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Stop the War Statements

Statement: Mother Agnes and the International Anti-war Conference on 30 November 2013

Over the last few days a campaign has developed over the invitation we extended to Mother Agnes -- a nun from Syria, who leads a campaign called Mussalaha (Reconciliation) -- to speak in London at the International Anti-War Conference on 30 November organised by Stop the War Coalition.

Mother Agnes has now withdrawn from speaking at the conference.

In inviting speakers to participate in its events, Stop the War has never sought to endorse all their views. We have always provided a platform for a diversity of opinions within a broad anti-war perspective.

We hope that we can now build the conference as a strong focus for opposition to war and imperialism.

Mother Agnes has issued her own statement giving her reasons for withdrawing from the conference, here...

Full details of the conference are here...

Statement on Woolwich killing of a British soldier

Statement by Stop the War Coalition and CND
Supported by Cage Prisoners

The attack in Woolwich on 22 May was horrific. There can be no justification for a murderous attack on an individual soldier in the streets of London. It must have been awful too for the local people who witnessed it.

The Woolwich attack, carried out by two men now shot and wounded and under arrest in hospital, appears to represent a phenomenon that was pointed out nearly a decade ago by the security services in Britain: that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would lead to a growing threat of terrorism in Britain. Many of us have long predicted that these sorts of attacks would happen because of the war on terror.

The men claimed that the killing of the soldier was in response to the killing of Muslims by British soldiers in other countries. One said that the government did not care for people and should get the troops out.

The response from the government has been to declare this a major terrorist incident. We do not yet know whether they had wider connections or whether this was a one off incident.

But the government response fails to deal with the political causes underlying such attacks. There were no such cases in Britain before the start of the ‘war on terror’ in 2001, which led to the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. The consequences of those wars have been devastating for the people of those countries and further afield. Up to a million died in Iraq and 4 million were made refugees. Tens of thousands have died in Afghanistan. Fighting still continues and in Iraq looks like descending into civil war in some parts of the country.

The balance sheet of the last decade and more would demonstrate that the war on terror has been a failure in its own terms. It has not prevented terrorism but caused it to spread.

It has also led to a rise in Islamophobia in Britain and elsewhere. The invasion and occupation of mainly Muslim countries abroad has to lead to the dehumanising of the victims of the wars. Racists like the EDL turned up in Woolwich to try to further foster Islamophobia.

We call on all everyone to resist any racist backlash as a result of this attack.

We also call on the government to recognise the damage done by these wars and to change its foreign policy accordingly.

Lindsey German Convenor, Stop the War Coalition
Kate Hudson General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Moazzam Begg Outreach Director, CagePrisoners

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Stop the War opposes lifting the arms embargo on Syria

Jeremy Corbyn MP, joined by peace campaigners and activists, delivered a letter the UK Foreign Office on Wednesday 20 March 2003, calling on prime minister David Cameron, foreign secretary William Hague and the British government not to exacerbate the conflict in Syria by supplying even more arms to the region.

European Union foreign ministers are set to meet in Dublin on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 March to discuss lifting an arms embargo on supplying weapons to the conflict. On the tenth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Stop the War Coalition is adamant that such action is likely to inflame the situation and lead to further suffering for the Syrian people, and risk a wider regional conflict.

The United Kingdom and France have been leading the charge to overturn the embargo, and for this reason Stop the War is campaigning against the actions of the British government.

The text of the letter reads as follows:

Dear Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary

We write to express our alarm at your call for the EU arms embargo on Syria to be lifted. We deplore the fact that the Syrian conflict has resulted in a destructive civil war, and urge you to acknowledge that supplying more weapons for this conflict will make a bad situation worse.

Fighting in Syria has already spilled over into Lebanon and Iraq. Increasing the number of weapons circulating in this heavily-armed region carries the clear danger that an escalating conflict may encourage a regional war.

The people of Syria are experiencing a tragedy of huge dimensions. In February this year, the United Nations estimated that 70,000 have already died as a result of the conflict, many of them civilians. Over 200,000 more Syrians have fled the country and between four and six millions are internally displaced.

