Britain’s aggressive maneuvers against Iran have put the possibility of a major war in West Asia on the front burner for the second time this year.
In a conflict between the world’s imperialist powers and an independent capitalist country — in this case between U.S. and British imperialism on one side and Iran on the other — workers’ and liberation movements must be against the imperialists. We can then examine the facts. However, facts do nothing to change that basic position.
The current confrontation between imperialism and Iran is a continuation of the conflict Washington began in 2018 by pulling out of the 2015 agreement on nuclear research in Iran. The U.S. government has insisted that all countries, and especially its European imperialist allies, enforce the sanctions it imposed on Iranian shipping, whether they want to or not. In effect, these sanctions amount to a blockade aimed at starving the 80 million Iranian people and provoking regime change in Iran.
On July 4, the British Navy, from its base in Gibraltar, seized and is currently holding an Iranian supertanker, under the pretext that the ship was carrying fuel to be delivered to Syria and that European Union’s rules don’t allow such deliveries. The EU’s sanctions were aimed at crushing the Damascus government, a policy that failed although it did impose a war and horrible suffering on the Syrians.
Units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard seized a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf of Hormuz on July 19, and is still holding that ship as of July 22. A July 21 Associated Press article reports that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “characterized the seizure of Iran’s tanker July 4 as ‘piracy.’” The article added that Iranian “politician and former Guard commander, Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezai, wrote that Iran was not seeking conflict, ‘but we are not going to come up short in reciprocating.’”
Readers should note that Britain seized the Gibraltar base from Spain in the 18th century, when it was on its way to becoming the British Empire and the ruler of the seas. Its sailors were the pre-eminent pirates for a couple of centuries, with the full backing of the London government. Now British piracy takes place in London’s role as a junior partner to Washington, making full use of the remnants of that empire.
Underlining its own role in the aggression against Iran, Washington just sent 500 U.S. troops to a base in Saudi Arabia, the reactionary feudal kingdom that, along with Israel, is a U.S. ally against Iran. Saudi Arabia has been carrying out a brutal war against its neighbor in Yemen, creating untold human suffering but failing to win against a popular movement, despite its possession of far superior Western weapons.
The Iranian military is much better armed than the Yemeni guerrillas. And Tehran knows it has the support of the vast majority of its people against imperialist aggression. Iran has offered to negotiate with the U.S. However, it’s apparent that Iran will refuse to submit to threats. Iran can respond throughout the region to any aerial attack, and the whole Iranian population will combat any attack by land.
Knowledge of Iranian strengths, and not U.S. President Donald Trump’s reluctance to kill civilians, is what stopped the earlier missile attack that Trump said he ordered June 21 and then rescinded with minutes to spare.
If reason could eliminate the danger of imperialist war, it would seem impossible that the U.S. and its allies would dare to start another conflagration that would make the disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq seem small in comparison. A look at history, however, shows that reason takes second place to the imperialists’ drive to impose their rule by force. Thus it is vital that resistance to any war with Iran come from the U.S. population, and that this resistance be mobilized.
U.S., Britain, hands off Iran!