Posted on October 19, 2019 by Il Grido del Popolo©
Frieda Afari is an activist of a banned organization in Iran
“Virgin of the Revolution”: We must help the current class struggle in Iran move in a genuine revolutionary socialist direction. Otherwise, the deep anger caused by the current catastrophic situation will be used by monarchists and other right-wing populists, who, as a way out of the economic impasse of this beautiful country, can only offer “better managed capitalism” as an alternative.
I would like to consider the causes and catastrophic consequences of the current situation in Iran related to floods in Iran, as a result of which, after a rare many days of rain, a huge number of residential buildings were flooded in entire regions of the country, as well as in the capital. The country’s economic infrastructure was in critical condition, power lines were damaged, drinking supplies appeared mixed with sewage – the latter causes an epidemiological danger, all the more so as a result of the disaster in only one of the provinces of Iran – Khuzistan, more than 400 thousand people became homeless . In our opinion, such disasters cannot be attributed to the vagaries of a volatile nature, the massive flooding in Iran caused not only by natural causes and mismanagement. At the heart of the mass disaster is the capital logic of the repressive Islamic fundamentalist regime that led the country to regress. For the Iranian government, people are of no value – why spend money on evacuation, on work to prevent the epidemiological danger?
FA: Throughout the summer of 2019, most provinces in Iran were subjected to rain and mudflows, flooding and destroying as a result a huge number of houses, local government buildings, roads and agricultural land. According to official figures alone, the flood affected 269 cities and 5148 villages, some villages being completely destroyed, and as a result of the flood, 70 people died, according to the most “modest” government data. Large parts of the supply of agricultural food industry and a huge number of cattle are destroyed. Wastewater that enters drinking water tanks causes an unprecedented number of infectious diseases. The epidemiological situation in the country is on the rise. The lands under water can collapse, and this threatens even several regions of Tehran.
The first affected were the northern Gulistan ostrov overlooking the Caspian Sea, and the southern ostans Luristan and Khuzestan, where heavy rains continue. Khuzestan, located on the shores of the bay and is an important oil industry, is famous for the fact that it has been here since the mass uprising in December-January 2017-19. major public protests took place, with the participation of workers involved in oil production and refining enterprises. Labor protests continued until recently, almost the whole of 2019, when they were radicalized and moved from purely economic demands to massive pre-revolutionary protests against the government of the Islamic Republic and the readiness to overthrow it …
The Iranian economy has been plagued by a deep economic crisis over the past few years, which has already caused the suffering of an ordinary people undergoing rapid impoverishment. Added to all this its consequences and the crushing weight of economic sanctions by the United States. What will happen to the country’s economic situation now, after the huge flooding of entire provinces caused by a natural disaster – incessant rains?
Surprisingly, during the first two weeks of the flood, no one organized rescue operations, not to mention the organization of the evacuation of the population and reserves in areas of the most severe rainfall. The government was completely unprepared for such natural disasters, the cabinet was completely incompetent, and there was almost no help outside of Iran. Only in the last few days, Germany, France, as well as Kuwait and Turkey began to engage in targeted deliveries of rescue equipment and food. However, no one has yet seen anyone promised the European Union $ 1.2 billion to help rebuild Iran’s provinces.
The population of Iran, outraged by the inadequate attitude of the government and the lack of minimal efforts on its part, finding themselves helpless in the face of the destructive elements of water, is trying to help each other in various floods of the damaged zones. The competent part of the population creates rescue teams that are engaged in the construction of makeshift dams (mostly men), and also organizes the population into squads for rescue operations. At the same time, in some provinces, there have been repeated incidents of clashes between rescue teams and the Corps of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution between (IRGC), which do not like the fact that the population is able to organize itself like squads. When representatives of the IRGC came, demanding that people disperse, local rescue teams involved in the rescue operations asked the IRGC representatives not to interfere with them and leave if they were not going to provide assistance. In the Khuzistan ostan, in the village of Dashtei Azadegan, local residents built an impromptu flood barrier that could help them save part of the agricultural land and livestock. However, the arrived representatives of the IRGC destroyed the barrier built by the farmers from the incoming and pouring water. They motivated this by the fact that the direction of water, which changed as a result of the construction of a makeshift dam, could flood oil and gas facilities in the city of Poldokhtar in the Luristan region. However, by searching for other ways to save both agricultural land and industrial facilities, those who sent warlike representatives of the IRGC, capable of reprisal against people who refused to listen to them, did not burden themselves. What for? Farmers must know their place, and only large oil and gas facilities owned by private capital have the right to be saved.
