Khamenei regime has no authority to rule Iran, says Tudeh Party
In this photograph taken Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, protesters hold flowers as tear gas fired by police rises at a demonstration in front of Amir Kabir University in Tehran, Iran, to remember victims of a Ukrainian airplane shot down by an Iranian missile. | AP

The Iranian people are back in the streets protesting the theocratic regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following the government’s stunning about-face on the downing of a Ukrainian airliner in the midst of war tensions with the United States last week. Tear gas and live ammunition were fired at demonstrators in Tehran and several cities over the weekend, with video circulating online showing pools of blood left behind as protesters carried away the wounded.

Thousands marched demanding democratic elections to replace the Islamic Republic’s government and called for Khamenei to resign his position as Supreme Leader. They condemned the regime after its admission that Revolutionary Guard forces had in fact shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8, reversing earlier denials. The government first said the plane suffered technical problems and refuted accusations it had brought down the aircraft as the propaganda of Western powers.

On Friday, it admitted that its own troops had fired the surface-to-air missile that destroyed the plane, blaming human error for what it called a “disastrous mistake.” Regime authorities now say the Revolutionary Guard air defense forces mistook the airliner for a U.S. cruise missile, believing it to be a further development in the escalating conflict.

Following the Trump-ordered assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani on Jan. 3 in Baghdad, the danger of war between the U.S. and Iran escalated rapidly. Ballistic missiles were fired at U.S.-occupied military bases in Iraq by Iranian forces five days later in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani. Flight 752, taking off from Tehran and bound for Kiev, was shot down following its departure from the airport four hours after the firing of missiles toward Iraq. All 176 passengers and crew aboard were killed; many of them were Iranian researchers and graduate students bound for Canada.

Iran’s Tudeh Party, the country’s communist party, is upping the pressure on the reactionary regime, linking the flimsy crash cover-up attempt to its disastrous handling of the economy. It blames neoliberal economic policy for leaving the country unable to deal with aggressive U.S. sanctions. Since 2017, and especially over the last few months, workers in Iran have been protesting the government’s anti-people policies, including a debilitating 50% hike in the price of gasoline. Violent repression and periodic internet blackouts have been the state’s response.

The Tudeh Party said on Saturday that Ayatollah Khamenei had “no authority to lead our country,” condemning rule by religious authorities as “a major obstacle to freedom, social justice, and the development of our homeland.” It praised demonstrators, particularly student activists at Tehran Polytechnic and the capital’s Sharif University, for courageously demanding Khamenei leave office immediately.

Tudeh recalled the worker-led demonstrations that had rocked the country before Trump’s assassination of Soleimani helped the government silence dissent. It said that the controversy over Flight 752 was further proof of the Islamic Republic’s illegitimate rule.

“Khamenei’s direct support for neoliberal policies,” it said, is based on the discredited idea of growing the economy by funneling support to wealthy private interests at the expense of the working class and people. “Now these policies have brought the national economy to its knees,” leaving the country unable to deal with crushing “imperialist sanctions imposed by the dangerous Trump administration.”

Students protest in Tehran’s Sharif University on Monday, January 13, 2020. | via Twitter

While directing much of its fire at the theocratic ruling group in Iran, Tudeh also joined with the Communist Party USA and the Communist Party of Britain in issuing a separate joint statement condemning the Trump administration for escalating the war danger in the Middle East and imposing punishing economic assaults on the Iranian people.

The three communist parties described the U.S. killing of Soleimani as a violation of international law and of the sovereignty of Iraq. Though all sides came in for criticism, the harshest words were reserved for the U.S. president. The parties said that Trump’s action “undermines the U.S. Constitution and shows that he will stop at absolutely nothing in his ruthless pursuit of both U.S. hegemony and his personal power.”

The statement characterized the current “tinder box” situation in the Middle East as a result of prolonged U.S. sanctions, Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, and the Khamenei regime’s “interventionist policies” in Iraq and other countries in the region.

The communists decried the “reckless brinksmanship” at play, saying it is “relentlessly pushing the U.S. and its allies—including Britain, Israel, and Saudi Arabia—together with Iran and its regional supporters, closer to the point of no return.”

With protests still breaking out across Iran, the Tudeh Party and other democratic forces in the country are continuing their fight for the liberation of their homeland from what they describe as a “highly reactionary and authoritarian political system.” In the U.S., progressive forces are similarly stepping up the struggle to remove Trump and his reactionary and authoritarian government from power as mobilizations build for the 2020 elections.


C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left.