Iran under threat: US and EU on a collision course

Iranian MPs burn US flag

When US President Trump announced on 8 May 2018 that the US was leaving the nuclear deal agreed in 2015 with Iran, he not only increased the likelihood of a military clash between the US and Iran, he threw down the gauntlet in a challenge to Europe. The US government rejected appeals from the German Chancellor, the French President and British Foreign Secretary to stick with the deal. The German, French and British ruling classes must now decide whether to confront their US counterpart or submit to it. TREVOR RAYNE reports.

 

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Iran: Repression and Resistance

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 12, September 1981

Since mid July, Iran's ruling Islamic Republican Party (IRP) backed by Khomeini has intensified its repression against the country's mass anti-imperialist and revolutionary organisations. The People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), the largest mass organisation, and two communist ones — the Organisation of the Iranian People's Fedai Guerrillas (OIPFG) and Peykar (Struggle) — all having a history of courageous resistance to the Shah's regime — have been the main targets of the Khomeini regime's repression.

 

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Imperialists invade Iran

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 4, May/June 1980

Friday 25 April saw the complete failure of American imperialism's first effort at direct military intervention against the Iranian Revolution since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. That American imperialism has been reduced to this blundering display of sabre rattling is a tribute to the determination of the Iranian people.

The American military operation made it clear that the real issue was not, and is not, the 'hostages'. The real issue is the re-establishment of imperialist domination in Iran.

Throughout the world imperialism is fighting a rearguard action to preserve its existence in the face of mounting victories by the oppressed. The attack on Iran was one effort to reverse the tide. Everything else had failed. Only military threat remained open. The Iranian people have already shown that this too will fail because they understand that the future of their revolution is at stake — and they will defend it with their lives.

 

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Interview: The Iranian Revolution

Flag of the Peoples Mujahedin of Iran

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 11 – July/August 1981

We print below an interview given to FRFI by the Moslem Students Society (Supporters of the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran — PMOI). The PMOI is the foremost revolutionary anti-imperialist organisation in Iran and together with other revolutionary forces is the vanguard of the Iranian revolution.

Q First, can you briefly explain the significance of the removal of Bani-Sadr as President of Iran by the Islamic Republican Party (IRP) controlled Parliament?

A Bani-Sadr's elimination was part of the reactionaries' aim to establish a state of total repression in Iran in order to pave the way for a complete compromise with imperialism. The ruling regime had to rid itself of its internal opposition represented by Bani-Sadr as the first step in its aim to crush all revolutionary forces in Iran, particularly the PMOI and to destroy the revolutionary activities of the people.

 

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Iran: anti-austerity protests

Iranian protest 2018

As 2017 drew to a close, thousands of people came out onto the streets of Iran, protesting against austerity measures and unemployment. The protests were on a scale not seen since the ‘Green Movement’ which followed the 2009 elections (see FRFI 210). They reflected many different interests, from working class people angry about cuts imposed by President Rouhani’s budget measures, through those demanding a stricter form of Islamic rule, to those seeking to overthrow the Iranian government in favour of full integration into the imperialist global economy. Internationally, the protests were seized upon by imperialist leaders and ruling class media, to further their objective of regime change in Iran. President Trump tweeted on 30 December: ‘The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most’.

 

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Iran ‘The prize’

With the 14 July 2015 agreement between Iran and the P5 + 1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) on Iran’s nuclear energy programme, enormous investment opportunities for multinational corporations open up in Iran and significant strategic changes in the Middle East may be in the offing. The deal should lead to the removal of US and European Union sanctions on Iran in early 2016 and give Iran access to over $100bn frozen in overseas banks. Sanctions have cost Iran $160bn in oil sales in three years. The US has imposed sanctions on Iran since 1979; these may be removed. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was furious at the deal, calling it a ‘stunning, historical mistake’ that will make the world a ‘more dangerous place’. Saudi Arabia threatened to develop its own nuclear industry. Saudi Arabia and Israel fear an economically strong Iran which the removal of sanctions could bring. They also fear that their strategic significance to imperialism will be downgraded and that the advantages that have come with it will be reduced.

