Right on Iran
Having just returned from Iran, I can confirm that Simon Assaf (Iran: Shifting Sands December 2013) is exactly right. The sanctions are hitting the Iranian people and the economy extremely hard.
With rock bottom wages, even for professional people like lecturers and engineers, and sky high inflation and devaluation, considerable effort and ingenuity are required by all but the very rich just to survive. But the rich too want sanctions eased.
The economy is in a very poor state. Iran can sell oil to India and China but cannot get the money. Assets abroad are frozen and international credit is impossible. It cannot buy the goods it needs. All of Iran wants the sanctions lifted.
But the problems are not just one sided. It is clear to many people that the US is losing power and allies in the region. War in Iraq and Afghanistan has shown the limits of its military might.
Iran and Iraq used to neutralize each other across the Gulf as the local powers in the region. Now with Iraq crushed Iran has moved into the vacuum and is the sole power.
Saudi Arabia, aware of their erstwhile master's decline in authority, and fearful of Iran, is buying nuclear weapons from Pakistan much to the annoyance of both Iran and the US.
There is instability throughout the whole region, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the US really has no choice but to deal with the one stable "strong man" in the Gulf region, Iran.
To add to this volatile mix, within Iran itself there are persistent rumours that the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is dying. It is believed he has cancer. The succession could well cause real problems for the regime. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's son, though in charge of the Basij Militia, and being groomed for succession, is wholly unsuitable for the role of Supreme Leader.
With the majority of Iranian people not wanting religious government at all, a struggle within the regime over the succession could well open real opportunities for resistance.
Marjan Azadi, via email
Bigot not fascist
John Newsinger (Socialist Review, December 2013) is wrong to argue that Boris Johnson is an "amalgam of Benny Hill and Mussolini". While Johnson may be a strangely popular right wing bigot, unlike Mussolini he is no fascist.
Johnson obviously participates in elections but he is not pursuing the other aspect of a fascist strategy of trying to organise on the streets against the left and ethnic and religious groups. Nor I would suggest he has even he thought about doing so.
It is vital to identify and challenge fascists wherever and whenever they try to organise as many readers of Socialist Review have done over much of the last ten years or so in successfully combating the British National Party (BNP) and English Defence League (EDL).
However, is equally vital that we do not misapply the term "fascist" for to do so dilutes the power of identifying someone as a fascist.
Terry Sullivan, North London