Friday, December 20, 2013

Ramifications of Geneva Deal on Iranian Working Class

Ramifications of Geneva Deal on Iranian Working Class
Wilhelm Wolff
December 14, 2013 (updated December 20, 2013)

In as recent a headline as December 8, 2013, even Israel, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has began softening its harsh position against the interim nuclear agreement signed in Geneva between Iran and the U.S.  The government of the settlers in Israel has realized that the Obama Administration, through the P5+1 Geneva Agreement, has kept the bigger share of the pie and constricted Iran to a space only worthy of nations with limited sovereignty.  Secondly, Secretary of State, John Kerry speaking to a conference run by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, assured the Israeli skeptics that should the U.S. conclude that Iran still continues supporting the demands of Palestine, for example, it will toss the interim document like a scrap of paper, into the dust bin.

And if we hear that U.S. Senators talk about adding more sanctions to the stack of those already existing, as reported in the Financial Times of Dec. 9, 2013, their chatter should not be taken seriously.  The main acts of these Congressmen and women are posturing not only for U.S. people but also for the international community.  Through such theatrics, they intend to send two messages: 1) assuring their constituency "We're still awake and working to defend your safety and security from the Dangerous Foreign Boogieman as defined by U.S. foreign policy, and 2) sending a message to the Iranian government that it should not dare to retreat from the agreement whose lion share is captured by the U.S. 

In order to assure the pro-Israel representatives in Congress and for Obama to show how tightly he is drawing the noose around Iran's neck, the White House Punishes More Firms Over Iran Sanctions, according to the New York Times of Dec. 12, the Obama Administration announced an expanded list of additional companies and individuals placed on its sanctions list, to "demonstrate that it is not easing up on sanctions on Iran's oil sector or its nuclear program…" in preparation for a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the Iran nuclear talks.

In the U.S. Congress, to talk tough against Iran, like passing new and more onerous sanctions, is a profitable business because, given the cynicism of the American public against other nations, especially the third world countries, it is profitable business - they get elected for the next term. This was almost the opinion of President Obama in his end of the year news conference, December 20, 2013.

When the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on December 19, 2013 questioned "whether Tehran is willing to abandon the ability to build an atomic bomb" Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Questions Whether Tehran Is Willing to Abandon the Ability to Build an Atomic Bomb he in fact plays into the hand of the conservative classes in the U.S., Europe and beyond, and should not be taken seriously.  Just as the reactionaries in the U.S. pinnacles of power, the French, Germans, and Israelites, to mention a few, are the members of the world capitalist club who see themselves obliged to raise dust and engage in a symphony of howling. 

Only two weeks have passed since the signing of the "agreement", the Israeli government began joining the groups in and around the Congress and the U.S. administration to boost and shape Washington's negotiating position.  This phenomena speaks loudly and clearly as to the nature of the negotiation process that took place in an absolute secrecy, concealed from the Iranian people, between Tehran and Washington, months before Mr. Hassan Rouhani the current president of Iran, declared himself as a presidential candidate toward the end of May 2013.  Rouhani was subsequently endorsed by Iran's Council of Guardians, a powerful office headed by the cleric Hojatolislam Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was in the forefront of privatization of the country's national wealth and capital.

According to the Financial Times of Dec. 8, 2013, a team of senior Israeli officials led by the country's national security advisor, Yossi Cohen, is going to hold a meeting with high-ranking U.S. State Department officials to "harmonize" their combined efforts to narrow down the claims by Iran to the right of nuclear enrichment for use in civilian nuclear energy, a principle clearly pronounced in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Iran has signed. 

The reasons that the warmongers in Washington and the settlers' regime in Tel Aviv are whetting their appetite to extract the last drop of blood out of the body of Iranian polity is the decrepit state of Iran's economy maligned by nepotism, absence of plans for national economic development, along with a series of haphazard privatization of banking, mining and energy systems, lack of long-term investment on research and innovation, and dearth of programs for high quality job creation for all those tens of thousands who paid for college education with the high hopes of employment in professional careers.  In return this university-educated population, along with other strata of the labor force, living in their parents' homes is becoming a part of the lost generation.  A strata of this unemployed population has joined the army of idle labor force, engaged in the shadow economy of drug trafficking and prostitution while financial theft among the upper strata of the country's banking system is daily taking place.

Under the most rosy projection of the U.S.-Iran thaw, the agreement in foreign relations must be complemented with a social contract, allowing the great majority of the Iranian people, i.e., the working class of Iran to have the civil rights to form its own independent labor unions and political parties.  In the absence of such a social contract, the great majority of the people of Iran will be excluded from expressing and participating peacefully in the future capitalist development with foreign corporations waiting to take control of Iran's economy and polity, capitalizing on the cheap labor pool of unemployed.

