by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog cross-posted with PressTV
(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.)
A simple question for you: are there, for lack of a better word, “counter-revolutionaries” in Ukraine, Hong Kong or Syria? By that I mean: do those nations have people on the far extremes of the political spectrum who will provoke, take advantage of and even relish in violence against their governments?
Obviously, only a liar or somebody foolishly playing devil’s advocate would not respond that, yes, in these nations there are many such persons – the proof is overwhelming.
So why would it be so hard to believe that there are such persons – counter-revolutionaries – in Iran, and that they hijacked recent protests over gas price hikes to provoke, take advantage of and devilishly relish in death and violence against the government? Iran, unlike the nations I listed – and unlike almost every nation, period – actually had a popular revolution for extremists to counter in the first place.
Iranians are reminded of their exceptionalism when, for example and for certain, such far-right groups drove on a motorcycle to a gas hike protest, fired on the crowd, and fled.
Such vicious, armed people – the allies of the governments of many of those reading this article – are obviously the worst, most anti-democratic type of criminal. Their goal is just as obvious – to foment a counter-revolution in Iran.
What is unfortunate regarding the West’s coverage of the national tragedy which was the violence at the Iranian gas hike protests is that there isn’t the barest mention of this very real, very life-and-death, very accurate reality.
The term “counter-revolutionary” staggers the Western mind in its tracks – they seem to think it has been consigned to history? Or because there are no revolutionary countries in the West, and many ones filled with neo-imperial propaganda, perhaps they cannot even conceive of the existence of counter-revolutionaries?
The impact of such naivety is profoundly deadly.
Iranian counter-revolutionaries are aware of this yawning Western blind spot, and so they know that every single Iranian death – when reported by Amnesty International or Western journalists – will be blamed on the government and national security forces even though every Iranian knows that this is false and impossible.
The sweet, good-hearted innocents at Amnesty and the desk-only journalists in London, Paris and New York City simply do not have the experience, or maybe even the editorial approval, to write this truthful question asked by every Iranian: how many innocent deaths were caused by counter-revolutionaries, and how many counter-revolutionaries pushed their far-right views all the way to their own demise?
We don’t know, as an official government report of the deaths has not yet been released. But everyone in Iran has an idea of the answer – a lot of them.
And there were many innocent deaths of protesters, too – this is why the gas hikes protests are a tragedy.
And we know, because no one denies the right to self-defense, that the government simply had to fire back: when somebody drives by on a motorcycle and opens fire… what is the alternative for any civil servant working in security?
What needs to be impressed on non-Iranians is that there are regular protests in Iran and that they are not violent. Iran is not Cuba, which has no protests besides the “Ladies in White”. Iran is also not China, which has almost too many protests to keep track of. Iran is also not the US, which seemingly forgot how to protest in between the end of their Vietnam invasion and the election of Donald Trump. So if Iran has many protests which do not get violent, why did these?
The gas price hikes were launched without warning, and I assume it is because the government knew that they would be very unpopular… but they didn’t want them to be explosive.
And by “explosive” I mean that they didn’t want the old-money monarchists, the insane MKO who are even less popular than the criminal monarchists, ISIL (an attack of theirs caused 70 innocent casualties in Tehran in 2017), the cynical mercenaries bought by Western nations and their Arab monarch puppets, the secret service agencies of such nations which of course target Iran (is this is not a great number of people, already?) to have time to plan their drive-by shootings, building bombings and arsons at a moment of heightened social unrest. I would say it’s not that the government wanted to catch the Iranian people by surprise, but to catch these illegitimate, undemocratic, far-right, definitely “counter-revolutionary” forces by surprise.
Were there legitimate protests against the gas hikes? As I mentioned, of course, and nor were they unusual or unexpected.
But attacking a police station, probably to get weapons – it is a normal journalistic question to ask if these are the works of counter-revolutionaries or “normal protesters”, regardless of the passport such attackers hold? Take a moment to imagine what the Western mainstream response would be be if French Yellow Vests did that – the idea that any of them would receive the barest sliver of public support is preposterous.
Just like with the Yellow Vests, the West lies about the true authors of protest violence
This should be stating the obvious to anyone with a rudimentary political awareness, but in the Iranian context a “far-rightist” is synonymous with a “counter-revolutionary”. This is the case of every society which had a revolution since 1917, and Iran is no different. There is no “far-right” party in China, Cuba, Iran or in any revolutionary nation because revolutionary nations all banish/declare war on far-right forces, after all.
It is difficult for Westerners to understand the recent Iran protests because they are denied this historical-political honesty and context about Iran. Their difficulty is further compounded by the fact that the top NGOs and the Western mainstream media cannot or will not admit that in Western nations the far-right is firmly a part of their establishments, unlike in Iran.
