The targeted assassination of Iran’s ‘indispensable’ Major General, Qasem Soleimani has been the most reckless imperialist act of war since the bombing of Syrian air bases.
Imperialism’s failure to subdue Syria’s legitimate government led by President Bashar al-Assad has greatly hindered the ruling class’s drive to war against Russia and China.
Such a drive to war entails bringing down defiant governments on the periphery of the two superpowers one by one. However the imperialists’ loss of the Syrian theatre quickly became a fatal setback to their grand strategy, leading them to acts of desperation.
The assassination of General Soleimani is a significant example of such an act of desperation. So desperate that the imperialist ruling class is willing to engage in acts of blatant and illegal aggression against Iran. It is by no means illogical or hyperbolic to suggest that the US is now in a state of de facto war with the country.
The loss of Soleimani is a tragic setback for the anti-imperialist united front, for it was Soleimani’s guidance that helped Syria and Iraq fight off the jihadist mercenaries of Isis and al-Nusra; it was Soleimani’s guidance that helped keep militant anti-imperialism alive and vibrant in Lebanon; it was Soleimani’s guidance that helped the Iraqi resistance do what they could to defend their country from the Nato occupiers.
Soleimani was a true veteran of the anti-imperialist fightback and an Iranian patriot of the highest order. The scale of the mourning across the region shows how much he was loved and valued by the people there. The best and only true way to honour his legacy is to bring the fight to our common oppressor here on the streets of Britain.
It is our humanitarian duty to hinder and harass our imperialist ruling class’s efforts in waging war upon any and all governments that defy imperialist rule. Former FBI agent Ali Soufan remembered Soleimani as being “responsible for the creation of an arc of influence – which Iran terms its ‘Axis of Resistance’ – extending from the Gulf of Oman through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea”.
US president Donald Trump did not just kill an Iranian general, he martyred a widely-loved man in the middle east; a symbol of anti-imperialist resistance. On hearing the news, Iranian demonstrators held up his portrait with the words “Suleimani may have, with his death, already have achieved the greatest revenge of all.” Let his fine example inspire us to strengthen and temper ourselves to wage a real war against terrorism and imperialism.
Iran vows retaliation for the murder, and it is our vital duty in response to support Iran in its defensive war against imperialism, no matter how loud our bourgeois imperialist media beats the drums of war.
Though we oppose war, we stand by Iran’s right to defend itself by any means necessary. It is our duty to organise in our communities with those who are serious about taking grassroots anti-war action, especially now that the Labour party will return to the clutches of Blairism.
Join us at this public meeting on Friday to discuss the building of a serious anti-war movement in Britain.
We publish this not as an attack on Media Lens, whose work we value and respect, but as an exposure of the debilitating ideological castration that separates peace-loving people in the imperialist countries from adopting a class position on questions of war and peace; from turning imperialist war into a war on imperialism, from taking a resolute stand with the oppressed against the oppressors and unifying the workers in the imperialist countries with their brothers and sisters who resist in the oppressed countries.
1) Dear Media Lens
I was horrified to see the extent to which the imperialist bias that you make it your business to expose in corporate journalism has infected your own view of events in Syria.
In your recent article on the chemical weapons propaganda, you felt constrained to emphasise twice — at the beginning and at the end of your article — that President Assad of Syria is a ‘war criminal’. And, just like the journalists you excoriate, you offered not a shred of evidence for this assertion.
Near the beginning of your article you wrote, by way of an apology for criticising the corporate media’s ‘house lefties’:
The point is not that Aaronovitch, Hasan and Monbiot are wrong – the Assad dictatorship has committed many horrific war crimes, and may have again in Ghouta.
And at the end, having yourself referred to just some of the evidence that, when put together, makes it quite clear that the Syrian government did NOT carry out the recent chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, you undermined your whole article with the following statement:
Again, none of this means that the Syrian government, and indeed Assad himself, was not to blame for the August 21 attacks.
For any right-thinking person not infected with colonial prejudice, it is perfectly clear to see that President Assad is a popular, unifying leader in a country that has faced escalating hostility from imperialism for decades.
He heads a government that has been freely elected and which comprises members of many parties —a national-unity coalition, in fact. Syria’s government is far more democratic and representative than our own. Did you know that 50 percent of the seats in the Syrian parliament are reserved for workers? Since you so casually refer to it as a ‘dictatorship’ — as if that was established fact — I can only assume that you did not.
President Assad’s only ‘crime’ is to be the leader of a nation that has refused to ‘know its place’. He unites people from all backgrounds and presides over a much-valued secular state in a region where sectarian hatred has been deliberately fostered (and armed) by outsiders for generations.
Anti-imperialist, independent Syria has stood up to US and British corporate and military interests and to zionism. It has given real, physical support to Palestinian and Iraqi resistance and refugees — at great cost to itself. It has spent its resources on providing free education and health care, on keeping food prices low, and on limiting the activities of the very bloodsucking international corporations you also claim to oppose. It has refused to allow its people to become yet more disposable sweatshop-fodder for the world’s financial elite.
For decades, Syria has stood side by side with Iran and the Lebanese resistance to form a counterweight against Israeli (and therefore imperialist) dominance of the Middle East. It has supported countries all over the world — through both trade and diplomacy — that are trying to carve an independent furrow and lift their people out of the superexploited poverty that western imperialists have consigned them to.
So why should it be that you, who claim to want peace and harmony in the world, and an end to the domination of the imperialist corporations, have such a knee-jerk,hostilereaction to a leader and a government who are actually putting your supposed programme into action by standing up to the forces of imperialism? Why are you so quick to come down against David and agree with Goliath?