For the laboring classes of Iran to attain the right of participation in planning and running the economy and in political endeavors is for the U.S. to halt threatening Iran with acts of aggression and imposition of the current and future sanctions.  It goes without saying that war-and-sanctions talks that give rise to insecurity in Iran and the region amounts to social designs which restrict the freedom of the working classes in shaping their own destiny.

In the last two decades, the U.S. and its western European cohorts, along with Israel and dysfunctional undemocratic states in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea have done everything in their power to blow the wind of insecurity, manufacture pseudo-civil wars using free oil money,  collection of personal data by the intelligence services ala National Security Agency (NSA), censorship and administration of governments in the Middle East by a small social group, mainly the commercial bourgeoisie flanked by military trusts and black marketeers.  All this is at the service of greater degrees of capitalist exploitation and greater denials of the labor rights in Iran and across the region.

In light of all of the above, the question remains "Why Iran in its negotiating process had to give away the entire shop – lock, stock and barrel – in return for some minute concessions?  The simplistic and everyday answer to this question from the American and Iranian political class has been that without the income from Iran's oil sales and foreign investment, Iran's economy will remain in the doldrums.  The reasoning of Iran's neo-liberal commentators and opinion-makers has been that the country's acute and endless recession, high rates of unemployment, misallocations of resources, low level of labor and capital efficiencies, lack of application of advanced sciences and technologies, are the direct and indisputable results of sanctions by the United States.

If the above assertions were true, then the essential question to be asked is whether these disorders and economic infirmities did not exist before the sanctions began being implemented less than ten years ago.  The answer to this question rests on a search through the chapters on the economic history of Iran in the period before and after the 1979 Revolution.

In his authoritative and valuable book entitled The Economy of Iran by Dr. Abrahim Razaghi, using the country's Annual Statistical Data of 1981 and 1984 built solid tables for active and unemployed workforce.  On Table 26 of the book, the rates of unemployment for the years 1976, 1982, and 1983 on the national scale as indicated to be 10.2 percent, 14.9 percent and 12.9 percent consecutively.  As we see the rates of unemployment in Iran were excessively high two decades before the U.S. decided to impose stringent sanctions on the Iranian economy and its financial sources internationally.  The data shows that the high rates of unemployment in Iran have been endemic to the national economy and not solely nor necessarily the function of the U.S. sanctions regime.  Furthermore, the rates of unemployment in rural Iran reached 19.6 percent in 1982, three years after the Revolution.

As to the trend of prices of consumer goods and services are concerned, Dr. Razaghi's book provides an exhaustive table depicting the rates of inflation for the period between 1972 and 1984.  In this span of time, the cost of such essential items as food, housing, clothing, home appliances, transportation, and health care (holding 1974 as a base, i.e., 1974=100) shot up by 564.5%, 364% 496%, 488.2%, 594.8% and 247.6% respectively.  In other words, the cost of the necessities for survival of the working class rose by almost 500 percent during that period.  During this period that partly coincided with the 8-year war with Iraq (1980-1988, the merchant class taking advantage of scarcity and monopolization of domestic trade and import-export immensely profited from artificially-kept higher prices of consumer goods. 

The conclusion could be drawn that even before the imposition of the severe sanctions Iran has been suffering from lack of national economic planning, diversification of its products and industry and low levels of economic investment in the most strategic and growth-oriented industries that integrate labor, capital, advanced science and technology in a new social contract that could be capable of invigorating social productive forces looking ahead. 
 About the Author:
AIFC received this analysis from one of our contacts in Germany, who apparently has studied economics.  We apologize for its late posting, but it is still relevant to today's events. We have asked Mr. Wolff to send us additional articles on Iran-U.S. relations.  Eleanor Ommani, Moderator

Monday, September 30, 2013

Welcome Pakistani Prime Minister Who is coming to Tell the Truth to the World

Free Kashmir
No Indian Army
82-44 243 St., Bellerose, NY 11426
Tel (718) 343-1653 or (718) 763-3543
Stop Dividing
End the Raids and

The Pakistani American community in the United States of America welcomes the Honorable Mian Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan; he will be telling the world how countries and regions are taken advantage of when colonial powers violate sovereignty and international borders. Pakistan is the real victim and model to learn from. We must learn the negative example of Kenya as well, which suffered from the hostage situation by playing the game of the imperialists in invading its neighbor Somalia.

