Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iran, form a series of targeted countries in the Middle East, viz., West Asia and North Africa, if we exclude for the present, Palestine which has remained a constant name all along the series. On these countries is cast the spell from the worst blood-thirsty war-monger of the day, the US imperialism. All but Iran have been doomed by the spell. But Iran, probably with the longest history of US red eye still stands relatively unscathed.
Latest incidents find Trump and the US rulers caught on the wrong foot
Here we need to focus on Iran which has been brought at the cross-wire of the US guns right now. We begin with the latest sequence of events. On 3 January morning Major- General Qasem Soleimani, the top Iranian commander widely regarded as a heroic national figure in Iran was killed in an American drone strike on Baghdad’s international airport. General Soleimani, accompanied by an Iraqi general who was also killed, was travelling to Iraq as an official peace emissary from Iran for negotiations with Saudi Arabia to de-escalate tensions in the region. It was at the desire of the US president himself that Iraq was acting as the mediator. It may be added here that General Soleimani had played a principal role in destroying the ISIS terror in the region. Once it was General Soleimani who was consulted with for the US fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaida. The US killed Soleimani, and are having peace talks with the Talibanis, who are alleged by Pentagon rulers themselves to have killed over 2000 US troops. So, here there was one more evidence of shameless duplicity and treachery of the US imperialist rulers. More shameless has been the fact after such a ghastly murder of Iranian General which invited condemnation from all democratic minded people round the globe, US President Trump betraying typical arrogance of an imperialist ruler warned Iran of severe consequences, in case it retaliated.
But Iran did not lie low. In quick retaliation, it fired a barrage of missiles at two military bases in Iraq that housed hundreds of US troops, reportedly after informing Iraq. But that apart, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people marched on the streets of Iraq in mourning for two murdered military generals chanting “Death to America!”, that is the USA. The Iraqi Parliament voted to expel the 5,000 U.S. troops that have been stationed in Iraq.
In Trump’s own country also, demonstrations on streets demanded no further war. There were pressures from different other quarters as well, particularly considering Iran’s strong anti-US imperialist attitude and significant military strength. This pressure was quite apparent. The US President came down in a softer vein after having roared to destroy 52 Iranian sites including cultural ones. Even the Pentagon disassociated itself from this preposterous threat, which was also marked by the usual hysterical style of Trump, as he chose the number 52 to refer to 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days by Iran in US embassy “many years ago”. This time, the US denied to have suffered any casualties in the Iranian missile attack on Iraqi base. And Trump in his re-election campaign said he had no plans to take further military action against Iran. Instead he would slap more economic sanctions on Iran.
However, Trump felt no qualm in using this planned assassination of General Soleimani as a shot in the gun during his re-election campaign. Rather defying criticism, he used it to foment national jingoism to get the US citizens rally behind him in the ensuing presidential election. He branded Soleimani as ‘actively planning new attacks’ against US and boasted that he served up American justice by ordering the murderous drone strike at the commander. Thus, his words and gestures tending to provoke a war with Iran, was last-ditch attempt of an impeached American President to find a foothold in a re-election year. After all, the Iran crisis at least momentarily overshadowed Trump’s looming impeachment trial. Like any other degraded power-monger bourgeois politician, Trump did not hesitate to create grievous political crisis even involving other countries and going to the extent of murdering an opponent treacherously, simply to use it to safeguard his personal pelf and power.
The unwarranted circumstances also brought in their wake a good toll of innocent lives. On 10 January, a Ukrainian airliner crashed outside Tehran killing all 176 passengers and crews on board. US and Canada held Iran responsible. At first Iran denied it, but later it admitted and apologized for having shot down the airliner by mistake and ordered investigation to find what caused such a lethal mistake and how. Questions are being asked as to why was the delay in admitting the truth. People of Iran are also holding demonstrations against this mistake and their rulers’ not admitting it. At the same time, ‘outside’ hands behind the demonstrations are also not being ruled out. Britain’s ambassador had to leave Iran after brief detention on charges of joining such a demonstration. The US remained unusually silent to react. Why? One may tend to seek the answer in the facts that US diplomats had already warned commercial airliners flying over the wider Gulf of the risk of being “misidentified” amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran. The warning appeared rooted in what happened 30 years ago. On 3 July 1988, in a day-long naval battle between the US forces and Iran during the Iraq-Iran war, the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes fired surface-to-air missiles and hit a commercial Iranian airliner killing all the 290 passengers and crew. The US government issued notes of regret for the loss of human lives, but never formally apologised or acknowledged the wrongdoing.
