‘End this war and implement a ceasefire or you will be hit hard’ – Iran Defence Minister Brigadier General Ashtiani

Demonstration at the port of Oakland in California opposing the sending of US arms to Israel

IRAN’S defence minister has warned that the United States will suffer a heavy blow if it fails to stop Israel’s savage war against the besieged Gaza Strip.

‘Our advice to the Americans is to immediately end this war and implement a ceasefire, otherwise they will be hit hard,’ Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani said on Sunday.

The Iranian minister said the United States has made several strategic mistakes, particularly in West Asia. And now, he added, Washington is sending messages of support to Iran out of ‘desperation and fear’.

The Americans along with the Israelis are now in a quagmire trying to get themselves out, General Ashtiani said.

Israel ignited its war machine on October 7th after the surprise Operation Al-Aqsa Storm by the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas against the occupying entity. Since then, the Israeli regime has killed at least 9,770 Palestinians, including 4,800 children and 2,550 women.

Israel has also cut off fuel, electricity, food and water to more than two million Palestinians living in Gaza.

US military bases and personnel in Iraq and Syria have repeatedly come under drone and missile attacks since the Israeli regime launched the war on Gaza.

On November 1st, Leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, called upon Muslim states to press for an end to the Israeli atrocities against Gaza, and impose sanctions on the regime and stop oil and goods exports to the occupied territories (Israel).

Meanwhile, in the United States itself, reports reveal that, as the Israeli killing machine continues to wreak havoc in the besieged Gaza Strip, US arms manufacturers are making merry, and expect a big boost in their profits.

The United States has vowed unconditional and unwavering support to the Israeli regime in its genocidal campaign in the besieged coastal Strip with top US officials dashing off to Tel Aviv in recent weeks.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is again in Tel Aviv, the second time in less than a month, as the Joe Biden administration seeks to assure the beleaguered regime of its support and solidarity.

One of the means of support is the supply of lethal weapons to the Tel Aviv regime, which has spread cheer on Wall Street as arms companies look for ways to maximise profits from the Gaza war.

According to a report published by The Guardian newspaper and Responsible Statecraft, major military firms in the US are eyeing big gains from the war that the Israeli regime has imposed on the people of Palestine.

After the Israeli regime launched its bombing campaign on Gaza on October 7th, the stock prices of major American and European arms manufacturers have seen substantial increases.

Israel has been bombing the densely-populated civilian areas in Gaza since October 7th when the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas launched an unprecedented operation in response to the Israeli regime’s relentless crimes against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

The death toll in the Gaza Strip has risen over 9,500, including over 3,800 children and 2,400 women, besides leaving more than 23,500 people wounded.

It has significantly depleted the regime’s military arsenal. The refilling of these stockpiles means huge new orders of arms funded by Washington and supplied by Wall Street arms corporations.

Leading American weapons manufacturers, such as Lockheed Martin, RTX (formerly Raytheon), Northrop Grumman, Boeing, and General Dynamics, have been singled out in a report by Eyes on the Ties.

These firms collectively reported $196.5 billion in military-related revenue last year, according to the report.

All five arms corporations have a history of providing weapons to Israel for use against Palestinians and have recently been linked to weapons sales during the current Gaza assault.

‘The top shareholders in these five defence companies largely consist of big asset managers, or big banks with asset management wings, that include BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, Capital Group, Wellington, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Newport Trust Company, Longview Asset Management, Massachusetts Financial Services Company, Geode Capital, and Bank of America,’ the news outlet noted.

Notably, US President Joe Biden has asked the US Congress for $106 billion in military aid for Israel and Ukraine.

This financial support could be a windfall for the aerospace and weapons sector, which saw a seven percent increase in value in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s attack on October 7th.

Managing director and senior research analyst at TD Cowen, Cai von Rumohr was quoted as saying that the ‘additional demand’ has been created as a result of Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza, noting that they ‘have this $106 billion request from the president.’

