Iran: the real nuclear threat is from imperialism / FRFI 225 Feb/Mar 2012

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 225 February/March 2012

Iran: the real nuclear threat is from imperialismThe 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/ FRFI 224 December 2011/January 2012

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 224 December 2011/January 2012

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.

• On 11 October the US government said that the Iranian Revo­lutionary Guards had plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US, using a Texan car dealer and a Mexican drug gang. Regardless of the claim’s implausibility, President Obama gave it credence saying that Iran must ‘pay the price’.

• On 11 November the Inter­na­tional Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) produced a more sophisticated story about Iran developing a nuclear weapon. It presented old information as new and identified a Russian scientist as the brains behind the project, although he has no knowledge of nuclear physics. Israeli Prime Mini­ster Netanyahu said: ‘The IAEA report corroborates the position of the international community, and of Israel, that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.’ British Foreign Secretary Hague chimed in with ‘no option is off the table’. Meanwhile Israel has nuclear weapons but denies it.

• On 21 November the British government said it was cutting off Iran’s banking sector from the City of London. The UK Treasury said this was the first time Britain had used the powers of the 2008 Counter-terrorism Act to end banking relations with another state.

A covert war has been launched against Iran: three Iranian scientists have been killed in two years and on 12 November a blast killed 17 members of the Revolutionary Guard, including the architect of Iran’s missile programme, General Hassan Moghaddam. To really hurt Iran the imperialists could impose an embargo on Iranian oil exports from which the Iranian government gets 65% of its revenue, but this would be tantamount to a declaration of war on Iran, would wreak havoc on global markets and drive oil prices sky high – as well as pit the US and EU against China and Russia – it could be counter-productive.

Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear facility in 1981 and a Syrian reactor in 2007. It encourages an attack on Iran to destroy its nuclear facilities, and threatens to do so itself. Israel has not undertaken any serious military action since Suez in 1956 without first consulting the US. It would be problematic for it to attack Iran. The Strait of Hormuz between Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Oman is 20 miles wide. Through it passes a third of the world’s seaborne oil supplies from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Iran and Iraq. Iran could close it and the world would plunge into a desperate economic crisis.

Israel and its supporters play up the Iranian threat to garner support for Israel from the US, EU and their regional allies and to galvanise them for mobilisation against the anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist character of the region’s uprisings.

Trevor Rayne

Iran on collision course / FRFI 216 Aug/Sep 2010

FRFI 216 August/September 2010

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.

The 2003 attack on Iraq was preceded by 13 years of sanctions against that country and a growing barrage of propaganda and disinformation about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction. The US used sanctions and the United Nations to mobilise international support for its attempts to depose the Iraqi government, which it eventually achieved by force. Sanctions passed in the UN, with British government support, were critical in paving the way to the armed assault.

In May Brazil, Turkey and Iran reached an agreement on exchanging Iran’s enriched uranium to ensure that it was monitored and controlled. The US rejected this agreement and on 9 June pushed new sanctions through the UN with Turkey and Brazil voting against and China and Russia voting for the sanctions. On the face of it the sanctions appear unimportant; a partial arms embargo and vigilance in transactions with Iranian banks, such as the central bank. China insisted that energy was left out of the measures. However, the US followed up with unilateral sanctions of its own passed into law on 1 July, to be followed by further penalties. All non-US financial institutions that deal with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and 16 targeted Iranian banks will be barred from doing business with US banks. Any firm anywhere that sells petroleum to Iran will have restrictions placed on its bank transactions, foreign exchange dealings and property in the US. Iran imports about a quarter of its oil from international markets. Shell, Italy’s ENI, France’s Total, Spain’s Repsol and Russia’s Lukoil have all either pulled out of contracts with Iran or delayed them. BP has stopped supplying Iran airlines with fuel. Iran received many of its imports through Dubai; now many Iranian-owned businesses in Dubai have been closed and shipments destined for Iran have been stopped. Russia has cancelled a contract to supply Iran with air defence missiles.

In June the Sunday Times reported that Saudi Arabia had conducted tests to allow Israeli jets to pass through its airspace, shortening the flying time from Israel to Iran. This was followed by reports that Israel has stockpiled equipment in the Saudi desert near Jordan and that Israeli warplanes have been stationed in Georgia and Azebaijan, close to northern Iran. We do know that two US aircraft carriers and over a dozen support vessels are in the Strait of Hormuz and that the US base on British-owned Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean has received submarines armed with nuclear and ‘bunker buster’ missiles.

Iran has responded to these threats by refusing admittance to two International Atomic Energy Agency officials whom it accused of previously writing ‘utterly untruthful’ reports. It has said it will retaliate if any of its cargo ships are stopped and inspected and announced that it was continuing to produce enriched uranium.

Should the US and Israel attack Iran the consequences would be dire and unpredictable; the Strait of Hormuz, between Iran and the Arabian peninsula is a little over 21 miles at its narrowest point. Through it travels some 40% of the world’s oil supplies. If the Strait were closed, oil prices would soar with dire consequences for international capitalism. Iran’s allies in Iraq would be mobilised and Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas can be expected to act. The ruling powers of the Middle East and Central Asia would be turned against each other and the masses enraged. The US, Israeli and British ruling classes could find that they have ignited an inferno that finally consumes all their ambitions in the region.