US strategy in Middle East
Come what may, the question that looms large : Why and how Iran has long been made a target by the US imperialists. For an answer, two related issues need be addressed first.
In the post second world war days when domination of the British, French or any other imperialist forces was drastically reduced in the oil-rich ‘Gulf’ region, as the premiere imperialist power which hardly suffered any loss in the war, the US imperialists took it upon themselves to carry through the sinister imperialist agenda and brigandage in this region obviously to take the entire area under their fold and extending their sphere of influence. After all, it was a region full of natural resources, particularly the precious ‘oil’ and ‘natural gas’ to plunder and transport, a region geographically placed in a strategically and geopolitically significant position looking directly upon the land-links and waterways connecting the countries of the eastern and western worlds, a region where fighting people tended to develop movements against their respective exploitative rules even along leftist lines, particularly in Iran and Iraq. Hence, right from the day one, the die-hard anti-communist US imperialists to be aided and assisted by their equally warped-view henchman, Zionist Israel, hatched plans against one country after another with newer and newer designs and concocted allegations against their respective rulers to bring them to their knees.
Leaving aside the older parts of the history and harrowing experiences of the Palestinians, whose legitimate demand over their homeland is being brutally suppressed by the US-Israel nexus, the Middle East was subject to severe imperialist onslaught during the last three decades. The US imperialists imposed tight sanctions on Iraq in August 1990, following it with massive bombing the next year causing death of half a million Iraqi children. By the turn of a decade, in 2003, the US imperialists invaded and occupied Iraq in one of the worst wars of recent times and killed its elected President Saddam Hussein after staging a mock trial. They not only brought about genocide, killing lakhs of innocent people including women, children and old and then unabashedly terming it as collateral damage but also tried to vertically cleave Iraqi people along sectarian lines establishing a pliant rule there. Over and above plundering oil and other natural resources, they even vandalized the precious remains of the old Mesopotamian civilization, pillaged the museums and looted invaluable artefacts with impunity and without compunction. In the same year of 2003, they clamped sanctions on Syria, another country whose ruling dispensation refused to bow before US dictates. These inhuman sanctions were further tightening in 2011. But when that too also failed to tame Syria, the US imperialists floated an allegation that Syrian President is violating human rights and hence his rule needed to be changed. In an all-out attempt to orchestrate that intended regime change, they created a so-called Free Syrian Army, trained them, armed them, strengthened them by supplying tens of thousands of foreign mercenary forces and then planted as ‘rebel forces’ to take on the Syrian President. The US rulers also provided backhanded support to Saudi-created and sponsored terrorist forces like ISIS and others. Then in the name of fighting the ISIS, they carried on bombing Syria and devastated that country through a totally unwarranted battle that is still continuing. Meanwhile, on the same plea of fighting terrorists, they staged a pre-emptive attack on Afghanistan, the poor, strife-torn country under US occupation for 18 continuous years only to wreck people’s unity and precipitate sectarian division. Any further details will just add to reveal the ferocity of the US attacks. Suffices it to say, that the entire game-plan of the war-monger blood-thirsty US imperialists was a design woven of falsehood, greed, treachery, cruelty, arrogance and tyranny. It was such a heinous, yet so naked an act, that even those who had collaborated with the US rulers at some stage or other, eventually came and are coming to hate the duplicity and racist arrogance of US domination.