We call on you to take no action likely to increase the conflict. We call instead for the governments of Britain and France to throw their weight behind an inclusive Syrian-led solution and help bring this civil war to an end. We urge the European Union meanwhile to uphold its arms ban.

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Chair
Lindsey German, Convenor
Stop the War Coalition, 20 March 2013

No foreign intervention in Mali

Once again western powers are using anti-islamist rhetoric to justify colonial interventions. Two days of French air strikes have already killed many civilians and is certain to inflame an already volatile region. The civil war in Mali is a direct consequence of the disastrous intervention in Libya, and shows that the War on Terror is a source of instability in Africa as in Central Asia and the Middle East.

France's intervention in Mali is part of a growing scramble for Africa. France occupied Mali as a colony until 1960. It was at the centre of its historic colonial empire and is now at the heart of its effort to control a mineral-rich area including Senegal, Burkino Faso, the Ivory Coast - all former colonies in which the French once again have troops. French President Hollande's call for tighter security at home is a recognition that growing western interventions in Africa are making the world a much more dangerous place.

That Britain was the first to support the French adventure - with no democratic discussion or debate - only shows how keen the government is to participate in a new rush for influence on the African continent. This intervention is being packaged as a war for democracy despite the fact that the regime in Mali is the product of a military coup in 2012.

We are told that Britain will not put troops on the ground. But the two RAF transport planes that have been sent to Mali are full of 'personnel' as well as military equipment, and the danger is that, as fighting intensifies, that Britain will get further drawn in to an intervention that has already been backed by the US government.

It is extraordinary that the government has not learnt from the terrible legacy of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The experience of the last decade and more has been that foreign wars bring nothing but suffering, destruction and instability. Stop the war condemns the intervention in Mali, and calls on the government to withdraw all support immediately.

Stop the War Coalition, 14 January 2013

Afghanistan: end the war now

NATO's withdrawal of its personnel from all Afghan ministries today is an indication that they are losing control of the situation in the country.

Earlier two senior NATO officials were shot dead in the most secure section of the Interior Ministry in Kabul, itself the the most heavily guarded building in the capital.

The shootings coincided with demonstrations across the country in protest at US soldiers burning copies of the Koran. Those protests in turn indicate an intense bitterness towards the NATO forces and that the Afghan people want the occupation to end.

This is hardly surprising. The level of violence in Afghanistan has been rising year on year since 2006. Afghans have become so used to NATO attacks on their public ceremonies that, in the most contested areas, traditional outdoor weddings have all but disappeared.

Meanwhile the much promised reconstruction has not materialised and the country remains near the very bottom of the UNDP development index.

Continuing the occupation will only prolong the violence and the immiseration of the country. Isolated as they are, the foreign forces are only being kept in Afghanistan to save face for the politicians who have backed the war.

NATO forces should be withdrawn immediately in order to allow the Afghans to determine their future.

Stop the War Coalition, February 2012

No attack on Iran

We are extremely concerned at reports that plans are being drawn up for an attack on Iran

The case being made for war on Iran is based on a series of speculations about 'undisclosed nuclear-related activities' reminiscent of the disproven 'intelligence' about weapons of mass destruction used to justify the disastrous attack on Iraq.

The West's attitude to Iran's nuclear weapons is hypocritical and contradictory.

The US and its allies remain silent about Israel's covert nuclear arsenal, the only one in the Middle East, while they are tightening the campaign of sanctions against Iran without real evidence.

Such an attitude, combined with threats of military action, can only serve to isolate and antagonise Iran.

The US is already flooding the Gulf region with arms and increasing its forces deployed in support of the autocracies in the Gulf.

Simply ending its militaristic posture towards Iran would ease tensions dramatically.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have had disastrous consequences including the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the displacement of millions.

Any attack on Iran would risk a wave of destruction across the region. Plans for an attack, along with sanctions against Iran, should be scrapped immediately.

The British government must pledge to have no involvement in any military action against Iran, including not allowing Diego Garcia to be used as a launch pad for air strikes.

