Washington sends carrier fleet to Mideast, threatens Iran

By Seth Galinsky
May 27, 2019

Millions of workers in the U.S. know from bitter experience what it means when the capitalist rulers discuss dispatching more cannon fodder to the Middle East.

News accounts report a meeting of White House national security personnel May 9 discussed “updating” a plan to send tens of thousands more troops to the Persian Gulf to counter any hostile moves by Tehran. 

Washington is ratcheting up its economic sanctions on Iran even tighter, in what the State Department calls an “unprecedented maximum pressure campaign.” 

 “Washington’s new sanctions and threats against Iran only make things worse for working people there and in the region. The U.S. rulers only aim is defending their imperialist interests in the Middle East,” Joel Britton, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of San Francisco, said May 13. “Working people in the U.S. and around the world should be on their guard, and demand U.S. hands off Iran! End the sanctions!”

The U.S. rulers’ goal is to force Tehran to accept greater restrictions on its nuclear program and to reign in Iranian “proxy” forces in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and the Gaza Strip. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said May 11 the U.S. economic sanctions are “unprecedented in the history of our Islamic Revolution,” and are causing deep economic problems. 

It’s working people who are forced to bear the burden. Prices for basic necessities have risen as much as 60 percent over the last year, despite government subsidies for food and electricity. 

Washington has been increasing the pressure for a year, since President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement signed by Barack Obama, saying it didn’t go far enough.  

In November last year, Washington reimposed sanctions on oil imports from Iran but granted eight governments temporary waivers. In April, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the waivers would not be renewed. They expired May 2. 

On May 3 Washington set new limits on Iran’s nuclear activities, imposing sanctions on Iranian export of heavy water and surplus enriched uranium. Less than a week later it imposed sanctions on Iran’s metal exports. 

And on May 5 the White House announced the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group was heading to the Arab-Persian Gulf “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian Regime.” Administration officials claimed it was in response to unspecified threats by Iranian forces. The deployment was part of the regular rotation of U.S. naval forces, but Washington exploited it to threaten Tehran. 

Washington continues to squeeze

“Any attack on U.S. interests will be met with unrelenting force,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, said May 8. He added, “Make no mistake, we are not seeking a fight with the Iranian regime.” 

On May 7, Pompeo called off a planned trip to Germany and went to Iraq. He spent four hours meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Iraqi President Barham Salih and other officials, as part of the U.S. attempt to increase the pressure on Tehran. 

He also went to Brussels for a meeting May 13 with officials of some European countries and met May 14 with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. 

In early April Trump designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, the first time a government military force has been placed on the list. The Revolutionary Guards are a key part of the counterrevolutionary bourgeois clerical regime’s moves to extend its influence in the region. 

On May 12, Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards air division, responded provocatively, saying an aircraft carrier with thousands of troops “was a serious threat for us in the past, but now it is a target and the threats have switched to opportunities.” 

But a spokesman for Major Gen. Hossein Salami, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, played down the threat of military confrontation. “The Americans have started a psychological war,” he said, “because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter.”