Apr 29, 2019
The following article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the French revolutionary workers’ group of that name.
On April 22, Trump announced the end of the exceptions to the U.S. embargo against Iranian oil that had been granted to eight countries last November. Immediately, the price of oil shot up, reaching $74 a barrel.
Under the pretext of weakening the regime of the Islamist mullahs, Trump further squeezes the Iranian population and takes aim at the European and Asian competitors of the U.S. capitalists. Ever since he renounced the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, his administration has imposed, step-by-step, a series of embargos.
While the Iranian regime that Trump affirms he wants to make fall is the direct target of these measures, they also hit the companies of the other western powers. All of those who do business with Iran and who use the dollar and the U.S. banking system for this business are threatened with giant fines. These threats have pushed many firms, including Total, British Airways, and Air France, to suspend all business with Iran.
On November 4, when he put in place the second phase of sanctions, Trump granted exemptions to China, India, Turkey, and South Korea. He was trying not to shut off the flow of Iranian oil too quickly – it went from three million barrels a day at the start of 2018 to 1.5 million today – in order to avoid a spike in prices. In parallel, he tried to haggle over commercial compensations for these countries. Trump demonstrated his strength not just to the Islamist mullahs who rule Iran, but also to all the political leaders of the planet.
This time once again, in addition to promoting the interests of U.S. oil companies that have increasing amounts of oil and gas to export, Trump is undoubtedly looking to force China or India to accept an unfavorable trade deal, in return for access to Iranian oil.
As always with embargos, it is the Iranian population that is paying the highest price. They already suffer from the dictatorship of the mullahs, corruption, and the permanent privileges of the regime’s dignitaries. The embargo has already caused 25% inflation and aggravated the shortage of food. And on top of these problems, for several weeks the country has been hit by enormous rainstorms that have caused massive flooding and destruction in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces. More than 500,000 people have been displaced from their homes and two million are in need of humanitarian aid. But the embargo on financial transactions prevents this aid from arriving. A payment from the Red Cross to the Iranian Red Crescent was blocked. Many countries have sent shipments of material aid, but they are tiny compared to the massive needs of the population.
Trump’s embargo is such a huge attack on the population that if the Islamist regime of the mullahs was not so hated and weakened, he might even reinforce it.