Stop the War Coalition, November 2011

Ban weaponised drones – statement by Global Anti-Drone Network: European section

drones graphic

We oppose the use of drone technology for killing, surveillance and repression.

We oppose weaponised and surveillance drones because their deployment lowers the threshold to armed aggression, is used for “targeted” killing of people within and outside warzones  – without indictment, trial and conviction, terrorizes the population of the targeted territories, fuels hatred, thereby increasing the cycle of violence, leads to the development of autonomous kille robots, thereby making even more horrifying wars likely, initiates a new round in the arms race.

We demand that all governments cease the production and acquisition of armed drones, as well as their research and development, and work towards a worldwide ban of these weapons.

Endorsed by:

Althaler, Birgit – Palestine Solidarity Basel, Switzerland
Aune, Björn – Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) Campaign Berlin, Germany
Baloch, Farooq – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf  (PTI), Germany
Benjamin, Medea  - Code Pink (Co-­Founder), USA
Björkmann, Rosie – Women for Peace, Sweden
Bosma, Geert – Vredes Informatie Centrum (Staff) & War  Resisters Intl. (WRI), Netherlands
Braun, Reiner – Intl.  Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA – Executive Director),Germany
Cole, Chris – Drone Wars UK (Founder) & Drone Campaign Network (Convener), United Kingdom
Dubrow, Niels – Staff  Assistant to Dr. Ute Finckh-Krämer, Member of Bundestag (SPD), Germany
Finckh-Krämer, Ute – Member of Bundestag  (MdB), Social Democratic Party (SPD) & Stiftung Friedensbildung, Germany
Fredegård, Anita – Women for Peace, Sweden
Fuchs, Barbara – attac  &  Friedensratschlag,  Germany
Fuchs-Kittowski, Klaus – Forum of Computer Scientists for Peace and Social Responsibility (FIfF),  Germany
Ghannam, Doris – Boycott,  Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) Campaign Berlin, Germany
Hunko, Andrej – Member of Bundestag (MdB) & of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, DIE  LINKE  (the  Left)
Hugler, Helmut – Staff  Assistant  to  Dr.  Ute Finckh-Krämer, Member of Bundestag (SPD), Germany
Javaid, Tariq – Pakistan  Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Germany
Kachel, Thomas – Parliamentary Advisor  on  Peace and Security Issues, DIE  LINKE (the Left) in the Bundestag, Germany
Käss, Helmut – Intl.  Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Germany
Krutsch, Elfriede – Intl. Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Germany
Lammerent, Hans – Vredesactie Peace  Movement (former  Chair), Belgium
Lorentz, Charlotte – Staff Assistant to Angieszka Brugger, Member of the Bundestag, Green  parliamentary  group, Germany
Martensson, Ingela – Women for Peace & former Member of the parliament (Liberal  Party), Sweden
Mudassir, Ali – Pakistan Tehreek-­e-­Insaaf  (PTI), Germany
Müller-Reiss, Brunhild – Drone  Campaign & Peace Office Hannover & War Resisters Intl. (DFG-VK in WRI), Germany
Nineham, Chris – Stop the War Coalition (StWC -Vice Chair), United Kingdom
Norberg, Agneta – Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space & Women for Peace, Sweden
Paulini,  Peter – Stiftung Friedensbildung (Foundation for Peacemaking), Germany
Pflüger, Tobias – Drone Campaign & Info. Agency on Militarisation (IMI, Founder) & former MEP (DIE  LINKE), Germany
Rassbach, Elsa – Code Pink & Drone Campaign & War Resisters Intl. (DFG-VK in WRI, Board), USA/Germany
Schoeppe, Florian – Staff Assistant to Katja Keul, Membe  of the Bundestag, Green parliamentary group, Germany
Steffen, Jens-Peter – Intl.  Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW),  Staff Adviser on Peace Issues), Germany
Stryk, Lydia – Playwright,  USA/Germany
Wijnberg,  J.M.T.  (Miek) – Burgerrechtenvereniging  Vrijbit  (President),  Netherlands
Wimmersperg, Laura – Drone Campaign & Peace Coordination Berlin (Speaker), Germany
Wirl, Lucas – ICC No to NATO (Co-Chair) & Intl. Network Engineers & Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES), Germany

Statement on Syria

The Stop the War Coalition strongly opposes any military attack on Syria. While we oppose all use of chemical weapons, the latest alleged such attack in Damascus should not be used as a pretext for further exacerbating an already bloody civil war.

