Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn

Calls Mossadegh Era “the high point of freedom in Iran”

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | March 4, 2007                             

[Updated September 23, 2015]

Jeremy Corbyn MP & Labour Party Leader While chatting with a politically astute Londoner last month, I casually asked what she thought about Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to become leader of the Labour Party. She laughed off the suggestion, content in her certitude that he had no chance of winning the post. Corbyn, a bearded left-wing socialist anti-war pro-Irish pro-Palestinian vegetarian MP who rides his bicycle to work every day and dresses like a Uni professor, is one of those chaps people usually write off as “unelectable”.

On 12 September 2015, Corbyn not only earned the Opposition Leader seat, but did so in a landslide victory. It’s been said that no one predicted the triumph, including Corbyn. The result is not only a classic underdog story, but a watershed moment in British politics, like Clement Attlee’s crushing defeat over Winston Churchill in 1945.

“I hope we have learned lessons about the folly and stupidity of getting involved in wars that allegedly are for our own protection, but in reality are often seen to be part of western expansionism and the assertion of U.S. power within the whole region.” — Jeremy Corbyn MP, House of Commons: December 13, 2011

The ultimate question, of course, is whether a man like Jeremy Corbyn could ever make the leap from being MP to PM. It happened for a couple of direct contemporaries of Corbyn’s — Tony Blair and Gordon Brown — who began their Parliamentary career in 1983, then became Labour Leader, and finally Premier. Obviously, the similarities pretty much end there, though.

Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh (1882-1967) There are, however, certain parallels with another veteran Parliament member who became Prime Minister — Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran. Just for kicks, here are a few examples of the Corbynism - Mossadeghism nexus:

1) Corbyn’s passion for peace and social justice were, he says, first influenced by his parents, who met through their activism in the 1930’s. Mossadegh entered political life as a sort of heir to his father, a government minister, but his strong-willed, philanthropic mother had a major influence on him ideologically.

2) Mossadegh became Prime Minister in 1951 as the result not of any specific ambition, but as an unintended consequence of the prompting of others (who in fact, were hoping he would not accept). After he did, the Majles overwhelmingly voted him through. Though Corbyn was nominated to run for Labour leader by his party, he was actually their fourth choice, and only barely received enough votes to become an eligible candidate, literally at the last minute. They were as gobsmacked as anyone by the outcome.

3) Like Corbyn, Mossadegh was viewed as a true ascetic, living, dressing and acting simply and modestly. Both of these uber-frugal men are also widely considered to be genuine, incorruptible figures. Though Mossadegh never identified as a Socialist as Corbyn or his American counterpart, Sen. Bernie Sanders do, some have since labeled him as such.

4) When Mossadegh was elected Premier, his first act was to nationalise the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Corbyn will soon announce that the first major policy of the Labour government will be to nationalise—or rather, renationalise, Britain’s railway system, a move he says has “overwhelming support” from the public.

Tony Blair in The Guardian, 29 Aug 2015

5) While all politicians get criticised, Mossadegh and Corbyn have been slagged off more than most by their detractors, subject to an array of hyperbolic ‘the sky is falling’ claims and smear tactics. Ironically, a senior general has just told the Sunday Times that in response to downsizing the military, the army could “mutiny” against Corbyn if he ever became Premier. Such rhetoric, though apparently referring to a mass resignation and not an armed revolt, brings to mind a military coup such as the one which deposed Mossadegh.

Corbyn has often recited the 1953 coup narrative (or, as he mistakenly recalls it, the “1952 coup”) in Parliament. And while his anti-imperialist streak is obvious, the following excerpts show that he is also quite cognizant of the rampant human rights atrocities taking place in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Yet whether in Britain or elsewhere, the likes of Corbyn, who de-emphasise the military and advocate peace and dialogue even with our enemies, will always inevitably be demonised by some as ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’.

“The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family's security.” — British Prime Minister David Cameron, Sept. 13, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn on Iran
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn on Iran and British History

Rebuilding Relations With Iran
Morning Star — January 15, 2014

Iran is a member of the UN human rights council and, like all who are a party to the UN human rights process, is subject to universal periodic review. The last review made many criticisms of its record.

These are due to be responded to by the middle of this year and will then be discussed when the next full review of Iran’s human rights record takes place in Geneva.

