The U.S. imperialist rulers’ threats and sanctions against Iran are a danger to working people here and across the Middle East. Washington sees the increased military and political sway the Iranian rulers have carved out in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen as the biggest obstacle to its imperialist interests in the region, and is determined to find ways to push Tehran back.
“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” President Donald Trump said May 19, while saying he didn’t want a war. This follows threats by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Washington would hold Tehran responsible for any actions taken by militias the Iranian rulers organize in countries across the region.
U.S. authorities ordered a partial evacuation of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad May 15, citing threats against them from Tehran-backed forces in Iraq, which the Iranian government denied. A May 19 rocket strike near the embassy, that no group took credit for, was denounced by Iraqi militias organized by Tehran.
The U.S. rulers have intensified their pressure to force Tehran to end its nuclear weapons program and to remove the militias the Iranian rulers use in their bloody intervention in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Washington has further tightened sanctions that have cut Iran’s oil exports more than in half, with disastrous consequences for workers and farmers there. There are growing shortages of medicine, meat and fuel in parts of the country. Bosses at hundreds of Iranian companies have suspended production and laid off thousands of workers, Reuters reported.
Over decades the U.S. rulers have failed to establish stable and subservient regimes through the series of wars they have inflicted on the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. They are not planning this kind of war against Iran at the moment. But their threats, vast military presence in the region, and tightening of sanctions raise tensions and can lead to sharper conflicts.
‘Hands off Iran! Lift sanctions!’
“Washington should get its hands off Iran!” Seth Galinsky, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New York City public advocate, told those he met as he marched in defense of women’s right to abortion near Wall Street May 21. “The U.S. rulers’ threats to Iran are an extension of their assaults on workers and farmers at home. Working people should demand an immediate end to U.S. sanctions.”
The only road for workers and farmers in Iran to fight for their own class interests is to get Washington off their backs, Galinsky explained.
Tehran has no intention of scaling back its military incursions in the region. The roots of this expansion lie in the rule of the Iranian capitalists at home. In the early 1980s they carried through a counterrevolution aimed at crushing massive struggles by workers, farmers, oppressed nationalities and women that exploded during and after the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed shah. Since then Tehran intervened in conflicts in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, establishing bases for militias and missiles and advancing its political reach. Tehran’s military intervention in Syria has propped up the tottering Bashar al-Assad dictatorship with tens of thousands of Hezbollah fighters. It has brought its military forces closer to Israel’s border and opened more routes for missiles to arm its ally in Lebanon.
Vice Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali Motahhari responded to Washington’s latest threats by saying that if Iran was attacked, Tehran would attack Israel. The Iranian rulers spew Jew-hatred, falsely claiming that the deadly conflicts bearing down on peoples across the region are caused by the existence of Israel and calling for its destruction.
Washington and Tehran back opposing sides in Yemen’s civil war. Tehran-backed Houthi forces there took credit for a drone attack against the Saudi monarch’s main oil pipeline May 14.
As the U.S. rulers press to drive Tehran’s forces back in the region, they have fewer allies to build a military coalition with among other imperialist powers than they did during wars they waged against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq in 1991 and 2003. The capitalist rulers in Germany and many other countries in Europe have let their military forces decline, hoping to compete with their rivals without any serious military force to back them up.
The governments of France, Germany and the U.K. opposed Washington’s decision to tighten sanctions on Iran, seeking instead to deal with Tehran’s expanding reach through talks. Capitalists in those countries, however, largely comply with the punitive measures.
The Spanish government pulled out its frigate from the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier Strike Group when Washington sent the naval force to the Arab-Persian Gulf.