The only answers I can come up with are laziness and prejudice. You must have relied on vested interests for information in order to so casually refer to ‘dictator Assad’. And you would seem also to have accepted the right of the free-market fundamentalists who control our media to judge and label their opponents.
But any schoolboy critic of the system can tell you that words like ‘dictator’ and ‘undemocratic’ when used by our corporate media are simply code for ‘uppity native getting in the way of our profit-taking’. Can it be that, despite all your years of opposing the propaganda machine, this simple truth has so far eluded you?
Be that as it may, since you have set yourselves up as an independent voice that purports to expose the bias of the corporate media, it behoves you to find out the truth about the people that the West is demonising. And even if you can’t be bothered to to that, it ought to be a very minimum requirement that you not make categoric statements like ‘the Assad dictatorship has committed many horrific war crimes’ without backing them up.
I can assure you, if you think you have evidence, there are plenty of people out there who can help you see through it. Like so much of today’s propaganda, it will turn out to be paper thin.
Over the years, I have subsidised your work (when able), read your books and bought them for friends, followed your alerts and forwarded/shared them around. I have considered the work you do to be extremely useful to progressive humanity. You have written many things I disagreed with, but I considered you to be thoroughly critical in your thinking and aware that the narrative passed down to us by officially-sanctioned history books and the corporate media is written by vested interests and aimed at keeping us quiescent in the face of Britain’s hideous imperial crimes.
Which only makes your refusal to recognise the lies being told about President Assad and the Syrian government more baffling and disappointing.
I very much hope you will publish a full retraction of statements that — whether you mean them to or not — are reinforcing the lies of the corporate war propaganda machine, and therefore supporting what you yourselves have identified as a criminal war effort.
Thanks for your email and support in the past.
Assad is certainly not head of the kind of system we would consider democratic. We’re not alone in that view. Noam Chomsky has commented:
‘First of all, Israel was not opposed to Assad. He has been more or less the kind of dictator they wanted.’
‘The authorities remained intolerant of dissent. Those who criticized the government, including human rights defenders, faced arrest and imprisonment after unfair trials, and bans from travelling abroad. Some were prisoners of conscience. Human rights NGOs and opposition political parties were denied legal authorization. State forces and the police continued to commit torture and other ill-treatment with impunity, and there were at least eight suspicious deaths in custody.’
“But any schoolboy critic of the system can tell you that words like ‘dictator’ and ‘undemocratic’ when used by our corporate media are simply code for ‘uppity native getting in the way of our profit-taking’.”
That’s often true but the corporate media doesn’t have a monopoly on the use, or intended meaning behind the use, of particular words. We can use the same words without intending anything of the sort. We have often quoted Ralph Nader on the US political system:
‘We have a two-party dictatorship in this country. Let’s face it. And it is a dictatorship in thraldom to these giant corporations who control every department agency in the federal government.’
In quoting Nader, we didn’t intend to suggest that the US was an uppity native getting in the way of profit-taking.
“For any right-thinking person not infected with colonial prejudice, it is perfectly clear to see that President Assad is a popular, unifying leader in a country that has faced escalating hostility from imperialism for decades.”
We didn’t say Assad wasn’t popular or unifying. We’ve often pointed out that Syria has faced escalating attacks from external forces of the kind you’re describing. We wrote that the Assad dictatorship ‘has committed many horrific war crimes’. That’s really undeniable. For example, Robert Fisk has cited Syrian army officers who made it very clear that they had not been taking prisoners. The Syrian air force has clearly been bombing civilian areas, also a war crime, and so on. As in any war, the government and head of government are responsible for all crimes of this kind.
DE Media Lens
3) Dear Media Lens
From your reply it’s clear that you are relying on supporters of the system for your information.
‘Human rights NGOs’ are usually backed by the same corporations who control the rest of our media. They are the missionaries of our time, clearing the way for imperial crimes by preaching to the oppressed and spreading slanders about them while pretending to be ‘independent’ of the imperial machine.
They present themselves as ‘neutral arbiters’, but a hefty proportion of what they put out is outright lies, while the rest is distorted through the mirror of western corporate interests.
And who appointed these western ‘NGOs’ as arbiters of rights anyway? Isn’t the first right of people everywhere to be allowed to live in peace? To just live??? Amnesty International led the war propaganda effort for the destruction of Libya with total lies. Its leaders loudly and shamelessly laid the groundwork for a genocide against black Libyans and the almost total destruction of 40 years of civilisational advance — then quietly retracted their lies when the war was over. MSF have been doing the same in Syria by spreading unfounded lies about the use of chemical weapons based on nothing but the say-so of Nato’s death squads.
Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky are similar ‘left-wing’ imperialists of the type that you are usually quite good at spotting. They are ‘safe’ critics because they never question the really big lies on which the whole ideological edifice of this rotten system rests. If they weren’t such tame critics, you probably would never have have heard of them! I know you have a thing for Chomsky, but I would not rely on him for information for a second. In the case of Syria, he reinforces the western narrative by describing the terror gangs there as a legitimate liberation struggle that has been forced to arm itself. So yes actually, it is perfectly deniable that President Assad is the author of ‘horrific war crimes’ — not only Assad and Syria deny it, but so do most of progressive and oppressed humanity.
