New times, new tasks

Statement from Hands Off the People of Iran

Playing with fire

Clearly, the election of that rogue reactionary, Donald Trump, makes the world a far more volatile and unpredictable place. This could obviously have dramatic consequences for the Middle East in general and Iran in particular. That is why Hands Off the People of Iran, founded in 2007, must now step up its campaigning work.

An already fraught situation was aggravated in early February by the decision of what seems to have been factions within the clerical order in Tehran to launch a ballistic missile test. Although the regime has stated that such missiles are “not designed for the capability of carrying a nuclear warhead”, but rather “to carry a normal warhead in the field of legitimate defence”, the US administration insists that the launch was in direct contravention of the deal agreed by Iran, which stipulated that the country will not “undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology”.

Predictably, the US administration quickly announced that it was putting Iran “on notice.” Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu - who had previously claimed that the nuclear deal “threatens Europe, threatens the west, threatens the world” - welcomed Trump’s insistence on new sanctions against Iran.

Back in January Netanyahu had sent a ‘message to the Iranian people’, which included the following sorrowfully phrased threat:

I hope this message reaches every Iranian - young and old, religious and secular, man and woman …

By calling daily for Israel’s destruction, the regime hopes to instil hostility between us. This is wrong. We are your friend, not your enemy. We’ve always distinguished between the Iranian people and the Iranian regime. The regime is cruel - the people are not; the regime is aggressive - the people are warm.

Both in Tehran and throughout the Middle East the message was interpreted as a hypocritical apology-in-advance for murderous air attacks on the Iranian people by their ‘friends’ in the Israeli Defence Force. It seems that the restraints imposed by the Obama administration on the more adventurist policies of the Zionist regime have been lifted under Trump. But, whether an attack comes from a US-led coalition or Israel alone, the situation is ominous.

From its formation, Hands Off the People of Iran (Hopi) attracted impressive support from organisations and individuals in the workers’ movement and beyond. It provided a principled focus for activists who understood it was both possible and necessary to oppose the threat of imperialist war against Iran without dressing up that country’s rulers as ‘anti-imperialist’ or maintaining a diplomatic silence on their repressive crimes against the working people of Iran.

Hopi’s work was framed by our consistent commitment to our core policies, elaborated at our launch conference in 2007:

  • Against imperialist intervention in Iran, whether in the form of military action or sanctions.
  • Against the Tehran regime and a rejection of any notion that it is some form of ‘anti-imperialist’ force.
  • Against the bellicose stance of Israel and its expansionist project.
  • For political and material support to all working class and progressive struggles in Iran against poverty and oppression.
  • For a Middle East free of nuclear weapons (whether Israeli, US, British or Iranian) as a step towards worldwide nuclear disarmament.

Throughout the last few years, while negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 over Iran’s nuclear programme ended in a deal agreed by both Washington and Tehran, we remained cautious. We knew this state of affairs could change dramatically and suddenly, not least with a new Republican president in the White House.

And now, with Trump’s election, that caution has been vindicated.

That is why Hopi is stepping up its call for trade unionists, political organisations and activists of the left to respond to this dangerous situation by joining our campaign against the new threat of war and intensification of sanctions - and in support of the struggles of the Iranian people against both renewed imperialist intervention and the foul regime that oppresses them.