 

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Iran: A change in tactics

The interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear industry announced on 24 November 2013 indicates a change in US tactics towards Iran and the Middle East. If the Iranian government believes that by making concessions to the P5 plus one (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), imperialism will accept an independent Iran, this would be a mistake. The US, Britain and France will continue to try to force Iran into becoming a client state that accepts US hegemony in the Middle East.

 

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Iran under pressure

During October 2012 the US and Israel held a three week joint missile and air defence exercise with 4,500 soldiers, making it the largest joint military exercise between the two nations. On 2 November The Independent reported the British government to be considering stationing warplanes adjacent to the Persian Gulf to prevent Iran from blocking the Strait of Hormuz, through which passes 35% of the world’s seaborne oil. British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that European countries must be ‘prepared, if necessary, to take a bigger role in relation to North Africa and the Middle East...Europe, as a whole, needs to do more.’ The Royal Navy maintains ten ships, including a nuclear submarine, in the Persian Gulf region. Hammond was issuing a threat to the peoples of the Middle East, North Africa and Iran, in particular, not to challenge imperialist domination of the region.

 

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Iran: a dangerous game

A leading correspondent for Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper said, ‘[Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu is playing poker for all of us. We shouldn’t call out his cards.’ He proceeded to say that Israel’s threat of a military strike on Iran was a ‘loaded gun that the made the international community impose a diplomatic and economic siege on Iran’.

The correspondent was responding to criticisms of the Israeli government from senior Israeli military figures. The former heads of Mossad (foreign secret service), the Israeli military intelligence and the internal intelligence agency, Shin Bet, have all condemned the Israeli threat to attack Iran. Contradicting his Prime Minister, who portrays the Iranian leadership as fanatical, the current head of Israel’s armed forces said that he did not believe that Iran would build a nuclear weapon and described the Iranian leadership as ‘very rational’.

 

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Iran: threat after threat

Israel says it will not notify the US before striking Iran’s nuclear facilities. Rival US Republican Party presidential candidates vie to utter the most bellicose statements. President Obama says the US will ‘use all elements of American power’ to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon and British Foreign Secretary Hague said ruling out military force against Iran would be ‘irresponsible’. The air is thick with threats; danger is at hand.

 

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Iran: the real nuclear threat is from imperialism

Iran: the real nuclear threat is from imperialism

The covert military war waged by US and European imperialism with Israel against Iran threatens to become open war. Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated since 2007; Iran’s nuclear programme was subject to cyber attack in 2010; US drones violate Iranian air space and a military base was blown up. Now the US and European Union are imposing economic sanctions on Iran that amount to a declaration of war. The imperialists and Zionists intend not just to maintain their nuclear monopoly in the region, but to effect regime change.

 

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Iran subject to lies and conspiracy

With the Middle East and North Africa in revolt, imperialism must target Iran, the main state in the region not beholden to its power. The US and Israel view Iran as a geo-political rival, and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states consider it a threat. Since the removal of Iraq’s Ba’athist state Iran’s influence has increased there and Iran supports Syria, Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine. Threats are intended to curb Iran’s influence.

 

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Iran on collision course

A new round of UN and US sanctions against Iran and the insertion of US and Israeli naval vessels to patrol off the Iranian coast suggest that a confrontation between imperialism and Iran is imminent. The US and Israeli governments are adamant that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, despite the US’s own 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that it was not. The US ruling class recognises that its inability to secure victory in Iraq and Afghanistan threatens its control of the Middle East and Central Asia, and it sees regional rivals challenging its plan to achieve global hegemony, especially Iran. This may spur the US to use its military power to try and reverse this deterioration in its position.

 

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Imperialists move to attack Iran

Britain, the US and Israel have continued to intensify their pressure on Iran. Not content with trying to install a puppet regime in Iraq and undermine and isolate the democratically-elected government in Palestine, the imperialists are also planning an attack on Iran.

In an obvious mockery of their insistence that they want a diplomatic rather than a military solution to the so-called Iranian nuclear crisis, Britain and the US have taken part in a war game that simulates an invasion of Iran. The war game, codenamed Hotspur 2004, took place at the US base of Fort Belvoir in Virginia in July 2004. The disclosure of Britain’s participation coincided with a US report that the White House was contemplating a tactical nuclear strike and Tehran defying the United Nations Security Council.