There is no civil war in Syria. The US, British and French imperialists are fighting a PROXY WAR. Civilians caught up in terrorist campaigns universally report on how many foreign accents and even languages there are amongst the fighters — who have mostly been drafted in from abroad. These mercenaries are not patriots. They have been trained by their masters to be utterly brutal (ie, killing and kicking out huge numbers of civilians from their homes, kidnapping young children and using chemical weapons on them in order to take photos and blame the deaths on the Syrian government). They recognise no rules of engagement. No crime is too barbaric for them. They are true servants of the Nato nazis.
Syria is fighting for its life as an independent and proud nation against the most powerful forces this planet has ever seen. Are you really saying that you (or Robert Fisk, come to that) are in a position to judge their tactics? One brutal battle where some bloody nasty terrorists got killed does not make the leader of a government into a war criminal. Especially when that government is trying to defend its people’s fundamental right to life by standing up against a criminal onslaught. They are trying not to become the next Afghanistan, the next Palestine, the next Congo, the next Iraq or the next Libya. They are trying to prevent the next middle-eastern genocide.
Do you think the Syrian government would remain popular if it was seen to be bombing its own civilians? Does that actually make sense if you stop to think about it? Why are the Syrian army greeted everywhere as liberators if that’s how they conduct warfare?
There has been a difficulty with ‘democratic freedoms’ in Syria. Where is there not? In Syria’s case, these limitations were a direct result of imperialist and zionist warfare, not the random whim of some mythical ‘evil tyrant’. Countries that stand up to imperialism are forced to take defensive measures. They are under constant attack on all fronts all the time – economically, militarily, via the media and through sabotage and infiltration. In order to allow people to keep going to school, to keep living in their subsidised housing, eating their subsidised food and using their free hospitals, the government had to protect the system that provided those from collapse at the hands of outside agents.
Think Britain during WW2. The country was in a state of emergency. People were asked to be vigilant against alien activity. Democracy was curtailed. Were there good reasons for it? Did the people understand it? Would you therefore characterise Churchill’s government as a brutally oppressive regime of war criminals? [In fact, it’s a bad comparison, as Churchill really was a war criminal and a nasty racist piece of work, but you take my point, I hope.]
Syria has been in a state of emergency, a state of war, since Israel occupied the Golan Heights. It has been constantly infiltrated by spies and saboteurs and, of course, some Syrians are in the pay of these forces. Do you honestly believe that a country under such attack should not take any steps to defend itself? Would you like to see imperialism being given free reign to control every corner of the planet? How do you expect countries to defend themselves if not by ‘oppressing’ those who want to hand the country over to the forces of free-market fundamentalism?
But it is not the job of peace-lovers and anti-imperialists to condemn the victim for trying to stop a crime. We should be pointing our fingers at the criminals and exposing their dastardly activities, not helping them to justify their vicious attacks.
The imperialists are angry only because the measures such states take to protect themselves are to a certain extent effective against their attempts to effect regime change from within, by subversion and manipulation. ‘We should be able to control your political and economic life’ is what calls by the imperialists for ‘open government and democracy’ really amount to. They are total doublespeak. Is it really so hard to see that?
Are you aware that the genuine ‘popular protests’ that the West homed in on and infiltrated as an excuse to trigger its proxy war were against market reforms that had been forced through by the IMF? Did you know that a structural adjustment programme had opened up parts of the economy to corporate investors and led to higher prices and unemployment? That the demonstrations were essentially a result of Syria having made concessions to the great economic pressure that has been brought to bear for decades by the imperialists?
Did you know that the real protestors considered President Assad to be on their side in their call for greater democracy (a lightening of the state of emergency) and for a return to a more nationalised economy and better opportunities for young people? Did you know that the mass of people backed a new constitution two years ago and back the government today? If you knew these facts you would not be so quick to believe the stupid lies about Assad ‘clamping down’ on protestors, ‘firing on his own people’, etc etc.
It is documented that terrorist snipers and armed men attacked police at faked ‘protests’ in order to portray the government as ‘brutal’ and justify their impending war — a war that has been in the planning for at least a decade.
Governments get demonised by the West precisely when they do manage to stand up for themselves and protect their people. While imperialism exists in the world, people will have to find ways to deal with that reality. They didn’t create the situation. They didn’t ask to be in the firing line. I’m sure they would like nothing better than to be left the hell alone to develop their economy and their culture in peace.
But that’s not what happens is it?
Why are we in the imperialist countries allowed to identify with the nobly vanquished victim and loudly wish that the world was not so unjust, but not to give any real support to those who are trying not to be the next victims of this barbaric system? Should we not be pulling out all the stops to help those on the front line who are actually doing something to change the balance of forces in favour of the oppressed?
And if Assad is popular, unifying and freely elected, where the hell do you get off calling him a ‘dictator’?
It’s time to dig a little deeper and decide which side you are really on. There are no neutral arbiters in this world.
Maddened by its own crisis, imperialism is being driven ever deeper into war. The targets currently singled out for aggression, in particular by Washington, London and Tel Aviv, are the independent and anti-imperialist nations of Syria and Iran.
From “peaceful protesters” to “freedom fighters”
Ever since Syria’s first stirrings of unrest began in the spring, the imperialist media bust a gut trying to convince us all that what was at issue was a spontaneous popular democratic revolt on Cairo lines, pitting unarmed peaceful protestors against a homicidal response from the state’s armed forces. All the information to the contrary that leaked in round the edge via PressTV, Russia Today and elsewhere was studiously ignored. No matter what such sources revealed about the smuggling of weapons into rebel hands, the manipulation of protest marches by armed fundamentalist gangs or the sighting of terrorist snipers on the rooftops, none of this sufficed to shake the media hounds from their dogged allegiance to the imperialist mantra: the opposition was peaceful, the government alone employed force.
