With the news that the Palestine cabinet has resigned, and protests are spreading into Iran – the Middle East is witnessing a radical upheaval of its existing relations. The protests in Iran are the first since 2009 where mass protests broke out against the rigged election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and 80 protesters were sentenced to imprisonment, some for as long as 15 years. Iranian lawmakers have called for opposition leaders to be trialled for execution following today’s protests, alongside 1,500 protesters being arrested.
What is ironic is the response from the USA, with its hypocritical preaching of democratic values. Obama has failed to challenge USA’s oppressive relations. It is encouraging to see USA Uncut form, as even though Obama is implementing more fiscal stimulus than than the UK, he is to enact a raft of damaging cuts through halving the deficit within a term. USA’s hypocritical attitude is well illustrated by the responses of senior USA figures to the Iranian protests, including Obama himself:
I find it ironic that you’ve got the Iranian regime pretending to celebrate what happened in Egypt, when in fact they have acted in direct contrast to what happened in Egypt by gunning down and beating people who were trying to express themselves peacefully.
There are several issues with this comment. For one, Iran’s propoganda regarding the protests was the same to the West’s, the only difference being the ends for which the means were utilised. Whilst Iran tried to use the presence of Muslim Brotherhood as support for the Iranian regime, the USA and other Western countries utilised the Islamic links to undermine protests against economic, social and political exploitation; exploitation well illustrated by an Egyptian protester I interviewed the other day:
Well, the corruption of the government has been intolerable. Its incompetence and indifference has been ruining the country in every way.
Economically, Egypt has many natural resources, fertile lands and a huge unused area. We have well educated and competent people that are ready to run businesses and scientific research as well. There was absolutely no justified reason for the economic situation. But the government doesn’t help or even allow most attempts made by anyone for any real improvement. This made Egypt import many products, which is a big waste of money. At the same time many people could not find any job opportunities.
Poverty was reaching a whole new level. The prices of most products have at least tripled in the past 10 years, yet the salaries have barely increased. In 2009 only, the prices increased by 20% while governmental salaries had only increased by 9%. And this was the biggest increase in salaries that the government had made in the past 20 years.
Secondly, Obama is wrong to insinuate that the Egyptian regime did not employ its own thugs to attempt (unsuccessfully) to crush the democratic voice of the Egyptian people. Obviously, USA would never support violence and oppression to impose a regime change (*cough Iraq*).
Hillary Clinton is another USA figure to forget her “peaceful transition” rubbish re Egypt in her attempt to rewrite USA political diplomatic decisions:
What we see happening in Iran today is a testament to the courage of the Iranian people, and an indictment of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime – a regime which over the last three weeks has constantly hailed what went on in Egypt…We wish the opposition and the brave people in the streets across cities in Iran the same opportunities that they saw their Egyptian counterparts seize.
Global neo-liberal economic factors are essential to the different USA responses. For instance, BP have been essential to supporting the Egyptian dictatorship; a company the USA have 39% worth of shares with. Oil is crucial to the differing support and illustrates the effects petroleum currency has upon the global political economy. The USA hypocrisy is illustrated by how it constantly attempts to undermine the Venezuelan Chavez regime, whilst buying around half of Venezuela’s oil, therefore basically funding the revolution. We can’t forget USA’s hate towards Iran producing nuclear weapons whilst it funds its own pointless pile of nuclear poison.
To conclude, Haasan’s (who I interviewed) comments regarding USA are useful to illustrate the neoliberal induced ‘support’ for democracy:
The US is a whole different story. People here think that the US wanted Mubarak to stay as he was a true ally of theirs’ and Israel’s for 30 years. We think that they are only interested in their political interests in Egypt and do not really care about our demands. Remember that at the beginning of the revolution the US government were supporting Mubarak, then after a few days when the revolution got stronger they said they will remain neutral, then after a few more days they said they were behind a democratic change but didn’t really support any of our cases or tried to intervene.