THE United States has demonstrated its military capacity in taking out the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who, it appears, was on a diplomatic mission to Iraq at the initiative of US ally Saudi Arabia.
Among those killed in the missile strike were leading Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Units commanders who played a significant role in defeating Isis.
The US is losing the capacity to influence decisively political developments in the region, but the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, on the orders of Donald Trump, is a shameless violation of Iraqi national sovereignty and international law and poses a real danger of an uncontrollable war.
The years since George W Bush and Tony Blair took us to war on Iraq have gradually brought home to London and Washington that the imposition of imperial power through invasion and occupation or through puppet regimes or proxy actors, or by economic sanctions or diplomatic pressure, does not resolve the problem of power or decisively shape public opinion.
But it hasn’t diminished their ability and willingness to create chaos and instability.
Both the reactionary clerical regime in Iran and the unpopular government in Iraq have, over the past months, faced massive protests that came close to threatening their stability.
The US assassination of Solemeini, in a moment, has temporarily resolved both these crises in favour of the two regimes.
Iran saw an unprecedented outpouring of anger at the strike. Following the entirely predictable Iranian response which saw missiles targeted on US military installations in their country, the Iraqi parliament — which is dominated by political forces closely attuned to Iranian influence — called for US troops to leave.
While over 5,000 US troops and many more “civilian” contractors continue to lord it in Iraq and represent a challenge to Iraqi sovereignty and to peace, the Iraqi people want above all for their country to stay out of conflicts, reassert their national sovereignty and enhance the security and stability of the state and develop its resources
The Iranian regime is caught on the horns of a dilemma. On one hand it needs to answer the US violation of its territory but it also needs to avoid being drawn into a war of reciprocal provocation.
The region is riven with contradictions — between people and political power in every country and with intense sectarian and religious divisions that intersect competing imperial interests.
The US conducts proxy campaigns against Iran in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, and sanctions Israeli bombing of Iranian assets in these states.
The US increasingly relies on disruption and provocation. These are in part the product of divisions in the US ruling class over global strategy and in part the inevitable contradictions in the US foreign policy, intelligence and State Department networks that reflect these divisions.
It is a profitless exercise trying to discern which of these competing interests will capture the thinking part of Trump's brain, but it appears for the moment that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s initiative — to entangle Trump in an open-ended and escalating conflict — has met some resistance.
But this crisis is not over. Trump says he is imposing new sanctions on Iran and wants the European powers to abandon the Iran nuclear deal.
What little influence Britain has on US foreign policy is not going to be deployed to any decisive effect for peace by Dominic Raab.
Boris Johnson refuses to rule out British support for a war on Iran. British warships are sent to the Persian Gulf and the British military mobilised for swift deployment. And he refuses to condemn Trump’s assassination of Soleimani.
Jeremy Corbyn is to speak at Saturday’s Stop the War rally. Join him.
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