When we raised this subject, both with Iranian all-party parliamentary groups and government ministers, they were concerned about double standards on human rights and pointed out, quite correctly, the US torture camp at Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition and atrocities in Iraq were also human rights violations which must be condemned.

The relationship between Britain and Iran, as we were frequently reminded, has often been abusive in that British colonial interests were based on oil exploitation.

Indeed BP was formed from the nationalisation of the Anglo-Iranian oil company by Winston Churchill in order to provide a steady supply of fuel for the navy before WWI.

Britain’s colonial domination of Iranian politics lasted a long time, and it should not be forgotten that Mohammad Mosaddeq’s government was removed by a British and US-inspired coup in 1953, in order to prevent Iran from nationalising its oil industry and developing closer relations with its neighbour to the north, the Soviet Union.

The success of the coup brought the Shah to power and his regime’s appalling human rights record was accompanied by an open-door policy to international oil companies.

House of Commons — November 12, 2013

I say at the outset that I do not want the continuation of any wars in the region of Iran. I want a process that will bring about disarmament, so I approach the debate from that standpoint. I also approach it from the standpoint of a representative of an inner-London constituency, in which many Iranian refugees live. They form almost a timeline of the political changes in Iran: there are refugees from the Shah’s period, the Islamic revolution period and all the later regimes. The human rights abuses of Persian Iranians as well as of Kurdish people and others are very real to me and to the people in my constituency. I am not unaware of Iran’s appalling human rights record and the continuing executions that go on. Any pressure brought to bear on Iran must be as much about a dialogue about human rights as anything else.

I am acutely aware of the history and deep ignorance of Iran in the rest of the world. Many think that Iran is part of the Arab world, which it clearly is not, and many are simply unaware of the sense of anger there is at how Iran has been treated by the west ever since the end of the first world war.

There has been the exploitation of Iranian oil by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Corporation, which later became British Petroleum. Britain has made a huge amount of money out of Iran over the decades. Likewise, the coup—a UK and CIA operation—organised against the Mossadegh Government in 1952 [1953] is remembered, and people are angry about it. The support that we gave to the Shah, and that the Shah gave to BP, resulted in a loss of national well-being.

There is a history of which we should not be unaware, and we must think about those things. The Islamic revolution of 1979 was a product of an awful lot of those issues and that pressure, including the appalling behaviour of the SAVAK secret police under the Shah, which paralleled the behaviour of the secret police under the Ayatollah [Ruhollah Khomeini] after the revolution. At the time, though, they were seen to be a step forward.

Then there was the Iran-Iraq war after the break with the USA, in which the west supported Iraq against Iran. That terrible conflict cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people—possibly 500,000 people. It was an utterly useless and ghastly war. I recall visiting the border area between Iran and Iraq some years later and was taken to a glorified scrap metal yard, which was in fact heaps of old planes, tanks and armoured personnel carriers that bore the markings of every arms manufacturer in the world bar none. The people of Iran and Iraq have suffered a great deal.

We come now to the wish of Iran to develop its own nuclear power facilities. I do not think that Iran or any other country should develop nuclear power because it is an intrinsically dangerous form of power generation. I am probably in a minority in the Chamber in having that position, but that is my view. However, in law, Iran is certainly entitled to develop nuclear power for peaceful use, although it is certainly not entitled to develop nuclear weapons.

We then move on to the issue of whether Iran has nuclear weapons or the capability or intention of having them. Along with Mr Wallace and two others, I had an interesting discussion with the inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Authority [International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA] in Vienna on behalf of the Iran group. It was a fascinating experience. The inspectors confirmed that as of that time, Iran did not possess nuclear weapons and was not in a position to make nuclear weapons. It is important to make that clear.

Iran has a fatwa against nuclear weapons, imposed by the Grand Ayatollah, [Ali Khamenei] who said that it would be un-Islamic to develop nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction. Clearly then, there are many people in Iran who are strongly opposed to the country having nuclear weapons. That is not to say that there are not people there who support them; I am sure that there are.

Iran is, and has been for a very long time, a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It is therefore open to inspection—not necessarily under the voluntary or supplementary protocols, but certainly within the terms of the mandatory part of the NPT. Every other country in the region is a signatory to it except Israel, which is the only one that possesses nuclear weapons; apparently, despite the Foreign Secretary’s unwillingness to answer this question yesterday, it has 200 nuclear warheads, which is rather more than Britain and France.

The nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference envisaged a nuclear weapons-free middle east and tasked Finland with setting up a conference to bring that about. That conference did not take place, and, at last year’s preparatory conference for NPT review in Geneva, which I attended, we heard speeches from all the countries of the region. There was universal anger that this nuclear weapons-free middle east proposal had not been taken further forward.

The Egyptian delegation—this was before the coup in Egypt—made it clear that Egypt was extremely angry about that, and peremptorily withdrew from the conference. As yet it has not completely withdrawn from the non-proliferation treaty system. Other countries made it clear that they were also extremely angry. It is quite obvious that unless progress is made on a nuclear weapons-free middle east, which obviously must include Iran and Israel, then clearly Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others could start to develop nuclear weapons. If anyone has nuclear power, it is not impossible for them to extend that into getting nuclear weapons. We must be well aware of that.

Since the election of President Rouhani, there has been a narrative that he is a huge reformer and a liberal compared with everything that has gone before. He is certainly different from previous Presidents; he has a wish for a relationship and an understanding with the west, and I suspect that he is feeding into the wishes of an awful lot of ordinary Iranian people who also want to have a better relationship with the rest of the world. I am no less aware than anyone else here of the human rights abuses that have happened and continue to happen in Iran. However, such considerations do not restrict British negotiations or friendly relations with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia or many other places that have totally appalling human rights records. We should be condemnatory of human rights abuses wherever they occur across the whole region.

The non-intervention in Syria by Britain and the United States has had some interesting effects. One is that within a few days of the decision there were conferences with Lavrov and John Kerry. There was a serious discussion about removing chemical weapons from Syria—and that is now happening, which is good. There have been much more serious discussions about getting a Geneva II process under way, which clearly must involve Iran if it is to mean anything.

Surely we should be saying to Iran that we do not want anyone to develop nuclear weapons in the region, that we will push really hard on getting a nuclear weapons-free zone conference to ensure that there is no requirement on anybody to have nuclear weapons and that we will include Iran fully in Geneva II. The rather strange insistence on the acceptance by Iran of everything to do with Geneva I—it is not clear what it does and does not agree with on that—should not be used as an obstacle to getting the country involved. Clearly, if there is to be a ceasefire and a long-term peace in Syria, it has to come about with the involvement of Iran as well as of Russia, all the forces in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and everybody else, otherwise the implications of massive flows of refugees and the carnage in Syria just continue. The danger then moves on to the possibility of a war with Iran.

We must negotiate with Iran. We must respect it and its culture, build a relationship with it and recognise that it is still a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The danger would be if it walked away from that treaty and chose to develop nuclear weapons, because Saudi Arabia would do the same and there would then be an arms race within the region. Some rather zany commentators in the U.S. think that Iran should get nuclear weapons on the basis that it would create a regional balance and then we would move on. Balancing nuclear weapons terror is not a way to bring about peace.

I thank the hon. Member for Kettering for securing the debate, which is extremely helpful. I hope the Government will get the message that preparing to reopen diplomatic relations with Iran is welcome, as is the fact that discussions are going on. I look forward to the Minister’s reply, and I hope he will cover human rights in Iran, as well as nuclear power and the potential for others in the region to develop nuclear weapons.

I hope the government will put serious effort into supporting the nuclear non-proliferation treaty to bring about the dream of a nuclear weapons-free zone across the Middle East, because that would help to bring about a much longer-term peace throughout the region.

Looming storm must be stopped
Morning Star — May 2, 2012

Nobody on the left or in the peace movement is unaware of the human rights problems in Iran – the death penalty, the treatment of minorities and indeed of trades unionists.

However, there is a strong and forceful internal political process in Iran which has resulted in reformist governments in the past and in fact brought about the overthrow of the Shah and his Western-backed authoritarian government in 1979.

It’s also within the living memory of older Iranians that the nationalist and left-leaning Mossadeq government was removed in 1953 by a British-inspired coup to boost the profits of BP and other oil companies.

House of Commons — January 11, 2012

I welcome the debate and the opportunity to raise the issue of human rights in Iran and, from that, our relationship with Iran. I deplore intolerance. I deplore the attacks on the human rights of religious people and religious minorities, dissidents within Islam or, indeed, linguistic minorities in Iran. Most countries in the world, including our own, have gone through periods of the most grievous intolerance towards minorities. One hopes that at some point Iran will come through this.

