US Must Return to Iran Deal, End Sanctions and Withdraw Troops from Middle East

Sen. Ed Markey at Jan. 10 press conference was joined by MAPA's Jonathan King, Mike Burns, Cole Harrison, Brian Garvey, and Susan McLucas Sen. Ed Markey at Jan. 10 press conference was joined by (l to r) MAPA's Seung Hee Jeon, Jonathan King, Mike Burns, Cole Harrison, Brian Garvey, and Susan McLucas

Cole Harrison read the following statement at a press conference organized by Sen. Ed Markey in Boston, January 10, 2020.

On behalf of Massachusetts Peace Action and our approximately 1,000 members across the state, I thank Senator Markey for his leadership in introducing a new antiwar resolution yesterday, and for initiating a sign-on letter, also joined by Senator Warren and Rep. McGovern among others, calling the Trump Administration to account for its illegal military operations, lack of justification of  on purported imminent threats, failure to negotiate with President Rouhani, threats of regime change, and threats against Iranian lives and cultural sites.

The US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad international airport, when he was on a diplomatic mission to meet the prime minister of Iraq, was a grave affront to Iraqi sovereignty for which the Trump administration has not apologized.  It was an act of war against Iran and a reckless act of adventurism which has further destabilized the Middle East.  As Senator Markey has said, Congress must now restrain the Administration from using military force against Iran and reclaim its war powers.

US destabilization of Middle East did not begin with Donald Trump.   The US created Osama bin Laden with our reckless support for Afghan insurgents in the 1980s, and we have been at war in Afghanistan since 2001.  Our assault on Libya plunged that country into civil war from which it has still not recovered.   Our embrace of Saudi tyrant Mohammed bin Salman resulted in the disastrous Yemen war, and in fat profits for Raytheon, Lockheed and other merchants of death, as well as in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.  The Iraq invasion of 2003 gave rise to ISIS and accelerated the sectarian conflicts across the Middle East.  US encouragement and aid to Syrian rebels fueled the Syrian civil war, and our troops are still illegally occuping part of Syria today.

The US has made Iran an enemy, ever since the Islamic revolution of 1979 which overthrew the US installed tyrant, the Shah.   Both parties in Washington share and fuel an irrational hatred of Iran symbolized by President Trump’s threat to attack 52 sites in Iran, including archaeological and cultural sites of world significance such as Persepolis and Isfahan.  Even when the Iran deal was signed, leading Democrats voted against it, including the present Senate minority leader.

The United States needs to turn away from our confrontational history.  We must immediately return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal which was negotiated by the US, Iran and 4 other world powers, ratified by the UN, but was then broken by President Trump in 2018.  The US should then initiate talks with the government of Iran to resolve any other differences.

The US should end its sanctions against Iran.  Sanctions are seriously hurting ordinary Iranians who cannot buy medicine and whose livelihoods are being devastated.  US extraterritorial sanctions are a form of bullying which are building resentment worldwide against US high handedness.  US sanctions are a main cause of tension and conflict in the Middle East and are profoundly counter-productive.  

The Senate should approve the War Powers concurrent resolution passed last night by the House, which directs the president to terminate the use of US armed forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran.

We must withdraw our troops from Iraq, in accordance with last weekend’s vote of the Iraqi parliament.  We must likewise withdraw our troops from the Middle East – from Afghanistan, from Syria, from Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, and our special operations troops from Yemen and Somalia.  We must end our global war on terror, respect international law, and engage with other countries on the basis of equality.

Congress must repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force, which have been used by successive administrations of both parties to justify US interventions in a variety of Middle Eastern countries.  There is no more important responsibility for senators and members of Congress than to reclaim Congress’ war powers, end the imperial presidency, and restore control of the US military to the accountable representatives of the people.