The United States military strike on January 3 that assassinated Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Quds Brigade commander Qasem Soleimani and deputy commander of the Iraqi government-affiliated Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iran’s retaliation against two US military bases in Iraq on January 8 brought the World to the brink of war.
Since then, United States President Donald Trump has been escalating the danger by threatening more US military aggression, including the destruction of Iran’s cultural heritage sites (a war crime), and has refused to allow Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif a visa to attend the United Nations Security Council in violation of the US’s legal responsibility as the UN host country.
Since October, millions of Iraqis have been protesting against government corruption, a lack of economic opportunities and basic services, the lack of democracy, religious sectarianism and US and Iranian influence over Iraq.
Al-Muhandis directed the brutal response to these protests, including deploying snipers who killed many of the 500 people who died. Soleimani was the Iranian connection to the PMF, which has a history of human rights abuses.
It is not surprising that some Iraqi protesters celebrated their assassination. However, the suffering of Iraqis will only worsen the more their country becomes the arena for US-Iran conflict.
The current dysfunctional and violent regime in Iraq is the product of the 2003 US invasion. Despite their rivalries, the US and Iran have frequently collaborated in imposing rulers on Iraq. US forces were fighting alongside the PMF as recently as 2017.
Since last November, Iran has been rocked by protests for democracy, workers’ and women’s rights. The brutal regime launched its crack-down, killing some 1500 protesters.
However, is dishonest for the US to use human rights to justify its aggression. Not only does the US abuse human rights at home, it frequently backs or imposes regimes with a worse human rights record than Iran.
US-imposed sanctions on Iran hurt ordinary people more than the regime. They also provide the regime with a justification for its economic failings.
The flagrant hypocrisy of the US, a nuclear power, imposing sanctions on the basis that Iran (which doesn’t have nuclear weapons) is a nuclear threat, allows the latter to whip up nationalism. The vast size of the crowds at Soleimani’s funeral is an illustration of how US aggression bolsters the Iranian regime.
The Australian Socialist Alliance unequivocally condemned the US attack on January 3 and called on the Australian government to end its silence on US violations of international law.
Spokesperson Alex Bainbridge told Green Left that Socialist Alliance’s condemnation of the assassinations was not an endorsement of the actions or policies of the Iranian or Iraqi regimes or military forces they control.
He said the Coalition government must withdraw the 300 troops from Iraq and end its participation in the US-led naval operations in the Persian Gulf.
“The HMAS Toowoomba, which is heading to the Gulf to boost that, should return to Australia.”
“Australia’s participation in the US-led aggression in the Middle East comes at a time when Australia is being devastated by unprecedented bushfires and extreme heat, arising from climate change. We should be abandoning fossil fuels, not joining wars to secure them.
“The response to the bushfires, which have claimed lives, homes and decimated wildlife, has been hampered by massive under-resourcing. We need more resources spent on firefighters and communities, not on wars or fighter planes.
“The entire political establishment justifies military aggression as providing safety and protecting Australian’s ‘way of life’. But we know full well what is, and what isn’t, threatening us.”
Bainbridge said it was hypocritical for Canberra to use the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses as a pretext for military aggression, when it collaborates with Iran to abuse the human rights of the regime’s opponents.
“A large proportion of the refugees held in Australian onshore and offshore detention are refugees from the Iranian regime,” Bainbridge said. “Opponents of the Iranian regime have been killed in Australian detention and others have been pressured into returning to Iran.”
Bainbridge said that the Socialist Alliance sends its solidarity to Iranians and Iraqis fighting for democracy, worker’s, women’s and minority rights.
“We are very concerned that Iraq, which has been devastated by 17 years of war and occupation, is being used as a battleground by other countries.
“To that end we will continue to work for the withdrawal of all occupying troops, warships and war planes and for Australia to leave ANZUS (the Australia, New Zealand and US war alliance).
“A small part of the army has only recently been deployed to assist in the massive bushfire rescue effort across four states and to help fight the catastrophic fires. This is where defence is needed, not overseas meddling in sovereign countries along with the US, the biggest military power in the world.”