Congress voted $120 million for anti-regime media broadcasts into Iran and $60-75 million in funding for opposition, violent underground Marxists and restive ethnic groups such as Azeris, Kurds and Arabs under the "Iran Democracy Program." Pakistani intelligence sources put the CIA's recent spending on "black operations" to subvert Iran's government at $400 million”. And Margolis concludes “while the majority of protests we see in Tehran are genuine and spontaneous, Western intelligence agencies are playing a key role in sustaining them and providing communications, including the newest method, via Twitter”.

With regards to the last factor in particular, a recent report by Simon Tisdall in the Guardian is indicative:[10]

Although the problem can be overstated, Iranian leaders of all political complexions have reason to worry about the so-called minorities question in a country comprising multiple ethno linguistic groups, namely Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Arabs, Baluchis, Turkmen, Armenians, Assyrians, Jews and Georgians. Recent reports from Iranian Kurdistan, for example, speak of 100 or more checkpoints being erected by Revolutionary Guards and the shelling of PJAK positions inside northern Iraq. Iranian officials have linked the recent suicide bombing of a Shia mosque in Zahedan, in Sistan-Baluchistan, to US, British and Israeli support for the Jundullah Sunni Muslim separatist group. A failed attempt last month to blow up a domestic airliner in Ahvaz, in Arab Khuzestan, brought similar claims.

However, it s not only ethnic differences that are exploited by the transnational elite and Zionists (as Le Monde Diplomatique reported a couple of years ago, “Seymour Hersh's report that Mossad is giving equipment and training to the Iranian Kurdish group Pejak is credible”[11]) in the effort for regime change. As the same report by Selig S Harrison in Le Monde Diplomatique revealed, millions of US dollars covertly go to NGO human rights activists in Iran—a fact confirmed by the then Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns who has revealed at the time that "we are working with Arab and European organisations to support democratic groups within Iran", since getting direct US funding into Iran "is a very difficult thing for us to do" given "the harsh Iranian government response against the Iranian individuals".[12]

A “Yugoslavian” kind of strategy for Iran?

As regards the method of achieving regime change, there is no doubt that the transnational elite would prefer it ‘from within’, in the context of the phased approach I described above. But, as Jonathan Freedland[13], revealed recently, this ‘soft’ approach it’s not one Washington will deploy indefinitely and in fact may be just part of a project involving a preplanned military blow:

We’ll see if it bears fruit,” says a US official. “If it doesn’t then, at some point, we’ll have to try something else. It’s not without limit.” When might US patience run out? The answer is the end of this year: after that, Western diplomats believe Tehran will reach the nuclear point of no return, when no one will be able to prevent it acquiring the bomb. In this context, Tehran might feel the need to offset the charge of election fraud with a reputation-redeeming gesture, softening the nuclear line. Should that not come, and Obama decides to replace diplomacy with something stronger, his chances of marshalling an international coalition will have been boosted: Washington expects to hear fewer arguments defending Iran’s nuclear quest as the legitimate interest of a legitimate government (…) The policy will continue for another six months, if only so that, should Iran eventually show Washington the finger, Obama can say what Bush never could: that he tried to do it the nice way (…) If the Iranian election crisis is not somehow defused, Netanyahou will clearly find it easier to argue his case that "the biggest threat to Israel, the Middle East and the entire world is the crossing of a nuclear weapon with radical Islam" and that there should be "an international coalition against the nuclear arming of Iran", as he said in his policy speech on Sunday.

The combination of all these factors makes an attempt by the transnational elite and the Zionists for the “Yugoslavian” kind of strategy I mentioned above all the more likely. In fact, as Seymour Hersh stated in the New Yorker report mentioned above, “there are even those in the US government (Bush administration) who are convinced that a sustained bombing campaign would not only halt Iran's nuclear programme; it would, apparently, so weaken the clerical regime that Iranians would be compelled to rise up and overthrow it”. Militarily, the US elite will have no problem to pursue such a strategy. As Dan Plesch[14] pointed out a few years ago:

America's devastating air power is not committed in Iraq. Just 120 B52, B1 and B2 bombers could hit 5,000 targets in a single mission. Thousands of other warplanes and missiles are available. The army and marines are heavily committed in Iraq, but enough forces could be found to secure coastal oilfields and to conduct raids into Iran. A US attack is unlikely to be confined to the suspected WMD locations or to involve a ground invasion to occupy the country. The strikes would probably be intended to destroy military, political and (oil excepted) economic infrastructure. A disabled Iran could be further paralysed by civil war. Tehran alleges US support for separatists in the large Azeri population of the north-west, and fighting is increasing in Iranian Kurdistan.

