From A World To Win News Service

The U.S.-Iran nuclear deal: “The U.S. needs Iran’s help in the Middle East”

August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


27 July 2015. A World to Win News Service. Following are excerpts from an article that appeared in Issue No. 72 of Haghighat, organ of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist).

There is no doubt that the nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran is an important event in the history of imperialist diplomacy. Both sides called it “diplomatic victory” because they achieved their foreign policy aims through negotiations and without war. But this “diplomacy” has its bloody, violent history in the region.

It has been made possible through more than a decade of wars of aggression by the USA and its Western allies in the Middle East, the breakdown of civil society in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and the U.S.’s expansion into new areas, with new wars and horrible massacres, some carried out with the participation of the Islamic Republic of Iran [IRI]. The results include the displacement of millions of people, the destruction of ecosystems and local economies, the emergence of Islamic warlords, the rise in human trafficking and literally countless crimes.

This diplomatic deal has become possible because of economic sanctions for which the Iranian people paid the price, not the political and financial centres of the Islamic Republic of Iran that have become rich and richer because of them. Of course, this deal cannot and does not seek to end these horrors. It is just a new chapter in the crimes by the imperialist powers and the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region.

In fact, U.S. imperialism has relinquished its goal of bringing about “regime change” in Iran by war and has moved Iran from its list of “enemies” to its “competitor” list. Obama likened this change of approach to Nixon’s 1972 visit to China and Reagan’s negotiations with the Soviet Union in 1986. The Islamic Republic of Iran has taken a step back in its international and internal campaign against the U.S. and therefore has abandoned one of the pillars of its ideological identity. The regime’s long-term goal with this shift is to become a regional power with the support of the U.S. and other big powers. U.S. imperialism is trying to bring relative order to the chaos in the Middle East, and it is hoping that IRI will help them out.

The necessities and contradictions pushing Iran to normalize relations with the U.S.

Iran map

All these negotiations and the nuclear agreement, and, in general, the new chapter in relations between the Islamic Republic and the imperialist powers, particularly the U.S., are in response to a set of contradictions and necessities faced by the IRI leaders and the servants of the system. But just because it is born of necessities does not mean it will necessarily succeed. The possibility of its collapse is already perceptible. The whole process of reaching an agreement could come to a dead end under pressure from opposition in the U.S. and Israel and Saudi Arabia. With this introduction, we can examine the necessities that have pushed both sides, in particular Iran, to adopt this policy.

First: Under the IRI, Iran’s capitalist economy has stalled, creating a huge number of unemployed youth, a massive population of temporary workers and a shrinking of the middle class. Economic sanctions have only intensified this situation, which is the IRI’s most dangerous domestic political problem. The emergence of this huge population of unemployed, educated youth and the entrance of women into economic, social and educational areas has generated a great energy that the IRI can’t control. The regime has reacted to these dangers and contradictions with the bloody suppression of the lower strata of society. This can be seen in the high rate of executions of poor youth, the suppression of intellectuals and women and the spread of fear among the middle classes. But no state can govern and keep a society under its rule just by ideological brainwashing and suppression.

Therefore, the IRI needs to resolve this contradiction. Since the functioning of Iran’s economic system depends on world capitalism, the regime’s only solution is the injection of more international capital into the economy. In fact, the purpose of the economic sanctions by the imperialist powers, which dominate the global economy and its institutions, was to bring the IRI to its knees in the political arena.

Second: The composition of the capitalist class has changed in Iran as a result of the growth of capitalist relations, even compared to 20 years ago. It has developed different layers and powerful economic centres with various circuits of production and global relations. As Iran becomes more integrated into global capitalism, different layers of the Iranian bourgeoisie have formed whose orbit of capital accumulation lies not just within Iran but also has an international dimension.

In addition to power centres such as Sepah Pasdaran (the Revolutionary Guards), various ministries, elites and various regime foundations, others have become powerful through their international relations and partnerships with Iranian investors in North America and Europe. All of them exercise political influence at various levels by different means and benefit from a kind of political rent that allows them to become bigger. But obtaining rent is not enough for this type of Iranian bourgeoisie to develop and compete in the global market. They are seeking to become “normal” investors and connect to the global market legally and openly. A very important part of their interests depends on the nuclear deal and the lifting of financial, oil and banking sanctions.

Currently the foreign and neo-liberal economic policies of President Rouhani and his state technocrats represent the common interests of different layers of big investors. Part of the big capitalists (and the technocrats dependent on them) don’t like the theocratic regime ruling Iran, but this doesn’t mean they are against Iran’s leader, Ali Khamenei, or Sepah and the IRI’s other security and military forces. They worry about serious demography changes in Iranian society and are aware of the need to apply a “moderate” version of Sharia law, particularly in the case of women and youth.