It seems that the Western governments have already made up their minds about this attack before it has even been reported on by UN weapons inspectors. They are demanding that ‘something must be done’ even though their record of ‘doing something’ has been nothing short of catastrophic.

There have been numerous western interventions in the Middle East and South Asia over the past 12 years. While the attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were all argued for on humanitarian grounds, they have all increased the levels of killing and misery for the ordinary people of those countries. They were in reality all about regime change. This is also what Syria is about.

The same people who brought us those wars have learnt nothing from their mistakes. Now the US, Britain, France and their allies in Turkey and Saudi Arabia are pushing for air strikes. The misnamed envoy for peace in the Middle East, Tony Blair, is once again urging an attack.

Such an attack will have no basis in international law, nor will it have any moral force, despite claims by US Secretary of State John Kerry, from governments who in the past supplied Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons and who have used depleted uranium and white phosphorus in Iraq.

The truth is that this latest plan is about intervening to reshape the Middle East in the strategic interests of the West. Military intervention will make a solution to this complex civil war even more difficult and will be a direct violation of the agreements made at the recent G8 meeting to attempt to resolve this war by an International Conference.

We will be protesting and campaigning against any attack and demand that the British government listen to public opinion, as expressed in recent polls, and play no part in any such attack.

Letter to David Cameron: No UK intervention in Syria

Opinion polls show that a majority of the British public are opposed to the government escalating UK intervention in the Syrian war. On Thursday 9 May 2013 at 3pm, Stop the War Coalition delivered the following letter to David Cameron, UK prime minister, at 10 Downing Street, urging the government to abandon its interventionist policies.

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to express our alarm at the increasing intervention by the UK government in the civil war which is now taking place in Syria. We believe that the future of Syria is for the Syrian people alone to decide, and that your actions can only worsen the situation.

Your campaign to increase the provision of arms to the Syrian opposition in response to allegations of chemical weapons being used makes no sense. There is no clear evidence that chemical weapons have been used, or by whom. Carla Del Ponte, a member of the UN Commission of Inquiry taking testimony from victims of the Syrian conflict, has recently expressed ‘strong, concrete suspicions’ that sarin nerve gas is being used by opposition forces. And even in the event that chemical weapons have been used, you have failed to make the case as to why arming one side would improve rather than aggravate the situation.

There has long been covert arming and provision of aid to the opposition by various powers, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UK, France and the US. Israel has now engaged in its second bombing raid on Syrian territory, in flagrant violation of the rules of international law.

The lifting of the EU arms embargo and the direct arming of opposition groups can only further fuel what is already a bloody civil war which is causing immense harm to many Syrians and which is threatening to further destabilise the whole region. Already fighting has spread to parts of Iraq.

The aim of the intervention so far has been to effect regime change, again illegal under international law. The solution in Syria cannot lie in further militarising the conflict, or in intervention by Western powers.

We fear that the aim of those intervening is to change the face of the Middle East, by weakening the influence of Iran through attacking its allies such as the Syrian government and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The recent Israeli air strikes on Syrian targets are part of this process and represent an act of war against another country.

We believe that it is for the people of the Middle East to decide their own future and that the Western powers have a record and history of intervention there which has been a key source of the region's problems. We also believe that majority opinion in Britain, according to recent polls, is against such intervention, especially if it is designed to effect regime change.

We therefore urge you to abandon your interventionist policy.

Yours,

Jeremy Corbyn MP Chair, Stop the War Coalition
Lindsey German Convenor, Stop the War Coalition

Mali: mission creep on speed

This is mission creep on speed.

Two weeks ago we were told Britain would have no combat role in Mali and we would send just two transport planes. Now we are told the government is sending 350 British military personnel to Mali and West Africa to support French forces.

