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
Ten years ago terrorists used hijacked aeroplanes to destroy the Twin Towers in New York City, killing nearly three thousand people. This was a crime which Stop the War Coalition condemned at the time, and it reaffirms that condemnation today.
It was a terrible crime for which there can be no justification. It was not, however, an act of war. That has been the view of the anti-war movement from the outset. It is an opinion which even a former head of MI5 has recently gone on record as endorsing.
For the US administration of the time, with the British government of Tony Blair in close support, it was however the signal to initiate a war which continues to this day and has cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives without justification or gain.
This war has laid waste to Iraq at immense human costs in an aggression without lawful sanction conducted on a basis – to secure non-existent “weapons of mass destruction” – at best specious and at worst mendacious. It imposed on the Iraqi people an illegitimate, bloody and ineptly-administered occupation, which has entrenched sectarianism and failed to produce a functioning government, and which continues to this day.
It has also consumed Afghanistan in a war which has continued long after its initial objective – the removal of al-Qaeda's infrastructure in the country – had been achieved. The occupation seeks to maintain a corrupt and dysfunctional client regime which is an affront to the Afghan people.
The war in Afghanistan has spread to Pakistan, destabilising the state there and raising the dangers of a wider regional conflict involving nuclear-armed powers. And thousands of Libyans have died as a result of a NATO attack ostensibly about protecting civilians but really designed to impose a pro-western goverment on the country.
The “war on terror” has also undermined civil liberties and human rights across the world, from the scandal of state-sanctioned torture to the outrage of Guantanamo Bay. And far from reducing the danger of terrorism worldwide, the war has reinforced all those discontents which can lead to such a response.
Our view, from 2001 onwards, that the war has nothing to do with fighting terrorism but was about projecting US power around the world and in particular extending its control over the resources and peoples of the Middle east and South Asia has been abundantly confirmed.
In all of this the British government has been deeply complicit. The war in Iraq was imposed on the British people by Tony Blair against the wishes of the majority. The government broke international law, ignored the United Nations, connived at torture and other crimes and sent the British Army into two illegitimate and futile wars in which hundreds of soldiers have lost their lives and thousands have been physically or psychologically maimed.
The British people have paid a price for this. Civil liberties and community relations have been placed under great strain. Billions of pounds have been wasted on war. Trust in the honesty and integrity of politicians and our democratic process has been deeply damaged. This is the bill for Tony Blair’s determination to subordinate this country to the foreign policy of the USA.
The Stop the War Coalition takes pride in the movement is has developed against the war since 2001, a movement which has articulated the views of the majority of the British people.
We are proud of our alliance with the Muslim community in Britain, in particular with the British Muslim Initiative (and earlier the Muslim Association of Britain), which has been a source of immense strength and has broadened our political perspectives. Stop the War will continue to stand alongside the Muslim community in resisting the Islamophobia which has been stoked up by the war.
We also salute the brave families of British soldiers who formed Military Families Against the War, an unprecedented political development. Stop the War pays tribute to the school students and trade unionists who walked out against the Iraq war, to our alliance with our sister organisation CND, and to all the hundreds of thousands of people who have campaigned against the war and Britain’s involvement in it.
They have all been the real voice of our country, and have helped redeem its standing in the eyes of the world, so damaged by the actions of Tony Blair and his successors.
On this tenth anniversary of 9/11, Stop the War renews its commitment to continue to oppose the war until it is ended. We demand in particular:
Stop the War Coalition, 11 September 2011
- The full and immediate withdrawal of all British troops from Afghanistan, and support for a political process to end the conflict there.
- An end to NATO bombing in Libya and an end to all interference there.
- The withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, as previously agreed.
- No extension of the war through attacks on Iran, military intervention in Syria or elsewhere.
- An unconditional commitment by the British government to abide by international law and the decisions of the United Nations
- An end to the subordination of British foreign policy to that of the USA
- The rejection of Islamophobia and all racist attitudes stoked by the war
- The full defence of civil liberties.
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
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)