Photo: Joe Biden bangs his fist on Saudi dictator Mohammed bin Salman, who heads a regime in which women have virtually no rights. Credit — Saudi Press Agency
Protests have been taking place across Iran since September 16. The demonstrations began in response to the death in police custody of a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini. She had been arrested three days earlier for violating laws regulating women’s dress and requiring them to wear a headscarf.
These protests have garnered significant attention from the corporate media of the United States and from President Biden himself, who declared before the United Nations, “We stand with the brave citizens and brave women of Iran.” The New York Times published an article today applauding Biden’s “tougher crackdown on Iran” compared to the Obama administration, even praising Trump, arguing “it will be fair to reconsider Trump’s Iranian legacy” if the current situation leads to a regime change.
The Biden administration has also taken direct steps to intervene. The stifling US sanctions regime the country faces has been changed to allow tech companies to help protesters bypass communications blackouts. She has also backed Elon Musk’s bid to make his company’s “starlink” internet service available in the country. This harks back to the time when Twitter delayed scheduled maintenance and remained operational at the request of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a previous round of protests in 2009.
Women in Iran are subject to reactionary laws that regulate their appearance. This sexist code of law is part of the religious system of government in Iran.
One has only to look to Saudi Arabia to see the hypocrisy that oozes from the US government’s proclamations in support of women’s rights in Iran. Under Saudi Arabian law, women can be stoned for adultery or beheaded for witchcraft. Women have virtually no rights and where they can travel or work is controlled by officially recognized male ‘guardians’.
And yet Saudi Arabia is being showered with arms from the United States and receiving full diplomatic support. Just last year, the Biden administration gave the green light to a $500 million military aid package for the Saudi regime. Saudi Arabia gets 80 percent of its arms from the United States, and the country is the United States’ largest foreign military buyer. In July, Biden rewarded Saudi tyrant Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman with a personal visit.
While it is difficult to accurately assess the current status of the demonstrations, it is clear that the uproar was intense. According to official figures, 41 people died during the protests, including five members of the security forces.
Here, too, Biden is clearly using double standards. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned abortion rights — something that could potentially result in the deaths of thousands of women — Biden declared, “First, I appeal to everyone, no matter how dear this decision is to you, to keep all protests peaceful. Peaceful, peaceful, peaceful. No intimidation. Violence is never acceptable.”
Anti-government protests could continue. Authorities have pledged to conduct an investigation, with Iran’s President telling Amini’s family that the government will “steadfastly investigate” her death. Counter-mobilizations by government supporters also took place. But no matter how events unfold in Iran, it is certain that the US government will seek every opportunity to use the situation to achieve its longstanding goal of controlling the country.