[Marxism] re: Winning" and "losing" in Iran and everywhere

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 10 17:09:05 MDT 2006

>Getting to particulars about a protest by busworkers in Iran - Fact one: 
>The busworkers were repressed by the Iranian regime and the revolutionary 
>guards. Fact two: The Iranian regime and the revolutionary guards train, 
>arm, and finance the only people who have rattled Zionism in 100 years. 
>What do you think is more important? Better wages for busworkers, or a 
>long-awaited sense of dignity and *victory* for people defending 
>themselves who haven't seen anything approaching military success since 

Why is there a need to set these two goals against each other? Were higher 
wages for bus drivers supposedly a drain on funds that were meant to arm 
Hizbollah? Actually, the impetus to keeping their wages down is the same as 
it is everywhere under capitalism, to increase the profits of the bosses.

Furthermore, the "anti-imperialism" of the Islamic Republic of Iran is an 
on-and-off thing.

Bishara Bahbah, "Arms Sales: Israel's Link to the Khomeini Regime", 
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January 1987

As the Iranian drama rapidly unfolds, Israel's leaders are seeking to play 
down the centrality of their role by stating that Israel sold all of the 
arms, including American-manufactured weaponry, to the Khomeini regime with 
U.S. knowledge and permission. Whether or not that is the case, Israel's 
arms sales to the Khomeini regime, Israel's avowed enemy, date back to 
1979, the year Israel's close friend and ally, the Shah of Iran, was dethroned.

Arms Sales to the Shah and Khomeini

In the time of the late Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, Israel was one of 
Iran's principal arms suppliers, riding the crest of the Shah's military 
expansion program. Iran bought about $500 million per year in arms from 
Israel at that time. Israeli ties to the Shah extended well beyond arms 
sales, however, and included an ambitious $1 billion project to develop 
jointly a surface-to-surface missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. 
Close cooperation also existed between the intelligence services of the two 
countries. Moreover, Iran was one of the very few countries publicly 
willing to sell oil to Israel, since other producers in the area were 
reluctant to defy the Arab oil boycott.

The Israeli press has reported that the cancellation of arms sales 
agreements to Iran as a result of the internal turmoil that accompanied the 
fall of the Shah cost Israel some $225 million in 1978 and a similar amount 
in 1979. In fact, some Israeli arms manufacturers had to lay off thousands 
of workers "because of the Iran revolution."

Only months later, however, a new and somewhat secretive relationship began 
to emerge between the Khomeini regime and the Israeli government. The 
Israelis were interested in restoring an important market for their arms 
industry, and in the fate of Iran's 50,000 Jews. To do so they sought to 
maintain ties with whatever Iranian military contacts had survived the 
massive purges by Khomeini's revolutionary guards. An arms agreement was 
negotiated in Paris between Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai 
Zipori and representatives of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Ironically, the 
agreement was signed in early 1980, soon after the execution of an Iranian 
Jewish leader accused of spying for Israel. It provided Iran with a large 
selection of Israeli arms at market prices, and Iranian Jews a guarantee of 
protection and free departure.

CIA Aware of Israeli Arms Sales

During the Carter administration, the holding of American hostages in the 
U.S. embassy and in the Iranian Foreign Minis-try in Tehran by the Khomeini 
regime in no way hindered Israeli arms sales to Iran. ABC News reports that 
the CIA, through intercepts, was aware of Israeli arms dealing with Iran as 
early as October 1980. During that period, one military transaction 
involved the sale by Israel of 250 spare tires for Iran's American-built 
F-4 fighter-bombers for approximately $300,000. Other equipment sold to 
Iran by Israel included artillery shells, small arms ammunition, mortars, 
recoilless rifles, and Chieftan tank spare parts.

At the beginning of open warfare between Iran and Iraq in September 1980, 
the Iranian military, weakened and demoralized by the successive purges in 
its ranks, suffered serious losses in the face of well-armed and 
well-organized Iraqi forces. Iran's inability to maintain its U.S. 
equipment was compounded by the lack of spare parts. This created an 
urgency which forced the Iranians to seek arms and spare parts on a large 
scale, even from Israel.