The current intolerance towards many dissidents in Iran is not particularly new. Indeed, it has gone on since the 1950s. The high point of freedom in Iran was the nationalist government of the early 1950s. The coup of 1952 [1953] brought in the Shah’s regime and his secret police. The revolution of 1979 brought in the Islamic Republic and a great deal of repression of its opponents, particularly in its early days and more latterly. We should recognise that large numbers of people in Iran stand up for human rights, democracy and their own rights. Any change within Iran is more likely come from internal opposition and internal organisation than from anything that is done from outside or any outside pressure.

House of Commons — December 13, 2011

In this brief debate, we should think very carefully about the long-term implications of the path on which we are apparently setting out today. I recognise much of what was said by the hon. Members for Northampton South (Mr Binley) and for Wyre and Preston North (Mr Wallace) about human rights abuses in Iran. I draw attention to early-day motion 2526 concerning trade unionists in Iran, and there are human rights abuses against people of the Baha’i faith, Kurdish people and others. I am extremely well aware of the abuse of human rights that takes place in Iran and of the determination of many people, including working-class people, trade unionists and intellectuals, to do something about their society and to take part in that political debate. We should recognise that a lively, if robust and sometimes very dangerous, political debate is going on in Iran.

We should also think carefully about the rhetoric we use when we talk about Iran. Iran is an inheritor of the Persian tradition, a place of enormous civilisation and culture, and a place of enormous unity when faced with an external threat, as my Friend Paul Flynn pointed out. We should not denigrate the whole history of the Persian people and the contribution that they have made to history while ignoring our own scandalous role in their history, from the attempts at exploiting oil, which eventually led to the formation of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which became BP, through to the coup in 1952 [1953] inspired by the British and the CIA. We do not have clean hands in the history of Iran, and we should have some humility when dealing with the situation there.

Danger of war grows by the day
Morning Star — November 15, 2011

Britain has a special role in this. As a 19th century colonial power it constantly sought to undermine Iran and following the discovery of oil it established the Anglo-Persian Oil Company which later became British Petroleum under state ownership from 1909.

Britain made huge amounts of money out of Iran’s oil, but after the Iranian people elected the nationalist government in 1952, [1951, and it was a parliamentary election] Britain conspired with the US to mount a coup which overturned the will of the people and established the Shah in power.

He then ruled with great brutality with the support of an aggressive secret service until the Islamic revolution in 1979.

We would do well to understand that the popular feeling about Britain in Iran is far from sympathetic, owing to our colonial past within the region.

While there are huge political differences within Iran, an external attack is likely not to exacerbate those. Rather it would bring about an enormous sense of national unity against external aggression.

“We need to embark on a complete reappraisal of our policy on the whole region. We cannot go on supporting potentates and dictators, absolute monarchs and abuses of human rights. We cannot continue to sell arms, tear gas, riot shields and all kinds of weapons of destruction . . . and then complain about human rights abuses when those arms are used against people who suffer as a result.” — House of Commons: March 17, 2011

House of Commons — March 17, 2011

Obviously, this is a vital debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North rightly drew attention to its historical connotations, and to Britain’s historical involvement in the region. We tend to delude ourselves in the House that Britain is seen as a benign liberal democracy that never operates out of self-interest but is concerned only with the greater good of mankind as a whole, and that we seek to promote the rule of law, democracy and independence throughout the world. Sadly, the history of Britain’s involvement in North Africa and the Middle East hardly adds up to that. We have seen, for instance, the 1952 coup [1953 coup] in Iran and all its subsequent ramifications, the Suez operation in 1956, the United States bombing of Libya in 1986 when the planes took off from this country, the obsessive dealing in arms in exchange for oil, and the turning of a blind eye to volumes and volumes of human rights abuses in countries that we claim are close friends of ours.

Last week I tabled what I thought was a perfectly innocuous and reasonable question to the Secretary of State, asking him to tell me on which occasions since June last year “human rights issues have been raised with… (a) Morocco, (b) Tunisia, (c) Algeria, (d) Libya, (e) Egypt, (f) Yemen, (g) Saudi Arabia and (h) Bahrain”.

