By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2901

How Britain backed Israel’s drive to war with Iran

Plus: Why did Israel attack the Iranian consulate in Damascus on 1 April?
Issue 2901
The Foreign Secretary, David Cameron meeting Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. (Picture: Rory Arnold) illustrating a story about Britain Iran drone attacks

British foreign secretary shakes hands with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu (Picture: FCDO on Flickr/Rory Arnold)

The British killing machine lined up with its counterparts in Israel last weekend as warplanes flew to support the Zionist state. There has been no protection for the 35,000 Palestinians murdered by Western-backed Israeli assaults in Gaza.

Britain has backed Israel with diplomatic support throughout the genocide in Gaza and allows arms exports to Binyamin Netanyahu’s regime.

Last Saturday night it went further as Rishi Sunak said his government would “stand up for Israel’s security”.

The Telegraph newspaper enthusiastically reported, “Four RAF Typhoons based in Cyprus were scrambled as soon as it became clear late Saturday evening that Iran had launched an attack against Israel.

“Even before the aircraft were airborne, they had been given legal clearance—signed off by Rishi Sunak at a meeting in Downing Street—to engage hostile enemy drones en route to Israel.

“Using signals intelligence supplied by the secretive Joint Service Signal Unit based at Ayios Nikolaos, in Cyprus, which monitors much of the Middle East, the aircraft headed for the Iraq-Syria border.”

Mobilising just four jets reflects the very limited reach of decaying British imperialism. But the signals and the symbolism are huge

British military forces openly sided with the Zionist state. If they did it once, they are showing they could be open to doing it again.

Sunak said Iran’s strikes on Israel “risk inflaming tensions and destabilising the region”. Sunak has ordered four waves of air strikes on Yemen since January, firing dozens of missiles.

Similarly Sunak made no criticism of Israel for its attack against the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, on 1 April which killed seven top-level Iranian military officers, including two generals. This was the trigger for last weekend’s Iranian action.


When he was asked “What would Britain do if a hostile nation flattened one of our consulates?” even foreign secretary David Cameron had to admit “Well, we would take very strong action.”

Britain, the US and France vetoed a resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Israel’s attack on 1 April. But those three then backed Israel at the security council this week.

The last week has underlined that what takes place in Gaza is part of a wider world system dominated by imperialism.

The birth of Israel in 1948 flowed from the determination of Britain and its allies to dominate an increasingly important economic and strategic part of the world.

The massive increase in US support for |Israel after the six-day war in 1967 was a decisive choice to use Israel as its watchdog in the region. 

It remains true that Israel cannot survive or even consider wider wars without Western backing. And in the front rank comes British imperialism, Sunak—and Keir Starmer.


Why did Israel attack the Iranian consulate? 

When Israel blasted the Iranian consulate in Damascus on 1 April it had two aims. One was to deflect attention from its crimes in Gaza and link its confrontation with Hamas to a supposed struggle against “Iranian-backed forces” across the Middle East.

The second was to tell the United States and others that their hand wringing over Gaza had to stop and they should line up without hesitation behind Israel.

Binyamin Netanyahu will now hope he has succeeded on both counts. Iranian-backed forces such as Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Houthis in Yemen have never simply been Iranian puppets. But Israel will now say that those who want to fight Iran also have to support whatever Israel decides to do against, for example, Hezbollah.

And Israel will be celebrating that Joe Biden and others have repeatedly said that now he wants to stress “America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel.”

The US business newspaper the Wall Street Journal wrote in an editorial, “The attack should be clarifying to Western leaders. It should at least cause Mr. Biden and his fellow Democrats to end their cold war with Israel over Gaza and recognize that this is really a war against Iran.”

Leading figures in the Israeli war cabinet will press harder for its forces to flatten Rafah—which will mean massacres on an even greater scale. 

Netanyahu is not in the clear. The US and Britain are likely to return to urging a quieter, less open, genocide against Gaza.

And the fact that Israel had to widen the war to one threatening total regional conflagration was itself a product of Israeli weakness.

The failure to defeat Hamas and the Palestinian resistance meant the fighting has gone on for far longer than Netanyahu would have hoped. It is Israel’s desperation that flows over to it risking a war that could draw in millions. 


Britain has never forgiven the overthrow of Iran’s dictator in 1979 

The imperialist West attacked Iran before when in 2020 the then US president Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

Soleimani was one of Iran’s top commanders, leading the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force on military missions in the Middle East.

And again Britain was involved. The Declassified UK website reported that “a secretive team of British troops based in Bahrain, which is 190 kilometres from Iran, played a key role in a ‘period of increased activity and tension that followed the death’ of Soleimani.

“Their efforts were quietly recognised with a commendation from the Royal Air Force.”

Successive British governments have never forgiven the Iranians for the revolution of 1979 which tore down the brutal regime of the pro-Western Shah. He had come to power in 1953 through a coup organised by the United States CIA and British espionage.

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