The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Middle East:
The U.S. Prepares for Escalation

Feb 12, 2024

This article is translated from the February 7 issue, #2897 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

On February 2, U.S. aircraft bombed 85 targets in Iraq and Syria, killing at least 34 people. Claiming responsibility for these attacks, Joe Biden said without laughing: "The United States doesn’t want conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world!"

These bombings are intended as retaliation for the deaths of three American soldiers, killed in late January at an American military base in Jordan by a drone launched by a militia armed by Iran. Since the start of Israel’s destructive and deadly rampage against Gaza following the Hamas attack, militias based in Iraq and Syria have launched drones and rockets against various American installations in the region.

It takes the boundless arrogance of American leaders, led by Joe Biden, to pose as victims who wish to “keep the peace” and “avoid any escalation” in the Middle East. For decades, the American administration has maintained a permanent state of war, with, among other attacks, the embargo and blockade against the Islamic Republic of Iran since 1979, the destruction and invasion of Iraq in 1991 and 2003, support for various Islamic militias in Syria in 2011, then the war against Islamic State in 2014, and support for all of Israel’s wars against the Palestinians or neighboring Lebanon.

These bombings, occupations, and regime overthrows have destroyed entire countries, killed thousands of men and women, and driven many more into exile. This ongoing criminal policy can only stir up deep-seated hatred of the United States throughout the Middle East. It can only provide new recruits for the militias that claim to fight them, whether or not Iran finances them. The unconditional support given by American leaders to the Israeli army, which has killed nearly 30,000 Palestinians since October 7, further reinforces this rage.

Of course, neither the American nor the Iranian leaders nor those of the other rival powers in the region—Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, or Turkey—want a general military confrontation in the Middle East. They all affirm it, calibrate their rhetoric, and all seem to control the actions of the militias they support so as not to cross the red line. But the United States has set so many time bombs and cornered so many peoples in deadlocks that an escalation out of all control could be triggered.

It could be the consequence of a poorly controlled Houthi attack in the Red Sea, which would cause a spectacular shipwreck and be followed by a massive American or British response. It could be the result of an extension of the war between the Israeli army and Hezbollah militias in southern Lebanon. A fraction of Israeli officers claim to be “ready to attack” to establish a demilitarized zone on the border, while most ultra-Zionists, such as Lobby 1701, a group of displaced Israelis near the Lebanese border, are calling for the opening of this northern front.

American leaders, who “don’t want conflict,” have demonstrated to Israeli generals over the last four months that they are ready to arm and re-arm them and to support them in the conflict as far as they want.