Because the conditions produced by the neo-liberal globalized economy increase the centrifugal forces that cause social disintegrations, they consider Sharia and Islamisation necessary for the social stability needed for the profitable operations of capitalism and the creation of an obedient labour force. They also need the “leader” for unifying the government/state and the regime’s different wings. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif referred constantly to the leader and carefully observed the rituals of Ramadan during his team’s stay in Vienna. This was not only to appease the anger and complaints of “fundamentalist” forces about the negotiations with the “Great Satan” and what they considered the abandonment of one of the IRI’s ideological pillars. It is also because Zarif and the rest actually deeply believe in the regime’s values, norms and ideology.

Third: The insecurity in the troubled Middle East was another necessity that convinced the IRI’s different wings that to build a “secure region”, it is essential to establish official relations and cooperation with the imperialist U.S. Rouhani expressed this concern when he spoke to the UN General Assembly after the presidential elections in Iran.

In today’s conditions, when U.S. imperialist hegemony has declined and no other big power is ready to replace it in protecting the global order, the IRI has to accept U.S. leadership in providing regional security. The Islamic Republic of Iran does not feel threatened by Daesh (also known as ISIS) alone. Because other countries in the region like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt don’t obey the U.S., and the Iranian regime cannot confront them alone, it has to rely on the U.S. The IRI not only wants the U.S. to stay in the Middle East, it also believes that its regional security is dependent on the U.S.’s ability to impose some order amidst the increasing chaos.

The regime’s strategic allies in the region, like Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Shia forces in Iraq, are under pressure and face dangers. The increasing number of casualties among the Quds Force (a special forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations), Hezbollah and other IRI supporters, and the emergence of Daesh and other Salafist forces threaten Iran’s position as well. In this situation, the IRI urgently needs to find a solution, even if that solution means uniting openly with “Great Satan.”

Will the IRI be able to meet its internal and external security needs with this solution?

The Iranian regime faces three important international obstacles on the road to the normalization of relations with the West.

First, an important part of the U.S. ruling class, including a majority of Republicans, refuses to officially recognize the Islamic Republic of Iran and continues to see it as a serious anti-U.S. force. Israel is closely allied with the Republicans in opposing the deal and considers the existence of the IRI disruptive to its security. It refers to the tens of thousands of missiles that Iran has given the Syrian army, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Second, some Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia see Iran as their enemy and a threat to their security. They argue that Iran’s military, political and propaganda activities in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen are against their interests. Currently U.S. military companies are arming Israel and Saudi Arabia to increase their defences against any Iranian threat. The White House promised Saudi Arabia that it would strengthen its capabilities and put pressure on Iran to not create chaos in the region (i.e., Iran’s aid to Hezbollah, [Syria’s] Bashar al-Assad, the Iraqi government and the Houthis [in Yemen].

Third, Iran has been too close to Russia, from the U.S. perspective. In fact, until late into Ahmadinejad’s presidency, the IRI termed itself part of an “Axis of Resistance”—including Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Venezuela—against the U.S. interests in the Middle East and other parts of the world. So, the U.S. considers it important to break the link between Iran and Russia.

Obama will probably succeed in overcoming the Israeli and Saudi “lobby” and American legislators’ efforts to sabotage this deal. Then he will pressure Iran to become an “acceptable” and “honourable” member of the Middle Eastern security structure under U.S. hegemony, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and even Israel. Undoubtedly, in this process there will be increased conflicts inside the IRI ruling class. Competition with other imperialist powers, like China, Russia and Europe, will intensify as they seek to expand their own influence in the Middle East and Iran. In any case, the wars in the Middle East—wars in which the IRI’s armed forces have played an important role—will expand.

No doubt the release of Iran’s foreign currency reserves and the lifting of economic sanctions will bring some prosperity in foreign trade (import and export) and infrastructure projects, the strengthening of the stock market and even the re-establishment of foreign auto factories and oil drilling companies, but in general Iran’s economy will not produce much job creation. The IRI has to spend a large part of its oil revenues on expanding its military power, because the region will become even more militarized. Since insecurity in the region will continue, foreign capital will flow to Iran but investments will tend to be temporary and concentrated in financial fields and sectors of short-term profitability. Future economic development will probably provide few jobs for the vast majority of unemployed young people, leaving the misery of marginal existence and slums unchanged. The greatest potential force for economic development is the millions of young and old labouring people in society. With or without sanctions, the functioning of the economic system under the IRI has wasted this potential. The lifting of sanctions will not change the logic of the economic system; rather, its working will be even more brutal.

Maintaining coherence and internal unity is one of the most serious challenges that Iran’s ruling class will confront. The greatest contradictions and conflicts within the government flow from this issue—how to maintain the unity of their elite and the regime’s legitimacy and internal stability, rather than the deal in and of itself. Even though the regime tries to convince its internal supporters that it is not establishing official relations with the U.S. from a position of weakness, and that the deal meets the regime’s interests in confronting Daesh and Saudi Arabia, various internal and external contradictions could make the deal’s benefits very short-lived. The IRI could find itself stuck in the quagmire of Middle Eastern wars, facing a legitimacy crisis, despair and depression among its supporters and Hezbollah, and increasing conflicts within the ruling class itself.

