Last week, the Trump administration carried through on its threat to reimpose brutal sanctions on Iran. In addition to targeting Iran directly, these measures also target any other nation that would continue trade relations with the country. This includes the European Union, a long time imperialist ally of Washington and a key part of its so-called “global consensus”.
The current sanctions mainly target Iran’s large auto sector, trade in gold and other key metals. Sanctions scheduled to begin in November, however, will be even more draconian, targeting Iran’s energy sector, central bank transactions and petroleum related products.
On top of this, the Iranian currency, the rial, was sent into a free-fall hitting as low as 120,000 to the dollar. This has led to inflation and is making it increasingly hard for ordinary Iranians to access important consumer goods.
The current round of aggression was initiated last May when the United States illegally withdrew from the multilateral “Iran nuclear deal” — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. France and Germany, the principle powers of the European Union, were and still are signatories to the JCPOA and are upset with the Trump administration for withdrawing.
However, the interests of the EU in preserving the Iran nuclear deal are no acts of internationalist solidarity but based on the economic interests of their own capitalist class, who seek to profitable trade relations with the country. The US has decided to sanction any EU corporation that does not follow the United States’ sanctions on Iran, as well as to revisit a loophole that allows for the EU to get around U.S. sanctions.
Nathalie Tocci, an aide to the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, said to the BBC Radio 4 last Monday that: “If EU companies abide by U.S. secondary sanctions, they will, in turn, be sanctioned by the EU.” The foreign ministers of the UK, Germany and France issued a joint statement expressing regret towards the new U.S. sanctions. These states also put forward a legal mechanism called a blocking statute to “protect EU companies doing legitimate business with Iran from the impact of U.S. extraterritorial sanctions.”
It remains to be seen whether or not the EU will truly defy Trump, or if this is simply tough talk before they ultimately roll over.
U.S. offers phony negotiations
Trump’s offer in late July to Iran’s President to meet without any preconditions is a scam. If there was any thought behind it at all — and his statement was quickly contradicted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — it was an attempt to portray Iran as belligerent and obstinate when in fact Iran has abided by international law and the conditions of the JCPOA.
So it is no wonder that after President Trump’s announcement President Rouhani retorted: “If you stab someone with a knife and then say you want to talk, the first thing you have to do is to remove the knife.”
U.S. imperialism is indeed a knife in the backs of oppressed and colonized workers all over the world. Rouhani’s statement echoes Malcolm X’s famous and correct quote: “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound.” Not only has the United States refused to stop attacking Iran with an assortment of tactics, they have not even recognized that they are the ones who are responsible for the suffering of the Iranian people.
What we are witnessing is the attempted strangulation of an entire nation by means of economic warfare. Contrary to the liberal apologists for imperialism, is is clear that sanctions are indeed an act of war. They hurt the poor and working class of the targeted nation by creating a shortage of vital commodities people need to survive, from food to medicine and more.
This is not an alternative to war, it is a direct path to it. The catastrophic 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, for instance, was made possible by the decade of economic strangulation that preceded it.
Regime change is the goal of U.S. imperialism
Under the weight of the U.S.-led sanctions, working class and poor Iranians face a grim economic situation. Protests in Iran have taken place as a consequence of this imposed scarcity. The corporate media doesn’t contextualize the unrest and continues to present myopic narratives that fit the U.S. plans for regime change. If this goal can be accomplished without direct military intervention then it’s all the better for U.S. imperialism.
The Trump administration and the rabidly pro-imperialist Democratic Party alike hope to sow dissent among the Iranian people through sanctions and capitalize off it by supporting extreme reactionaries like the Mojahedin-e Khalq, which was once considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, to spread violent unrest that paves the way for an installation of a new government in Iran that obeys the dictates of Washington.
All anti-imperialist, revolutionary and progressive people need to unite against these sanctions, which are simply a prelude to open warfare. That includes combating the racist demonization campaign that precedes all wars of aggression. We should be wary of the maneuvering of the EU and firmly support the self-determination and independence of Iran by building a strong anti-war movement in the streets.