The Middle East: the escalation of military barbarism

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The Middle East: the escalation of military barbarism
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I don't want to underestimate the feelings and the courage of the latest protests in Iran over the shooting-down of the Ukrainian passenger jet but they have been sparse, isolated and severely repressed. But the article is correct to insist that the indignation and fury towards the regime expressed by strikes and demonstrations over the last couple of years doesn't just disappear overnight. These are partly responsible for the tensions within the regime between what could be described as the Rouhani clique and, their "dear brothers", the al-Quds forces and while some of this is for show there are serious underlying tensions which have existed for some time within the Iranian state. Just before the passenger jet was shot down Rouhani was claiming that the subdued assassination retaliation was the "final answer" and the focus should be on getting US troops out of Iraq, while the Revolutionary Guard issued a statement that it was the "start of...(it)". The strengthening of the latter forces will make the region more volatile and feed the chaotic tendencies. While, as the article points out, there's a certain (downward) continuity that exists in US foreign policy in response to the development of centrifugal tendencies - which the US can only further contribute to. Even in the "sunny uplands" of the Obama regime the US kept its boot on the throat of the Iranian economy and more crippling sanctions have been imposed by it ever since.

 The "anti-imperialist" protests in Iraq seem to be taking on a clearer form of the limits of Iraqi nationalism.

The hypocrisy of the moral superiority shown by the west over the shooting-down of the Ukrainian jet and the deaths of 170 of its passengers is rank. The reason why airline companies continue to fly their planes over and into war zones, there have been about half-a-dozen such incidents of civilian "collateral damage" over the past years, is because it costs them more money and fuel to re-route planes and disturbs their timetables, which also costs them money. The incident is reminiscent of the Iranian Air Flight 655, shot down by a ground-to-air missile fired from USS Vincennes, July 1988, while flying over Iranian territory; all 290 passengers including scores of children were killed. The US insisted that it was an "act of self-defence" in a "war-time situation" (President G. W. Bush). Though the US eventually settled claims it continued to defend its actions. The Iranians admitted their "error" almost right away but they didn't have much choice given the evidence and now there are reports of a "tussle" between the two Iranian factions over the issue.

The ICC has long maintained that elements of the situation in and around Iran are to found in the development of decomposition and are themselves expressions of it; the Iran-Iraq war for example. This is even more so today. The relationship of Iran and Russia is not very clear and there have been a couple of occasions in the past few years where Russian backing for Iran hasn't been automatic or has been ambiguous. There are questions to be asked about this relationship and that of Turkey which are increasingly prone to the effects of international disorder and everyman for himself. But the current escalation of Iranian and US tensions mark a further step in the generalisation of war and misery in the Middle East.


Although it needs further

Although it needs further research and deepening, the relationship between Russia and Iran, highlighted by recent events, is worth a brief, closer look particularly in relation to the ICC's general analysis of decomposition and the perspective raised by the ICT of the potential of a looming bloc-wide world war led by Russia which, according to the ICT's position "can't stand by and watch" (the US assassinations) and it "can't allow Iran to be attacked with impunity". Not only can Russia "allow" this, it facilitates attacks on Iranian forces in Syria by Israel and is not averse to attacking Iranian positions in Syria using its own forces. The overriding tendency is not towards the "coherence" of a bloc-wide world war but one of each against all and the development of military barbarism.

In his comments on the US attacks Putin did not mention the name "Soleimani" once and his muted criticism of the attack reflected that of the Kremlin as a whole who left it to its media to play up the question of "the aggression of US imperialism". Soleimani's death presents Russian imperialism with a chance to further strengthen its grip in Syria and, possibly, in Iraq.

Although his role was exaggerated somewhat by Tehran, Soliemani worked very closely with the Russians in Syria as an ally. Soliemani, also in the interests of Iranian imperialism, worked very closely with the US high command in both Syria and Iraq. The recent strategy of Soleimani and the IRGC (al-Quds) has been to strengthen the role of Iran in Syria and, opposed to this, the Russian aim is to strengthen the Assad regime and thus its own position. Rather than world war over US attacks on Iran, the Russians may not be too unhappy about the outcome of these attacks and if there was one world leader that would have been informed of the US drone attacks beforehand, it would have been Putin.

Under the leadership of Soleimani, the IRCG has been buying vast tracts of land and buildings around Homs and around Damascus which are being turned into Iranian enclaves. There are clear tensions here that are split three ways and Russia does not see eye to eye with Iran over Syria. Russia could have protected Iranian forces in Syria from attacks by Israel by simply keeping its newly-installed S-300 missile system deployed but, in collusion with the Israeli state,  it regularly turns it off allowing time for Israeli war-planes to enter the territory, unleash their weapons against Iranian positions and get out again. Iran has repeatedly expressed its anger at Russia over this but the latter remains adamant. Russia has also let Israel know that it might be able to help reduce Iran's weapons supplies through Damascus and it's not above confronting Iranian forces in the country directly - as it did in Deera Province when it expelled the Iranian-backed Fourth Division.

None of these things point to any sort of bloc coherence with Russia "having" to respond to US attacks on Iranian interests in the way the ICT envisages. And with Turkey very much in the mix, rather than coherence, we see the war of each against all and centrifugal tendencies dominating. Now the situation in the region resembles even more that described by one British diplomat a while ago as "a nine-sided game of chess with no rules".