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ANTI-WAR campaigners are gearing up to oppose new conflicts this summer.
The situation in the Gulf is extremely dangerous and is likely to get more so as the threat of war on Iran becomes greater.
In the past week alone there have been two attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and the shooting down of a US drone by Iran.
While there is much talk about “no-one wanting war,” that cannot be taken in good faith nor can it account for accidents which lead to military escalations.
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow pinch point between Iran and the Arabian peninsula which 20 per cent of the world’s oil has to pass through.
The failures of Western intervention in the past two decades have strengthened Iran as a regional player. Iran is a major military force with a population of 80 million.
It has supporters across the region who will strike at US interests and allies if there is war.
Any war triggered would therefore be a huge conflagration, even worse than previous Middle East wars. It would draw in both world powers and the biggest regional powers.
Such a war would have a number of fronts, not just centred on Iran but in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Israel and Palestine.
Donald Trump’s advisers, especially the neocon John Bolton, want a war with Iran. Jeremy Hunt has loyally leapt in to support him.
Yet despite all the drum beating — and we will see a lot more of it as the dreary and despicable Tory leadership contest goes on — there appears to be widespread scepticism about such a war.
There must be every effort to build on that scepticism and create a movement which clearly says no to war in Iran, which attacks the warmongering of Trump, the craven support for his policies by the British government and the role of their closest allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
After all we have been here before. The whole of 2002 was devoted to making the case for war in Iraq, including producing “evidence” of the building of weapons of mass destruction by the Iraqi regime.
The evidence proved to be utterly false, the falsity compounded by the ease with which the bulk of mainstream media accepted it as gospel truth.
The mass demonstrations around the world on February 15 2003 — with millions protesting in Britain, Italy and Spain especially and up to 30 million in total — were the answer to these lies, and should have led to the governments abandoning their plans. But instead George W Bush, Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Alastair Campbell continued despite everything.
They damaged not just the lives of millions of people, but trust in politicians. Here in Britain scepticism about Blair’s war lies is generally considered to have played a part in the widespread alienation from politics.
And despite the best efforts of the military, intelligence services, media and the politicians, people tend not to believe them about wars.
There is great scepticism about supposed evidence since the Iraq war, and subsequent justifications for war such as Libya in 2011.
The neocon agenda followed then has proved disastrous but is still being pushed by Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton.
Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are on a war drive over Iran which makes them both dangerous and mendacious.
The same media which boosted Blair and Bush in 2002-3 and called those of us who opposed the war traitors and lovers of Saddam Hussein are denouncing anyone cautious about war as supporters of the “theocratic” Iran.
They should have some shame given the terrible consequences of their role in supporting the Iraq war. They have none.
Fortunately there are millions of people who demonstrated back then, who organised meetings, went leafleting, booked coaches, walked out of their schools on strike, fought in their union branches for an anti-war position, who have not forgotten or forgiven.
They look at the catastrophe that has been caused in Iraq, the civil war that still rages in Libya, or the brutal war carried out by close British ally Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and the situation underlines how right they were to oppose war then and how they are right to do so now.
That feeling is compounded when they consider the actions of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Sultan, now officially condemned over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, or look at Benjamin Netanyahu’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Then of course we have the figure of Trump, who frequently proclaims that he wants no more wars, but acts in ways which help lead to wars.
Yet the reason for the rise in the present conflict is clear: the scrapping of the Iranian nuclear arms deal by Trump which took place in May last year and the ratcheting up of his sanctions on Iranian oil from last month.
None of the other signatories to the deal — the other permanent UN security council members (Britain, France, Russia and China), nor Germany or the EU — agree with Trump. They want to continue the deal and trading with Iran.
The Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was an internationally agreed UN-backed agreement aimed at reducing the threat of nuclear weapons development in the Middle East. At present the only country with such weapons in the region is Israel.
The nuclear deal committed Iran to not developing nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of sanctions.
That Trump has now imposed draconian sanctions is having a terrible effect on the Iranian economy and is aimed at destroying Iran’s oil industry.
Blame for more tensions over war has to be placed firmly at the door of Trump, Pompeo and Bolton. Indeed the extensive use of economic sanctions by the US across the world has to be seen for what it is — a weapon of war.
The Iranian economy is in dire straits, with the currency worth only 40 per cent of what it was a year ago, causing real hardship for ordinary Iranians.
Jeremy Corbyn is absolutely right to be sceptical about a drive to war and to urge talks and caution, just as he did in 2003.
The slurs on him by Tory politicians only serve to hide their own support for these wars.
Everyone on the left, inside the trade unions and Labour Party and in the anti-war and peace movements must step up their opposition to what Trump and Bolton are doing, with the acquiescence of our government.
We don’t have to speculate — we’ve seen the consequences of Middle East wars for two decades now and we have to stop them.
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