The website of the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, which helped run the war game, described it as the main analytical event of the year for the UK-US Future Land Operations Interoperability Study, whose purpose is to ensure that both armies work well together. The study was extremely well received on both sides of the Atlantic. Plans are being carried out by US Central Command which is responsible for the Middle East and central Asia area of operations, and by Strategic Command, which carries out long-range bombing and nuclear operations.

 

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Iran: Ruling class divided

Over one million people gathered in Tehran on 15 June to protest against the results of the 12 June presidential election. This was the largest rally in the city since the 1978-79 Iranian revolution which overthrew the Shah. The crowds were drawn from all social classes and they presented the Islamic Republic with its most serious internal challenge in 30 years. However, the majority of the protestors supported the defeated candidate, former Prime Minister Mousavi, who has no intention of threatening the state, but rather seeks to adjust its policies away from those of President Ahmadinejad. A combination of state repression, the intervention of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in support of Ahmadinejad, and lack of leadership, resulted in the protests subsiding – for now.

 

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Iran: The revolution is coming

FRFI 150 August / September 1999

The overthrow of the Shah in 1979 was one of the most popular revolutions of the 20th century, with millions of people taking part. Its tone was anti-imperialist and its content democratic. The left made its mark through anti-imperialist slogans against the USA and capitalism in general, but lacked any specific programme for transformation of social and political structures. The left at the time was influenced by guerilla movements in Latin America and experiences of China and the Soviet Union, but had little contact with the workers who were the social base of the revolution.

 

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Imperialists try to intensify pressure on Iran

FRFI 174 August / September 2003

During a recent trip to Tehran, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw continued to ratchet up imperialist pressure on the Iranian regime, calling on it to agree by September to sign the ‘additional protocol’ demanded by the June meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This would give inspectors from the IAEA greater rights to conduct snap inspections of so-called suspect sites. Failure to meet this deadline would, according to Straw, jeopardise a European Union trade and co-operation agreement currently being negotiated. His visit came shortly after widespread student protests had taken place against the regime in Iran.

The student demonstrations had begun on 10 June at Tehran University in opposition to the privatisation of the university system but had quickly taken on an anti-regime character. The protests were militant, violently confronting the forces of the state, the police and Hezbollah (religious militia of the government) and spreading to at least eight other major cities. Slogans on the demonstrations included ‘Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran’, ‘Death to Khamenei’ (the main religious leader within Iran), ‘Death to Khatami’ (the reformist President) and ‘Death to Rafsanjani’ (the hard-line ex-president of Iran). All accounts of the protests point to the fact that many others joined the students on the streets. The Tehran Chief of Police told the media that of the 520 protesters arrested by 22 June, ‘only ten of them are students, the rest are ruffians’! Student leaders said though that more than half of those in custody were students, and 18 of them were women.

 

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Iran: Defying Imperialism

Over the last few months, Britain, the US and Israel have been intensifying the pressure on Iran. In scenes very similar to the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, they have made much of Iran’s supposed quest for nuclear weapons and the alleged threat it poses to world peace and security. Although Iran is clearly working for a peaceful resolution, the US has already stigmatised it as part of its ‘axis of evil’ and is threatening to use ‘every tool at its disposal’ to prevent Iran from developing its nuclear capabilities. Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, said recently that Iran was probably the number one challenge for the US:

‘We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran, whose policies are directed at developing a Middle East that would be 180 degrees different than the Middle East we would like to see developed.’

Iran, which is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has said that it has no plans to build nuclear weapons and that it requires nuclear energy for civilian purposes to meet the energy demands of its increasing population and expanding economy. These claims were substantiated by the International Atomic Energy Agency which after three years of investigation has found ‘no evidence of diversion’.

 

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Iran: divisions in the US ruling class

The 19 July meeting of a senior US State Department official and European Union representative with Iranian government officials in Geneva is a significant development. Previously the US insisted that it would not engage in serious diplomatic relations with Iran until Iran ended its nuclear enrichment programme. The US also proposed opening an interests section in Tehran which would be the first US diplomatic presence in Iran since the 1979 US hostage crisis. Whatever these developments come to, they reflect a serious division within the US ruling class and the ascendancy of a faction opposed to the neo-conservatives and Vice President Cheney who have been leading the call for an attack on Iran. Germany’s government has led in efforts to start negotiations.

 

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