Trevor Rayne

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 / FRFI 210 Aug / Sep 2009

FRFI 210 August / September 2009

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.

The Iranian revolution produced a victorious alliance of the bazaar or merchant bourgeoisie and the clerical establishment at the expense of socialists and the working class. Many socialists were killed by both the Shah’s regime and the Islamic Republic that succeeded it. New factions of the bourgeoisie have emerged and are competing for power within the state. These tensions surfaced during the presidential campaign and provided a political space in which mass discontent was expressed.

Half of Iran’s 70 million people were born after the revolution. Following migration from the countryside 44% of the urban population live in slums. Such conditions, combined with the absence of established political parties, make for a volatile electorate; all the more so as economic hardship has bitten deeply. Inflation is officially 25% but is really far higher. Unemployment is 30% and record numbers of Iranians are living in poverty. Property prices collapsed in 2008, industrial production is close to half of capacity, debts go unpaid, including from private banks to the state bank. Oil provides 50% of the country’s income but falling oil prices have driven it down in the past year. Factions of the ruling class want to encourage US and European investment in the oil and gas industry and view Ahmadinejad as a menace to this because of the positions his government has taken on Israel and imperialism and its strident defence of nuclear enrichment provoking sanctions against Iran.

All presidential candidates were vetted by the cleric-run Guardian Council and all of them were capitalists. Ahmadinejad was supported by the Supreme Leader Khamenei, the three million-strong Revolutionary Guards and the affiliated Basij militia. The Revolutionary Guards have substantial investments in industry and finance. Mousavi’s backers included senior clerics, former president Khatami, the mayor of Tehran and notably Ayatollah Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani personifies the ‘millionaire mullahs’; his family is one of the richest in Iran: one brother owns the country’s largest copper mine, another heads the state television network, a cousin dominates the pistachio business and his sons control parts of the oil and construction industries. However, Mousavi also had backing from trade unions and sections of the women’s movement. For these people Mousavi represented an opportunity to push for democratic reforms and against religious oppression. Mousavi promised pro-business policies, accelerated privatisation and a solution to the housing crisis. He received significant support from the bazaar capitalists. 
The votes were counted by the Interior Ministry, led by a supporter of Ahmadinejad, and it reported that 39 million people, 85% of the electorate, had voted, with 63% for Ahmadinejad and 34% for Mousavi. To many Iranians this was implausible and they protested in several cities. The state responded by banning demonstrations, threatening people with execution and sending out thousands of armed Revolutionary Guards and Basijis. At least 20 people were killed, maybe many more, and 4,000 Mousavi supporters were arrested. Foreign journalists were expelled, newspapers and websites were shut down and telecommunications were disrupted. The government claimed that the ‘hand’ of Britain was behind the protests and nine British embassy staff were arrested. On 17 July Rafsanjani gave a sermon at Tehran University, saying that the regime was in crisis and criticising the repression of the protestors. Crowds chanted ‘Death to the dictator’, ‘Death to Russia’ and ‘Death to China’– Russia and China recognised the Ahmadinejad victory. Rafsanjani made no criticism of Khamenei and must be seeking to pressure dominant clerics against Ahmadinejad and the faction he represents.

US manoeuvres
Between 2005 and 2009 the US Congress allocated $400 million to ‘promote democracy’ in Iran. Also, the CIA funds armed groups against the Iranian state. On 27 May the Daily Telegraph reported on CIA plans for ‘a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilise, and eventually topple’ the Islamic Republic. On 21 June CNN interviewed former National Security Adviser to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski said of the founding of the Solidarity movement in Poland in 1980, ‘I was up to my ears in dealing with it and trying to steer and manipulate it.’ On regime change in Iran Brzezinski said that it was desirable and would provide ‘greater accommodation’ to the US, but it requires ‘intelligent manipulation’. Brzezinski additionally played a role in gathering the counter-revolutionary mujahedeen in Afghanistan. He is close to the current US government.

US President Obama has dropped the demand that Iran stop enriching uranium before negotiations between the US and Iran can take place. He also apologised for the US and British coup against the democratically elected Iranian government in 1953. The US will seek to encourage elements in the Iranian ruling class whose interests are threatened by economic sanctions and who want closer ties to US and European imperialism to advance their businesses and positions. This will be done covertly. If subtle methods fail, the US will consider force. On 5 July US Vice President Biden said, ‘If the Israelis decide Iran is an existential threat, [and] they have to take out the nuclear programme militarily, the United States will not stand in the way...We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can or cannot do...’ Senior US military commanders continue claiming that Iran supports the Taliban in Afghanistan. For socialists in Britain we must oppose all attempts by the US and British states to intervene in Iran, oppose all sanctions against the country and military threats from the US, Israel and Britain.
Trevor Rayne