Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Stop the War Coalition Confusion on the Labour Motion to Back UN authorised Bombing of Islamic State.

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Stop the War Coalition: No intervention against Daesh.

First the bald assertion.

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) notes that the Labour Party voted against British intervention in Syria, in present conditions.

Stop the War warmly welcomes the Labour conference vote in opposition to British military intervention in Syria.  It shares the view of conference delegates that this would only risk repeating the dreadful consequences of previous such interventions in Iraq and Libya.

We believe that every possible pressure must be put on Labour MPs to support the Party’s position if and when David Cameron decides to bring the issue to the Commons for a vote.  It is vital that the strong lead given by Jeremy Corbyn in favour of peace and in opposition to western interventionism, now endorsed by conference, be supported by all Labour MPs, whether or not there is a ‘free vote’ on the matter.

Just as Stop the War has criticised US bombing, and the possibility of British intervention, in Syria, so too we cannot support Russian military action.  It remains our view, supported by long history and experience, that external interference has no part to play in resolving the problems in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East.

Only strong, sovereign and representative governments in Syria and Iraq can take the fight to Islamic State and provide a real alternative on the ground to its rule.  External powers should refrain from any direct or indirect military intervention and concentrate instead on assisting a negotiated end to the Syrian civil war, which would be a step in that direction.

Stop the War Coalition.

Next, this is what the motion says,

Conference believes the Parliamentary Labour Party should oppose any such extension unless the following conditions are met:

  1. Clear and unambiguous authorisation for such a bombing campaign from the United Nations;
  2. A comprehensive European Union-wide plan is in place to provide humanitarian assistance to the increased number of refugees that even more widespread bombing can be expected to lead to;
  3. Such bombing is exclusively directed at military targets directly associated with ‘Islamic State’ and is not aimed at securing regime change in Syria, noting that if the bombing campaign advocated by the British government in 2013 had not been blocked by the PLP under Ed Miliband’s leadership,  ‘Islamic State’ forces might now be in control of far more Syrian territory, including Damascus.
  4. Any military action is subordinated to international diplomatic efforts, including the main regional powers, to bring the Syrian civil war to an end, since only a broadly-based and sovereign Syrian government can ultimately retake territory currently controlled by ‘Islamic State’.

The motion is clearly opposed to British intervention, off its own back, in Syria.

But it equally gives forthright backing for bombing if given the go-ahead by the UN.

It therefore is the case that delegates did not vote against all intervention in Syria.

Finally, what does the StWC think of UN authorised bombing?

Here is their answer:

With or without UN agreement, bombing Syria by Russia or UK should be opposed. Lindsey German

Stop the War would oppose UK military intervention with or without a UN resolution (look at the consequences of UN authorised wars in Afghanistan and Libya).

Here is German’s organisation, Counterfire, publishing the StWC’s plans on the strategy to follow:

A plan of action: stopping the bombing of Syria

The main task must be to extend the enthusiasm and energy generated by his campaigning over the past months into every local community, workplace and college.

The more people are actively engaged in the campaign to stop the drive to war in Syria, and in the anti-austerity movement, the more we will be defending Jeremy Corbyn under such relentless attack.

How can we do this?

For the anti-war movement, we need to get onto the streets in every area and onto campuses with leaflets, petitions, posters, badges, etc, drawing people into an ever-widening network of activists for peace.

We need to re-invigorate local anti-war groups and start new groups where none exist. While organising locally, the untimate focus will be on parliament and the need to break the consensus that always takes Britain into disastrous wars on the coat tails of the United States.

In 2013, mass pressure on MPs, coupled with the memory of Tony Blair’s catastrophic war on Iraq, delivered an unprecedented defeat for the government, as David Cameron tried to bounce parliament into supporting the bombing of Syria’s Assad regime.

Now Cameron hope that by switching the target to ISIS, he can reverse that defeat and take the UK into yet another pointless war that will serve no purpose, other than to create more death and chao, and drive more refugees to flee the war zone.

We need to implement immediately a comprehensive lobbying of MPs…


A plan of action: the anti-austerity movement

Stop the War has always contrasted the vast government expenditure on the military and weapons of mass destruction, and the draconian austerity cuts to public and welfare services. Billions are spent on the UK war machine at the same time that brutal cuts in benefits are driving some desperate victims to suicide.

