The following article will be presented to a workshop at Occupy Bristol tomorrow.
Iranian protesters during a demonstration in front of the British Embassy, in Tehran, on Tuesday 29 November.
Shock-horror: Iranians invade our embassy!
There was a big splash in the media at the end of November. The headlines were screaming about Iranian government agents attacking the British Embassy in Tehran.
Western governments lined up to say what a terrible affront this was against international law; what uncivilised behaviour this was. Statesmen pointed to a recent report from the IAEA (the UN’s nuclear watchdog) suggesting that there was now evidence that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb.
It was clear what capitalism wanted everyone to believe: Iranians are a bunch of wild-eyed Islamist fanatics hell-bent on plunging the world into nuclear war, and the only thing standing in their way is the glorious ‘international community’.
Why do they want us to believe this story? Because our masters want to get rid of the government in Tehran and replace it with another that will do their bidding. Why? Because they need to reinforce their stranglehold on the oil market and their geopolitical power in the region, and an independent, anti-imperialist Iran is getting in their way.
And why is it so urgent to attack Iran right now? Because the capitalist system is in such a deep crisis of overproduction that the only solution is for imperialism to plunge deeper into war – or for imperialism itself to be overthrown.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why those Iranian students might have been angry enough to want to occupy the British Embassy.
Back in 1953, Iran had an elected, secular government, led by Mohammad Mossadeq. This was overthrown in a coup engineered by British and US imperialism, which then planted in its place the Shah of Iran. Under the Shah’s bloody repression, Iran was plunged back into feudal backwardness, with a government that served the interests of the West.
In 1979, popular revolt ousted the Shah. Early hopes that this would develop in the direction of socialist revolution were dashed, as the mosque benefited from the relative weakness and disarray of the socialist forces. Yet henceforth Iran continued to be a thorn in the side of imperialism.
Least welcome of all to western imperialists has been the advent of the populist Ahmadinejad government in 2005, standing on a broad base of support from the poorest sections of society, supporting the Palestinian struggle against zionism and championing the independence and sovereignty of the Iranian nation.
In particular, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been associated in the western press with the development of Iran’s nuclear industry. Imperialism pretends to have proof that Iran, under the cover of a civil nuclear programme, is really aiming to produce its own bomb. There are two points to make here.
First: the countries with the worst track record of war crimes in the last half century, America, Britain and Israel, have more nuclear weapons than any other nation. Israel alone possesses around 200 ready-to-go nuclear weapons. Under these circumstances, weaker countries might be well-advised to equip themselves with the best defence equipment available.
Iraq and Libya both conceded to imperialist pressure to give up their nuclear weapons. North Korea declined. Which country has yet to be invaded and occupied?
Second: contrary to what is implied in the most recent IAEA report, it remains the case that there is no evidence that Teheran is currently trying to make a bomb – and America knows it. The panic around the imaginary bomb is being whipped up purely and simply to bump public opinion into support for further aggression against Iran.
For years, exhaustive and intrusive inspections have been carried out within Iran, and for years the IAEA itself had the honesty to conclude that there was no proof to back up the allegations, despite enormous pressure from imperialism.
How the US nobbled the nuclear watchdog
In 2009 the former IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, came to the end of his term of office. Washington never liked ElBaradei, who entertained an inconvenient belief in the neutrality of UN bodies and took his job too seriously for America’s liking.
This time they went to work, lobbying hard to bump a rank outsider, Yukia Amano, into the top position. Secret US diplomatic cables released on WikiLeaks reveal him to be “solidly in the US court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme”, and report that “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.”
So having got all their ducks in a line, the White House was able to sit back and wait for a newly tractable IAEA to dish up its ‘dodgy dossier’ on 8 November. On the back of this fiction 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 programme, 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 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 (ie, 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, diplomatic arm twisting and economic blackmail, imperialism has long been engaging in a brutal campaign of espionage, terrorism, assassination and sabotage against Iran.
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 last year, and the booby-trapped motorcycle that slew another professor, Masoud Ali-Mohammadi.
Now, with rival Republican contenders for the presidency striving to outdo each other in fascist zeal, the ‘secret’ war against Iran is the best-advertised in history. According to AFP, Newt Gingrich “proposed at a 12 November debate that Washington kill Iranian scientists and disrupt Tehran’s suspect nuclear programme – ‘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 programme – 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 programme doesn’t proceed,’ he said.” (8 December 2011)
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 that 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 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.”
Curiously, none of the dirty tricks practiced by Washington and Tel Aviv excites anything like the manufactured outrage that 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 the British embassy
So maybe now it’s easier to grasp why Occupy Bristol and Occupy London were joined by Occupy the 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”.
As for the nonsense that the occupying students were just acting as agents of the government, this hardly squares with the fact that the demonstrators in the end could only be restrained by the government’s own security forces using tear gas to clear the embassy compound! (We need hardly add that, had the demonstrators instead got themselves tear-gassed protesting against Ahmadinejad, 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 Iran is driven not only by the desire to humble an anti-imperialist force and strengthen and extend the imperialist stranglehold on resources and markets in the Middle East, but also by the strategic goal of containing Russia and China, a fact which is not lost on either country.