You have concern and worry over the thousands that were killed and displaced in the recent earthquake in Baluchistan which killed many people, and also stress over the numerous separatist groups, who are preventing the rescue efforts of the Pakistani Army in the affected areas. Please make Pakistanis proud in telling the UN General Assembly, without any hesitation and with courage, how the Pakistanis are suffering without power, have a lacking and deteriorated educational and health system, a free-falling economy and extremism, the only one big reason behind the long-time dictatorships (Dictator Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz who was also a high Citibank official) and were backed by the US and other Western countries.
We are hopeful that, as a third-time Prime Minister (you were raised by the dictator General Zia) you can act as you did when you were Prime Minister of Pakistan for the second time, showing the world that you can take a stand for Pakistani interests, against the atomic power pressure of the USA under Clinton, and create good relations with your neighbors. Life teaches you to gain the peoples' trust, that openness and closeness is the best way to govern our beautiful country. We hope you will never allow ministers who have high civil positions to hold party positions. Also that intelligent Pakistanis will be appointed to key positions very soon, such as foreign and defense ministers and ambassadors. We are requesting the government to not appoint to any post those who are foreign dual citizens who have not lived in Pakistan for a continuous five year period. Educated Pakistanis deserve the fruits of their struggle for a democratic rule of law. Ask every member of the National Assembly and the army generals of the last 20 years to give a full accounting of the money they hold outside the country, and return it to the Pakistan treasury or leave their posts. There should be full cooperation and obedience to orders made by the courts and no special pardons should be made. For example as Mr. Zardari shamelessly disobeyed all court orders and abused the power of the position he held. 
You should encourage all Pakistani citizens and foreigners to come to Pakistan without hassle and bribes to gain entry. Please do not repeat your blunder when you act very badly to control the dollar accounts opened by Pakistanis living abroad because you said that Pakistan needed dollars to prevent default. You have same old advisors in your cabinet.
Attention should be given to the needs of the women, students and laborers who have suffered very badly for the last thirty years under Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz, Shujat and P Elahi and NRO President Zardari. Prisoners who were never sentenced or have completed their sentence must be released! Pay attention to the needs of the soldiers who are vital for the defense of our motherland; the differences in salaries and conditions from those of the officers must be fair. Prime Minister, we need improved infrastructure and safety throughout the entire country; other national interests need attention. These improvements should be based on the interest of the nation and not greedy money-makers (political game in Karachi & MQM’s dirty tricks, the selling of PIA, Steel, Railway, etc) who always find a way to influence the ruling party.
The Pakistan USA Freedom Forum (PUFF) asks you to pay attention to the new strategy of the superpowers, who are now talking to the Taliban and Iran (we hope this is very good news). Pakistan in developing relations with these forces and countries should base on its own interests and sovereignty. PUFF hopes you will raise the following concerns hemduring your state visit with President Obama in October: the status of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, the drone attacks, the situation in Kashmir and the secret CIA involvement inside Pakistan, the information related to abduction of Pakistani citizens and any information regarding safety and sovereignty of our country. Demand full reimbursement from the US, ISAF (International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan), NATO, which amount to billions, to help the poor economy of country; these are small steps for a real Pakistani leader who will prove that  the 2013 elections was not an NRO-2 government or a election devised by colonial powers.

Dr. Muhammad Shafique
Mr. Shahid Comrade
General Secretary
(917) 280-0840

This article reflects the political ideas of the Pakistan USA Freedom Forum, which is a strong anti-war voice in the American Peace Movement. We post it for your knowledge and information about the struggle for democracy in Pakistan.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Eleanor Ommani, December 29, 2012

Two AIFC* members attended a NYC forum entitled: Eyewitness Pakistan – International Solidarity & a report on a special meeting called the Southern Human Rights Organizing Conference (SHROC) Report on Dec. 28, 2012.  Both presentations focused on the importance of solidarity with working class movements and struggles for economic and social justice both here and abroad.  

International Struggle:
One speaker of the evening was Ms. Sara Flounders, Co-Director of the International Action Center (IAC), who was invited to Pakistan along with Ms. Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman, because of their organizations' on-going support and continuing efforts to pressure the U.S. government to repatriate Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to Pakistan.  The invitation and incredible rallies in Pakistan, are a shining example of genuine internationalism, with these American progressives in solidarity with the Pakistani people demanding freedom for Dr. Saddiqui, kidnapped in Pakistan, tortured in Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan, shot by F.B.I. agents and then falsely accused of being a 'terrorist' and convicted in a U.S. Court (of illegality and injustice!), and now languishing in a Texas prison with a death sentence of 86 years....

