The federal Coalition government must reverse its agreement to a United States request to send military forces to the Persian Gulf, say anti-war activists.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on August 21 that Australia would join an international mission involving military forces from the US, Britain and Bahrain in the Strait of Hormuz.
Sydney Stop the War Coalition (STWC) responded to the announcement the following day warning: “There is now a frightening prospect of a new war in the Middle East. The plan to militarise the Strait of Hormuz could easily spark a war, involving nuclear weapons.
“The Australian government and Labor opposition’s support for US hostilities against Iran is wrong and counterproductive.
“Australia is supposed to have a policy of ‘constructive engagement’ with Iran: sending a warship, a surveillance aircraft and Defence Force personnel to the Persian Gulf to join the US in militarising the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf is a clear breach of that,” STWC said.
“The US sparked the latest round of hostilities by abandoning the nuclear deal it had with Iran. The US currently has a total of 6185 nuclear warheads, including stockpiled strategic and non-strategic ones. It should ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which 184 states have signed but only 168 have ratified.
“The latest phase of the so-called Iran crisis started as a tit-for-tat between Britain and Iran over European Union sanctions on supplying oil to Syria — even though Iran is not an EU signatory.
“It has been escalated by the White House hawks, who have pushed for more sanctions on Iran and more military to the narrow and strategic Strait of Hormuz.
“Since pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the US has reimposed tougher economic sanctions against Iran, the goal being to hit Iran’s oil exports which produce a huge part of the country’s export income.
“[US President Donald] Trump is now trying to destroy Iran’s economy and oil industry.”
“The US says it is aiming its fire at the Iranian leadership: in fact, ordinary Iranians are the first to feel the brunt of the economic and social pain.”
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network spokesperson Annette Brownlie agrees, adding: “This is being presented as protection of the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf and in Australia’s national interest, but it is clear the US is chafing at the bit for an opportunity to attack Iran, having spent many years imposing harsh sanctions on the people and most recently pulling out of the [Iran nuclear deal], effectively destroying prospects for peace with Iran.
“The last illegal action taken by the US, Britain and Australia was to form the so-called ‘Coalition of the Willing’ to mount an attack and invasion of Iraq, opening a Pandora’s box of instability in the whole region.”
STWC notes that even if Morrison’s announcement to join this “still small new ‘Coalition of the Willing’ is more symbolic than strategic, the symbolism gives political cover to the most highly militarised and warlike state in the world today — the United States.”
“It also shows that the major parties have learned nothing from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Australian public has, however, deep reservations about following the US into yet another war.
Brownlie continued: “Australia has no interest in a conflict in the Persian Gulf, and no enmity towards Iran.
“Such a conflict without a United Nations Security Council resolution would be illegal, and would expose Australian leaders and the Australian Defence Force to accusations of the war crime of aggression.
“Australian leaders need to heed the lessons of the past. Its time we decoupled from US foreign policy and act independently in the interests of peace and stability.”
STWC concluded: “Australia should be helping de-escalate the crisis, and insisting on negotiations.
“Whatever one’s views on the Iranian regime it is up to the Iranian people — not Donald Trump, Scott Morrison or [Labor leader] Anthony Albanese — to choose their government.”