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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people                              
Vol. 80/No. 4      February 1, 2016



2001-15 Militant Index
Now Available Online
(lead article)

Washington pursues deal
with Tehran, Moscow

Seeks stability for imperialist interests in Mideast

AP/Christoph Schmidt
Thousands rally in Stuttgart, Germany, Jan. 16, organized by unions, churches and other groups to protest attacks, discrimination against refugees and New Year’s Eve sexual abuse of women.
Implementation of the nuclear deal between Washington and Tehran marks further progress in the U.S. rulers’ efforts to pursue a cease-fire in the five-year civil war in Syria, common action to curtail Islamic State, stabilize the war-torn Middle East and protect its interests.

The agreement, pushed by President Barack Obama and signed last July, took effect Jan. 16 as U.N. inspectors verified Tehran had moved the core and cemented over its reactor at Arak, destroyed over 12,000 enrichment centrifuges and shipped some 12.5 tons of partially refined uranium for storage in Russia.

Washington and its allies began lifting harsh economic sanctions that hit working people in Iran the hardest. Tehran released four American prisoners and Washington freed seven Iranians held in the U.S.

Tehran will now have access to some $100 billion in frozen assets held in banks around the world, can trade with Washington and others, and resume selling oil on the glutted world market.

Washington: More stability, less war

After the second imperialist World War, the victorious propertied rulers in Washington were confronted by a worldwide rise of colonial peoples for self-determination and social revolution. Colonial powers were forced to grant independence. But betrayals of workers’ and farmers’ struggles in the Middle East and elsewhere by Stalinist parties and the exhaustion of bourgeois nationalist forces like Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt and the Baathists in Syria and Iraq created a vacuum.

The wave of popular mobilizations that swept Syria in 2011 were suppressed by the bloody regime of Bashar al-Assad, leading to armed conflict. The weak Iraqi government, dominated by Shia-led forces, looked to Iran and faced mass distrust by the majority Sunni and Kurd population. In this context, reactionary Islamic State forces conquered large areas of the two countries, a blow to workers and farmers of the region and a challenge to imperialist domination. In areas it controls, Islamic State has carried out mass killings, abductions and enslavement of some 3,500 “infidels” and “apostates” in the name of forming a caliphate.

More than a quarter of a million people have been killed in Syria during the five-year civil war, and over half the population has been driven from their homes. There are more than 4 million refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, and hundreds of thousands more have been trying to seek refuge in Europe.

The flow of refugees from Syria and North Africa into Europe is creating a social and political crisis at a time when eurozone economies are hit by the worldwide capitalist contraction.

Those remaining in Syria face intense bombings from the Assad regime or brutality from Islamic State. The Kurdish people, who have sought independence for centuries, won control over large parts of their land in both Syria and Iraq. The “world order” cobbled together by Washington and its imperialist allies over decades is coming apart.

Washington needs the help of the capitalist governments of Iran and Russia and their longtime ally Assad to end the anarchy and war.

“This shift required a closer relationship with Iran,” George Friedman, founder of Stratfor online intelligence service, wrote in his Geopolitics weekly column Jan. 18. “This meant drawing away from the Saudis, who feared the Iranians, and also allowing friction to build up in the Americans’ relationship with Israel.”

“Iran and the United States are not friends,” Friedman said. “There is no friendship between nations. There are interests — and both share an interest in breaking IS.”

Washington’s allies back this perspective. “We need Iran to calm the conflicts and re-establish stability in this crisis-hit region,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Reuters Jan. 19. “And I hope Iran is ready for this.”

Iran has a modern industrial economy and a sizable working class. Its population of nearly 80 million is two and a half times that of Saudi Arabia.

Numerous obstacles to Washington’s course remain, as conflicts between Tehran and Riyadh, Ankara and Moscow, and Ankara’s insistence on prioritizing murderous assaults on Kurds rather than fighting Islamic State threaten to blow up any moves toward tamping down fighting.

U.N. officials announced Jan. 18 that peace talks scheduled for Jan. 25 to include all parties would likely be deferred since no clear delegation from groups fighting against Assad had been recognized.

Muslims, political rights attacked

Since Islamic State followers organized terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, last fall, the rulers in Washington and capitalist governments in Europe and elsewhere have scapegoated and targeted the rights of Muslims and Arabs. Threats and physical assaults on Muslims and mosques, calls for restrictions on immigration, increased cop spying and curtailment of political rights have followed.

In New York City masked thugs yelling “ISIS! ISIS!” jumped Mujubar Rahman, 43, a Bronx resident dressed in traditional Bangladeshi garb, and beat him unconscious while he was walking with his 9-year-old niece Jan. 15. A protest against the attack took place at the site Jan. 19.

Four friends returning to Brooklyn, New York, from a weekend in Toronto — two Bangladeshi Muslims, an Arab Muslim and a Sikh from India — recently filed a $9 million lawsuit after they were kicked off a flight from Toronto in December because the pilot and a flight attendant felt “uncomfortable” with their presence, the New York Daily News reported Jan. 18.

City of London cops have launched a new spy and frisk program called Project Servator. Pioneered by the cops’ counterterrorism unit, special teams of undercover cops have been trained to notice “subtle, sometimes unconscious ways in which people behave” on the street. If you look “nervous,” you are stopped and can be frisked.
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