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The United States and Iran  have both gained a lot from their  hostility for the last 40 years. The Iranian government always lives and flourishes in crisis to exploit the Iranian working class, women and  minorities. The most recent confrontation is very bad for the working-class uprising in particular and the Iranian revolutionary movement in general.

The United States and Iran  have both gained a lot from their  hostility for the last 40 years. The Iranian government always lives and flourishes in crisis to exploit the Iranian working class, women and  minorities. The most recent confrontation is very bad for the working-class uprising in particular and the Iranian revolutionary movement in general.

For nearly 16 years, we have read and heard in the news that the U.S. may go to war with Iran, or that the attacking military option is still on the table, but this has  not eventuated and the chance of it happening is fading away day by day.

Since the Iranian revolution in February 1979, America has been hostile to Iran. One of the main slogans in every mass protest by millions of Iranians in 1978 was “Death to America” or “America, America, is enemy of our people”.  The sentiment against the USA had grown after the 1953 coup in most urban families all around Iran. This animosity against the U.S. was more common than anywhere else in the Middle East in the 70s. Although the Iranian government after the revolution was totally counter-revolutionary and  robbed the people’s uprising,  it   did not abandon  the main hatred of Iranian people towards “America”, which still is strong.

The Iranian government tried hard to undermine the core values of the people’s revolution– for a better life, democracy and anti-dictatorship–and instead imposed an Islamist theocratic ruling system. After the mullahs suppressed women, workers and Kurds, Azaris, Arabs, Turkmen, and also slaughtered and crushed thousands of leftist and Marxists in the early 80s, they established Iran as the main country of “Shi’a Islam” in the world. More than 80% of Iranians are Shi’a and the majority of them are devoted and still practice religious rituals. “Shi’a” means “follower” and in this case means “followers of Imam Ali” (the first Imam of 12 Imams in Shi’a Islam). Practitioners of Shia Islam must follow a contemporary imam, which at the moment is Ali Khamenei – the supreme leader of Iran, who is also the most powerful Shi’a Imam in the whole world.

Shi’a Muslims in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, most parts of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Yemen and … are mostly following Ali Khamenei as a religious duty. Iran, during the last 40 years spent lots of capital, resources and even personnel in these countries. They therefore have a very strong base for the mass mobilisation of people in these places. According to BBC research among 11 Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa, “Security remains a concern for many in the Middle East and North Africa. When asked which countries posed the biggest threat to their stability and national security, after Israel, the U.S. was identified as the second biggest threat in the region as a whole, and Iran was the third.”

From the late 1960s when the U.K. left the Persian Gulf,  and Iran gave away Bahrain as ransom to the West, Iran has had big ambitions to become a local power in the region. During the 1970s, it had the biggest and strongest army and military infrastructure in the whole Middle East, and was always called a “Gendarme of Persian Gulf”. After the revolution in 1979, these ambitious subsided, but by the late 1980s, Iran started to show its muscles again.

After any attack by air or missiles  on  any target inside the country, Iran  can retaliate heavily against  any U.S. or  U.S.  allies in the region, and has the huge military capability to do so.  The US and its allies, then have to respond and even try a land invasion which will end up in a long, expensive and very destructive conflict.  The US cannot afford this.  Whether it is total war or no war at all–that’s the reality in this  Iran-U.S. confrontation.

However, the war won’t be limited to the Iranian border. Iran will aim to destroy all major ports in the Gulf, and also will bomB all oil rigs and oil pumps and pipelines in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.  Hezbollah will attack Israel from Lebanon.  Hamas and Islamic Jihad will attack it from the inside. Hashd al-Sha’bi will attack any western interests and personnel in Iraq. With the weakness of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Houthi  rebels will make more advances even inside Saudi Arabia. The war  extended to the whole region and the world will lead to  a big shock of a  gigantic energy crisis especially in the upcoming cold season in the northern hemisphere..

Iran is the 18th biggest country in the world, with a 4900 km coastline in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, massive dangerous deserts, huge and tall mountain ranges, incredibly rough terrains. Vast temperature differences of more than 40 degrees between the northwest and southeast exist for most of the year. Iran has nearly a million conventional army personnel and 3 million trained militia called Basij-e Mardomi (people’s mobilisation) and massive defence organisation and infrastructure. Above that, it has a very sophisticated intelligence service and secret police to crack down any internal uprising. So far, it has successfully suppressed every revolt in the country.

There is no big and strong organised opposition inside or aboard,  and the majority of Iranians never trust or believe in any group outside the country. Historically and culturally Iranians in a  big crisis like war  will not    fight against  each other. Two years after the revolution,  when the left and even far left organisation had a strong base in the working class,  the eight-year Iran-Iraq war nearly ended the communist movement inside Iran. . The government crushed all opposition. In the summer of 1981, it killed thousands of leftists and imprisoned tens of thousands of activists for years to come. There was no people’s uprising against the regime, because the country was in a war with Iraq.

In the recent downing of a hi-tech, sophisticated and very expensive U.S. spy drone, Iran did it in a very calculated way:  It was  not too much to force the U.S. into a real war and not too weak  to not be noticed.   It also  flexed its muscles for the Gulf countries.

The economic sanctions and lack of oil revenue  are  causing much suffering in Iran, but are not yet causing any mass protests. Since 1995 Iran has been subjected to massive U.S. economic sanctions. But while the working class, poor and ordinary Iranians have suffered the most, the government and its rich establishment have not.

The USA and its allies are banking on changing the regime from within. But this is a very reductionist approach and ignores Iran’s history, culture and domestic politics. The so-called war and the constant threat of conflicts by the West has the effect of pushing the revolutionary movement aside and it is gravely dangerous for any progressive movement, let alone the leftists or socialists.

imperialism is warmongering and using  political manipulation in this region aimed at maximising its control and exploiting the resources and people,  especially the working class. If war happens, the whole region will go up  in flames and  all the capitals will go with it. Western imperialism has greatly benefitted from this region. But eventually it has to accept rogue but strong local powers like Iran in this part of the world.

Then it will be the working class’s time to be organised and revolt against Iran’s oppressive and brutal regime and avenge the blood of our fallen comrades and bring a beautiful and better world for all of us.

Rouzbeh Abadan

July 8, 2019