However, when in October the US and Europe tried to push through a UN Security Council resolution of the type so recently employed as a pretext for massacring Libya, China and Russia vetoed the proposal. Thus deprived of a diplomatic pretext for direct intervention, and with the fiction about universal peaceful protest versus armed tyranny wearing ever thinner, the propaganda line abruptly changed gear. Instead of persisting with denials about the violent character of the “democratic opposition”, a new spate of attacks on the security forces was now admitted, celebrated and given out as supposed evidence of imminent mass defections from the army.
So it was that we came to be told that on 16 November the Air Force Intelligence HQ in a suburb of Damascus had been bombed. The self-styled “Syrian National Council” (SNC), from its haven in Turkey, claimed this terror attack on behalf of the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA). Then on 20 November the same terrorists were “credited” with having launched an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) attack on the Ba’ath Socialist Party’s offices in the centre of Damascus.
The day after this act of terror, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague met opposition leaders in London and declared that regime change would be “the best thing for the future of Syria”. Meanwhile the economic blackmail went up another notch, as on 27 November the reactionaries controlling the Arab League imposed a new swathe of sanctions intended to starve Syria of trade and investment and a few days later Turkey froze (i.e. stole) the financial assets held by the Damascus government and blocked all transactions with the country’s central bank.
On 2 December terrorist gangs attacked a military intelligence base in Idlib, in the north west of the country, reportedly slaughtering at least eight soldiers. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also claimed and that thirteen people had suffered injuries in the course of an attack on an air force intelligence centre in the port city of Latakia. Then, suitably geed up by talks between the opposition and Hillary Clinton in Geneva on 6 December, two days later armed gangs blew up a pipeline bearing oil from the east of the country to a Homs refinery in the west.
As this article is written, the rebels continue to feed the media with new tales of murderous derring-do, here gloating over the claimed slaughter of at least eight soldiers in the ambush of an army convoy on the outskirts of Hama, there exulting over another 7 soldiers slain by so-called “defectors”. Whatever the truth of these bloodcurdling assertions, it is true indeed that over 2,000 members of the security forces have already sacrificed their lives for the cause of Syria’s unity and independence. 13 December alone saw another 17 military funerals, and doubtless there will be more such victims of western backed terror by the time this goes to press.
Lacking support in Syria, the rebellion is weak and divided
However, the problem for the SNC quislings-in-waiting and their snipers and bombers in the supposed “Free Syria Army” is that, when they step out of the shadows, they cut a less than convincing figure. They clamour for the UN to impose a “no fly zone”, conspire with France and Turkey to establish “buffer zones” and “humanitarian corridors”, all transparently aimed at securing the kind of “humanitarian intervention” which resulted in Libya getting bombed for eight months and seeing her people delivered into the hands of western-backed lynch mobs and terror gangs. But the harder they clamour for assistance from the West (and from reactionaries in the Arab League, Turkey and Israel), the clearer it becomes just how minimal is the support which these RPG-toting “democrats” actually enjoy in the country to which they lay claim.
Contrary to the media pretence that the root of the troubles is sectarian antagonism between a minority Shi’ite Alawite government and a majority Sunni population, the Ba’athist-led National Progressive Front coalition governs the country on a secular basis. It is precisely this secular policy which broadens Assad’s appeal across confessional boundaries, in a country which includes Sunni, Alawite, Christian and Druze citizens. It is a telling feature of Syria’s progressive character that the majority of her people identify themselves first of all as Syrians, and only secondarily by considerations of religious background. Conversely, it is those who seek to undermine Syria’s anti-imperialist tradition, promoting the most obscurantist and reactionary religious forms as a cloak for imperialist meddling, who seek to undermine national unity and stir up sectarianism – just as in Iraq and Libya.
Happily, the rebels themselves, just like the Libyan rebels before them, are disunited to a degree which severely embarrasses their benefactors in the West. Foreign Secretary Hague, meeting with SNC contras in November, begged his protégés to botch together at least an appearance of unity, piously intoning that, “At an extreme moment in their nation’s history, it is important for opposition groups to be able to put aside their own differences and come to a united view of the way forward.” To assist in this exercise in stitching together damp blotting paper, Hague has reportedly appointed an “ambassador-designate” to lead liaison efforts.
Claims that the FSA are composed primarily of Syrian army defectors (as opposed to mercenaries released by the US from jails in Iraq and armed by the West) seem dubious, even judging from some capitalist press reports. In a story published on the Guardian website on 11 December (‘Inside Syria: the rebel calls for arms and ammunition’), Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports on his encounters with rebel fighters in the mountainous north of the country. What they have to tell him is revealing. The people outside Syria (i.e. the Turkish-based SNC) “have no weight on the ground”, whilst those fighting inside Syria “don’t have a Benghazi” (i.e. a solid base of support for counterrevolution). The fighter gestures to his fellows, telling the journalist, “Look at all these men in this room. I didn’t know any of them before March and they didn’t know me. I don’t trust them and they don’t trust me.” As for defections, he tells Abdul-Ahad, “I don’t count on major defections in the army” – the only way you’d get that, he says, would be to have a no fly zone where people could hide from the security forces. Another fighter tells him that “There is no such thing as a Free Syria Army. It’s a joke. The real revolutionaries are here in Syria in the mountains.” However this “real revolutionary” confesses that his own morale is below zero, claiming “people are getting killed – yet still there are no defections in the army”. Interestingly, he ascribes this state of affairs to the “ideological” cohesion of the army, controlled by the political officers of the Ba’ath. He concludes despairingly that “Even if a general did defect, he wouldn’t defect with his tanks and soldiers, he would defect on his own.” The message is clear: these “patriots” would sell their country to the West in exchange for assistance in overthrowing Assad. Without such assistance, they would stand as little a chance of success as their toy soldier counterparts in Libya had stood – before NATO was transformed into their own private Luftwaffe.