What caused the floods and serious damage?
FA: Despite the fact that, this year, meteorologists noted extreme weather conditions associated with heavy summer rainfall caused by general climate change, this reason is not the only one responsible for the harmful effects of floods, as the government says. In order to answer the above question, it is necessary to recall the general situation related to the natural ecological environment and management practices undertaken by the current government. Local activists believe that the main reason for the unprecedented damage caused by rains and floods in Iran, is the economic projects voluntary in relation to natural landscapes, adopted by the government. The fact is that for several years in many regions of the country there has been deforestation to provide a free zone for the construction of real estate and industrial facilities owned by both local capitalists and Transnational Corporations. The conversion of large amounts of forest land into construction zones has led to deforestation. And the creation of the economic infrastructure necessary for new industrial facilities is the construction of dams to generate electricity in places where agricultural agricultural territories are nearby (which did not benefit from the construction of nearby power plants), as well as industrial facilities built on river banks or at the intersection of previously happened flood paths, together with the complete neglect of the needs of the peasants for the unhindered cultivation of land – this is what made it possible for floods and flooding This year the Iranians suffered such damage. Forests are known to be natural barriers to water spills. So, together with all of the above reasons, the total deforestation of the Iranian provinces also played a role in the fact that a huge number of housing estates were affected by the floods.
In Iran, there has always been a serious drought problem associated with natural features, with uneven rainfall. Therefore, the wastewater and debris brought by the flood into the reserve drinking water tanks can aggravate this problem tens of times.
The flood cannot solve the drought problem in Iran, which has intensified in recent years, as a result of the adoption of ill-conceived construction industrial projects, which can be called the massive abuse of corrupt government officials. As a result of the increase in water levels that arose from the summer rains of this year, and the destruction of underground water tanks, the situation in the country may get out of the control of the government. Most of the water from the floods returns to the Caspian Sea, to the Persian Gulf or rivers – the water does not absorb into the soil and does not contribute to the constant increase of the required groundwater level. Agricultural land massively turning into objects in Iran for construction of real estate on projects mutually unrelated to each other and not taking into account the impact of construction on the ecosystem of Iranian provinces, has led to the fact that real estate brings even greater profit to the owners of the developed construction projects, while As a result of the functioning of new industrial facilities, the lands around remain without a top layer – the soil necessary for problem-free agriculture. It is the land with a missing upper layer that is not able to absorb water in such a way as to help the environment.
Before the catastrophe, both the Iranian government and most representatives of various opposition forces claim that problems arise from “mismanagement.” What is the reason for mismanagement? It is useless to change government officials without solving the main problem. A thorough analysis of environmental professionals and economists, who are progressive leftist, socialist opposition forces, shows that there is a deep connection between environmental disasters and the logic of Capital. The truth is that capitalism uses nature – the necessary human environment, simply as an inexhaustible resource for profit, without thinking that many natural resources, including forests that are destroyed in such numbers, are non-renewable resources. The national and international ruling bourgeois elite, in an insatiable desire to expand their profits and influence, is not able to honestly think through and calculate the results of industrial activities for environmental purposes, which are especially acute in our time.
The “logic” of Capital, and not just mismanagement, explains the cause of flood disasters this year, since, based on this logic, capital considers it possible to carry out construction of facilities even in areas that have been known for hundreds of years as seasonal flood paths caused by heavy rains.
Absolutely the same “logic” is valid in all capitalist countries without exception, including in countries with the so-called effective economy. We constantly read in the media about environmental problems and whole eco-disasters related to ill-conceived economic activities: acid rains that began from the end of the last century destroyed entire forests in the Mediterranean countries, in Spain, Portugal, etc., where as a result dozens of valuable conifers were destroyed or remained with a negligible amount, listed in the “Red Book”. In the countries of Latin America, America is also destroying the unique forests that make up the pride of these countries and are necessary as the “lungs” of the Earth. This barbaric attitude towards nature has gained a particularly wide scale in Brazil, where for the sake of profit TNCs destroy the forests of the Amazon, which are decreasing exponentially. In the USA, on the west coast, due to climate change resulting from economic activities that turn land into expensive real estate, the number of forest fires is constantly growing with menacing force. Fires destroy not only forests, but make lands flawed and prone to landslides when it rains. In the US, floods also affect wide areas in the Midwest, where private agro-industrial complexes and farm enterprises were built too close to the rivers. In the South, the United States has not yet recovered from the hurricane Katrina, which occurred in 2005, the city of New Orleans – while it is known that people who live below the poverty line, among whom a large number of the so-called “color” people, are mostly contemptuous in the United States they call emigrants from Latin America and other countries of the “third world” who arrived for permanent residence.
