While the US economy is bogged down in crisis, it’s the emerging global powers that presently drive world demand for oil; and Iran has a very substantial buyer in China. With US and EU sanctions levied on Iran, it’s been Asia that has been the ready recipient of Iran’s crude, buying up two thirds of total production in 2011.
Despite the sanctions placed upon Iran last year, the US has been unable to cut the country off completely, even being forced to ‘grant’ a waiver to China and Japan (and 18 other countries!), who all continue to buy Iranian oil regardless of US actions.
In an effort to extend the sanctions and close off avenues whereby Tehran is able to sell its oil through private companies, thus circumnavigating sanctions on the state bank, US imperialism has recently identified a number of private firms and individuals, as well as 115 ships, for embargo. These ships are believed to have been renamed to avoid earlier sanctions. According to the Financial Times:
“Under the new sanctions, the Treasury named dozens of companies it said had been acting on behalf of the Iranian government to help it circumvent existing sanctions.
“It cited the National Iranian Tanker Co, a former subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Co and the main vehicle for transporting Iranian crude oil exports, and its fleet and other front companies.
“It also named four companies it says are working as fronts for the National Iranian Oil Co and the Naftiran Intertrade Co, both already under US sanctions: Petro Suisse Intertrade Co, Hong Kong Intertrade Co, Noor Energy of Malaysia and Petro Energy Intertrade Co.
“The sanctions will freeze any assets the people or companies hold in the US, and ban Americans from doing business with them.” (‘US announces fresh Iran oil sanctions’ by Anna Fifield and Javier Blas, 12 July 2012)
As with all of imperialism’s sanction regimes, in contrast to the lie peddled by the media about ‘targeted sanctions’, the truth is that sanctions are designed to utterly disrupt and sabotage the entire economic life of Iran, causing social strife and upheaval.
Even the reactionary, square-headed Iranian ‘journalist’ Saeed Kamali Dehghan, after a long-winded session of distortion and hostility in the Guardian, was forced to admit that “Sanctions are the war, albeit economic and psychological, that the West is waging against the people of Iran and not its rulers. There’s nothing in sanctions that the west should be proud of. It’s time the west thought twice about bringing Iranian people to their knees and destroying their lives.” (‘Sanctions on Iran punish its people, not its leaders’, 11 July 2012)
As one writer on the website of the Tehran Times explained: “the sanctions have targeted all the Iranians. They have hit hard Iran’s medical sector. I’ve personally encountered patients who need medicine from European and north-American countries, but as a result of the sanctions, they are denied them. Aren’t such sanctions contrary to the principles of human rights?” (‘How Iran sanctions are fuelling hatred of the US’ by Kourosh Ziabari, 14 July 2012)
The answer, of course, is that imperialism cares not one jot for human rights. It cared not when it napalmed Vietnamese villages; it cared not when it detonated its nuclear bombs in Japan, wiping out a quarter of a million people in seconds. It sheds no tears when it massacres, maims, rapes and tortures the people of the developing world. Names such as Nanjing, Guantanamo, Sirte, Fallujah, Gaza and Abu Ghraib are scars on the collective psyche of the toiling masses of the world that cannot be erased. They are the scars of struggle, and witness to the nightmarish horror that imperialism is prepared to unleash when the subjugated people refuse to kneel at the feet of tyranny.
The only right that is upheld by imperialism is the right of the strong to beat the weak, the right of one man to exploit another. In the words of JV Stalin:
“Such is the law of the exploiters – to beat the backward and the weak. It is the jungle law of capitalism. You are backward, you are weak – therefore you are wrong; hence, you can be beaten and enslaved. You are mighty – therefore you are right; hence, we must be wary of you.” (‘The tasks of business executives’, speech to leading personnel of socialist industry, 4 February 1931)
Ratcheting up the sanctions
Faced with the ingenuity of the oppressed peoples and the insatiable desire of the developing world to press ahead and forge out a future free of imperialist interference, Iran has been able to rely on trade with a host of countries, both enemies of US imperialism and even some of its ‘friends’. The New York Times reported:
“The Obama administration, seeking to plug loopholes in its sanctions against Iran, said last night that it would impose additional measures against more than a dozen companies and people involved in that country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
“The administration also identified a web of front companies that it says the Iranian government uses to try to evade US and European restrictions on its oil exports.
“The measures, announced by the US treasury department, are intended to tighten the vice on Iran, which has continued to defy the West over its nuclear programme despite evidence that the sanctions are damaging its oil industry and economy.