‘The Israel situation obviously is a terrible one, frankly, and one that’s just evolving as we speak,’ said Jason Aiken, the company’s executive vice president of technologies and chief financial officer, during General Dynamics’ earnings call on October 25.

‘But I think if you look at the incremental demand potential coming out of that, the biggest one to highlight, and that really sticks out is probably on the artillery side.’

Aiken was quoted as saying by media outlets that they have been under pressure amid the Ukraine war, and now the Israeli war on Gaza is going to only increase that pressure.

‘Obviously that’s been a big pressure point up to now with Ukraine, one that we’ve been doing everything we can to support our Army customer’ he noted.

‘We’ve gone from 14,000 rounds per month to 20,000 very quickly.

‘We’re working ahead of schedule to accelerate that production capacity up to 85,000, even as high as 100,000 rounds per month, and I think the Israel situation is only going to put upward pressure on that demand.’

The remarks were followed by protests by pro-Palestine activists outside General Dynamics’ weapons plant in Pittsfield, Massachusetts last week, with hundreds of people gathering to call for a ceasefire, holding signs with slogans like: ‘Genocide: Brought To You By General Dynamics.’

During Raytheon’s earnings call on October 24, Kristine Liwag, the Head of Aerospace and Defence Equity Research at Morgan Stanley, discussed the financial implications of the White House’s $106 billion supplemental funding request about the ongoing war.

‘Looking at (the White House’s $106 billion supplemental funding) request, you’ve got equipment for Ukraine, air and missile defence for Israel, and replenishment of stockpiles for both. And this seems to fit quite nicely with the Raytheon Defence portfolio,” said Liwag.

She also noted that the war against Palestine appeared to be an ‘opportunity’ that ‘fits quite nicely’ with the company’s product offerings.

As the chorus for an end to the Israeli regime’s genocidal campaign in the besieged Gaza Strip grows louder, it is becoming increasingly clear who the real protagonist is – the United States.

It’s noteworthy that Morgan Stanley owns over $3 billion worth of Raytheon stock, constituting a 2.1 percent ownership share in the weapons company.

Ignoring the earlier warnings by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the leaders of major weapons corporations made statements that contradict their own ‘statements on human rights’ and their commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

In the early days of the Israeli war against the Palestinians, the UNHCR issued a warning that ‘there is already clear evidence that war crimes may have been committed’ in Gaza, adding that those who have violated international law and targeted civilians ‘must be held accountable for their crimes.’

‘The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights are clear in their expectation of companies to respect human rights throughout their value chain,’ said Cor Oudes, programme leader of humanitarian disarmament, business conflict and human rights at PAX for Peace, a Netherlands-based non-governmental organisation which advocates for the protection of civilians against acts of war.

Meanwhile, Israel’s military myth has been debunked. The regime has long boasted a formidable military establishment, which was also highlighted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Military Balance 2023.

Israel maintains a standing force of 169,500 active military personnel across the army, navy, and paramilitary branches, including those currently stationed close to the Gaza Strip.

The United States has played a significant role in building and supporting the Israeli regime’s military infrastructure, with trillions of dollars of military aid over the years.

Although the Leahy Law prohibits the export of US defence articles to military units complicit in human rights abuses, to date, no Israeli unit has ever faced penalties under this law.

Pertinently, the substantial military assistance provided by the US to Israel has significant implications not only for the region but also for workers in the United States.

The effects of this support are felt across the US, impacting concerns such as healthcare, infrastructure, wages, environmental issues, and housing insecurity.

US lawmaker Summer Lee (D-Pa.) recently slammed the US arms exports to the occupied territories, stressing that it doesn’t address the broader challenges faced by Americans.

Unlike the CEOs of firms like Lockheed Martin and RTX, ‘Moms who can’t afford childcare, young folks who can’t pay off their debt, veterans who can’t keep up with housing costs, and children who go to school hungry don’t have million-dollar lobbying budgets,’ he said.