Voices from the Editorial Collective
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
It is a matter of moral and political necessity that the planet’s progressive citizens speak out unambiguously against the U.S. aggression perpetrated against Iran and the danger of an Iran-U.S. war. The murder of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani was, at best, a reckless act by a desperate president, completely panicked about his impeachment. At worst, it was a declaration of war against a sovereign country which could lead to a much larger regional conflict.
One need not be a supporter of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran – and I am not – to recognize that the Trump Administration has engaged in consistent provocation, including but not limited to pulling out of the multilateral nuclear agreement signed by the United States, European Union, China, Russia and Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan). The global intelligence community consistently confirmed that Iran was never in violation of the agreement.
Yet, Trump, much as he has done in business, seemed to feel that it was his right to tear up a carefully constructed treaty simply because he did not like it. This insult to the global community was compounded by the reinstitution of sanctions against Iran, sanctions that have resulted in misery and death for people in Iran.
Predictably, the Iranians have pushed back. While many people outside of Iran may view sanctions as nonviolent, the reality is far from that. The sanctions against Iran have been violence shrouded in the language of hard bargaining.
Since it first came to power, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is and has been highly repressive. It has carried out policies antithetical to democracy, including repressing women, ethnic minorities and the political opposition. And, several times in the 40 years since the revolution, there have been mass movements that have arisen to challenge the regime, generally ending up being crushed.
Externally, the Iranian government, along with the Saudis, has engaged in what is called the “sectarianization” of conflict. They use the rhetoric of religion as a mask to disguise their regional ambitions. The Iranians use Shia Islam; and the Saudis use Wahabist Sunni Islam.
Respecting International Law
That said, the United States has no business in the region and has no business killing the leaders of another country, irrespective of the contentious relationship in existence. The United States cannot be permitted to hide behind claims of Iranian bad behavior nor human rights abuses in order to advance its aggressive, regional agenda.
The U.S. assassination of General Soleimani was the equivalent of an assassination of the U.S. Secretary of Defense or the head of the Central Intelligence Agency. Such an action violates international law. To this must be added the threats by the Trump administration to bomb Iranian cultural sites, acts that would be in violation of a 1954 treaty on that specific question.
The issue of U.S. involvement in the region is further highlighted by the vote of the Iraqi Parliament for the expulsion of all foreign forces from the country. Despite the fact that the vote was non-binding, this is highly significant. It was a call, not only for the withdrawal of U.S. forces but also Iranian forces. It was a demand for self-determination which should be respected by both the United States and Iran. And it is the job of those in the United States and among its allies to insist that the United States disengage and deescalate.
Role of the African World
Working people in the African World are confronted with two major tasks in this particular context. One, we must oppose further steps towards war. An Iran-U.S. war will be a disaster not only for the region but potentially the planet. It could throw the entire planet into an economic depression, not to mention that it could result in a massive scale of deaths from such a conflict.
Our second task must be to support working people in both Iran and Iraq in their respective struggles for peace, sovereignty and economic justice. These struggles need to be embraced even though they transcend the issues facing people of African descent in both Iraq and Iran. The struggles currently being waged for peace, sovereignty and economic justice in Iraq and Iran will most probably be suppressed by their governments in the name of national unity and preparation for war. Yet the underlying issues will not have evaporated and we must ensure that those in struggle know that they are not alone.
No to an Iran-U.S. war!
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the executive editor of globalafricanworker.com.
Caption: American Paratroopers deploy to the Middle East on January 4, 2020.
credit: Spc. Hubert Delany, 49th Public Affairs Detachment