The latest example of US aggression toward Iran saw a US F-15 fighter jet flying dangerously close to a Mahan Air passenger plane over Syria while supposedly carrying out ‘a visual inspection’. The plane was forced to suddenly change altitude and as a result, several passengers were injured. One was shown bloodied and one was seen lying immobile on the floor, while many passengers were screaming in fear. Iran has lodged a formal complaint to the International Civil Aviation Organization.
This move is yet another flashpoint in a series of incidents of dangerous US hostility toward Iran. The country has been the target of a “maximum pressure” campaign from the US since President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and imposed new, widespread sanctions on Iran’s economy. These have caused the economy in Iran to shrink dramatically and ordinary people have been hit hardest by the sanctions.
Tensions reached their height when Iranian Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani was killed by a US drone in Iraq in January. Iran responded by launching missiles at US military bases and tensions have remained high since those unprecedented clashes.
A new set of sanctions was imposed while Iran was facing a coronavirus outbreak. These targeted five companies across Iran and Iraq, and 15 Iranian officials. These sanctions, combined with the fact that the US blocked an attempt from Iran to get a five-billion-dollar loan from the World Bank, meant that Iran faced shortages of essential medical equipment and that their ability to deal with the virus was severely hindered.
This latest escalation comes at the same time as Iran and China, both targets of severe economic sanctions from the US, are on the verge of agreeing an economic and military deal. This will allow for billions of dollars of Chinese investments in banking, telecommunications, and transport – effectively canceling out the effect of Trump’s sanctions.
Perhaps more significantly though, the deal strengthens the military cooperation between the two countries. They will carry out joint weapons development and military training, as well as intelligence sharing. This will undoubtedly aggravate the Trump administration, as it underlines that their efforts to contain Iran and China’s economic and military growth have been completely unsuccessful.
The fighter jet incident demonstrates that Iran is still very much a US target. The same is true of China, whose growing economic and military power is seen as a major threat to US hegemony. It is no coincidence that Trump has tried to use the coronavirus crisis as a way of launching fresh attacks on China.
Within the antiwar movement, we must be alert to these developments and be calling out the continued economic warfare against Iran and China, while campaigning against any new attempts to ramp up tensions with either country.
Source: Stop the War Coalition