No war with Iran! A statement by the International Socialist Tendency

1. Donald Trump, in ordering the assassination of Qassem Soleimani along with other Iranian and Iraqi military leaders, has committed an act of war that could set the Middle East on fire.

2. The killings no doubt were motivated by short-term political calculations on Trump’s part, but they belong to the latest phase in the crisis of US domination of the region.

3. This crisis can be traced back to the US and British Invasion of Iraq in 2003. The removal of Saddam Hussein and the defeat of the occupation created a power vacuum that both states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates – and outside powers, above all Russia, have sought to exploit. Their rivalries have provoked a series of dangerous and bloody conflicts – in Syria, Yemen, and Libya. The US-backed pipeline deal between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel is further stoking up tensions between the signatories and Turkey.

4. The Islamic Republican regime in Iran was one of the main beneficiaries of the retreat of US power in the Middle East. Soleimani was a major power-broker through an arc extending from Iraq through Syria to Lebanon. Iran has played a contradictory role, simultaneously orchestrating resistance to the US and Israel and propping up the barbarous Assad regime in Syria and corrupt and sectarian governments in Iraq and Lebanon.

5. The US may have retreated, but it is not ready to give up its domination of the Middle East. Trump reversed Barack Obama’s policy towards Tehran, replacing conciliation with confrontation. But he was careful till now to avoid war, concentrating on imposing ‘maximum pressure’ by ratcheting up economic sanctions. The Iranian regime, however, found ways of hitting back – for example by targeting Saudi oil facilities or using their influence in Iraq. Killing Soleimani is less a demonstration of US power, than a petulant gesture at its limits.

6. Nevertheless, it was an extremely dangerous move – and not simply because Iran will retaliate, potentially unleashing a cycle of escalation with the US. The interest of other imperialist powers in exploiting the crisis of US power in the Middle East is indicated by the recent joint naval exercise in the Gulf by China, Russia, and Iran.

7. We condemn the US attack and any further aggression and will oppose a war with Iran. Any US led or instigated war on Iran would be utterly horrendous in its immediate consequences and do further incalculable damage to the whole region. Imperialist interventions have served only to turn the Middle East into a devastated permanent war zone. Instead of sending more troops to the region, the US – alongside Britain, France, Germany and Russia – should withdraw all their forces from the MENA region. We will, alongside others, mobilise against the danger of war.

8. We also reject the idea that any of the rival sub-imperialisms in the region offer a progressive solution. Recent months have seen mass protests against poverty, corruption, and sectarianism in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon. The murder of Soleimani may help the ruling classes of these countries to restore order on a nationalist basis. We oppose all the attempts of the local ruling classes to set their peoples against each other.

9. The real solution to the exploitation and oppression suffered by the workers, urban poor, and peasants of the MENA region lies in their own hands. The Arab uprisings of 2011 offered a glimpse of the revolutionary potential that their self-activity represents. We work for a renewal of these struggles, which can finally break the grip of imperialism and capitalism on this region.

The Coordination of the International Socialist Tendency
5 January 2020

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