Assad stands firm
Meanwhile, beyond all the media ballyhoo about the rebels, ordinary Syrians have been getting on with business as usual. The four-yearly local government elections kicked off in mid-December, with 42,000 candidates standing for 17,000 seats. The successful candidates will be responsible for implementing the reforms which the government has announced over recent months in response to legitimate public criticism. Just how little the West-backed opposition really cares about such reforms, other than as an arbitrary pretext for undermining the stability of the anti-imperialist state, is shown by the fact that they have chosen to boycott these elections. Damascus has long since committed to these reforms, and from the outset has welcomed even the Arab League proposal to send observers into Syria – so long as this is not accompanied by the enforcement of sanctions against the Syrian people. The League’s stubborn refusal to take yes for an answer shows how dishonestly intended was the original proposal.
No less an authority than the Jewish Chronicle gives a flavour of just how dismal would be the prospects of the much-vaunted rebellion were it obliged to rely upon support from the broad masses of Syrian society, rather than hiding behind the skirts of imperialist backers. In an article penned by John R. Bradley (‘Syrian revolt faces secular opposition’, 1 December 2011), the author notes that “when it comes to the Assad regime, greatly exaggerated reports of its imminent demise have been a steady staple of the Western media for nine months and counting”, whereas the “truth is that, in and of themselves, economic sanctions by the Arab League will make no difference to Assad’s chances of survival in the medium term, which are far higher than most Western commentators believe…”
Bradley continues, “If a popular uprising against Assad had ever been on the cards, it would have already happened. In fact, all the evidence suggests that he still enjoys massive support among the mostly secular Syrian population, who rightly fear that the only alternative to their long-faced president is an extraordinarily vicious and prolonged civil war… the West and its regional allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey appear determined to orchestrate an armed revolutionary uprising, with the Arab League sanctions aimed at deepening the divide between Assad and his people. If that comes to pass, Assad and his military backers will fight to the death, and the resulting civil war in religiously and ethnically complex Syria would make the Libyan revolution look like a high-school prom. But with the same eventual outcome: the triumph of Wahhabi-funded and controlled Islamist militias.”
UPDATE: 30 December:
When the Arab League finally sent its monitors, those who had clamoured hardest for the observer mission to be sent then promptly began to rubbish the mission’s findings – because the monitors took one look at Homs and reported that, contrary to the horror stories retailed by anonymous “activists”, the overall situation was “reassuring”, with a few armoured cars on the street but none of the myriad tanks alleged by the rebels! This was not at all what the rebels and their puppet-masters had expected. In an attempt at damage-limitation they claimed that (a) all the tanks must have been cunningly withdrawn, and that in any case (b) the leader of the mission was connected with the Sudanese government so was bound to be lying. As we go to press, the rebels are doing their best to turn the mission’s visits back into the pro-Western propaganda opportunity that was intended. It will take an awful lot of manufactured photo opportunities to undo the damage, however.
Meanwhile the same toxic mix of black propaganda, diplomatic arm-twisting, economic blackmail, covert war and threat of direct attack being brought to bear upon Syria is likewise being endured by Iran. A fresh round in the diplomatic harassment of Iran was signalled by the publication on 8 November of a new report from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), the UN body responsible for ensuring that countries signed up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) comply with treaty requirements. Iran is a willing signatory; Israel has consistently refused to sign. Yet the Zionists have “proliferated” without let or hindrance from the “international community”, and have long since been in possession of the nuclear bomb – an estimated 200 fully operational bombs to be precise. When one of its own scientists, Mordecai Vanunu, had the courage to blow the whistle on Israel’s WMD, he was kidnapped abroad and slammed into solitary for years whilst that same “international community” sat on its hands. By contrast Iran, a willing signatory to the NPT, has been hounded for years by imperialist powers hell-bent on abusing the IAEA’s compliance procedures as a means of violating Iran’s sovereignty and impeding her work in the fields of nuclear energy and medical science.
For years, attempts to force the IAEA to lend its authority to Washington’s unproven allegations about Tehran’s supposed pursuit of a Persian nuclear bomb were frustrated by an IAEA which was not disposed to be so entirely under the US thumb as the White House desired. Whilst IAEA investigations on Iranian soil were no less intrusive than those to which Iraq was subjected in the farcical quest for non-existent WMD, that body’s former chief, Mohammed ElBaradei, steadfastly drew the line at lending credence to Washington’s baseless claims against Iran.