I was very disappointed to be told that the Minister would answer “shortly”. I hope that he will answer shortly...

A story of meddling and greed — July 2009 article

It’s impossible to comment on the conflicts in Iran without having some knowledge and respect for the country’s history and the persistent Western meddling there.

Iran is the inheritor of the great Persian civilisation and empire. It is linguistically different from the rest of the Middle East, culturally proud and independent. The huge oil reserves and strategic location of modern Iran have been both its success and its problem. In the first world war, Iran was theoretically neutral and was occupied by Russian and British troops as part of the then allied defensive against the pro-German Turkish forces.

The Soviet forces withdrew in 1921, but Britain remained and continually interfered in Iranian affairs, backing the Reza Khan coup in 1925. This was short-sighted as the new Shah sought to reduce British influence. Arguments over the money paid to the Anglo Persian Oil Corporation – later to become British Petroleum – have influenced relations between Britain and Iran ever since. Suspicion of the Shah’s pro-Nazi views in the second world war prompted British and Soviet forces to occupy Iran to ensure that oil supplies flowed to both the Soviet Union and the British-controlled Middle East.

After WWII, the Iranian government demanded a 50-50 division of oil revenues between Britain and itself. Iranians then elected the leading advocate of oil nationalisation Mohammad Mosaddeq as prime minister. His nationalist government was denounced as being pro-communist by the then new Eisenhower administration in the US. Britain and the US launched a covert operation to destabilise the country. Mosaddeq was removed from office and imprisoned, and the pro-Western Shah was returned to power.

From then until 1979, the Shah ruled with increasing ferocity and with uncritical Western support. Opposition to his regime led to the revolution of 1979 which forced him into exile. Khomenei was installed as the supreme leader of Iran and the Islamic republic was established. The republic is controlled by the supreme leader, who is appointed by the Council of Guardians which itself wields enormous power, and the elected president, who heads the civilian governmental administration.

The abuse of human rights and attacks upon the left during the early years of Khomenei’s rule are infamous, as is the use of the death penalty. But it is Western meddling in Iran that created the conditions for the Shah and then for Khomeini and the constant threats of Western military action and Israeli bombings have encouraged the emergence of fiercely nationalist forces.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Isolation of Iran, military threats and greedy Westerners eyeing its oil reserves are counter-productive to the development of Iranian democracy and human rights. Political change will come within Iran as it did with Mosaddeq’s election in 1952 [1951] and with the early hopes of the revolution of 1979.

The events on the streets of Tehran in recent weeks show that political demands and hopes are alive.

House of Commons — July 8, 2009

These are stirring and important times in Iran. The demonstrations of the past few weeks following the election have been unprecedented since 1979—phenomenal numbers of people have appeared on the streets. I deplore the way in which many of the demonstrators have been treated—the beatings and killings. That is not acceptable in any society, be it in Iran, China or anywhere else in the world. People have an absolute right to express their views peaceably on the streets.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In 1952, [1951] the nationalist Mossadegh government were elected on a manifesto of obtaining equality of oil revenues from the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, later the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which later became BP. The British refused, there was a dispute, and a coup was engineered by the CIA and the British. The Mossadegh government were removed, the Shah came to office, compensation was paid to BP, and we were back to square one with a repressive regime under the Shah. Those events are remembered in Iran. Iranians do not forget British involvement and our obsession with their oil reserves. When dealing with Iran, we must remember that we do not have clean hands, and we should be prepared to admit that.

The Shah’s oppressive regime, with its appalling human rights record, used outside SAVAK forces to attack Iranian students. I remember that during the 1970s, when the Shah’s secret agents operated in British universities and tried to criticise Iranian students who were active. The Shah’s human rights record led to huge protests and demonstrations and he was eventually removed in 1979, apparently only a few weeks after the British security services and the CIA had said that it was perfectly safe for him to stay there for many decades. They misunderstood the situation somewhat, and not for the first time.

In the turmoil of the 1979 revolution, Iran did not turn into a secular democracy. It became a Muslim state under Ayatollah Khomeini and the present constitution was invoked. It is an interesting document, but the western press simply fails to understand Iran’s power structures. It assumes that President Ahmadinejad, because he is President, is equivalent to President Bush or an executive Prime Minister in the west, but he is not. He is head of the civil Government, obviously, but he and anyone else are allowed to be a candidate in the election only if they are approved by the Council of Guardians, which is responsible to the Supreme Leader. The Assembly of Experts also has a role in appointing the Supreme Leader.