Iran’s position among other Arab countries
Among the Arab countries of the Middle East, Iran enjoys a leading position. It has the 2nd largest oil reserves in the Middle East (after Saudi Arabia) and 4th largest in the world, the second largest natural gas reserves in the world as well as considerable reserves of other natural resources like coal, sulphur and a host of metallic minerals. Iran is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Besides this richness in natural resources, Iran commands a superior military power among the Arab countries and has a strategic geographic location. Destabilizing Iran would allow the US rulers to capture its natural resources but also help them consolidating their domination in the entire region. At the same time, it would benefit them by way of causing moral setback to the rising anti-US resistance movements in the region. So, Iran is now the prime target of the US imperialists, with Zionist Israel ready to come on its heels to join the brigandage.
However, much to the chagrin of the US imperialists, Iran is reportedly winning the strategic struggle for influence in the Middle East against its rival, Saudi Arabia. In the Sunni Arab-ruled Iraq with a Shia Arab majority, Iran’s influence has grown steadily since the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Iran has close links to Iraqi Shia politicians who are part of the ruling elite, and has backed the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), which played a key role in defeating IS. Iran has a close relationship with the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah, which is both a political party and an armed militia. The Hezbollah has fought alongside Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and assisted Iraqi Shia militias. When Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen issue in March 2015, with a vicious air bombing campaign aimed at dislodging the Houthi rebels from areas they had taken over, Iran stepped up its support to the Houthi rebels. Iran could not prevent the destruction and humanitarian crisis in the poor country of Yemen that has been wrecked by the Saudi-led US-backed indiscriminate air strikes. But its help, both material and moral, have helped the Houthi rebels to bog the Saudi-US combine into a protracted war. Drones launched by the Houthi rebels in Yemen against Saudi oil facilities were also blamed on Iran. And above everything, while many rulers of West Asia have accepted capitulation to US imperialism and engaged in sickening tailism of the Pentagon regime, the surging resistance movements against US domination and hegemony in various parts of West Asia are receiving all kinds of support and backing from the governments of Iran as well as Syria and Lebanon. Lebanon even successfully repelled a US-sponsored military assault. This growing resistance in this crucial West Asian zone is also helping and strengthening the liberation struggle of the Palestine people causing much embarrassment to the Zionist rulers of Israel. Iran, along with Syria and Lebanon, has thus stood like an unbending force to the US pressure and has always wanted the US to leave the Middle East, a sentiment that is growing every day throughout the Arab countries, even among people of countries like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), allies of Saudi Arabia. Obviously Saudi Arabia and its allies are the mainstay of the US imperialists and Zionist Israel to fulfil their domineering and exploitative designs in the Middle East. Naturally this enviable position of Iran among the Arab countries and their people has stood as a stumbling block to the US imperialists.
History of Iran and nature of Iranian rule
However, it ought to be borne in mind that the Islamic Republic of Iran is both exploitative and fundamentalist. It is also fraught with serious allegations of limitless corruption. Unemployment in Iran is above 12 per cent, and more than double of that among young people, i.e., 28.8 per cent. Economic woes have been further aggravated because of US- imposed sanctions. Spiralling poverty, deprivation, high prices and chronic unemployment have ruined the lives of a large portion of the population and in particular the youth. The US imperialists have always tried to make use of this popular unrest among Iranian people, against their rulers to their advantage. But one cannot miss two points here. One, it was the CIA-engineered coup in 1953 which, though a failed one, was instrumental in bringing down Mohammad Mosaddegh, a committed secular democrat, from power in Iran. This finally gave way to the rule of the Shah, an autocratic oppressive rule totally backed by the US imperialists. But in 1979, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last monarch of corrupt, oppressive, US-backed autocracy of Iran, was overthrown and replaced by a fundamentalist-dominated Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who referred to US as the “Great Satan”. Ever since that, the US imperialists have been trying to crush Iran with monstrous sanctions. They instigated Iraqi President to get engaged in a prolonged war with Iran in 1988. This US-instigated war devastated both Iraq and Iran, the two most advanced and relatively democratic countries in the Middle East, both of whom once tended towards secularism- socialism. It took another decade for so-called reformist President Mohammed Khatami to rise power in 1997. Accumulated resentment against the fundamentalist rule and economic plight made way for Khatami to rise. Unable to take a grip upon Iran, immediately after occupying Iraq in 2003, the US imperialists branded Iran also as a ‘rogue state’ and a constituent of, what they called, the ‘axis of evils’ the other two being socialist Cuba and North Korea. From then onwards, they have been weaving one ploy after another to bend the Iranian regime and make them submit to their diktats. The second point is, can one deny the exclusive preserve of people of Iran to determine who will rule them and what they will do if their rulers are anti-people?
