Wednesday, January 8th, 2020
Early Friday morning, in an act of imperial power and disregard for international law, the US assassinated Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani and Kata’ib Hezbollah’s Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad International Airport via targeted drone strike and immediately deployed more troops to the region for “protection.” That same day, police departments around the US indicated plans of increasing local surveillance, and on Sunday Trump “vowed to hit 52 Iranian targets very hard” while dozens of Iranians were reported detained at the US border and airports within the country. On Monday, Iraqi parliament voted to kick out all foreign troops, and on Tuesday Iran’s parliament voted to recognize all US military forces as terrorists and by Tuesday evening Iran launched missiles at Al-Asad airbase in retaliation, reportedly killing Iraqis.
The US assassination of Soleimani marks a serious escalation of danger on many fronts: a sharp escalation of an already on-going geopolitical and proxy war between the United States and Iran, an increase of the United States profiling, surveilling, and detaining Iranians domestically, continued disregard for the demands of Iraqis who want the US and Iran out of their homeland, and what appears to be the final nail in the coffin of the Iran Nuclear Deal (a multi-state effort by the Joint Committee Plan of Action [JPCOA]), which the US left in 2018 and Iran announced it would no longer abide by this past Sunday.
Therefore, we raise our voices calling for a de-escalation of tension between the two nation-states, which must include US congressional checks on executive power, a total lifting of sanctions on Iran, and protection of the rights of Iranians in the United States - including a lifting of the Muslim Ban, which affects multiple countries including Iran.
As the Kenyan proverb goes: when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. We recognize that this on-going geopolitical and proxy war between the United States (a global imperial power) and Iran (a regional imperial power) will continue to lead to everyday Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, and Iranians suffering. Already, the two states have been advancing their own agenda and engaging in proxy to each other in both Syria and Iraq. Since August 2014, the US-Led Coalition has killed 1,359 civilians in Syria and Iraq, and engaged in battle over Raqqa and Mosul, causing mass destruction in both cities. In Syria, General Qassem Soleimani was responsible for providing militia power, like that of Kata’ib Hezbollah, to support Assad’s war on Syrian civilians— which is why we understand many Syrians feel some relief that a major material and political ally of Bashar al Assad is no longer alive, and we also recognize that true justice would have been putting war criminals, including Assad, Soleimani, Muhandis, and Trump on trial. And it was the United States who invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003, killing over 207,000 civilians. It was the US invasion and occupation which created the conditions for regional power struggles to be played out on Iraqi soil, with the people of Iraq paying the largest price.
WRL has long recognized the need for an antiwar movement that takes into account the multiple imperial actors in the world, the changing nature of warfare, and the ways in which war is becoming invisibilized. Knowing how actors of US imperialism often point out the crimes of other states to justify their own, we focus on uplifting diaspora antiwar leadership within the United States as a means to dismantle the white supremacy inherent with imperial finger-wagging. In 2014, we worked with Havaar, an Iran solidarity initiative, to raise political awareness and call for an end to sanctions on Iran. Previous WRL organizer Ali Issa organized the Iraqi Transnational Collective to “connect Iraqi communities working towards an equal and just Iraq free of oppression.” And our Resisting Airwars program was designed specifically to connect and uplift SWANA* diaspora voices from across the region and will be convening a group of leaders with connections to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Libya, and Kashmir this weekend to strategize towards a future where all wars have ended.
WRL stands with the people of Iran, who have suffered from US economic sanctions and domestic repression. WRL stands by the Iranian community in the United States, who have been unjustly profiled for decades.
WRL stands with the people of Iraq and the October Revolution, a popular anti-imperialist movement reclaiming Iraq for its people and standing against the US occupation that destroyed the country and against Iran’s current influence over Iraqi politics.
WRL stands with the people of Syria, who for the past decade have experienced an international proxy war akin to a “World War III” in their country, though this is generally lost in the United States when fears of a new World War III arise.
Now is the time to raise our voices for a de-escalation between the United States and Iran, uplift Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian antiwar leadership within the United States, and increase our efforts to agitate against the US war machine.
War Resisters League
*Southwest Asia/North Africa
Action Steps + Resources
Direct Action + Counter Recruitment + Petitions
If you or someone you know is in the military and considering going AWOL, becoming a conscientious objector, or withdrawing consent in some other way - call the GI Rights Hotline at 1-877-447-4487. It’s free, confidential counseling & info from volunteer civilians.
January 9th - National
No War With Iran - Day of Action (Find Your City Here)
January 12th - Los Angeles
No War No Sanctions No Ban - SWANA LA
January 25th - International
No War With Iran - Day of Action (Find Your City Here)
Who To Follow On Social Media
Mosul Eye (Iraq)
Zahra Ali (Iraq)
Maral Karimi (Iran)
Rahman Bouzari (Iran)
Kamran Matin (Kurdistan)
Harun Arsalai (Afghanistan)
Ramah Kudaimi (Syria)
Leila al Shami (Syria)
Waad Al-Kateab (Syria)
Joey Ayoub (Syria/Global Antifascism)
Rasha Al Aqeedi (Iraq)
Gissou Nia (Iran)
Kareem Shaheen (Syria)
Vahid Yucesoy (Iran)
Further Reading + Analysis
The Democratic Party’s Iran Warhawks Who Fly Under the Radar by Sarah Lazare (InTheseTimes)
To Stop Trump’s War With Iran, We Must Also Confront the Democrats Who Laid the Groundwork by Sarah Lazare (InTheseTimes)
The 2020s Has To Be the Decade We Stop Climate Change—Not Start Another War by Sarah Lazare (InTheseTimes)
What do the Iranian people want? by Rahman Bouzari (Al Jazeera)
What do Iraqi Protestors Want? by Raed Jarrar (Common Dreams)
An Iranian Crisis of Representation by Rahman Bouzari (OpenDemocracy)
Iraqis Demand a Country by Zahra Ali (MERIP)
Soleimani in Syria: A legacy of death and devastation (Al-Jumhuriya)