There is a tripartite/quadripartite sharing of power in Iran, and we should remember that whatever the President or anyone else says, that is not the whole story; it is only part of it. One should try to understand that, and the fact that within all the complications of Iranian society and its structures, there are people who manage to speak up for civil rights and women’s rights, to organise trade unions, to pursue intellectual work, and to operate in independent universities. Like any other society, Iran’s is not a seamless whole, and we should also be aware of that, too. Western strategy on Iran is part of the problem, and I shall be grateful if the Minister says a little more about that.

After Khomeini became the Supreme Leader, Iran entered a period of isolation and U.S. sanctions. Because of the relationship between the U.S. and Iran following the taking of U.S. hostages and the resulting difficulties, the Iran-Iraq war occurred. Although that dreadful war probably suited Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini in equal measure, it cost the lives of at least 500,000 people. It also made a great deal of money for the arms industry around the world. We should remember that, again, Britain and the United States do not have clean hands, because at the same time as we were trying to buy oil from Iran, we were supplying arms to Iraq to provoke that war. Our role in recent history is not clear and not clean. Whatever we say about Iran, we should have some respect for our own role.

House of Commons — February 27, 2007

When the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) spoke, he said a great deal about the history of Iran, which was interesting to a point, but highly selective. He did not say anything about the more recent record of the west’s relationship with Iran, such as the coup of 1952, [1953] which was promoted by Britain and the United States and which removed an elected government and brought the Shah into power. Eventually that gave way to the Islamic revolution of 1979. He should be very cautious about direct interference in Iranian affairs, which he appeared to call for throughout his speech.

I am not here to defend the human rights record of Iran since 1979, or during the Shah’s period. There are many things going on in Iran that are truly appalling, such as the treatment of religious minorities and trade unionists, and many other issues. All those points should be addressed in a spirit of solidarity with the people who are suffering such human rights abuses. The hon. Gentleman did not acknowledge, however, that there is a widespread unity of opinion among the Iranian exiled community around the world, which is large and diverse. In my constituency, there are Iranian asylum seekers who have sought asylum from every Iranian regime since the late 1950s. Nevertheless, they are, generally speaking, united in their condemnation of the overt and covert threats being made to Iran by the United States and the west, which encourage the belief that somehow or other the west can go to war in Iran and all the problems will be sorted out.

There is no realisation of the two effects that those threats have in Iran. First, they allow Ahmadinejad and his friends to ramp up their power and their wish for strong armament for Iran, and secondly, they frighten the Iranian people very much. Surely it is time to recognise that there is a need for dialogue and peace and a need to cut down the threats against Iran.

The question of Iranian nuclear armament and nuclear power is the kernel of the argument. I shall put my cards on the table: I am not a supporter of nuclear power in any form. It is a dangerous, polluting form of energy generation, but I recognise that it is not illegal under international law for any state to develop its own nuclear power. There is no question about it—it is a legal thing to do. If Iran wishes to develop nuclear power, it can do so in much the same way as any other country. I wish that it were not doing that, but it has a right to do so.

There have been allegations that Iran is also developing nuclear weapons. The evidence has been added up to suggest that it is trying to import centrifuges and enrich uranium, automatically leading to the development of plutonium and then to the development of nuclear weapons. The non-proliferation treaty, to which Iran is a signatory, requires all member states to allow inspections to take place. For the most part, those are pre-notified inspections and, under the voluntary protocol, unnotified inspections. Iran has not resigned from the NPT; it has withdrawn from the additional voluntary protocol, and we need to keep a sense of proportion about that. In its obsession with attacking Iran, the United States forced a vote for the first time ever at the UN International Atomic Energy Agency to bring about a resolution that went to the Security Council, which led to sanctions against Iran. I see that as a build-up, in exactly the same way as we were told an awful lot of nonsense about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, to create sufficient hype for an attack against Iran.