Prime Minister David Cameron is "keen" for Britain to get more involved in war on a new continent. He sent national security advisor Sir Kim Darroch to Paris to discuss what help Britain could provide. He has personally phoned French Prime Minister Hollande to offer more help and he is "keen to continue to provide further assistance".

The British government says it is prepared to send a "sizeable amount" of troops to provide military assistance to France.

This is how major wars begin. In the early 1960s, the United States started with a few "special advisors" in Vietnam. More than a decade later it left defeated, with over 50,000 American troops and at least two million Vietnamese killed.

Forgetting historical example is one thing. Ignoring the last few years is extraordinary. The disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and the attack on Libya -- were presented as humanitarian operations, complete with images of cheering local populations greeting western intervention -- soon replaced by the devastation of the countries and huge death toll for the people they were meant to "liberate".

The spread of the "war on terror" to the Sahel region in Africa is a result of the chaos created by the Libyan intervention. It is also driven by the same motivations as previous wars, the desire to control vital energy reserves and other mineral resources. The region contains some of Europe's most important energy sources.

The Mali intervention will end with the same results: destruction, loss of life and deep anger against the west.

How long before the presence of thousands of western troops in their old colonial stomping grounds inflames new violence and resistance?

Stop the War Coalition, 29 January 2013

No to NATO

Joint statement by United National Antiwar Coalition (USA) and Stop the War Coalition

On the weekend of May 19, NATO officials will gather in Chicago. Military action against Iran will be high on NATO's agenda.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu calls Iran 'an existential threat' and both the Republican and Democratic leadership in the US is in favour of 'tough action'.

Pressure for NATO intervention in Syria is also growing.

NATO is masquerading as a champion of democracy, while its members back dictators in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Military intervention will inflame the fighting. Its only aim will be to increase the Western powers' grip on the region.

NATO will also discuss the occupation in Afghanistan.

Though the war is clearly lost, occupying forces are set to stay for at least two more years. Keeping NATO troops in place will lead to more atrocities and make a negotiated peace much more difficult.

The US and the UK are the lynchpins of the NATO coalition and responsible for more wars of agression around the world than any other power.

UNAC and Stop the War Coalition will therefore be holding major protests in the US and the UK to say no to a new war on Iran; to oppose the threat of intervention in Syria; and to call for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

No foreign intervention in Syria

There is a clear danger of yet another war in the Middle East. The United States and Britain are turning their attention to Syria, with the intention of engineering regime change in their favour.

Stop the War Coalition fully supports the right of the peoples in all the countries of the Middle East to determine their own future and assert democratic rights. We are therefore implacably opposed to any external intervention, especially military intervention, in Syria.

In relation to Syria, any military intervention will most likely be even more destructive and costly than it was in Libya. It will increase Arab and Muslim alienation from the western powers. Most Syrian people, while demanding democratic rights, would oppose any such interference.

Public opinion in Britain would not support any further military adventures of the type seen in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya, especially at a time when government austerity policies pose a growing threat to living standards.

NATO is already manoeuvring to weaken Syria through sanctions, which have never been an alternative to war as much as a prelude to it, acclimatising public opinion to the “inevitability” of war. It is also interfering politically, trying to ensure that the Assad regime is replaced by one with a pro-western orientation, rather than one based on those forces which have struggled for years to create a democratic and anti-imperialist alternative.

Stop the War Coalition believes the Syrian people should assert their own democratic rights and determine their own system of government without the kind of external interference which has proved so disastrous in Iraq and Afghanistan, and looks like working no better in Libya. We therefore oppose any foreign attempts to create an unrepresentative “government-in-exile”, which would have no purpose beyond further legitimising the case for military intervention.

World opinion, as expressed at the United Nations, is also clearly against any interference in Syria, with China, Russia, India and Brazil among those opposed. The US and Britain are therefore looking once more to the Arab League, and in this case Turkey, to provide a cover for their war policy. However, the world will not get fooled again after the experience of Libya, where a supposed intervention “to save civilians” developed into a regime change war which cost at least 30,000 lives.

Stop the War Coalition therefore opposes all foreign military intervention in Syria.

Stop the War Coalition, December 2011