US president Donald Trump was threatening yet more major acts of war in the Middle East following the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
Trump threatened that the US could attack Iran “very fast and very hard” if it retaliated for the murder.
He said some of the targets the US had in its sites—as many as 52—were “at a very high level and important to Iran and Iranian culture.”
Trump’s threats came after a US air strike on Baghdad airport in Iraq killed Soleimani early last Friday.
It was a major escalation of Trump’s offensive against Iran in the Middle East—and could trigger a round of violence that could spiral into a war across the region.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the US.
Speaking at a demonstration in central London against the war, Stop the War Coalition convenor Lindsey German said, “This was an act of war and it will lead to more wars.
“The retaliation that will come will not just be in Iraq—it can be across the Middle East. We don’t know what will happen. But we do know there is a very, very serious threat of war.”
The US claimed, without evidence, that Soleimani was “Developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
In reality the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East is Trump.
Trump wants to use violence and threats of war to push back Iran’s growing influence, which is a challenge to US control of the region.
After scrapping an agreement between the US and Iran in 2018, Trump imposed new economic sanctions that have pushed millions of ordinary Iranians into poverty.
And last year he claimed to have been minutes away from launching airstrikes on Iran.
Other Western governments are frightened of being dragged into another major war.
But they also oppose Iran and in the end will side with the US.
In a humiliation for the Tories, Trump launched the attack without informing Britain.
Tory foreign secretary Dominic Raab responded by saying “further conflict is in none of our interests.”
But he later said Britain is “on the same page” as Trump. “We are sympathetic to the situation they found themselves in,” he said.
Some in the Labour Party want to tail the Tories’ response.
Yet Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the demonstration, “It’s not enough for the government to call for de-escalation.
“It has to come out with an outright condemnation of this act of violence.”
He added that Labour would “do all that we can in parliament but also on the streets and on demonstrations” to oppose the drive to war.
One protester in London, Mo, told Socialist Worker, “I’m here because I’m a big supporter of peace.
“Soleimani did a lot of bad things. But Trump just wants to keep America powerful.
“I don’t think he wants war, but who knows what will happen? Let’s hope it won’t cost any more innocent lives.”
Soleimani was threat to US
Qassem Soleimani was no ordinary general.
As head of the Revolutionary Guards Corp—a key branch of the Iranian state—he was one of the most powerful people in Iran.
He was also the figurehead of Iran’s growing power in the region.
Under his command, the Revolutionary Guards Corp intervened in the Syrian civil war to help dictator Bashar al-Assad crush a popular uprising.
Alongside allied militias, they also fought against Isis to establish a military presence in Iraq.
The US didn’t kill him because he was a brutal military leader—but because he represented a challenge to their own power.
A history of aggression towards Iran
The US always justifies its aggression against Iran by claiming it is acting in the name of “freedom” against a repressive regime.
But its history of interference in Iran shows it has no interest in democracy or what ordinary people want.
Documents released by US spy agency the CIA reveal how in 1953 it organised a coup to overthrow an elected Iranian government led by Mohammad Mossadeq.
Mossadeq had nationalised Iran’s oil industry, and ordinary people in Iran were demanding more reforms that threatened the West’s power.
And the US worried that the communist Tudeh party would become popular enough to overthrow Mossadeq
The US replaced Mossadeq with a repressive dictatorship led by the Shah of Iran.
But when masses of ordinary people overthrew the Shah in a popular revolution in 1979 he was replaced by an Islamic regime that opposed the US.
The US responded with economic sanctions to punish ordinary people, and bankrolled Iraq in a war with Iran that killed 300,000 Iranians.
It has been the enemy of Iran—and ordinary Iranians—ever since.
US intervention in the Middle East can only mean more death, destruction and tragedy and we must oppose it.
Protesters won’t back Trump’s grab for power
Trump and his secretary of state Mike Pompeo claimed the assassination of Qassem Soleimani would be welcomed by the people of Iran and Iraq.
In the hours after the killing, Pompeo tweeted a video of what he claimed were ordinary Iraqi people “dancing in the street for freedom”.
Protests against government corruption in Iraq have targeted Iranian influence.
And in Iran, protesters have demonstrated against poverty and fuel prices.
Yet in a region where US imperialism has wrecked people’s lives for decades, anger at Iran doesn’t automatically mean support for the West.
The real danger is that US intervention could undermine the movements, forcing people to side with their governments against invasion and airstrikes.
One of the protest organisers in Iraq said, “This American attack came with the worst timing.
“Iran and its militias were already calling us American agents to justify their attacks on us, and we fear they will use the assassination as a pretext to destroy our protest.”