Let us think through the consequences of an attack on Iran. If there is a war or if bombing takes place against Iran by the United States, Israel or anybody else, two things will happen. First, if nuclear establishments are bombed, be they for civil nuclear power or anything else, the danger of fallout will be enormous. Europe has still not got over the fallout of Chernobyl in 1985. Secondly, with Iran active on all fronts, the danger that a war will spread across the whole region into Afghanistan and Iraq will be enormous. I caution hon. Members to be a little more careful in their use of language and think through the consequences of the demands that they are making.

We have been through the disasters of the war in Iraq, and we are still going through them. The war continues in Afghanistan—indeed, following yesterday’s statements, Britain’s involvement is likely to be much greater. Surely we need to promote peace and dialogue in the region. As if 500,000 and more Iraqi dead were not enough, goodness knows how many would die if we started a war with Iran. Perhaps we should be promoting a nuclear-free middle east, including Israel, which would involve nuclear disarmament and everybody signing up to the NPT. Going to war in Iran would be catastrophic for the entire region and for us as well. I urge caution and a real process of engagement with Iran in order both to prevent a war from taking place and to do something to support those people who quite reasonably demand human rights and justice in their society.

Who’s next? — January 2005 article

I fear we are in a tragic comedy replay of history as we haltingly start 2005.

Whilst most of the humane world is focused on the disastrous after effects of the Tsunami, the cold long-range thinkers around Bush are preparing for the next conflict.

Iran was one of the subjects of the axis of evil speech in 2002, and since then has felt under pressure from the US.

However it is worth recalling that the US and Britain have obsessively intervened in Iran for most of the last century including the coup in 1952 [1953] and the installation of the Shah. When his regime tottered in 1979, fearful of the Left gaining the upper hand, support was given to the Ayatollah who then systematically abused the human rights of tens of thousands of its citizens.

Moreover, in the Iran-Iraq war the US openly supported Iraq with arms and diplomatic assistance.

Iran has changed a great deal since the death of Khomeini and whilst there are enormous human rights issues to be addressed, it is a different scenario.

Holding the government to account — Undated article

There are many reasons why the US has pursued this strategy. It stems from a combination of the philosophy of the Project for a New American Century, which is essentially one of military supremacy and global reach, together with US energy insecurity and the demand to be able to access Middle Eastern oil.

The new oil law in Iraq is almost identical to the oil law that the Shah of Iran introduced at British behest in 1952 following the overthrow of the Mossadeq government. That law gave British oil companies pre-eminence and the ability to make enormous profits for themselves.

The new hydrocarbon law in Iraq hands the mineral wealth over to Western oil companies. Signalling their determination to push this through, the leaders of the oil workers union, which has been trying to stage a nationwide strike to ensure that Iraqi oil remains in local hands, have been threatened with arrest.

Action Iran – Introduction — Undated article

Iran descended from empire, and since the end of the 19th century has been dominated by the western thirst for raw materials, in this case oil, and the debate between liberal modernity and theocracy internally.

Britain was heavily involved in Iran through the Anglo Iranian Oil company, later to become BP. Support for an unpopular monarch and then the overthrow of an elected nationalist Government in 1952 followed. [1953] That coup jointly sponsored by Britain and the US ushered in the Shah.

Dramatically overthrown in 1979 the regime of the Islamic Republic cracked down on opponents and forced many into exile.

Are we witnessing the beginnings of another Iraq? — Undated article

Iran is a full signatory to the NPT. This means that it is open to inspection. It has co-operated with inspections so far. The debate about Iran has more than passing similarities to the debate about Iraq from 2002 onwards. There are many people in London and other parts of Britain who were forced into exile by the activities of the regime from 1979 onwards. Murders and torture became commonplace, as did brutal repression of popular resistance. Abuses of human and trade union rights continue to this day. A bus workers’ strike was brutally repressed in Tehran recently. Strikes such as theirs represent strong, just and legitimate action against the regime of the kind that deserves our support. In Bush’s strange take on history, the overthrow of the puppet Shah in 1979 and the Iran hostage crisis have never been forgiven or forgotten. But the US and others would do well to remember the role that they played in the 1952 overthrow [1953] of a secular government that nationalised the oil industry. The West then imposed the Shah on the throne.


Related links:

Sec. of State John Kerry’s Historic Iran Deal: Smart Diplomacy or Appeasement?

Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders on Iran, U.S. Foreign Policy

House of Commons Ponders Apology For 1953 Coup In Iran

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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