US-Iran nuclear treaty and turn of events thereafter
The US imperialists along with their European imperialist-capitalist allies, moved a resolution in 2003 in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) alleging that Iran, a party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), has failed on a number of instances to meet its obligations under the NPT safeguards agreement. Alongside, they went full throttle to level a host of concocted additional charges against Iran. On these pleas, they imposed strict sanctions upon Iran to enfeeble it economically and intensify the plight and woes of Iranian people. After a deadlock of 12 years, Iran and a six-nation negotiating group including the UN security council’s five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the UK and the US – and Germany reached in July 2015 a landmark agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The deal drastically limited the Iranian nuclear programme along with assurance of not developing nuclear weapons in return for relief from sanctions. Iran also accepted extensive monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has verified 10 times since the agreement that Tehran has complied with its terms. In return, all nuclear-related sanctions were lifted in January 2016, reconnecting Iran to global markets. However, the decade long excruciating sanctions had a catastrophic impact on the economy of Iran and created an explosive situation in the country. There were massive demonstrations beginning in Tehran in December 2017 and rolling on to other major cities. The protests initially focusing on unemployment- corruption in the main among others, moved on to disappointment that the 2015 nuclear deal did not lead to any betterment in economy. The vulture keenly observed the developments from afar waiting for its chance to prise open the hitherto impenetrable country on its ready-made plea of human rights violation. Once the Donald Trump rule had started, the Pentagon regime who had earlier pledged to bring the US out of endless wars in the Middle East, unilaterally broke out of the Treaty disassociating itself even from its European allies potentially triggering a new crisis. Trump, obviously in subservience to the class interest of the ruling US monopolists, announced the US would re-impose sanctions against Iran. The devil knows no bound! Unable to bring Iran to its knee, the US imperialists cried hoarse as to how dangerous Iran was to the peace and security of the region. It was virtually a repeat of the vile strategy they adopted to occupy sovereign Iraq through military intervention. So they imposed bitterest sanctions on Iran. With the latter crippled from sanctions, but remaining unbending still, the US rulers forced it to destroy its nuclear facilities and stop nuclear programmes. When Iran worked to the letter of the treaty, the US imperialists, finding Iran still unyielding, rather rising up as Phoenix, have now been speaking of war against it, at least of slapping even stronger sanctions to start with. Trump now finds the treaty “a horrible one-sided deal that should never, ever have been made”, “It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.” When the US got isolated from its allies, it arm-twisted the European allies to issue hard words against Iran for non-compliance with the nuclear deal. The design remains one and the same through years: In the Middle East, as elsewhere on the globe, they must be given the throne of supreme authority to plunder and pillage. If that is not given in normal course, they would flex military muscle, activate their notorious espionage network to trigger sabotage and violence, instigate civil unrest and engineer coup to elicit that autocratic authority. Any country declining to accept this are immediately trademarked as danger to peace and democracy, as terror-creating rogue and violator of human rights. And then, riding on those floated allegations, they work their stratagem. Killing of General Soleimani and events preceding or succeeding it once more attest to this.
Relentless attacks fail to work, instead give birth to deepening wrath in people
Hitherto, events kept rolling on befitting the sinister imperialist design. Mysterious attacks on tankers near the Strait of Hormuz were initially levelled against Iran. But later those were proved to be accidents. Then the assaults on the oil facilities and an airport in Saudi Arabia allegedly by the Houthi rebels, the downing of a US military drone by the Iranian forces in Iranian waters in June 2019 and so forth were made to hog the headlines. These were just a few of the incidents that ratcheted up tensions in the Gulf, Iran being blamed in all cases, be it the case or not.