The consequences of natural disasters. What can be done to help the Iranian people affected by the floods?
FA: The floods reinforced deep class divisions within Iran, as well as the prejudices of the general population, encouraged by the government, against national and ethnic minorities such as Kurds, Arabs and Lurs. Life has become even more difficult for women, because the families of many of them have lost their roof over their heads, and some have lost breadwinners – men. Many residents of the rural outback were left alone with a large number of children, with dwellings dilapidated by the flood – as their husbands were forced to look for any work in the city in order to return and try to restore the household. Rural communities hope that they can survive and rebuild their homes and plots. But there is little hope for this, because in the absence of social assistance from the state, under the conditions when the attitude towards women (treated like second-class citizens) has radically changed in recent years, rural residents can survive in flood-damaged areas, in families with large the number of children will be incredibly difficult. In the future, the percentage of homeless and unemployed will increase even more, while the exploitation of child labor is likely to increase even more. Also, the simple people of Iran are now threatened by hunger and high mortality from infectious diseases, which in the hot climate of Iran could escalate into serious epidemics. In the cities, the deficit of essential foodstuffs is also growing now, the prices of which will inevitably increase.
At the same time, the Iranian government continues to spend billions of dollars on military needs – imperialist intervention operations in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. It is logical that the government does not have the funds to provide the necessary assistance to the 26 provinces of Iran affected by the floods. At the same time, the sanctions of North American imperialism, which technically do not seem to apply to basic foodstuffs and medical supplies, even sending aid to Iran in the form of these goods as voluntary assistance organized by volunteers from various religious, humanistic and political organizations (left-wing political orientation) to organize the delivery of collected humanitarian aid to Iran will be almost impossible, because all banking operations are prevented by sanctions.
The only way out is assistance from Europe or from India within the framework of the Internationalist solidarity of the socialist progressive and newly strengthening communist forces of the planet. We need a detailed campaign, within which we can demand that international organizations find the opportunity to deliver assistance to people affected in Iran. At the same time, it is necessary to come forward with demands to release political prisoners – representatives of organizations fighting for the freedom and rights of women in Iran, who participated in protests by students, teachers, environmentalists, and oppressed national and ethnic minorities. After all, besides the fact that their legal rights to freedom of expression and political opinion are violated, many prisoners are members of families affected by the effects of natural disasters, and their release, with their return home, to families is simply a condition of economic necessity, the fulfillment of which should require international community. We must help the current class struggle in Iran, help political activists in mobilizing the people and in the movement in a genuine revolutionary socialist direction. Otherwise, deep popular anger caused by the current catastrophic situation, as well as harassment and repression of state power structures will be used by ultra-right populists and, possibly, radical Islamists. Recently there has been an increase in repression, and eight environmental activists have been indiscriminately accused of espionage – they face the death penalty. Against the backdrop of a growing protest of the popular masses, the state will once again send representatives of the Guards Corps of the Islamic Revolution, and the mercenaries of private capital operating together with them, who constitute the ultra-right “legions of death.”
Meanwhile, neo-liberal bourgeois ideologists, on the one hand, and – Islamic radicals – on the other, will try to thoroughly confuse the masses, distract their attention from the true problems of the country, from the class struggle. Intimidated and demoralized as a result of the natural disaster, the Iranian population will once again offer a non-sophisticated way out, offering as an alternative to the current asocial government: some are “more properly organized, managed by new people and on other grounds, capitalism”; others will again try to play on the religious feelings of uneducated farmers, recruiting them into new Islamic radical organizations, including those aiming to carry out a new, even more regressive round of reactionary Islamist revolution in the country.
Interview was prepared and made Alyona Ageeva