The US is applying pressure to get the Iranian regime to give more concessions.
As long as something doesn’t go wrong, that is precisely what will happen: the regime will give ground after making a show of being defiant. Things are more complicated than before because the US has people like John Bolton, the National Security Adviser, in charge of this policy.
Generally speaking, the US government is not intending to go to war. But obviously the more their military presence in the Gulf increases, the more miscalculations become likely. In any event, the worst scenario would be small skirmishes, rather than something like the invasion of Iraq, or anything near that. But obviously even smaller clashes could have repercussions in the region.
On the first anniversary of Trump pulling out of JCPOA (the Iran nuclear agreement), and after the US had said it would cancel the waivers which allowed a lot of countries, especially China, to buy oil from Iran, on 8 May the Iranian government gave 60 days’ notice that it would suspend some aspects of the agreement. It has given the Europeans, and to some extent Russia and China too, 60 days to come up with plans to allow some oil exports to continue.
The EU set up Instex in February 2019. It is supposed to be a parallel barter system to allow European companies to trade with Iran, initially for medical and humanitarian supplies. The EU says it should do its first transactions in the next few weeks, but nobody knows how effective it will be. When it gets going, the EU wants to expand it to other types of trade and other countries. This is an important moment for European imperialist countries.
The US is applying extra-territorial sanctions against Iran, and in a few months maybe against China: do they fall in with the Americans’ requests, or step out of US control? Officially, in front of the cameras, the Iranian regime is always defiant.
But they have always had back channels for discussions with the US, through Switzerland or Austria. Oman has also helped with this, and its foreign minister was in Tehran a few days ago. Inside Iran, social conflict has picked up. On Monday 13 May, there was a big demonstration by students outside Tehran university, mainly about the compulsory hejab rules. There have been more protests and arrests at Haft Tappeh.
Many areas were hit by the floods in March and April. The regime hasn’t done much to help. So people organised their own relief efforts independent of the state. The Workers’ Action Committee has been organising independent deliveries of provisions for some flood-affected people. The regime’s response has been to arrest the organisers. It has even brought in the al-Hashd ashSha’abi, the Shia militia force it set-up in Iraq, to control the unrest — threatening to use it against protesters.
These mercenaries are currently stationed in the south of Iran, in a region that includes the Haft Tappeh. As regards our political position, Marxists must not support this regime. This is a naked dictatorship of the capitalist class that even uses floods to smash any mass organisation independent of its state! Proletarian class independence has to be maintained no matter what happens.
• Morad Shirin is a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency, militaant.com.