The necessities that led the U.S. to establish relations with the IRI

The project of “regime change” in Iran that President George W. Bush followed was put aside when Obama became president, but military attack stayed “on the table” as an option. This change in the policy was related to imperialism’s situation in the world. In 2013, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a leading Democratic Party foreign policy theoretician over the last decades, warned that the U.S. could no longer be world’s policeman and that no other power could take its place. He analysed that the U.S.’s loss of power will negatively affect all world powers and its most likely outcome would not be an event like the rise of China, but a long period of chaos and a race for forging unities among world and regional powers. “Most probable would be a protected phase of rather inconclusive and somewhat chaotic realignments of both global and regional power, with no grand winners and many more losers.” (Zbigniew Brzezinski, Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power, Basic Books, 2013)

Brzezinski mentioned several factors in the decline of U.S. global power: economic problems, political problems and a wrong foreign policy in starting unnecessary and costly wars in Iraq. He added that the crisis became more noticeable with “the emergence of a volatile phenomenon: the worldwide political awakening of populations until recently politically passive or repressed.” In this context, he and other colleagues suggested to Obama that the state stop trying to bring “regime change” to Iran and instead open Iran’s doors through diplomacy. The situation that Brzezinski explained at that time has become more serious. A Democratic senator described the U.S. situation in Iraq with these words: “If 100,000 U.S. soldiers in a ten-year period were not able to train an army that wouldn’t escape in the face of Daesh, what do we expect of a few thousand? We don’t have any effective force aside from our Kurdish allies.” (Brookings Debate, “The question at hand: Should the U.S. put boots on the ground to fight ISIS,” 24 June 2015)

According to a U.S. foreign policy expert writing about a nuclear deal with Iran, “Even here, the real questions are not those about regional proliferation which has dominated discussion of this matter to date, but about the civil and proxy wars currently roiling the Middle East, and the likely role of the United States in the region after a nuclear accord with Iran. It is those issues that are likely to determine whether a nuclear deal with Iran leads to greater stability or greater instability in the Middle East, and thus whether it ultimately benefits or undermines American national security.” (Kenneth M. Pollack, “Regional implications of a nuclear agreement with Iran,” Brookings Institute, 9 July 2015)

The necessities drawing other world powers into this deal

In an interview with Thomas Friedman, Obama expressed amazement at the “positive role” played by Russia in the nuclear talks. (New York Times, 5 April 2015). But in fact that is not surprising because Russia and other world powers also have to deal with the increasing chaos in the Middle East and need the establishment of relative order. The leap in global chaos has taken Russia by surprise, and in this context, its weakness as a big imperialist power has become more clear. Especially, its strategic plan to establish alliances with European powers fell apart during the war in Ukraine. In analysing Russia’s situation, the author of Russia and the Shifting Global Order writes: “We have seen a decline not just of the United States, in relative terms, but I would argue a decline of all the great powers, with the partial exception of China. Their capacity to lead is much diminished, and even the weakest of states has an unprecedented freedom of manoeuvre.... People talk about the end of leadership, or the decline of U.S. leadership, but in a sense the problem is a broader one. We’re seeing the end of followership; no one wants to obey, no one wants to follow, everyone wants to do their own thing... Now we tend to think naturally that this means the end of Western liberal universalism. But it also has strong implications for Russia.” (Bono Lo, Russia and the Shifting Global Order, Chatham House, 8 July 2015)

This is the situation for the world’s powers. Despite serious competition between these exploiters of the world’s seven billion human beings, and under conditions in which no power can supplant the U.S. as a global cop, all the powers have given this place again to the U.S. The fact that the world’s superpower is now looking for an ally in the Islamic Republic of Iran to create a new security structure in the Middle East shows how deeply the international capitalist-imperialist system is in crisis.

The world powers look at the nuclear deal as a step toward establishing a new order in the globe’s stormiest region. But where there is a will, there is not always a way. George W. Bush’s map of a “Greater Middle East” drowned in the bloody quagmire produced by U.S. wars in the Middle East, and now from this quagmire, Daesh types and proxy wars have emerged. The “Obama doctrine” will expand this quagmire—it will be the same situation even if there are new players. This is the big picture framing the main aims of the nuclear deal.

Iran’s theocratic regime is under attack from all sides. Those powers that are going to help this regime are themselves crisis-ridden and their ranks are in chaos. This comprehensive crisis of the enemies is an opportunity for the oppressed to make a revolution. Overthrowing the Islamic Republic of Iran and replacing it with a qualitatively different state and society is not only necessary but also possible. We should launch a movement for revolution among the workers and the unemployed in the country, including Afghans, Kurds, Turks, Persians, Baluchs, Arabs and Turkmen. We should fight united under the flag of proletarian internationalism to emancipate not only people in Iran but also the proletariat and the peoples of the Middle East and all humanity from the system of capitalist exploitation and oppression.


A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.



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