The Abolition Collective resolutely calls for a cessation of US military and economic intervention into the local and regional affairs of Iran and the withdrawal of the US’ military presence in Iraq.
As we continue to stand on the precipice of potential war between the US and Iran in the aftermath of Iran’s missile attack on military bases in Iraq, the horrific specter of wanton slaughter looms on the world’s horizon. This summer, two US oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The US’ suspicion of Iran’s involvement was a pretext to reanimate its most vitriolic geo-political and geo-economic tactics against the Islamic Republic, including saber-rattling threats of imminent war and the intensification of a regime of economic sanctions.
The months since have seen the gradual thaw of the stalemate between the US and the Islamic Republic. The events of the summer came to a head with the US’ assassination of Qasem Suleimani, the general of the Revolutionary Guard of the Islamic Republic’s Quds Forces. Millions of people in Iran and Iraq decried the act of war committed by the United States. The Islamic Republic responded. The Trump Administration’s decision to back off from the immediate threat of war is a return to normal — yet normal, for the Islamic Republic, has been war.
The United States has willfully destabilized the “Middle East” for its own ruthless self-interest since the Cold War. It has named and claimed the Middle East as its sovereign domain. It has scorched a whole region of the earth for nothing more or less than its thirst for blood and oil. The US has done this in continuity with a much longer history of settler-colonial aggression, with the gall to invoke the claim of “self-defense” in the countries it has invaded and destroyed.
The United States has not had and does not have an interest in the well-being of Iranians. With the United Kingdom, it engineered Operation Ajax, the 1953 coup against Iran’s Prime Minister Muhammad Mussadeq after he spearheaded a campaign to nationalize Iran’s oil, posing a direct threat to the financial interests of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company — currently named British Petroleum. The US prodded Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi thereafter to wage war against Marxist-Leninists and its leftist opposition as part of a global policy of containment.
The 1979 Revolution that abolished the monarchy was anti-authoritarian and anti-imperial: it was a collective movement opposed to a longer history of imperial intervention in Iranian politics, embodied and carried forth by the Shah, the representative collaborator of empire.
Since the 444-day embassy siege in November 1979 shortly after the Shah’s departure, the United States has placed Iran under a devastating sanctions regime. It funded and armed Saddam Hussein in the 1980-89 Iran-Iraq War that resulted in half a million deaths. It placed Iran on the “Axis of Evil” at the outset of the so-called War on Terror, all the while planting military bases around its borders. It has portrayed the Islamic Republic as a tyrannical state, depicting Iranians in Iran as the helpless and innocent victims of their oppressors while periodically deploying covert and overt mechanisms of policing towards Iranians in the US.
Iranians have been taking part in their own struggles against a trenchant oligarchy, buttressed by its system of policing and incarceration, as evinced in the mass uprisings that swept across the country in November 2019. Yet since 1979, Iranian leftists have directly squared the articulation and enactment of critiques of the Islamic Republic with the equally pressing question, framed in the terms of anti-imperialism, of their right to self-determination.
It is more in the interest of the emancipation of Iranians to resist those who cannot, in the words of Frantz Fanon, cease “talking of Man, yet murder men everywhere they find them.”
As abolitionists, we hold that if we are to listen to Iranians and act as comrades and accomplices, we are beset with the task of abolishing a carceral state that wages war at home while policing abroad. Solidarity with Iranians is more concrete when we work to abolish empire from where we stand, as is solidarity with people in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and the multitude of places that have faced the repercussions of the US’ drive towards global hegemony and who are presently engaged in struggles against necropolitical agents and systems of domination.
In every instance of our rebellion, we stand with Iranian people who share our desire for an end to state violence and its everyday results in social inequities. We do so in solidarity with poor and working-class, Indigenous, Black, POC, migrant, feminist, anti-ableist, queer, trans and antiprison movements that mobilize self-defense to militate against capitalism, imperialism, and policing: the holy trinity of US statecraft.
We call for no war and no sanctions on Iran and an end to the US’ military presence at home and abroad.