The Socialist 21 September 2006 |
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Growing tensions between the US and Iran are making
many people around the world fearful of a US military strike against the
Middle East country.
After the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded that
Iran failed to abide by a 31 August UN deadline to halt its uranium
enrichment programme, the Bush administration demanded UN sanctions
against the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
American officials also refer to the "military option". However, UN
Security Council members, Russia and China, which have important
economic links to Iran, resist sanctions. If there was no UN agreement,
the US may call for its allies to introduce economic blockades. In
response, the Iranian regime argues it is not developing nuclear power
to make weapons and it will not give in to the West.
The Ahmadinejad regime is regionally strong and confident. This is
due to Iran's oil wealth (it is the world's fourth largest oil
producer), the recent military debacle suffered by US-supported Israel
against the Iran-supported Hezbollah, and the powerful role of Iran's 'Shia
allies' in Iraq.
During Kofi Annan's recent visit to Tehran, the Iranian President
lectured the UN Secretary General about Iran's growing power in the
region and the world, compared to the "fading powers" of the US and
Britain, who were "paying a price for meddling in the Middle East".
President Ahmadinejad said he is willing to enter into negotiations
on Iran's nuclear programme but would not agree to suspend uranium
enrichment beforehand, as the UN Security Council had demanded.
Is Iran trying to develop nuclear arms, as the Western powers
claimed? Although Iran's supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khamenei,
issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons, it is possible that sections of
the Iranian ruling class want to build the bombs. However, the IAEA
failed to prove that there is a weapons programme.
THE WEST is supremely hypocritical: the major powers, like the US and
Britain, stockpile huge arsenals of nuclear weaponry. Iran is surrounded
by pro-US countries holding nuclear weapons, like Israel, Pakistan and
India. Like Iran, Brazil is a signed-up member to the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty, and announced it is now enriching uranium. But
there are no threats against Brazil's government, which is regarded as
friendly to the US.
Socialists oppose all nations, including Iran, possessing nuclear
arms. The purpose of these terrifying weapons is to wipe out millions of
innocent people and society's infrastructure.
Workers and youth can have no illusions that the Iranian regime, in
any way, acts in their interests. Despite his anti-imperialist and
populist rhetoric, President Ahmadinejad represents a reactionary,
theocratic, capitalist regime. US sabre-rattling allows the Tehran
regime to rally the population around "national unity".
The Bush administration regards Iran, part of the "axis of evil", as
a regime that stands in the way of US interests. US imperialism wants to
subdue Iran and the Middle East, to give the US domination of the
region's oil and gas resources. The administration resists attempts by
other powers to foster real negotiations with Iran.
Bush certainly wants "regime change" in Iran, but would he go as far
as to attack or even invade Iran? The Bush administration is a reckless
'executive' of the US ruling class, but even it can see that US
imperialism's options are limited. Already bogged down in the Iraq and
Afghanistan disasters, the superpower's military is hugely
Bush is no position to try another military invasion in Iran, which
is three times the size of Iraq and has a population of 70 million. A
land invasion would meet severe, mass resistance. Sections of the US
ruling class also counsel against military strikes.
However, as the crisis between the US and Iran escalates, and as Bush
desperately tries to regain domestic support by acting as a 'war
leader', it cannot be ruled out that the US would carry out air attacks
on Iran, possibly through Israel, acting as its proxy. This could lead
to an Iranian military response and armed actions by pro-Iranian forces,
like Hezbollah, in Lebanon, Hamas, in Palestinian areas, and the Shia
militias in Iraq.
Iran could restrict or turn off its oil supplies, causing shocks to
the world economy and even triggering a downturn. US air strikes would
provoke outrage across the Muslim world, threatening pro-US regimes in
the Middle East, like Egypt. Imperialist attacks would lead to more
The anti-war movement must strenuously oppose US imperialism's threats towards Iran and support the struggle by working people and youth in Iran fighting for democratic rights and their class interests. It is the task of the Iranian working class to overthrow the ruling theocracy, just as it is the task of the British or American working class to get rid of Blair and Bush, and to struggle for socialism.