The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 67/No. 19           June 9, 2003  
U.S. officials call for
overthrowing Iranian gov’t
(front page)
“U.S. eyes pressing uprising in Iran” was the provocative headline of an article in the May 25 Washington Post. The article stated that “senior Bush administration officials” were planning to meet in two days to discuss possible “public and private actions” that some of them “believe could lead to the toppling of the government [in Iran] through a popular uprising.”

This probe follows accusations by U.S. officials over the previous week that leaders of the Al Qaeda group are functioning in Iran. “There’s no question but that there have been and are today senior Al Qaeda leaders in Iran, and they are busy,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asserted May 21.

Without offering a shred of evidence, papers such as the New York Times have begun citing unnamed U.S. officials as saying that they have information “strongly suggesting that the Qaeda leaders said to be in Iran played a role in directing the bombings in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, that killed 34 people including 8 Americans.”

Citing the Riyadh bombings, Washington canceled a meeting between U.S. and Iranian officials scheduled for May 21 in Geneva. Though the two governments have not had diplomatic relations since 1979, there have been some official contacts over the past months.

Iranian officials strongly denied the charge of “harboring” Al Qaeda cadres. “The only Al Qaeda members that we know of are the ones that have been expelled from Iran,” government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh said. “If any exist in Iran they have entered illegally and we have no information about them.”

On May 26 Iran foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said that the Iranian officials had detained a number of Al Qaeda members, but no “senior members of the group” such as those Washington claims are functioning in the country.

“Whether they are there with permission, not with permission, or what, it’s the responsibility of the government to prevent those kind of people from coming to their country,” stated U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher in response.

Members of Congress made the circuit of Sunday television programs May 25 to press the campaign against Tehran. “It would be in the interest of the world and most particularly of the Iranian people to have a regime change in Iran,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Democratic presidential candidate, on “Fox News Sunday.”

The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Porter Goss, was on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” He called for “isolating the bad guys” from the “reformists” in Iran, and “taking the levers of power away from them.”

Rep. Jane Harman, the top Democrat on Goss’s committee, stated that Iran is “more of a clear and present danger than Iraq last year.”

Some of these legislators expressed concern that attempts to foster an “uprising” could backfire for the U.S. rulers. “We have to be a little bit cautious about…tossing out that term ‘destabilize,’” Sen. Jay Rockefeller told a CNN news show.  
U.S. hostility toward Iran since 1979
The increasing U.S. threats and accusations against Tehran are a classic attempt to build up pretexts to justify a course of economic and military aggression against Iran.

This course by the U.S. rulers is not new. Its roots go back a quarter century, to the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Until then, the U.S.-installed monarchy in Iran had been one of Washington’s most reliable client states in the Middle East. Using brutal repression at home and one of the most heavily armed military forces in the region, the shah, or king, could be counted on to uphold the interests of U.S. capital.

But in 1978-79 Iran’s workers and peasants—including many in soldiers’ uniforms—entered the political scene in their millions, carrying out a popular insurrection. The shah was forced to flee. A working-class leadership capable of establishing a government of workers and farmers did not exist, however. Nonetheless, the capitalist government that came to power, headed by religious leaders who had opposed the shah’s rule, was compelled to take a stance in opposition to U.S. imperialism. (For a detailed description of the Iranian revolution and its class dynamics, see the three-part series by Ma’mud Shirvani in the April 21, April 28, and May 5 issues of the Militant.)

It’s this history that has earned Iran a place on the “axis of evil” declared by President George Bush since before the invasion of Iraq. With U.S. troops occupying Afghanistan to the east and Iraq to the west, the imperialist rulers have decided now is the time to press harder against Iran.

Alongside the charges of “harboring terrorists,” U.S. officials continue to accuse Tehran of developing “weapons of mass destruction.” Washington claims that two plants designed to process fuel for a nuclear power plant under construction in Iran are proof that the Iranian government is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani pointed to the hypocrisy of the Bush administration’s assertion that Iran should not need nuclear power for electrical generation because it has large oil reserves. He noted that before the 1979 revolution, the U.S. rulers had encouraged the development of atomic energy in the country under the shah’s regime. “Why is it we needed atomic plants at a time when our daily oil production stood at 6 million barrels, and now that only 3.5 million barrels of crude is produced we do not need such plants?” he asked.

The U.S. big-business press also played up claims issued May 15 by the People’s Mujahedeen that the Iranian government is producing “weaponized” anthrax and is experimenting with other pathogens, including smallpox. Based in Iraq, the People’s Mujahedeen has carried out a campaign of sabotage, assassinations, and guer rilla attacks on the Iranian government since shortly after the 1979 revolution. The U.S. government continues to officially label the Mujahedeen as terrorist, but after occupying Iraq it signed a truce with the organization.

Meanwhile, some members of the U.S. Senate are promoting a bill dubbed the “Iran Democracy Act,” which would provide funding for “pro-democracy,” that is, pro-imperialist, broadcasting into Iran.  
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