Behind the US-Iran tension

Submitted by AWL on 20 June, 2019 - 10:45 Author: Morad Shirin
USvIran

Clearly the attacks on Norwegian and Japanese tankers off the Gulf of Oman on Thursday 14 June increase the risk of a miscalculation leading to military clashes in the region. However, these attacks were probably not carried out by any of the Iranian regime’s armed forces, not even the Pasdaran or a section of the Pasdaran (though that can’t be completely ruled out).

In order to assess them correctly we shouldn’t just zoom in on their level of sophistication but also follow up other factors, especially their political and diplomatic purpose. We have to ask: “Which state is going to benefit from delaying, or maybe even preventing, a deal?” That state is not the Iranian regime but one (or more) of US imperialism’s local allies. A regional power like Israel (although others can’t be ruled out) is probably behind them.

Given the economic and social situation, it is highly unlikely that the Iranian regime would do this — no matter what US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserts. The attacks justify US imperialism sending even more troops to the region, including an extra 1000 soldiers announced earlier this week. They also justify the $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and support for its military intervention in Yemen; building new Israeli settlements like Trump Heights in the Golan and carving up more of the West Bank; and repression by all US allies (like Egypt) in the region. The rising tension also keeps the price of oil above $60 a barrel, which helps not only the profits of the big oil companies but also of all sectors involved in facilitating this industry, like shipping, insurance and others.

The main thing to remember is that the media excitement and focus on the military aspect of US imperialism’s relationship with the Iranian regime ignores the long-standing back-channels of diplomacy and mutually beneficial economic concessions — including, for example, allowing Iraq to import Iranian gas for another three months, the IMF delegation that went to Iran a few weeks ago, and so on.

The economic pressure on the Iranian regime is constantly rising and the level of mass discontent, particularly among workers, keeps going up. Oil production has fallen below 227,000 barrels a month, the economy shrank by 4.9% last (Iranian) year, production of domestic appliances is at 25-30% of capacity, and so on.

Following the repression of Haft Tappeh and other strikes, and the May Day arrests, there was a lull in strikes and protests. But these are picking up again, particularly by the Pensioners’ Unity Group, who will be demonstrating in front of the regime’s parliament on 18 June. They have had solidarity messages from teachers, Haft Tappeh workers, Vahed bus drivers and so on. It is important to step up our solidarity work, not only supporting workers’ struggles, but also campaigning for the release of all political prisoners and jailed workers in Iran. Especially those involved in the Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane workers’ strike, like Esmail Bakhshi and Sepideh Gholian.

• Morad Shirin is a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency.

Comments

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 26/06/2019 - 09:20

Morad Shirin has casually speculated that Israel (or, perhaps, another regional power allied to the USA, but no other state is thought worthy of mention) is probably responsible for the attacks on the Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers.

No evidence is offered but rather a Galloway-style deduction based on which state would benefit from the most obvious suspect being punished. It isn’t often, thankfully, that this type of argument is promoted in the pages of Solidarity.

“We have to ask: “Which state is going to benefit from delaying, or maybe even preventing, a deal?” That state is not the Iranian regime but one (or more) of US imperialism’s local allies. A regional power like Israel (although others can’t be ruled out) is probably behind them.” 

This looks like fairly standard false-flag conspiracy theory. The same type of argument that it probably wasn't the Assad regime using chemical weapons in Syria, or that it wasn't Russian agents poisoning the Skripals? More likely another state trying to make those states look bad and provoke action against them! Or a government trying to boost its own popularity by deflecting negative attention elsewhere!

There is no reason for a default assumption that every covert military attack is carried out by one power in order to frame its adversary. There are usually good reasons why such a course of action would be fraught with risk. In particular, why would Israel risk its trading and diplomatic relations with Norway and Japan by getting found out covertly attacking their oil tankers just to provoke a more combative US stance towards Iran?

The explanation is given as follows:

".... The attacks justify... (Saudi Arabia's) military intervention in Yemen; building new Israeli settlements like Trump Heights in the Golan and carving up more of the West Bank; and repression by all US allies (like Egypt) in the region."

What a sweeping list of atrocious events that the tanker attacks will apparently "justify"! Obviously they are not justified in the mind of the writer, but how logically could even the most hawkish neo-con politician make such a justification? Israel has to build more West Bank settlements because Iran is attacking oil tankers?

Maybe they will try to make such a link. On the other hand, do they need to? The Saudi war in Yemen, the expansion of West Bank and Golan settlements by Israel, and the brutal repression in countries such as Egypt (and Saudi Arabia and other gulf states) have been going on for years, most of the above for decades, and with impunity. A new impetus is hardly needed now.

If there was evidence of Israel's involvement then that would be a different matter - and obviously Israel is not necessarily above such things. However, no such evidence has been presented.

As it is, this appears to be cheap, unsubstantiated speculation about, in this case, a very familiar theme. The characterisation of Israel as the arch-conspirator par excellence – covert, secretive, nefarious, manipulative – is at the heart of modern antisemitic conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, this is the poisonous narrative promoted by this article.

Israel is indeed responsible for many atrocities and is engaged in ongoing brutal and inexcusable oppression of the Palestinians. We know this because the evidence is there for all to see. Knowing this does not justify casual indulgence in suspicions (without any evidence) about Israel being behind covert military attacks in order to frame another state.

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