Over a lengthy period, Washington left no stone unturned in its single-minded quest for non-existent evidence. Veteran journalist Seymour Hersh details this frantic search in Democracy Now! “Cheney kept on having the Joint Special Operations Force Command, JSOC — they would send teams inside Iran. They would work with various dissident groups – the Azeris, the Kurds, even Jundallah, which is a very fanatic Sunni opposition group – and they would do everything they could to try and find evidence of an undeclared underground facility. We monitored everything. We have incredible surveillance. In those days, what we did then, we can even do better now. And some of the stuff is very technical, very classified, but I can tell you, there’s not much you can do in Iran right now without us finding out something about it. They found nothing. Nothing. No evidence of any weaponization. In other words, no evidence of a facility to build the bomb. They have facilities to enrich, but not separate facilities for building a bomb. This is simply a fact. We haven’t found it, if it does exist. It’s still a fantasy.” (cited by Media Lens, 24 November)
In the absence of evidence, Washington desperately needed the second-best outcome: a lying testimonial from the IAEA carrying the cachet of UN legitimacy. When ElBaradei ended his stint at the IAEA in 2009, Washington saw its chance. The US went into overdrive to get somebody more pliable into place, lobbying frantically to shoehorn a rank outsider, Yukiya Amano, into the top post. Amano’s chief qualification for the job is simple to spot: an overweening eagerness to please his masters in Washington. A secret cable from the US Embassy in Vienna, released by WikiLeaks, gloated that Amano accounted himself “solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.” Another US cable speaks of a revealing encounter with the new boy. “This meeting, Amano’s first bilateral review since his election, illustrates the very high degree of convergence between his priorities and our own agenda at the IAEA. The coming transition period provides a further window for us to shape Amano’s thinking before his agenda collides with the IAEA Secretariat bureaucracy.” (For “bureaucracy”, read, anyone at IAEA still possessed of a shred of integrity.)
Hersh cites the views of Robert Kelley, a retired IAEA director, on the supposed “credible” evidence referenced in the 8 November report. Kelley “noted that hundreds of pages of material appear to come from a single source: a laptop computer, allegedly supplied to the IAEA by a Western intelligence agency, whose provenance could not be established. Those materials, and others, ‘were old news,’ Kelley said, and known to many journalists. ‘I wonder why this same stuff is now considered ‘new information’ by the same reporters.’” No such obvious questions troubled the authors of the IAEA report, who claimed that it now had “credible” evidence that “indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
With the 8 November IAEA report, Washington won at best a Pyrrhic victory, having effectively destroyed the credibility of the very body whose endorsement it so relied upon. Pocketing the IAEA report, on 18 November Washington managed to steam-roller through the IAEA’s Board of Governors a resolution expressing “deep and increasing concern about the unresolved issues regarding the Iranian nuclear program, including those which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions.”
However, Washington had failed to get Iran reported to the Security Council or to impose a deadline for Tehran to comply with the latest hectoring demands. Clearly the need was felt to ratchet up the campaign of intimidation another notch. To this end, on 21 November, the US, Britain and Canada announced unilateral sanctions against Iran’s banking and energy sectors. France put in a sly kick too, urging world powers to boycott Iranian oil and freeze (i.e. steal) her financial assets. China and Russia have joined Iran in denouncing these new sanctions.
The Dirty War
Meanwhile, behind all this fabrication of evidence and diplomatic bullying, imperialism has long been engaging in a brutal campaign of espionage, terrorism, assassination and sabotage against Iran, culminating most recently in mysterious explosions at a key defence installation and a uranium reprocessing facility.
Leading Iranian scientists have long been targeted for assassination. Recent examples include the car bombs that claimed the lives of two university professors, Majid Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi, and the booby-trapped motorcycle that slew another professor, Masoud Ali-Mohammadi. Now, with rival Republican contenders for the US presidency striving to outdo each other in fascist zeal, the “secret” war against Iran is the best advertised in history. According to AFP (8 December 2011), Newt Gingrich “proposed at a November 12 debate that Washington kill Iranian scientists and disrupt Tehran’s suspect nuclear program – ‘all of it covertly, all of it deniable’. In that same forum, Santorum said the United States must do ‘whatever it takes to make sure’ Iran does not develop a nuclear program — then wondered whether Washington may already be heavily involved in doing just that. ‘There have been scientists turning up dead in Russia and in Iran. There have been computer viruses. There have been problems at their facility. I hope that the United States has been involved with that,’ he said. ‘I hope that we have been doing everything we can, covertly, to make sure that that program doesn’t proceed.’”
There can be no doubt that Washington, London and Tel Aviv are already up to the neck in dirty tricks without the need for further prompting from the Tea Baggers. The “computer viruses” to which Santorum referred clearly has in mind the Stuxnet cyber assault on Iran’s nuclear programme launched last year. Nor are the attacks confined to cyberspace. In mid November a missile testing base near Tehran suffered a blast which reportedly killed over 30 members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, including a leader of Iran’s missile programme, Major General Hassan Moqqadam. Time Magazine, on 13 November 2011, said this was the work of Mossad. Then at the end of November there was a further blast, this time at a uranium processing plant in Isfahan. Israel’s former director of national security, Major-General Giora Eiland, bragged that the explosion was no accident, adding that “There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God.” (cited in ‘Shadow War Heating Up. War with Iran: A Provocation Away?’ by Tom Burghardt, 7 December: www. projectworldawareness.com) Curiously, none of the dirty tricks practiced by Washington and Tel Aviv excites anything like the manufactured outrage which greeted the B-movie fiction spun around a non-existent Iranian government plot to bump off the Saudi ambassador to the US.
29 November demonstration against British Embassy
The self-appointed guardians of democratic western values send saboteurs and death squads into other people’s countries at will, safe in the knowledge that the “international community” will not raise a finger to stop them. But just let some enraged Iranian students lob a few bricks at the British Embassy and pitch a portrait of the Queen out of the window and the UN Security Council cannot restrain its righteous indignation, condemning the demo “in the strongest terms”. William Hague whinged that Iran had “committed a grave breach” of the Vienna convention.