Look at the Yellow Vests in France: across the West they have been portrayed as violent, far-right thugs masquerading as protesters. The reality is – and I have been there nearly every Saturday and can testify – the scenes of extreme violence always come from Black Bloc members who infiltrate the protests. Black Bloc is totally detrimental to the legitimate pro-democracy and socioeconomic demands of the Yellow Vest protesters; their ultra-left anarchism is totally unwanted; they are easily infiltrated by rogue cops, who merely have to wear black; French riot cops don’t lift a finger to stop Black Bloc’s vandalism – they are either colluding or, certainly, told to allow violence to occur in order to discredit the Yellow Vests.
The Yellow Vests are innocent protesters, just like the Iranian gas hike protesters – they are unarmed and cannot possibly stop people from committing unreasonable violence. Therefore, how can the West blame the Yellow Vests for violence they disavow and have no part in? I don’t know… but that is certainly what they have done for a calendar year.
The real violence comes not from Iranian gas price hike protesters nor Yellow Vests (who started following a gas price hike) in either of their situations, but from outside, unwanted, self-interested forces with incredibly dubious democratic intentions.
It is crystal clear: Just as the West doesn’t report that it is Black Bloc committing violence and not the Yellow Vests protesters, the West also doesn’t report that it is far-right/counter-revolutionaries who are the authors of violence in Iran.
The Iranian government must absolutely punish police wrongdoings whenever proven. They must not be like France, which last week finally opened their first trial for police brutality despite the full calendar year of incredibly calculating repression. Iran has had a short-lived paroxysm of violence – the French government cold-bloodedly wages police brutality with sadistic regularity and precision.
However, comparing France and Iran is to compare apples and bowling balls. France’s government doesn’t have to spend one second thinking about catching “anti-France” forces “by surprise”. France is not beset by many rich, far-right groups/nations/monarchs/ex-monarchs/terrorists who get out of bed in the morning with the sole goal of destabilising their national system.
Iranians, unlike the French, know this article is full of truths.
They know that because they know what propaganda is: France just had its bloodiest day since being kicked out of Beirut some 40 years ago, as 13 French soldiers died while fighting in Mali. President Emmanuel Macron immediately tweeted, “These 13 heroes had just one goal: To protect us.” Now that is laughable propaganda about France’s “one goal”!
Nobody can believe that, but many in France and the West do – all part of the “war on terrorism”, right? But Malians know better: A January 2018 poll in the capital of Bamako revealed that 80% of respondents believe that France’s army is in Mali only to defend its own interests. Which is, of course, obviously the case. Macron immediately and robotically made his phony “war on terror” claim because he knows such scaremongering propaganda is desperately needed to stop honest discussion.
Just as many Westerners will believe Macron’s false propaganda, many Westerners will believe 100% that the Iranian government is responsible for every recent death. The emphatic, self-righteous certainty with which Western propaganda insists this falsehood and inaccuracy is appalling.
Iranians believe otherwise – some told me the majority of the dead were ardent counter-revolutionaries. This is a common perception, but it cannot be verified yet – what’s certain is that innocents did die, and that is a tragedy.
US clarifies its ‘diplomacy’: allow a counter-revolution or starve to death
The real economic problem in Iran is the Western sanctions blockade. Such sanctions are made to create instability to the point of civil war. The West also funds groups which are designed expressly to create the most sparks precisely at times of heightened dissatisfaction and difficulty.
Those are all facts, and why would they not have been on full display at the gas price hike protests?
They were, but honest analysis of Iranian politics has few forums available. This article has discussed and analysed these rarely-discussed realities which Iranians know well and will not deny.
In Iran the violence comes from an ultra-violent right but the West naively acts as if such a political sector in Iran does not exist. The West also naively acts as if within their own nations there is not establishment support of far-right, conservative, certainly “counter-revolutionary” ideas and groups. It should thus be clear why the West is so unwilling to support revolutionary Iran in maintaining its revolution.
The West allies with the far-right across the world. Iranians know this, and they also pay the price. They pay the price at the gas pump, as the West’s blockade has undoubtedly forced the recent price increase, and they pay the price in so very many litres of blood, just as they have done ever since the beginning of the Western-forced invasion by Iraq in 1980.
Why can such realities not be even be broached in Western media or by Western NGOs? To this, I have no satisfactory answer.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just said, essentially, that Iran has to have a counter-revolution if “they want their people to eat”. As Yemen proves (in case North Korea did not do this already) – the US is fine with starvation as a “legitimate” political tactic.
What is certain, sadly, is that no Western journalist called Pompeo a “far-rightist”, a “fascist” or a “counter-revolutionary” – they all simply nodded and reported what he said without question, contestation or a hint of shame.
The counter-revolutionaries lost in Iran recently, again; Iran mourns that they still keep trying. The nation mourns most of all because of the West’s never-ending blockade against Iranian self-determination.
The terroristic inhumanity of their starvation-strangulation-sanction policy is something which can not be broached in Western media, NGOs, governments or among many Western citizens, as well.