In the final two weeks of June we have seen a number of serious developments in the Middle East involving the United States, Israel, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. While almost completely ignored by the U.S. mainstream press, there is considerable alarm around the world and especially in the Middle East. Some of these developments are unprecedented and could denote a sharp escalation in the U.S./NATO and Israeli campaign against Iran, or even all-out war.
Anti-war and progressive people and organizations should note the following:
* On June 18, a U.S. naval carrier group, reportedly accompanied by at least one Israeli vessel, passed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea and toward the Persian Gulf. The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Force, , included and aircraft carrier, guided missile cruiser, Aegis-class destroyers and the German frigate GGS Hessen.
*According to Iran’s Fars New Agency, the Israeli Air Force recently unloaded military equipment at a Saudi Arabia base near the city of Tabuk.. Even more ominously, the Saudi’s are reported to have realigned their missile defense system to allow for an air corridor for Israeli planes in the event of a war with Iran.
* U.S. forces stationed in the Central Asian country of Azerbaijan have massed along the Iran/Azerbaijani border. The U.S. forces, which are part of the so-called war on terror, are supposed to be supporting the war in Afghanistan. Iranian revolutionary guards have called in tanks and anti-aircraft units to the area in what amounts to a war alert.
* On July 1, President Barack Obama signed an agreement negotiated in the U.N Security Council stepping up sanctions on Iran and its economy. However, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) publicly worried that China may undercut the sanctions.
* On June 28, Iran announced that it would not challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza at this time. An Iranian flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid and flying the Red Crescent, the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross, was en route to Gaza accompanied by Iranian naval vessels. The expedition reportedly had the diplomatic support of both Russia and Turkey.
* Yesterday, June 30, Ali Akbar Salehi, the Islamic Republic’s vice president and director of the nuclear program, announced that Iran has produced another 37 pounds of uranium enriched to 20 percent. Iran has a right to do this under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty which it signed (and the Israelis have not signed). Iran maintains that their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Significantly, the 20 percent level is far below the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon.
* There has been speculation that if the U.S. and NATO attempt to inspect Iranian ships in order to enforce the new sanctions, the resulting confrontation may lead to war.
* Among the world leaders who have issued strong warnings about U.S. intentions is Fidel Castro, who certainly knows what it is like to have your country threatened with military attack, including with nuclear weapons. In his published Reflections on June 27, he stressed the importance of the Cuban people, and progressives everywhere to be prepared to respond, even to the most horrendous catastrophe, which could be the outcome of a U.S.-Israeli war against Iran: “What would be [the worst] is to suddenly be made aware of news of serious events, without having heard any news whatsoever beforehand about such possibilities, thereby falling into confusion and panic….”
Much analysis is no doubt necessary to determine the seriousness of the above developments. It should be remembered, that almost all large military operations in this era require months, if not years, of meticulous planning. The fact that the Pentagon has not chosen to reveal their plans to the mainstream media does not mean that such plans do not exist. However, the most immediate task of anti-war and anti-imperialists around the world is to to respond quickly to these provocations emanating from Washington and prepare to resist any and all attempts to make war on Iran.
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