The Mousavi campaign in Iran and the lessons of past “color revolutions”

The political movement of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, named the “Green Wave” due to its campaign color, has striking parallels with the US-backed “color revolutions” in the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine.

Like the campaigns to bring to power pro-US regimes in Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004), the campaign around Mousavi has been backed by powerful sections of the Iranian establishment and supported by Washington, the US media and the European powers. As in Tehran, better-off layers of the urban middle classes dominated the large opposition protests in Tbilisi and Kiev.

In the absence of a socialist alternative, the masses of Iranian workers and poor voted for the incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has built a base of support among them by adopting a populist persona, denouncing corruption within the clerical elite, and providing a measure of social welfare assistance. The working class remained aloof from the anti-Ahmadinejad protests, seeing nothing to support in the pro-market policies of Mousavi.

As with the opposition movement headed by Mousavi, the opposition movements in Georgia and Ukraine styled themselves as democratic, while promoting pro-market economic policies and the opening of the countries to Western investment.

Mousavi is a longstanding figure within the existing regime and is a proven defender of the interests of the Iranian bourgeoisie. Considered a protégé of Iran’s first supreme leader, Ruhollah Khomeini, Mousavi was prime minister from 1981 to 1989, overseeing the suppression of left-wing movements and presiding over the slaughter of hundreds of thousands in the devastating war with Iraq.

Mousavi’s 2009 presidential campaign and the subsequent protests were backed by sections of Iran’s business and religious elite, such as former president and billionaire Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and former president Mohammad Khatami.

To the extent that students and others sincerely opposed to the repressive Ahmadinejad regime became involved in the “green revolution” demonstrations, they were channeled behind a section of the Iranian ruling class. It is critical for Iranian workers and youth to make a political assessment of the experiences of the international working class, especially in those countries where pro-US governments have been brought to power under the guise of a democratic revolution.



The “Rose Revolution” in Georgia saw a pro-US faction of the country’s ruling elite break away from the then-president, Eduard Shevardnadze, to assume the leadership of a supposedly democratic opposition.

A former top Stalinist bureaucrat and the Soviet Union’s foreign minister under Mikhail Gorbachev, Shevardnadze… read on


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