Donald Trump and the Pentagon appeared relentless. In the face of increasing disapproval of their policies and growing resistance on every front, the only deterrent they have been banking upon is more war and harsher sanctions.
The world knows it well that it is the compulsion of the crisis-ridden capitalism-imperialism to generate war or at least war-phobia, with a view to artificially stimulating and thereby keeping their military-industry complex running. So the day Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqi PMU leader, were assassinated, fresh reinforcements of the US troops in Kuwait were publicly announced. Before that, on 29 December 2019, the US forces bombed five targets including three border locations in Iraq and two in Syria. These air strikes killed 32 and wounded 55 PMU militias, who were front-line fighters against dreaded terrorist-fundamentalist IS. It is learnt that half an hour before the airstrike, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper informed Iraqi Prime Minister who expressed his strong objection to this unilateral decision and demanded to stop aerial attack immediately. These strike, the Iraqi officials felt, was a ‘treacherous stab in the back’ and ‘dangerous escalation’. It revealed, despite their loud proclamation against the IS terrorists created, the US imperialists were least hesitant to annihilate those who are front-ranking fighters against the IS. It proves once more how serious the US imperialists are in fighting terror. But the tale of obscuring truth does not end here. The US said it launched the bombing in retaliation to a rocket attack on 27 December, near Kirkuk, that killed a US mercenary. But the site the US military chose to bomb was hundreds of miles from where the US mercenary had died. And the area bombed were the only border crossing points controlled by Iraqi and Syrian forces, not the US. Those were potentially open channels for trade, travel and exchanges among Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon free from US interference. Bombing such points are sufficient proof of the heinous design of the US imperialists to keep these countries separated and delinked.
In any case, that such dastardly acts of the imperialist aggressors are no longer passing out without people’s protest is being clear everyday. On 31 December, a huge mass of protesting Iraqis stormed the high-security Green Zone of the US embassy with even Iraqi security forces standing mute. Then again, as mentioned earlier, assassination of Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was followed by still more massive funeral procession in Baghdad .
Donald Trump tweeted that “Iran has orchestrated the attack on the US embassy in Baghdad.” He threatened that the US would “hold Iran for responsible” for the rapidly unfolding events in the Iraqi capital. Trump also blamed Iran for the death of a US mercenary and claimed that the targets chosen were “Iranian controlled” militias. But the massive protests in Iraq indicate that multi-billion dollar propaganda machinery of the imperialists, or their multi-billion dollar weapons are not proving effective in keeping people’s wrath against the killer imperialists from gradually bursting forth. And the fact is that the US stands virtually isolated with its gangsterism .
It cannot be missed that deep within Iran’s authoritarian system there is a tiny democratic heart, complete with democratic institutions, but more particularly, democracy-loving people, which is desperately beating against an unyielding, theocratic exoskeleton, as well as the US gangsterism. All it requires is a correct revolutionary leadership to build up a militant anti-imperialist, particularly anti-US imperialist movement with a genuine leftist core providing the correct direction from within.
All the painful outcomes, all the genocide and individual assassinations, all the treacheries, all the muscle-flexing associated with and characterizing the current US brigandage against the Arab countries, particularly targeting Iran right now, have this silver line emerging slowly, yet surely. Freedom-loving people of India, along with people of the world unequivocally condemn this unprovoked assassination by the US imperialists and demand from the Indian government to put diplomatic pressure upon the US government to refrain from further escalating the tension.
[Information Sources: Guardian 9May 2018; 18 May 2019; BBC 7 November and 30 December 2019; The Hindu 4 January 2020; the Wire 4 January 2020; Workers World 7 January 7 2020; Agence France-Presse and Associated Press from The Statesman 11 January 2020, 15 January 2020, 16 January 2020, CNN 30-12-19]