Arms Sales Resume in 1981

When the Carter administration protested Israel's sales of military 
equipment to Iran at a time when the U.S. had imposed an arms embargo on 
that country, Israel apparently temporarily halted the arms flow to the 
Khomeini regime. However, once the U.S. hostages were released in January 
1981, Israeli arms sales to Iran resumed in full force."The initial surge 
of arms sales during this period alone amounted to some $70 million. The 
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported that 
during that period Israel shipped to Iran, through a British arms dealer, 
quantities of ammuni-tion, refurbished jet engines, spare parts for 
U.S.-built M-48 tanks, and additional aircraft tires.

In July 1981 an Argentine cargo jet crashed in Soviet Armenia after 
delivering Israeli-supplied spare parts for U.S.-made tanks to Tehran. With 
world-wide attention once again focused on Israeli arms sales to the 
Khomeini regime, it was soon discovered that this was Israel's third such 
load of arms already delivered to Iran that year. Later in the year, the 
British press documented reports the Defense Ministry of Iran had signed 
another $135,800,000 contract to purchase Israeli-supplied arms. These 
arms, which were to be shipped to Iran via Rotterdam/Antwerp, were to 
include 50 Lance missiles, 68 Hawk missiles, 3730 Copperhead shells with 
laser guidance systems, and 40 155-mm field guns among other equipment.

In another unusual revelation, Leslie Gelb of the New York Times wrote in 
the March 1982 issue of the International Her-aid Tribune that, according 
to documents in his possession, Israel had sold about half of all the 
weapons that had arrived in Tehran throughout the previous eighteen months.

Arms Sales Discussed at High Levels

In May 1982, then-Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon publicly admitted 
the military relationship between Israel and Iran. Later that year, 
then-Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Moshe Arens confirmed in an interview 
with the Boston Globe that Israeli arms shipments to Iran had included 
spare parts, a clear violation of U.S. laws. Arens stated these sales had 
been discussed with U.S. officials "at almost the highest levels." In 1982, 
according to the Jerusalem Post, Israel also sold to Iran ammunition for 
Israeli-made weapons systems that had been sold to Iran during the time of 
the Shah. During that period Israel also sold Iran Hawk anti-aircraft and 
TOW anti-tank missiles, and aircraft spare parts.

During 1983, Israeli arms sales to the Khomeini regime were valued at $100 
million. According to Aaron Klieman of Tel Aviv University, that brought 
the total value of Israeli arms sales to Iran between the September 1980 
outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war and the end of 1983 to nearly half a billion 

"Israel is Iran's Most Reliable Arms Supplier"

In 1984 West German sources reported Israeli plans to deliver to Iran 
badly-needed supplies of anti-tank weapons. In October 1984, the Iraqi News 
Agency, citing documents obtained from the Iranian opposition, described 
arms shipments to Iran by El Al, Korean Airlines, and South Korea Air. Also 
in 1984, Saudi Arabian radar tracked frequent flights between Israel and 
Iran, suggesting that the arms traffic was continuing. The London-based 
Observer reported on 29 September 1985 that "Israel is Iran's most reliable 
arms supplier with a trade valued at between $500 million and $800 million 
a year."

The Israeli sales to Iran reported above pre-date the U.S.-authorized 
shipments by or through Israel currently under scrutiny. The reputed 
Israeli proposals that the U.S. ship arms to Iran, therefore, seem to have 
been an attempt to implicate the U.S. in a lucrative arms traffic that 
Israel was reluctant to halt. The Israelis may also have been responding to 
pressure from the Khomeini regime to convince the U. S. to sell Iran 
much-needed supplies as well as $300 million worth of undelivered military 
equipment ordered by the Shah. Iran particularly needed to strengthen its 
air force, in order to challenge current Iraqi air supremacy. Most of 
Iran's U.S.-made jet fighters have been grounded for some time due to poor 
maintenance and lack of spare parts.

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