Obama declared himself “deeply disturbed” by what had happened, the German foreign minister fulminated against this “violation of international law”, whilst his French counterpart agreed that “the Iranian regime has shown what little consideration it has for international law”.
When we consider the continuous and flagrant breaches of international law being committed by imperialism in relation to Iran, with or without the cloak of UN “legitimacy”, it is not hard to comprehend the rage which this arouses in the patriotic youth. So far from acting as the simple agents of the government, as the western media pretend, the demonstrators in the end could only be restrained by the government’s own security forces using teargas to clear the embassy compound, such is the depth of popular revulsion at what is being attempted against the country’s sovereignty. (Need we add that, had the demonstrators instead got themselves tear-gassed protesting against Ahmadi-Nejad, they would at once have been hailed by the bourgeois media as peaceful democrats cruelly repressed by a tyrannical regime.)
Iran stands firm
Imperialist aggression against both Syria and Iran is driven not only by the desire to humble an anti-imperialist force and strengthen and extend the stranglehold on resources and markets in the middle east, but also by the strategic goal of containing Russia and China. China in particular, whose socialist foundations have permitted a rapid return to steady growth after an initial blip occasioned by a degree of exposure to the crisis-ridden world market, is well placed to engage in mutually beneficial trade relations with third world countries anxious to escape domination by crisis-stricken imperialism. China champions Iran’s right to develop its civil nuclear industry, and neither China nor Russia has any interest in collaborating with the West’s sanctions campaign. These realities constitute an unwelcome stumbling block for the warmongers.
Such considerations, taken together with the courageous anti-colonial resistance being mounted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Somalia, all add to the perils awaiting the warmongers should they persist. Nor would it be wise for imperialism to dismiss lightly Iran’s own ability to defend herself, even without the bomb she is accused of coveting. The recent successful downing of an advanced US RQ-170 drone over the eastern part of the country, one of many drones in routine violation of Iranian airspace, not only exposes US covert operations and demonstrates Tehran’s vigilance but also delivers sensitive military intelligence into anti-imperialist hands. Already back in the summer the Iranians not only showed visiting Russian experts a number of other drones which had previously been shot down, but also displayed some model drones which they had contrived to design through reverse engineering! Obama’s risible plea for the return of his spy plane deserves, and has been accorded, nothing but contempt.
The struggle of the Syrian and the Iranian people to defend themselves, by contrast, deserves the warmest support from all those in the anti-imperialist movement, not least those resisting imperialism within the belly of the beast itself. After all, who better upholds the anti-capitalist aims of the Occupy Movement than those brave students who dared to occupy the British Embassy in Tehran? Their own letter to the press, relayed by the Fars news agency, makes the case admirably.
“‘We have occupied the British embassy to voice support for the 99 percenters of the world and in opposition to the policies of the world arrogance,’ the letter said on Saturday. ‘We as the students who have occupied the British embassy in Tehran announce explicitly that we are standing for our historical decision and will humiliate Britain and make it regret,’ it added. The Iranian students called on … people across the world to attack the interests of Britain in their region and stop London from looting their countries and nations any further.” (Fars, 3 December, ‘British Embassy Occupation Meant to Voice Support for World 99 Percenters’)
By giving active solidarity to those who stand in defence of Iran, Syria and other anti-imperialist countries under attack, we will strengthen our hand against the same imperialist enemy which is currently demolishing welfare, looting jobs and driving us into poverty and war. The national democratic struggle against imperialist oppression that is being waged by these nations enormously strengthens the world struggle for proletarian revolution.
Victory to anti-imperialist Syria!
Victory to anti-imperialist Iran!
Death to imperialism!
You get more anti-imperialist analysis with cpgb-ml and red youth!
On Monday 5 December, Stop the War Coalition held a rally at Conway Hall headlined Don’t Attack Iran. Everyone in the hall (apart from the usual smattering of MI5 agents) was in agreement: none of us wanted to see Iran attacked.
From the platform, a very frail looking Tony Benn spoke first, confiding to us that when he was minister for energy (years ago when even I was young), some unidentified bloke in his ministerial office had helped Israel to “British” nuclear secrets. If that wasn’t bad enough, Benn also found out and all the “waste” plutonium from “our” civil nuclear industry had been secretly shipped off to America to make nuclear bombs.
Benn said he hadn’t found out about either of these outrages until after he left office. Which says it all about the effectiveness of Stop the War Coalition’s brand of ‘anti-imperialism’.
Not one of the speakers, including George Galloway, who (despite a terrible chest infection) headlined at his tub-thumping and fiery best, had any suggestions about what to do apart from march about with our banners and protest.
We were told to go back to our workplaces and trade unions and “expose” the media lies about Iran; but the speakers’ only stated aim was to bring more people out on the streets of London to wave banners and protest at some undeclared date in the future.
Most depressing of all was the quick mention of Syria in passing. No question of any ‘Don’t Attack Syria’ campaign. We were just told to watch our email inboxes as Stop the War Coalition planned to call us all out – you guessed it … to wave banners and protest at Downing Street at 5.00pm on the day Syria was attacked (or maybe the day after, the speaker wasn’t too sure).
Syria did better than Pakistan, as while all the speakers agreed that Pakistan was under threat, there was not even a suggestion of going to Downing Street with banners to protest over any attack on that benighted country.
So what is to be done? Well, when Stop the War Coalition does call us out, we will (as always) troop along with our banners and protest, but that by itself will do nothing. Two million of us waved banners and protested to stop the war in Iraq, and the imperialists laughed.