“‘Today’s actions are the next step on that path, taking direct aim at disrupting Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, as well as its deceptive efforts to use front companies to sell and move its oil,’ David S Cohen, the undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
“But the new sanctions also underscore the challenge the US faces in isolating Iran, which has busily spun off hundreds of front companies, and renamed or reflagged dozens of ships, to get around existing sanctions.
“‘This is really a game of whack-a-mole,’ said Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the foundation for defence of democracies and an expert on Iranian sanctions.” (‘US imposes new rules to tighten vice on Iran’ by Mark Landler, 12 July 2012)
Whilst the US treasury attempts to ‘whack the mole’, the Iranians are pressing on with the job of strengthening their defences and building up their self-reliance. Iran’s first vice president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi summed up the actual result of such punitive measures on the day the European sanctions came into effect: “enemies do not have a factual understanding of the Iranian nation and continue to perceive that by imposing sanctions they can disrupt the progress of this nation … The sanctions not only fail to impede the progress of the Iranian nation, but they also lay the ground for self-sufficiency and development.”
It is clear that there is only one country that stands to lose out long term by such belligerent action, and that is the USA itself. According to the latest data from Opec, the United States, a country of a little over 300 million inhabitants consumes 19,194 barrels of oil a day – whilst the emerging economies of China, Brazil, India and Russia consume a fraction of that amount (China 9,410 bpd, Brazil 2,780 bpd, India 3,433 bpd, Russia 3269 bpd). (See Annual Statistical Bulletin, 2012, opec.org)
It is clear that by sanctioning Iranian oil the US is only hurting its own interests. To paraphrase Chairman Mao: imperialism picks up a rock only to drop it on its own feet! (Speech to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, 6 November 1957)
Straits of Hormuz
In a clear signal that Iran will not bow down to imperialist bullying, Ali Fadavi, the naval commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), promised a strong rebuttal from his forces should either the US or Israel push their snouts too far into Iran’s back garden.
“Iran fully controls the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz … If they take any hostile action against Iran, they will have to pay greatly for it … We determine the rules of military conflict in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.”
Commander Fadavi has the backing of senior politicians and the army. The chairman of Iran’s joint chiefs of staff, Major General Hassan Firuzabadi, has declared that “We do have the plan to close the Strait of Hormuz, since a member of the military must plan for all scenarios”! (Quoted in ‘Iran in full control of Hormuz Strait’, xinhuanet.com, 14 July 2012)
With the country ready and capable of blocking off one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, imperialism needs to think very carefully before attempting to conduct further open aggression against Iran. Standard practice is for imperialism to conduct espionage, industrial terrorism, kidnapping and assassination in tandem with a hyped-up media and economic attack – and this is precisely the course of events unfolding with regards to Iran.
MI6 and Mossad: black ops in Iran
In recent months and years, many Iranian scientists have been kidnapped, shot or bombed by CIA, Mossad and MI6 operatives. These dirty, underhand operations are nothing short of a covert war already being waged by imperialism – one which the British and American governments constantly deny any role in.
Quite startling in July, therefore, was an admission by MI6 poster-boy Sir John Sawers. In a well-orchestrated speech (press release/threat; timed to coincide with increased US sanctions), Sir John claimed to an audience of senior civil servants that MI6 had prevented Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in 2008.
The Telegraph reported his claims as follows: “Sir John said that without MI6’s work dealing with the threat, ‘you’d have Iran as a nuclear-weapons state in 2008 rather than still being two years away in 2012.’
“Sir John said it was up to MI6 to ‘delay that awful moment when the politicians may have to take a decision between accepting a nuclear-armed Iran or launching a military strike against Iran’.
“When that moment came, he said: ‘I think it will be very tough for any prime minister of Israel or president of the United States to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.’” (‘MI6 chief Sir John Sawers: “We foiled Iranian nuclear weapons bid”’ by Christopher Hope, 12 July 2012)
Sir John’s was not the only revelatory account to emerge about the extent of espionage and assassination in Iran. The book Spies against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars by Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv (leading Israeli military and intelligence journalists) was released to a furore over its claims that Mossad has operated a secret branch of assassins called the Kidon inside Iran since the time of the shah, and that this group is responsible for the recent murder of Iranian scientists.