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. This position constitutes an unwelcome stumbling block for the warmongers.
This challenge to imperialist world domination, taken together with the courageous anti-colonial resistance being mounted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Somalia, all add to the perils awaiting the warmongers should they persist.
Nor should imperialism 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.
Iran’s struggle to defend herself demands 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? The students put it very well themselves, in a letter explaining their actions.
“‘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 the students, elites and truth-seeking people across the world to attack the interests of Britain in their region and stop London from looting their countries and nations any further.”
By giving active solidarity to those who stand in defence of Iran, Syria and other anti-imperialist countries under attack, we the 99 percent will strengthen our hand against the same imperialist enemy that is currently demolishing welfare, looting jobs and driving us into poverty and war.
Victory to the Iranian resistance against the imperialist warmongers!
Victory to the 99 percent!
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 1 October
A three-year inquiry into the death of hotel receptionist Baha Mousa at the hands of the British army in Iraq has finally admitted a degree of serious culpability, while endeavouring to confine the blame to the first battalion of a regiment (the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment) that has since been disbanded.
The inquiry found that the regiment was using the ‘five techniques’ (for torturing prisoners): ie, hooding, white noise, sleep deprivation, food deprivation and painful stress positions. This is contrary to the Geneva Convention and has been expressly banned for use by British soldiers since Edward Heath’s time, when army guidelines were revised to outlaw inhuman practices that had been in regular use in northern Ireland and were instrumental in exacerbating the resentment of the local population at the British occupation.
Essentially, the enquiry found that Mr Mousa, a widower and father of two young sons, had been beaten to death. However, the inquiry concluded that while the beating was the “trigger” for his death, his overall “vulnerable state” of exhaustion, dehydration, renal failure and exertion brought on by his treatment at the hands of the army contributed at least as much.
Orders banning the ‘five techniques’ were observed only in the breach. Mr Mousa and nine others picked up at the hotel where he worked were all subjected to this torture as well as to vicious beatings in an open building with no doors, where senior officers could have come in at any time to see what was going on.
The inquiry took the view that even if they did not know, they should have done. And in fact, the very fact that the ill treatment was taking place so openly provides irrefutable evidence that the soldiers administering the torture were confident of their superior officers’ approval.
It remains to be seen whether anybody will face criminal prosecution for these crimes, or for any of the hundreds of other cases of prisoner abuse that have taken place not only in Iraq, but everywhere that the British army has been present as an occupying force.
The inquiry was at pains to say that this behaviour is exceptional, and that the army as a whole is really very gentlemanly. Very many thousands of oppressed people all over the world have personal experience of the reality, which is very different.
The following motion is being submitted by the CPGB-ML to the upcoming Stop the War national conference.
We believe that the proposed programme of action is both necessary and achieveable. We therefore call on all anti-imperialists and anti-war campaigners to give it the widest possible circulation in order to generate discussion and to mobilise support for this important work.
Individually, we may be powerless, but together, we do have the power to stop imperialism’s criminal wars.
CPGB-ML resolution to StW conference, October 2010
This conference notes the passing last year of a motion calling on the coalition “to do all in its power to promote a movement of industrial, political and military non-cooperation with all of imperialism’s aggressive war preparations and activities among British working people“.
Since that resolution was passed, many important developments have taken place, which on the one hand make this work more urgent, and on the other have created an atmosphere that is more receptive to our message.
Conference notes the attack on those condemning war crimes that was embodied in the draconian sentences handed down to the Gaza protestors. Congress further notes that these sentences were aimed not only at discouraging muslim youth from political activism, but also at dividing the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements along racial lines, and branding Palestine solidarity as a ‘muslim’ issue.
Conference condemns the murder by Israeli commandos of nine solidarity activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May, despite the fact that the UN had called for the ships to be allowed to pass. Conference notes the UN’s recent findings that these murders were illegal – another war crime to add to the many being committed daily against the Palestinian people.
Conference further notes that in the atmosphere of international outrage that followed these murders, even Israeli-friendly politicians such as Cameron and Hague were forced to make statements condemning both the murders and the siege on Gaza.
Conference reaffirms its support for all those who have taken the lead in active non-cooperation over the past year, in particular for Joe Glenton, for the EDO Decommissioners, for the Gaza protestors, and for the many British participants in siege-busting missions by land and sea to Gaza.
Conference notes that the landmark acquittal in the case of the Decommissioners can only facilitate more actions of this kind, since it not only sets a legal precedent, but is a reflection of the general sense of disgust against Israeli war crimes in particular.
Conference reaffirms its belief that the majority of people in Britain are opposed to British imperialism’s wars, and considers that the time is ripe to make active non-cooperation a central theme of our work. Conference therefore calls on the incoming steering committee to take the line of non-cooperation into as many arenas as possible, including:
- Putting on a fundraising concert to draw attention to the Gaza prisoners’ plight and to raise money towards a campaign to overturn their convictions.
- Approaching Joe Glenton to take part in a national speaking tour against cooperation with the Afghan war.