Furthermore, the possible negative consequences of an attack on Iran are not such a deterrent anymore, as the case was a few years ago, for the following reasons:

  • a Shia rising in Iraq is not as likely as before, after the essential neutralisation of Mahdi army following the truce declared in August 2007 by its leader Moqtada al-Sadr. Needless to add that the client regime in Iraq, which owes its very existence to the transnational elite, would obviously not even think to put obstacles to a US attack on Iran;

  • the effective weakening of Hezbollah and Hamas resistance (despite the heroic rhetoric of them) after the devastating blows they received from the mortal Zionist force in the last war on Lebanon and the massacre in Gaza, as well as the UN force Hezbollah was forced to accept in the border with Israel (a similar solution may be imposed on Hamas in the future). An indication of this is that no significant numbers of missiles from either Lebanon or Gaza have crossed the borders towards Israel since the end of the wars in Lebanon and Gaza;

  • the fear of a recession caused by rising oil prices in case of Iranian attacks against oil facilities in the Gulf is also not that much serious in the mid of the greatest capitalist crisis since the recession. And, even more important,

  • the unholy alliance mentioned above which brands the Ahmadinejad/ Khameini regime as “illegitimate” –after the supposed “stolen elections”–will find that much easier to usurp power from the Islamist fundamentalists, following devastating air attacks by the formidable killing machine of the US elite.

In this context, it is not surprising that US Vice-President Joe Biden has recently hinted that the administration will not restrain Israel if it decides on military action to remove any Iranian nuclear threat. Thus, when asked whether the US would stand in the way if the Israelis decided to launch a military attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, Biden said Israel, like the US, had a right to "determine what is in its interests"[15]. At the same time, the Mossad head in Israel assured the Israeli PM that Saudi Arabia would look the other way in case Israeli jets were to use the Saudi air space to attack the Iranian nuclear infra-structure![16]


[ Jump to the next Chapter: The reformist left plays its usual role of the system’s cheerleader ]



[1] Scott Ritter on "Target Iran: The Truth About the White House’s Plans for Regime Change”, DEMOCRACY NOW (16/10/2006).

[2] Seumas Milne, “These are the birth pangs of Obama’s new regional order.”

[3] Walid ChararaIran: target zone,” Le Monde Diplomatique (January 2005).

[4] Robert Fisk, “Conflict in the Middle East is Mission Implausible, The Independent (15/11/2006).

[5] Donald Macintyre reports from Damascus, “Is Syria getting ready to come in from the cold?,” The Guardian (4/4/2009).

[6] BBC News, “US urges Syria on Mid-East peace” (26/7/2009).

[7] Robert Tait, “A consumer society not ready for sanctions,” The Guardian (6/2/2006).

[8] Anne Penketh, “Bush steps up covert action against Iran,” The Independent (30/6/2008).

[9] Eric Margolis, “Iranian leadership feud too close to call,” Toronto Sun (21/6/2009).

[10] Simon Tisdall, “Tehran’s fear of foreign plotters may be justified,” The Guardian (17/6/2009).

[11] Selig S Harrison, “The US meddles aggressively in Iran,” Le Monde Diplomatique (October 2007).

[12] “The Hard Realities of Soft Power, New York Time Magazine (24 June 2007).

[13] Jonathan Freedland, “Seismic events in Iran and Israel have set a critical test of Obama’s resolve,” The Guardian (16/6/2009).

[14] Dan Plesch, “The US has the capability and reasons for an assault – and it is hard to See Britain uninvolved,” The Guardian (15/8/2005).

[15] BBC News, “Biden strikes tough note on Iran,” (6/7/2009).

[16] Associated Press/Times on line: Kanellos, “Green light from US to Israel on an attack against Iran,” Eleftherotypia (6/7/2009).