We have to do much more and something else. We have to go to the Stop the War national conference and demand something more than mere banner waving and protesting and wondering why these naughty imperialists won’t listen to reason.
The imperialists are listening to reason, they are listening to their own warmongering superprofits-seeking, anti-people reason. And they will never listen to our reason; they will only ‘listen’ to our actions.
This is where CPGB-ML conflicts with the present leadership of Stop the War Coalition. We understand that the one and only way to stop these continual bloody wars is the Jolly George way. The working class has to stop cooperating with imperialism.
We have to fight, not merely wring our hands, beat our breasts and plead with the imperialists to sit on the naughty step. This is big; it’s the future of the world.
Those sinister Iranians are at it again. Reuters is today reporting:
“ Iran has started moving nuclear material to an underground facility for the pursuit of sensitive atomic activities, a U.N. nuclear agency report showed, a development likely to add to Western suspicions Tehran is trying to build a weapon.
“The International Atomic Energy Agency document also said Iran had continued to stockpile low-enriched uranium (LEU) and one prominent U.S. think-tank said it had enough of the material for four nuclear weapons if it refines it further.” 1
Meanwhile, in truly duplicitous and hysterical fashion the Daily Telegraph has reported:
“Iran ‘will not budge an iota’ from its nuclear path, [Iranian] President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday, a day after a UN report affirmed credible evidence suggested Tehran was pursuing atomic weapons.” 2
Ahmadinejad’s statement appears to be confirmation of the (imperialist) West’s worst fears regarding Iranian nuclear ambitions – except, of course (!), if you read the rest of the quote from the Iranian President:
“We don’t need an atom bomb[…] We will not build two bombs in the face of your 20,000. We will develop something that you cannot respond to, which is ethics, humanity, solidarity and justice.”
It’s not surprising that the Daily Telegraph chooses to bury the rest of this quote under scare-mongering headlines like: “Iran ‘will not budge’ from Nuclear Path, says Mahmoud Ahmadinjead” or that other news agencies, like the BBC, have chosen to (thus far) exclude it from their coverage entirely. Quoting the Iranian President in context, after all, has a nasty habit of detracting from the image of Iran as a failed state, run by religious fanatics, who are hell-bent on building nuclear weapons to destroy the world – the image that Western imperialism and its media-flunkies have been peddling for years.
The nuclear issue is just one prong in the multi-faceted propaganda offensive being mounted against the Iranian government by the West. Other popular slanders include Iran’s “human rights record” – on which topic the British Foreign Secretary William Hague recently spoke, at the “Imprisoned in Iran” event organized by the Murdoch-owned Times newspaper, as part of its continuing role in the aforementioned propaganda offensive 3 – and Iran’s alleged involvement in “international terrorism” – see, for example, the recently “uncovered” assassination plot organised by members of the Iranian regime, for which not a shred of concrete evidence has yet been produced. In true Whack-a-Mole fashion, every time the Iranian regime squashes one outrageous slander against it, imperialist governments and media outlets pop up with a new one on a different topic!
This week it’s the nuclear issue that is dominating, with many now openly stating that it’s time to “deal with Iran” giving encouragement to the most dangerous elements in Israel who brazenly threaten military action. This time, even the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has jumped on the bandwagon, despite previously stating (in 2007) that there was “no credible evidence” that Iran was seeking to establish a nuclear weapons programme, it now seems to allege that Iran has come leaps and bounds in its nuclear weapons capacity in just four years (a more than impressive feat) – and all this in spite of recent sustained attempts by Israeli intelligence agencies to sabotage Iran’s civilian nuclear development programmes, including the devastating Stuxnet cyber-attack last year 4, which the Jerusalem Post described as, “as effective as a military strike” 5. Clearly, if Iran really is developing a nuclear weapons programme then it is doing so with more determination and more success than almost any other nation since the end of the Cold War. And all this, despite being subject to some of the heaviest economic sanctions in the world.
And what if Iran were developing a nuclear weapons programme? As Noam Chomsky has pointed out 6, if this were the case, it would only be “as a deterrent” to overt imperialist aggression. Prior to the recent uprisings in Egypt, for example, the Egyptian regime was granting Israel access to the Suez Canal for the purpose of positioning nuclear submarines within striking distance of Iran. Chomsky quotes Israeli military historian, Martin van Creveld, who says of Iran, “if they’re not developing a nuclear deterrent, they’re crazy”. Indeed, anti-imperialist states, such as Iran, will surely have learned the lesson of the Iraq War – if you don’t have weapons of mass destruction, the imperialists will claim you do and invade you anyway! As Madeleine Albright, former U.S. secretary of state to Bill Clinton, explained 7, the primary reason why Iraq was invaded was because it was the only enemy of western imperialism which definitely didn’t have weapons of mass destruction.
More to the point, what right does the United States, Great Britain, Israel or any other nation have to tell Iran that it cannot develop its own nuclear capacity? All three of the above mentioned nations have extensive nuclear arsenals, which they have repeatedly threatened to use to further their own foreign policy goals. Indeed history records that the only nation to use the terrible destructive force of nuclear weapons was the United States; the great hypocritical preacher of pacifism and disarmament!
Red Youth supports the right of all sovereign nations to develop their technological capabilities in all spheres. This includes any nuclear capacity, both civilian and military, especially in the current climate where nations are forced to exist under conditions of imperialist aggression!
Non-proliferation will not bring about world peace; this can only be achieved with the overthrow of imperialism!