When Sara and Cynthia arrived at the Karachi Airport in Pakistan at 4:00 A.M., they were greeted by a crowd of nearly 100 people and showered with rose petals, in what proved to be only the first of many such welcoming crowds of tens of thousands of Pakistani citizens, young and old, in cities throughout the country – Islamabad, Hyderabad, Peshawar and Lahore – running along the motorcade with signs and flags with Aafia's picture and slogans such as "Free Sister Aafia" and condemning the U.S. government while thanking their American guests for their defense of Dr. Siddiqui. 

It seemed that at whatever meeting they attended, people had heard that it was SARA who stood up in the U.S. Court and shouted out, "Shame on this court! Shame on this Court!", when the verdict was read out.  Pakistani news agencies spread her words in the international media, which is a lesson we should take seriously: INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY IS A NOBLE DUTY!!  The tragic story of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, this young and brilliant Ph.D. graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and mother of three, became an international issue only two weeks after Press TV reporter Yvonne Ridley publicized the testimony of witnesses who spoke of being haunted by "a woman's piercing screams coming from Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan.  IAC's work with the Pakistan USA Freedom Forum (email: ) is what brought news and information of this case to the entire New York progressive community.  For background info about Dr. Aafia:

The unjustified 86 year prison sentence has struck a deep emotional cord of anger in the hearts of millions of Pakistani people and Dr. Aafia's freedom has become a national symbol of resistance to the U.S. acts of aggression and the drone killings of innocents!  Sara rightly noted that International Solidarity in these cases, as with the Cuban Five and others serves several important objectives:

1)   Defense of political prisoners - publically standing up to the fear and intimidation –sends a message of outrage to the system that "We will not be silent!" and our struggle will go on.  
2)   It tells the human beings incarcerated that we support them, they are not alone and gives them strength to bear the pain they go through.
3)   Links their individual struggle with the mass movement for change, strengthens the international struggle for an end to racism, inequality, and wars!

Ms. Flounders pointed out in her presentation that Dr. Aafia's case is only one of many unjustly incarcerated persons, and cases of Political Prisoners tried in these U.S. Courts of Injustice – Mumia Abu Jamal, the Peoples' Attorney Lynne Stewart, Palestinian University professor Sami Al Arian, the Holy Land Five, Native American Leornard Peltier, and more…The U.S. government hopes that these harsh prison sentences will instill fear and deter activists from challenging the economic, social and political injustices rampant in this system, and that is one good reason to support these political prisoners – we are NOT stopping our struggle!! 

Domestic Struggle:

Monica Moorehead, one of the managing editors of the Workers World weekly newspaper, published by the Workers World Party, began her talk by showing a video of 200 activists picketing in front of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in support of nurses who have been illegally dismissed for filing grievances against MUSC, a private medical facility whose management has ignored the poor working conditions, low pay and racist attitudes.  South Carolina is one of the "Right to Work" [for Less] states that hinders the ability of unions to freely organize new members, to automatically deduct union dues from the wages of their members, thus incurring costs to "get permission" for the deductions, and puts the employers in a stronger bargaining position when disputes arrive and can penalize the unions with fines and possible jail terms.  Nurses in training are over-worked, not compensated adequately for the work they perform and are immediately subject to being fired when and if they protest working conditions.  The factor of racism is real and present, since nearly all of the management is white and much of the nurse trainees are people of color – Black, Latino and Native Americans Indigenous workers. 

Another very important issue brought out at the biannual conference of the SHROC, held Dec. 7-9 in S. Carolina, in addition to defending the nurse's human rights to decent working conditions was the current and on-going struggles of the East and West Coast Longshoremen's unions.  The International Longshoremen's Association (ILA), which represents thousands of dock workers on the East Coast have been on the verge of strike action over the Employer's attempts to eliminate the previously negotiated "container royalty payments", a fund that pays toward the loss of work by dock workers as a result of automation.   U.S. port employers want to cut more jobs and weaken/destroy the unions, long known for their militancy in labor struggles, using the age-old "efficiency" cry.  As reported in the World News section of the Financial Times in the Dec. 29/30, 2012 issue of the paper, a federal government mediator announced that a deal reached between the union and the employers averted a strike that had the potential of stopping goods and imports shipped from around the world from being unloaded and delivered to retailers.  Please see Last-minute deal averts strike at east coast ports on Page 3 of Saturday, December 29, 2012 issue of Financial Times (USA) for the full article. 

For background information in an article entitled see: 

Following the two speaker's presentation, there were questions, answers and comments from the audience.  Below are pictures of the REPORTER, Ms. Sara Founders, and Ms. Monica Moorehead. 

*AIFC  stands for the American Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC)