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Editorial: Britain should not be abetting a criminal US war on Iran

IRANIAN socialists’ warning that the seizure of an oil tanker by British marines could precipitate a dangerous escalation towards war cannot be ignored.

Britain claims to be enforcing EU sanctions on Syria. But the assertion from Spain’s Acting Foreign Minister Josep Borell that our troops were operating on US instructions is all too plausible.

Responsibility for ratcheting up tension with Iran rests squarely with the Donald Trump administration in Washington.

When it decided in spring 2018 to unilaterally tear up 2015’s agreement on civil nuclear development, negotiated over years with Iran by the US, the EU, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, even our then foreign secretary Boris Johnson was clear that Britain disagreed with the move and would continue to honour the agreement itself.

But our government has since done little or nothing to press the US to change its ways and has shamefully lined up behind the drive to military conflict now being steered by Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton — who was first out of the traps in crowing about the tanker’s seizure by Britain.

His remark that “America and our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran and Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade” implies that the action was co-ordinated with the US.

Current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt still claims to want to preserve the nuclear deal which Iran is now threatening to cease observing, warning: “If Iran breaks that deal then we are out of it as well.”

He fails to address the reason Iran might walk away — the fact that the deal is a dead letter when the US is able to impose crippling sanctions and bully third parties into observing them.

Spain says that Britain seized the ship on the open sea and has lodged a formal complaint since this means it took place in waters disputed between London and Madrid in the Strait of Gibraltar.

So whatever sanctions Britain may be claiming to enforce, the matter was clearly not cleared with other EU members in advance.

It looks rather like a reckless provocation planned with the US and aimed at triggering an Iranian response. Advisers to Iran’s theocratic supremo Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are already putting public pressure on the Tehran government to do just that by seizing a British tanker.

This could then form the pretext for the catastrophic war that Trump, along with his Saudi and Israeli allies, seem set on — a war that could be wider in scale and bloodier even than the Iraq war because of Iran’s larger size and its potential to set off Sunni-Shia conflicts across the Middle East.

Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn has been at the receiving end of the usual insults for daring to speak out about this march to ruin.

Hunt’s drivel about it being “pathetic and predictable” of Corbyn to ask for evidence before pulling the trigger was barely more statesmanlike than his disgusting invocation of the nazi death camp at Auschwitz to score a cheap and dishonest political point shortly afterwards.

Labour could retort in the words of a Jewish victim of nazi terror, Stefan Zweig, who deplored the propagandists of knee-jerk militarism who ignited the first world war: “Anyone who uttered a warning was derided as a pessimist, anyone who opposed the war that inflicted no suffering on [the warmongers] personally was branded a traitor.

“It was always the same, the whole pack throughout history who called cautious people cowards, humane people weak, only to be at a loss themselves in the hour of disaster that they had so rashly conjured up. Because the pack was always the same. They mocked Cassandra in Troy, Jeremiah in Jerusalem.”

The world is on a knife-edge due to aggression and destabilisation directed by the United States. Pressure on the Tories to stop them conniving at this looming tragedy is a must.


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