In the midst of revolutions in Iraq and Lebanon, the strengthening of both American imperialism and the Iranian regime brought about by the assassination of Qassem Suleimani was short-lived[i].
By Hassan al-Barazili
At first, President Trump strengthened himself through a power show by cowardly murdering both the top Iranian military commander and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leader of one of the main Iraqi Shiite militias aligned to Iranian regime together with six other members causing perplexity among both his European imperialist allies and the circles of the American bourgeoisie themselves.
He then threatened to bomb 52 Iranian targets in case of retaliation. Finally, the first Iranian retaliation was limited: the bombing of two air bases shared by both American and Iraqi forces did not bring any casualties due to the warning given by the Iranian regime to the Iraqi Prime Minister more than 2 hours in advance, enabling their evacuation[ii]
The Iranian regime was also strengthened by avoiding a war with imperialism and using the assassination of Suleimani to gain legitimacy for its policies both inside and outside Iran. Within the country it organized multitudinous demonstrations against American aggression that eclipsed the recent massacre carried out by the regime for four days in mid-November when about 1500 protesters were murdered and more than seven thousand were arrested for fighting back rising fuel prices and standing for better living conditions and the end of the dictatorship[iii]. In Iraq, the sectarian regime (see note xxii) imposed by American occupation in 2003 and shared by both the Iraqi pro-imperialist and pro-Iranian bourgeois sectors leaned in favor of Iran by voting on January 5 a motion in parliament asking imperialist military forces to leave the country. In addition, pro-Iranian Shiite militias attacked and weakened demonstrations that have been taking place since October 1 demanding the end of the sectarian regime and better living conditions[iv]. Finally, this conflict encouraged Stalinists and Castroists throughout the world to defend the Iranian dictatorship uncritically by deliberately omitting the democratic struggles and revolutions in the region.
However, this strengthening was short-lived for Trump.
The Democratic opposition-led House of Representatives voted to limit presidential powers to carry out any future military action against Iran without consulting Parliament and now the divided Senate will take a stand.
The American press reported that Trump also authorized a military operation to assassinate another Iranian leader in Yemen which failed[v].
His defense secretary Mark Esper gave a public interview stating that he was unaware of any plans by Suleimani to attack American embassies, the main reason alleged by Trump to authorize the murder[vi].
The British newspaper The Independent published an article pointing out deals between the Trump and Iranian companies that served as a front for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard businesses headed by Qassem Suleimani himself[vii].
Finally, his action had little support among European imperialism, although he received enthusiastic support from the State of Israel and his Saudi allies. Even a leading Brazilian reserve general criticized Trump’s action, exemplifying that it would be equivalent to the US bombing Brazil on the grounds of attacking the PCC, the country’s main drug trafficking organization[viii].
Downed plane puts the Iranian regime in crisis
The strengthening of the Iranian regime was also short-lived. By shooting down a Ukrainian plane with 176 passengers on board mainly Iranians on January 7, and denying any responsibility for three days, the regime ended up taking protesters to the streets once again[ix]. There were four days of mobilizations led by the student movement with repercussions in other sectors.
Journalists working for the regime’s media have resigned[x]. Artists launched a manifesto announcing a boycott of the Fajr festival, an award organized by the regime equivalent to Hollywood Oscar[xi]. The main Iranian athlete announced her departure from the country and harshly criticized the regime for the treatment of women and people in general[xii]. A leader of the bourgeois opposition called for the resignation of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. President Hassan Rouhani himself said it was an unacceptable error and called for the formation of a court[xiii] to try all those involved targeting sectors of the regime linked to Ayatollah Khamenei who lead the Revolutionary Guard which is responsible for the missile firing.
