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Editorial: All efforts must be made to stop war with Iran

OUR Foreign Secretary declares Britain is “on the same page” as a US government whose extrajudicial killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and a host of others has brought the world to the brink of war.

“On the same page” as a US President who publicly declares he intends to target Iranian “cultural sites,” despite this being a war crime under the Hague Convention and one unanimously condemned by the UN security council just three years ago in response to the widespread destruction of ancient monuments by the Isis terror group.

“On the same page” as Washington’s military despite killing Soleimani on Iraqi territory being a shameless breach of its supposed alliance with Baghdad — one which has prompted Iraq’s parliament to demand the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from its country.

Dominic Raab claims to want to avoid a war. So for that matter does Donald Trump, who ludicrously asserts that he ordered Soleimani’s killing to stop one. But the uproar sweeping the Middle East in the wake of this outrageous breach of international law will be difficult to contain.

Trump pointing to Iranian repression of peaceful protesters in recent weeks, claims by Mike Pompeo that ordinary Iraqis will celebrate Soleimani’s death, are deeply misleading.

It is true that Iran put down popular protests with great savagery; but the arbitrary murder of one of its most senior military officers is clearly sparking popular fury on the streets of its great cities.

Mass protest movements in Lebanon and Iraq, which were indeed opposed to Iranian influence associated with their corrupt governments, will now find their democratic struggle faces threats of subversion in the interests of foreign powers.

Despite issuing inevitable threats of “severe revenge,” Iran has so far confined its specific response to hints it will further breach the terms of the international treaty on nuclear development that the US has in any case already rejected. 

International pressure for de-escalation is vital if a new Middle Eastern war likely to take millions of lives and ruin millions more is to be avoided: but Britain will not assist that process by parroting US warnings to Iran not to retaliate like a playground bully’s weedy sidekick.

Trump’s reckless action puts British lives in danger as well as Iranian, Iraqi and US ones, and this is an escalation the whole world can see comes from the White House and nowhere else, the same White House that tore up the nuclear deal and shredded landmark arms limitation treaties with Russia that signalled an end to the cold war, the same White House that has been trying for a year to impose an unelected puppet as president of Venezuela and which stood behind the brutal military takeover in Bolivia last month. 

In short the same White House that is the biggest threat to peace and security on the planet, including in its role as denier-in-chief of the climate change catastrophe we are now seeing unfolding in Australia on an apocalyptic scale.

While a number of Labour leadership hopefuls cautiously distance themselves from the radical manifesto presented at last month’s general election (most of them, ironically, prominent supporters of the ultra-Remain tendency that by any measure did Labour far more damage than pledges to provide free broadband or renationalise water) it is hard not to feel grateful that as this crisis develops Labour is still led by an anti-imperialist who has called out US belligerence.

Jeremy Corbyn’s demands the privy council urgently meet to see how war can be avoided contrast with the radio silence from a Prime Minister who can’t be bothered to cut short his Christmas holiday in the Caribbean.

Other leading Labour figures have also stepped up to the plate, noting the urgency of building an anti-war movement. As over 80 demonstrations against war in the US alone this weekend demonstrate, the world agrees.

No war on Iran.

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