- Giving full backing, including maximum possible publicity, to all those groups or individuals, whether affiliated to the Coalition or not, who, like the EDO Decommissioners, the Raytheon activists and Joe Glenton, are targeted by the state for refusing to cooperate with, or for actively attempting to prevent, the illegal wars and bombings waged and backed by British imperialism.
- Stepping up the campaign outside army recruitment centres and at army recruitment stalls in schools, colleges and universities, drawing attention to the war crimes committed by the British armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Launching a full campaign inside the unions to draw attention to British, US and Israeli war crimes, with the aim of passing in each of them, and then at the TUC, motions condemning those crimes and calling on workers to refuse to cooperate in their commission, whether it be by making or moving munitions or other equipment, writing or broadcasting propaganda, or helping in any other way to smooth the path of the war machine.
- Following the excellent example set by PSC (eg, the campaign to draw attention to pro-Israeli propaganda in Panorama) and Media Lens (eg, alerts drawing attention to the media’s cover-up of war crimes committed in Fallujah) and working with these and others to draw in as many members and supporters as possible to an ongoing campaign to hold the media to account for their pivotal role in apologising for, covering up and normalising British, US and Israeli war crimes.
- Continuing and increasing the work already done to make Britain a place where war criminals, whether US, British or Israeli, can get no peace, through holding protests, through citizens’ arrests and through all other available channels, including using local, national and international courts to file charges and draw attention to their crimes.
The following resolution, submitted by the CPGB-ML, was overwhelmingly adopted by the national conference of the Stop the War Coalition, held on 25 April 2009.
No cooperation with war crimes
This conference condemns Britain’s continued involvement in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and calls for the immediate recall of all British troops from both these countries.
While the City of London’s financial elite sought to benefit by joining arms with the US to seize Iraq’s oil wealth and manipulate her domestic and foreign policy to their advantage, this conference affirms that the entire bloody debacle has always been contrary to the interests of the vast majority of British workers, who have consistently demonstrated their opposition to this modern-day Anglo-American colonial crusade.
Since 2004, more than 1.5 million wholly innocent Iraqi men, women and children have been slaughtered as a result of the illegal invasion and occupation of their country. This can only be termed genocide. In addition, more than 4 million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes as internal and external refugees, and the resultant dislocation of Iraq’s cultural, political and economic life is near total.
In Afghanistan, tens of thousands of people have been murdered, and the country’s infrastructure smashed to pieces as a result of the Anglo-American oil monopolies’ quest to control the routes of projected pipelines.
This conference notes with shame the fact that ‘our own’ British imperialist Labour government has been a key player in planning and perpetrating these heinous war crimes against the Iraqi and Afghan peoples.
Conference notes that many British workers were browbeaten, by a compliant political and media establishment, into accepting these wars on entirely false premises (Afghan responsibility for the 11 September attacks, Blair’s ‘45 minute’ claim about Iraqi WMD, etc) that sought to paint Afghanistan and Iraq, rather than Anglo-American imperialism, as the aggressors. Thus the necessary ground was laid to send British and US soldiers (workers in uniform) to do the bankers’, oil magnates’ and armament manufacturers’ dirty work.
This conference believes that war fought to enforce subjection and servitude upon another nation is morally abhorrent; to fight and die in such a cause is demoralising, corrupting and meaningless.
This conference realises that, although individually powerless, collectively, British workers do have the power to stop the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, since the government and corporations cannot fight them without us.
This conference therefore resolves that the coalition will do all in its power to promote a movement of industrial, political and military non-cooperation with all of imperialism’s aggressive war preparations and activities among British working people.
Union mobilisation remains key to the success of such a policy, and this conference instructs the incoming Stop the War steering committee to campaign vigorously among trade unions to encourage them to adopt a practical policy encouraging their members to do everything not to support illegal wars or occupations, directly or indirectly; and to render every support to members victimised for taking this principled stand.
This conference welcomes the magnificent examples set by such signal actions as:
- 2002/3: FBU strike action immediately preceding the invasion of Iraq, which threatened the entire enterprise.
- Jan 2003: Fifteen Aslef train drivers refused to move arms from Glasgow factories to Glen Douglas base on Scotland’s west coast (which remains Nato’s largest European arsenal, and from where they were bound for the Gulf).
- 9 Aug 2006: Protesters occupied the Derry offices of Raytheon when Israel invaded Lebanon, to “prevent the commissioning of war crimes by the Israeli armed forces using weapons supplied by Raytheon”.
- May Day 2008: tens of thousands of US west coast dockers defied court injunctions to strike in protest against US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the decision of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) leadership to withhold official sponsorship for the strike.
- Dec 2008: Smash EDO demonstrators occupied and disabled production at Brighton-based missile-delivery system manufacturer EDO (recently acquired by Armament Giant ITT) during Israel’s massacre of Gazans.
- Feb 2009: Norwegian Train drivers staged a national stoppage to protest the Israeli massacre in Gaza.
- Resolutions asking Bectu media workers to resist the transmission of imperialist war propaganda will be considered at the union’s forthcoming congress.