Iran

Since 15 July, protests over a severe water shortage in Khuzestan province in Iran have developed into a powerful localised movement, which has now spread to all major cities of the province: Shush, Susangard, Izeh, Dezful, Kut Abdullah, Weiss, Mahshahr, Hamidiyeh, Chamran and several areas of Ahvaz. The regime has declared martial law but this has only had the effect of provoking protests in a further 16 provinces.

On 20 June, contracted oil and gas workers in Assaluyeh went on strike. Since then, more oil and gas workers across Iran have joined the strikes, with over a hundred strikes now ongoing and that number continuing to grow. The workers are demanding: 10 days off after 20 days of work (10-20 scheme), a minimum wage across the sector of 12 million tomans, and trade union rights. These demands have found widespread support in the entire hydrocarbon sector and in the working class at large. Inspired by the oil and gas workers, strikes are breaking out among railway construction workers, truck drivers and steelworkers. All the while, protests by pensioners, teachers, medical staff and farmers

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On 18 June, the Islamic Republic of Iran held its presidential election, which was met by a widespread boycott by the masses. The official figure for turnout was 48%, with the regime’s desired candidate, Raisi, winning with 61.9%, with blank votes coming second on 12.8%. The real turnout however could have been even lower, with some estimates placing it between 25 and 35 percent. There have been reports of some polling stations being completely abandoned. This was an absolute sham of an election, which saw the lowest turnout and the highest number of blank votes in the history of the Islamic Republic. This comes on the back of a continuous wave of strike action and protests that

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The upcoming 18 June presidential elections in Iran are turning into an even greater farce than usual. In the past, the regime would have at least projected the appearance of competition, approving competing candidates from its various factions. This year, however, it has only approved seven candidates: all from the hardline, conservative faction. This move comes from a position of weakness, exposing the crisis of the regime.

On 22 May, 1,400 farmers protested against the lack of permanent access to water in the Iranian province of Isfahan. The regime answered by sending riot police, who brutally beat the farmers, who fought back, leading to clashes. This was not an isolated incident; there is widespread discord among farmers, with recent protests in Khuzestan, Sistan-Balochistan, Khorasan and elsewhere.

Protests and strikes are now spreading across every sector of the economy in Iran. There have been at least 100 strikes and protests over the course of the past few months. While not yet on the scale that we have seen in the recent past, pensioners and workers receiving social security have also held weekly protests across the country.

On 11 April a huge explosion at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in Iran caused a power cut. When the power suddenly stops, this causes the rotors of the giant machines used to enrich uranium to stop spinning which, according to Iranian officials, caused 60-70% of them to be destroyed. They were quick to blame “countries” which were aiming to ruin renewed efforts to save the nuclear deal through “nuclear terrorism”. This was a clear implication that Israel was the culprit. Not long later, Israeli press confirmed this was indeed the case.

Discontent continues to simmer across Iran. Since the beginning of December, there have been at least 240 strikes and protests. The protests are spreading to ever-wider layers of society, including students, bazaaris, retirees, the unemployed, and workers from every sector.

On Wednesday 25 November, five strikes broke out in the Iranian oil sector. At least three thousand workers have come out, demanding their unpaid wages to be paid and the previous promises of the management and the government to be fulfilled. This is a part of a continuing strike wave, which in October saw the largest number of strikes since the Iranian revolution of 1979.

A wave of protests is sweeping Iran. There were 331 strikes and demonstrations reported in August involving all sectors: from the oil-and-gas sector, to students in the municipalities, farmers and more.

Since August, a strike wave has spread through Iran like wildfire, involving workers across various sectors from the petroleum industry to public services; from Khuzestan in the south-west to Mashhad in the north-east.

The coronavirus has hit Iran especially badly due to government blunders, misinformation and US sanctions. This crisis has exposed all the rottenness of Iranian capitalism and brought the masses' anger at the regime, which was already heating up, close to boiling point.

Early Friday morning (3 Jan 2020), in an act of supreme arrogance the Trump administration carried out the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, as well as top Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes in Baghdad airport. Yet again, US imperialism is adding to the instability in the Middle East.

Note: this dramatic development means we have postponed Alan Woods’ new year article, which will be published tomorrow.

The November protest movement in Iran was drowned in blood, but the fight isn’t over. Anger is ripe on the streets, and for the first time ever, a serious, organised attempt at protest is being led by nine organisations representing workers and the poor. We publish their joint statement and call to protest on 23 December (tomorrow). We do not know what will transpire, but this is an important development and a sign of where things are headed.

Two weeks have passed since the eruption of protests all over Iran after the regime introduced a surprise cut to fuel subsidies. Despite a heroic struggle by the people on the streets, the movement was crushed by the regime within five days. But this was far from a triumphant victory for a regime that is now weaker than ever before.