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Stop the War Statements

Libya after Gaddafi

The fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya marks yet another turning point in what has been a truly remarkable year in the Middle East. The victory of the rebels, backed by Nato bombing in a six month campaign initiated by the British and French governments, also heralds the rehabilitation of a discredited doctrine -- that of 'humanitarian intervention' -- after the debacle of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The defeat of Gaddafi is now being used to justify military action on the grounds that it has helped the Arab revolutions. David Cameron declared outside Downing Street 22 August 2011, 'This has not been our revolution, but we can be proud that we have played our part..'

The hypocrisy of Cameron is staggering, given the role of British and other western governments in backing up dictators and despots in the region -- only halted in some places by the actions of the Arab people themselves.

The Nato intervention has not been for idealistic values. It has been about regime change, so that a leader more acceptable to western governments and business could replace Gadaffi.

Right to the end, NATO was bent on a military victory and bringing the Transitional National Council (TNC) -- the Benghazi administration -- to power in Libya by force of arms. All proposals for talks to achieve a political solution – whether from within Libya or outside - have been brushed aside.

While many Libyans may welcome the outcome, and will be glad to see the back of Gaddafi, it has a number of negative aspects.

From the international point of view, the most significant thing is that the government of another Arab state has been changed by external force applied by the big imperial powers. There is no real suggestion that the TNC could have come to power unaided. The NATO military intervention, stretching beyond breaking point the mandate given by the United Nations, has been decisive.

This will not be the end of the story. The experience of Iraq teaches that the overthrow of a regime under such circumstances by no means signifies the end of the war. Whether those who have supported Gaddafi will meekly accept the authority of a new government imposed under such circumstances is open to question.

Whatever happens, the deep divisions within Libyan society remain. Likewise, given that the TNC is an amalgam of forces, ranging from the democratic to the Islamist to leaders who are the direct employees of western interests, it may have neither the capacity to resolve existing differences nor the ability to prevent the emergence of new ones, within its own ranks.

David Cameron spelt out the close role Britain and the other western powers will expect to have in running Libya, and in how much detail they have been planned, including ‘stabilisation experts who have been planning for this moment…for months.’

Under these circumstances, the main demand must be an end to all forms of NATO interference in Libya – not just the end of the bombing, but the withdrawal of special forces and a halt to all forms of political interference. The only solution to the crisis in Libya will have to be a Libyan solution. Recent history, from Iraq to Afghanistan, teaches that too.

But beyond that, we must recognise the danger that even a passing 'success' in Libya may embolden the US, British and French governments to believe that the idea of 'liberal interventionism', discredited after Iraq, can be revived on a broader scale. Of course, however it ends the Libyan conflict has not gone as expected and none of the leaders of the aggression have dared introduce ground troops into the war. Nevertheless, the danger of extending the intervention to Syria as part of a programme to control and suppress the “Arab Spring” is not inconceivable and must be mobilised against.

The old rulers will not be missed if and when they depart. The decisive issues – genuinely democratic and popular regimes across the Arab world, the exclusion of great power interference in the region and justice for the Palestinian people – remain in the balance and require our solidarity.

Statement following the Basra helicopter crash

How many more Iraqi, UK and US deaths are to follow before the occupation of Iraq is brought to an end? The Minstry of Defence admit that they have no control in Basra and the surrounding region, that they are confined to barracks with only the occasional foray in helicopters since the roads are too dangerous. This is a farce and, for the lives of the five airmen in the crashed helicopter and the Iraqis killed in the firefight on the ground, a bloody farce. How many more times must we call for an end to this occupation? Stop the War Coalition and a growing number of military families and military experts demand answers to these questions and for those responsible to be brought to account.

"We have lost the consent of the people of Iraq to be in their country. The troops should be withdrawn immediately."

Ben Griffin (ex SAS trooper who served in Baghdad)

"My son died for no reason and now other mothers have to face this fact. My sympathy goes out to the loved ones of those killed in the helicopter downed in Basra and to the families of the Iraqis who were killed in the ensuing firefight. Enough is enough. Bring the troops home now."

Rose Gentle (mother of Gordon Gentle, killed in Iraq)

"The situation in Basra has not changed overnight. Something like today's crash, and then large numbers of soldiers on the streets, triggers an underlying resentment that our troops are basically occupying forces."

Major Charles Heyman, (defence analyst and editor of The Armed Forces of the United Kingdom)

UN declaration of war on Libya

A new war has been declared in the Middle East. With the bloody and failing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan still in place, the USA, Britain and France are now committed to an escalating armed intervention in Libya.

The decision to attack Libya and impose regime change – for that is what the UN resolution means – may have been authorised by the Security Council. But it was instigated by the despots of the Arab League, desperate to secure deeper western involvement in the region to save them from their own peoples. And it will be implemented by the same powers which have wreaked such mayhem throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds over the last ten years and longer.

The imposition of a “no-fly zone”, air attacks on Libyan defences and Gaddaffi’s troops, and naval bombardments will not bring peace to Libya nor a resolution to the conflict there.

They will, however, cost more civilian lives and they will set Britain and the world on an escalator of military intervention which risks ending up with an occupation of at least part of Libya.

While few people are admirers of the Gaadaffi regime, the experience of Iraq underlines the dangerous futility of trying to impose “regime change” from without. It also reminds us that genuine democracy and freedom cannot grow from aerial bombardment and foreign occupation.

Attacking Libya and sponsoring the Gulf oligarchies’ invasion of Bahrain to prop up the threatened monarchy there – under the noses of the US fifth fleet - are of a piece. They represent a concerted effort by the western powers to first control and then bring to a halt the Arab revolutions, leaving the essentials of imperial power in the Middle East in place.

David Cameron’s decision to place Britain in the vanguard of efforts to topple the Gaddafi regime is dictated by the same considerations which led Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to embrace that same regime – a desire to maintain BP’s profitable access to Libyan oil.

Stop the War believes that there should be no external military intervention in Libya. In supporting the Arab revolutions, we believe that these will be strangled, not supported, by western military action.

We call on the British government to keep its hands off the Middle East and demand that it refrain from all involvement in military action in Libya or elsewhere in the region. We urge the anti-war movement to campaign throughout the country to arrest and reverse this slide to war and British participation in it.

Statement on the London Terrorist Attacks

Stop the War Coalition unequivocally condemns Thursday's terrorist attacks on the people of London. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. There can be no justification for such attacks. We urge everyone to resist any attempts which may be made to use these crimes to stir up anti-Muslim hysteria or attack the Muslim population of this country. We emphasise the importance of solidarity, peace and justice as our guiding principles in addressing the crisis scarring the world today, of which the bombings are a dreadful manifestation. It is clearer than ever that the "war on terror" in which Britain has been so heavily involved has not, in fact, made the world safer from terrorism. Britain's security services warned Tony Blair two years ago that a war on Iraq would make such attacks more likely. That warning has now been tragically borne out in London.