But the covert war waged by imperialism against Iran may not be one which they are winning. In recent years the Iranians have regularly intercepted British and American spies, and on 15 July Xinhua reported that Iranian intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi had announced that Iran had frustrated a number of further assassination attempts on Iranian scientists:
“One of the plans that the recently apprehended groups were supposed to carry out was assassination of certain Iranian individuals who have made achievements in different areas of science … The Intelligence chief said Iranian scientists have made great progress in various areas of science and technology, but they cannot be introduced to the public in order to ensure their safety.” (‘Iran thwarts assassination plots to kill scientists’)
In the February issue of Proletarian we reported on the barbaric murder of Mostafa Roshan, a 32-year-old nuclear scientist with a wife and young baby son. Roshan was a university professor and commercial director at the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. We wrote:
“Like many of the Iranian scientists who work there he was dedicated to helping to solve Iran’s energy needs, and for this he was blown to pieces by imperialist agents using a magnetic bomb, which they attached to his car door as they passed him on a motorcycle.” (‘No cooperation with war against Iran’)
We also quoted Mehdi Hasan, who drew attention to the unholy glee of imperialism’s spokespeople on receiving news of this murder:
“‘On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear programme in Iran turn up dead,’ bragged the Republican nomination candidate Rick Santorum in October. ‘I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.’ On the day of Roshan’s death, Israel’s military spokesman, Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, announced on Facebook: ‘I don’t know who settled the score with the Iranian scientist, but I certainly am not shedding a tear’ – a sentiment echoed by the historian Michael Burleigh in the Daily Telegraph: ‘I shall not shed any tears whenever one of these scientists encounters the unforgiving men on motorbikes.’” (‘Iran’s nuclear scientists are not being assassinated. They are being murdered’, guardian.co.uk, 16 January 2012)
Santorum and Burleigh may have felt a little less smug when they heard the news that Iran has now rounded up and captured all those known to have been used by imperialism in the murder of the Iranian scientists.
In a press release reported by the Fars news agency, the Iranian intelligence ministry announced that “All the elements involved in the assassinations of the country’s nuclear scientists have been identified and arrested.”
“A number of countries, whose territories and facilities had been misused by the Mossad-backed terrorist teams, have provided the Iranian officials with relevant information, the statement added.
“Over the course of the investigations, all other elements behind the assassinations of the Iranian scientists Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, Majid Shahriari and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan as well as Reza Qashqaei (Roshan’s driver) have been apprehended, the statement read.
“Some of the perpetrators of the assassination of Dr Fereidoun Abbasi, the current head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation, are among those arrested, the ministry added.
“According to the statement, Iran’s intelligence ministry has detected some of Mossad’s bases within the territories of one of Iran’s western neighbours, which provided training and logistic support to the terrorist networks.
“Earlier last month, Iranian intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi had announced that the country’s security forces had arrested at least 20 terrorists behind the assassination of Iran’s nuclear scientists.
“Moslehi stated that the arrests were made following the identification of two terrorist groups and through multiple sting operations across the country.
“Western spy agencies, collaborated by the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organisation (MKO), have assassinated several Iranian scientists in the last three years.” (‘Iran arrests terrorists behind assassination of Yong nuclear scientist’, farsnews.com, 22 July 2012)
Hands off Iran!
The increased meddling in Iranian affairs, both covert and open, bodes ill for our future. An escalation of the media war here in Britain must be matched by a qualitative change in the attitude of anti-war activists and the working class if we are to avert another carnival of slaughter, this time in Iran.
Despite the repeated wittering of Stop the War, who claim to “stand with the people of Iran”, and assert that they do “not want any more foreign intervention”, those who have been active in the anti-war movement know that it will not take more than one slap-dash sensationalised story concocted in Thames House or GCHQ and carefully filtered out via Twitter, Facebook and the BBC to send these craven, spineless twits into hysterics and fits of moral superiority, whereby they, too, end up objectively paving the way once again for open warfare. Whether it’s the ‘discovery’ of some internal massacre, the sentencing of a blind homeless puppy to death by stoning or the unearthing of an atomic weapons facility by Israeli spy drones, the imperialists are past masters at trumping up some excuse or other with which to launch their predatory wars of aggression.
British workers and all progressive-minded people must get to grips with the truth. And that truth is that imperialism strives for domination, not democracy. We must not be taken in by the sensationalised propaganda that emanates from well-paid lackies in the service of finance capital. We must base our resistance to imperialist war upon a solid foundation.
Workers have the power to stop war. If we withdraw our labour, refuse to cooperate with the transport of weapons and supplies, organise civil disobedience and refuse to be a part of this killing we can, and will, strike a real blow against imperialism.
It is in our interests as working-class people to see to it that Iran, Syria, China and all countries that are confronted by aggressive imperialist manoeuvres receive our full support. Let’s work to take a proletarian understanding out into the anti-war movement, spread the spirit of non-cooperation amongst fellow workers in the trade-union movement, rally our own forces in readiness to set the example for others to follow and pave the way for the final overthrow of imperialism and the victory of the socialist revolution!
No cooperation with imperialist war against Iran!