Finally, this week the Iraqi revolution resumed its strength by holding a major demonstration in Baghdad demanding an end to the sectarian bourgeois regime and that the U.S. and Iran do not turn Iraq into a battlefield, demanding an end to influence of both in the country. Furthermore, the Lebanese revolution (which also faces the sectarian bourgeois regime whose main defender at the moment is Hezbollah, a Lebanese party allied with the Iranian regime) is carrying out the “Week of Rage” with radicalized actions (attacks on the Central Bank, blocking public roads, occupation of buildings public) even though with a smaller numbers of demonstrators[xiv].
The struggle for regional hegemony continues
Despite of difficulties and setbacks, none of the three political forces left the battlefield.
Trump drew support from European imperialism to impose a new nuclear deal with Iran and to prevent American troops from leaving Iraq, which would virtually put the country under Iranian hegemony. He was also helped by the position of the countries that had citizens on the Ukrainian Airlines flight shot down by Iranian missiles to increase the pressure on the Iranian regime. At the regional level Trump has the Israeli military support that regularly bombs militias linked to the Iranian regime on Syrian soil and eventually on Iraqi territory with the endorsement of the Russian regime[xv]. Furthermore, he also has the support from the Kurdish bourgeoisie to maintain its influence over Iraq.
On the other side, the Iranian regime vetoed about 90 current MP’s from running for the February 21 elections. They are “reformist” candidates – supporters of the regime but critical of Ayatollah Khamenei. This will further undermine the legitimacy of the elections by allowing only the candidacies coming from Ayatollah Khamenei’s ranks. In addition, it held a meeting of the main Iraqi Shiite militias in the holy city of Qom to unify efforts to end American influence in Iraq and to end the Iraqi revolution altogether.
The meeting had the enthusiastic presence of the Shiite leader Moktada al-Sadr, winner of the last elections and leader of the Mahdi army (the new denomination of the Saraya Salam militias – Peace Companies). He proposed to carry out a march of a million men against the American presence in Tahrir Square, the main site of anti-regime demonstrations, under the pretext of fighting against the Americans, but in reality carrying out an attack on anti-regime protesters[xvi].
Finally, anti-regime protesters in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon resume mobilizations without any alignment with American imperialism. An example is the manifesto of Iranian students[xvii] against both the Shah (who symbolizes a pro-U.S. regime) and the supreme leader (who symbolizes the current Velayat e-Faqih regime)[xviii]. Demonstrators in Iraq[xix] and Lebanon are following suit.
We reject American aggression and we demand the withdrawal of American troops from across the Middle East[xx]. We call on all workers, anti-imperialist and democratic forces to promote mobilizations in all countries, mainly in the U.S., against American aggression, for the withdrawal of all troops, for the closure of all U.S. military bases in the Middle East and for the end of the criminal sanctions against Iran.
At the same time we support the Iraqi revolution[xxi] that stands for the end of the sectarian regime[xxii] and the end of the U.S. and Iranian influence over the country. We also support the Iranian protestors who fight for the end of the Velayat e-Faqih regime[xxiii]. Finally, we support the Lebanese revolution against the sectarian regime. We call on all workers’ and progressive’s forces to build international solidarity with these revolutionary processes.
The path to victory for the revolutions goes through the maintenance and radicalization of mobilization, the organization of workers’ and people’s councils, the incorporation of the working class and its means of struggle, and splits in the army and police forces, bringing soldiers to the side of the revolution.
It also goes through the formation of revolutionary political organizations[xxiv] that are instrumental to help these revolutions to win and to move beyond under an anti-capitalist and socialist perspective, not limiting themselves to dismantling authoritarian, theocratic and sectarian regimes.
[xxii] Sectarian or confessional regime defines the relation of Power among bourgeois sectors by religions criteria. It was imposed on Lebanon in 1923 by French imperialism and in Iraq in 2003 by U.S. imperialism.
[xxiii] Velayat e-Faqih means Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist, that is the Supreme Leader or Iman who has dictatorial powers. It was imposed on Iran after the victory of the clerical-bourgeois sectors led by Ayatollah Khomeini over the leftwing and liberal forces in the 1979 revolution.