Editor’s Note: The following is a transcription of Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s summation of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, during the January 5 episode of Omali Taught Me.
What distinguished the murder of Qassem Soleimani by U.S. air strike was not the fact that the U.S. would conduct a state-sanctioned assassination, which they have done many times, but that they openly acknowledged it.
Soleimani was an important force in the Iranian government and a prominent leader of the Iranian military.
He played a primary role in organizing the push back to the Islamic State in the area characterized as “The Levant,” including Syria and Iraq.
As a general, Soleimani led and developed militia forces, including inside Iraq.
What the U.S. and other bourgeois media are claiming is that he organized militias of murderers and terrorists but the militias that he created were at one point appreciated by the U.S. government because they became integrated with the military strategy of the Iraqi defense forces combating the Islamic State, which the U.S. was also targeting.
Targeted assasination by the U.S. is not unusual, but the rare open acknowledgement by the U.S. government has elicited disappointment from some sectors of the bourgeoisie who have expressed tactical differences with the Trump administration’s decision to kill Soleimani in such an open fashion.
Nonetheless, they are all in agreement that Soleimani deserved to be killed.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published what they called a “brief history of rising tensions” in the Persian Gulf.
It includes a summary of the U.S. withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran and imposing sanctions on the Iranian economy, attacking oil revenues in Iran by cancelling waivers on other countries who were involved in trade with them.
As the WSJ puts it, the “tensions escalated” when Iran shot down a U.S. drone on a spy mission in June of 2019, and a month later the U.S. shot down an Iranian drone alleged to have been spotted near a U.S. warship.
Soon after, rockets were fired at an Iraqi base, killing an American contractor.
Trump blamed Iran.
Thousands of Iraqis rose up against the occupation in Baghdad, storming the U.S. embassy there.
This is how the bourgeois Wall Street Journal is summing it up, but as usual, they don’t say where all of this began.
In 1953 the U.S. government overthrew the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, a man named Mohammad Mossadegh.
At the time the British were heavily involved in the Iranian oil industry, and the U.S. wanted to break up the Anglo monopoly on petroleum.
Meanwhile, Mossadegh was moving to nationalize the Iranian oil.
Under the British monopoly on their oil industry, the Iranians were only getting 16 percent of the value of their own oil.
The U.S., using the CIA, went into Iran and staged a coup, overthrowing Mossadegh and installing a tyrannical puppet leader named Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was known as the Shah.
The U.S. exercised influence throughout the region through its embassy in the Shah’s Iran.
This represented a key strategic geopolitical significance for U.S. imperialism and its access to the resources of the region.
Nearly a third of the petroleum in that region has to pass through the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
Therefore, Iran has the capacity to block the passage of huge amounts of oil.
By installing the Shah in power, Iran became a military outpost for U.S. imperialism in the region.
It was important as a military anchor in that area as well as in North Africa.
The U.S. put an array of sophisticated arms into the hands of the Shah.
The African People’s Socialist Party worked with Iranian students exiled in the U.S. during that time period.
They were extremely active on campuses and elsewhere.
When they demonstrated against the Shah’s regime, they had to wear sacks over their heads to conceal their identities because if their faces were photographed by the press and identified by the SAVAK, the neocolonial Iranian intelligence organization shaped and influenced by the U.S. and Israel, their family members back in Iran would be tortured and often killed.
The Shah was a horrible entity.
People inside and outside of Iran had been struggling against the Shah forever, including at least two Marxist organizations, as well as many Islamic organizations.
One of the most important Islamic forces was led from a leader in exile, named Khomeini.
Khomeini exerted tremendous ideological influence on the movement in Iran against the Shah.
Cassette tapes of his speeches would be played in Islamic mosques in Iran, broadcasting his criticisms of the Shah.
Crisis began to emerge inside Iran. Protests inside and outside the country forced the Shah out of power.
Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile as the Shah and U.S. were being kicked out of Iran in 1979.
After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the new government was in possession of all of the military arms leftover from the U.S. support of the Shah, weapons which were now in the hands of a fiercely anti-imperialist and anti-American regime.
This is the context we have to understand.
The targeted assassination of Soleimani cannot be attributed simply to the Trump administration.
It’s not a Trump thing.
The U.S. has been making war against Iran for decades. This fact gets covered over by the bleeding hearts like The New York Times who disagree with Trump’s decisions but still maintain that Soleimani was a terrorist who will be mourned by none.
They call Soleimani a terrorist while the U.S. government holds the entire world under nuclear threat and starves and quarantines peoples and nations everywhere.
The U.S. has been involved in an ongoing process of trying to contain the influence of the Iranian government.
They’ve been doing this since 1979 when they operated with the assumption that Iran had been weakened after the revolution.
The U.S. manipulated and sparked a war between Iran and Iraq, playing both sides and providing coordinates to either military on the location of their supposed enemy.
Over 800,000 people died in the Iraq-Iran war.
The U.S. wanted to destroy Iran, where revolutionary fervor was alive, but they fought Saddam Hussein to a standstill.
The U.S. was not concerned with Iraq’s losses because they wanted Iraq weak too.
The U.S. wanted to be the hegemon in the region and would prefer to share power with nobody.
This is the latest act of aggression in this longstanding war by the U.S.
They’ve been kidnapping Iranian scientists. Iranian systems have been sabotaged. This is nothing new.
The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.
Iraq is a majority Shia country.
The U.S. inflamed and manufactured tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims.
They created false tensions in Iran in an effort to turn the people against the government, just like they have tried to do in Syria.
Then they portrayed a narrative where this false internal opposition in Iran was being suppressed by an unjust government. They wanted to create a Syria-type situation in Iran, but the Iranians crushed it.
The whole of imperialism rests on the colonial oppression and exploitation of the world’s peoples.
It’s not about Trump.
The disagreements from liberal bourgeois elements with Trump’s assassination of Soleimani have more to do with tactics.
Our opposition is to the entire imperialist system and what it is doing in Iran and around the world.
Objectively, the Iranian government disrupts the imperial project.
In 1899 a white man in England named Rudyard Kipling, who was considered the “bard of imperialism,” wrote a poem entitled the “White Man’s Burden” during the Spanish-American War.
It was an ode to empire.
The poem called on the Americans, who were at war in the Philippines, to adopt the burden of the white man, the burden of “civilizing the savages” through colonialism and imperialism.
Kipling urged on the Americans despite the fact that colonizing the world was, as he put it, a “thankless burden,” one for which the colonized peoples would have no gratitude.
This poem reflected a growing recognition in the white world of the United States as the rising imperial force.
Theodore Roosevelt, considered by some to be the premier leader of the imperialist venture (although we question this designation, considering that the birth of the U.S. was the result of an imperialist venture), said that the poem made the point.
It is no coincidence that it was Theodore’s son, Kermit Roosevelt, who oversaw the coup in Iran in 1953.