The protests at the Conservative Party conference from 3 October will help shape the political landscape over the next months. Tens of thousands will be protesting there, not just on the opening day – 4 October – but for the whole week. The anti-war message needs to be heard loud and clear by the movement, by the media and by the politicians.

Time is tight — the flashpoints are imminent, and we need to act now.

Within a few days of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader over 120 new members joined Stop the War Coalition, an indication that the movements that underpinned his victory are recognised as central to defending him.

The stakes are high. With enough pressure from below, David Cameron’s government’s plan to bomb Syria can be defeated for a second time, which would be a long term humiliation for the warmongers.

We also need a big campaign and protest over the scandalous delay in publishing the Iraq war inquiry report, blocked it appears by those — like Tony Blair and Jack Straw — likely to be criticised by Chilcot. With Jeremy Corbyn declaring that Tony Blair should be held to account for alleged war crimes, there is a real prospect that Blair could be driven out of public life once and for all.

Next year parliament will vote on the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons system, at a projected cost of over £100billion. The Campaign for Nuclear disarmament is already mounting a concerted campaign to get MPs to vote against. A huge protest movement before parliament votes will intensify that pressure.

The moment a vote on bombing Syria is announced, Stop the War will call a protest, but the success, the scale, and the impact of that protest depends on what we all do in the next few weeks. Its up to us.

It would seem that the StWC has not the slightest strategy for confronting Deash.

It is unlikely that many will heed this call for ‘revolutionary defeatism’: concentrating their energies on the defeat of British imperialism.

In the process they intend to use the anti-austerity movement to moblise against core parts of Labour and UNITE policy on Syria.


Written by Andrew Coates

October 1, 2015 at 11:19 am

9 Responses

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  1. “Just as Stop the War has criticised US bombing, and the possibility of British intervention, in Syria, so too we cannot support Russian military action”

    That’s not ‘just as’, is it?

    Same dear old ‘anti-war’ British left. Always there to vilify their own nation and the US, still using every logical and verbal contortion possible to avoid saying a bad thing about Mother Russia and its own imperialism.

    The left which has been so furious about possible RAF bombing of ISIS in Syria has been typically muted about Russia actually piling in to bomb… not even ISIS, but simply rebel enemies of Assad. And with the likely massive civilian casualties that accompany just about any Russian military action.

    Still, when has the British left ever given a damn about civilians killed by Russian or Iranian bombs or the barrel bombs of Assad? That would be ‘unfraternal’.

    The Unite-sponsored resolution is a breath of sanity. If Corbyn and others remain hitched to the malignant idiots in STWC, that is not going to help Labour with the wider public, no matter how many loony core members it makes feel good and pure.


    October 1, 2015 at 2:24 pm

  2. In my opinion, based on having seen Lindsey German for the first time appoint herself (IS) as a leading figure in the campaign to defend Portuguese Revolution (before dropping it just as quickly when, er things didn;t work out), and the the rest of Counterfire, Rees onwards, as well as hearing first hand reports of their behaviour in the StWC campaign from people who were deeply involved right at the top of the body is that these people grew up in a political bubble and have never left it.

    It was, apparently, an effort for their Press Officer (it was he who told me this) of the time to get them to properly condemn 9/11 – their reluctance stemmed from the thought that this might be seen as giving support for the US and not in line with ‘anti-imperialism’.

    Still it could be worse: this is how the Trotskyists greeted the allied landing in Normandy:

    The Allies and the Resistance are on the same level as the Nazis and Vichey.

    I cannot say I have much hope for any bombing, or much else, in Syria.

    But this is worth considering.

    “The largest pro-Kurdish group fighting in Syria has said it is ready to co-operate with Moscow, after Russian jets began launching airstrikes in the country.

    After Russia began a series of 20 strikes in the north of the country on Wednesday night, the leader of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) called the move “an important step”.

    Sipan Hemo, general commander of the YPG, told Russian news agency Sputnik that his fighters want to co-operate with Russia against the forces of Islamic State (IS).

    “We can work together with Russia against IS,” Hemo is quoted as saying.

    “We want air support against IS. We want weapons support.”
    – See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syrian-kurdish-fighters-welcome-russian-airstrikes-demand-weapons-anti-fight-1688853090#sthash.t8pzlTLo.dpuf

    Andrew Coates

    October 1, 2015 at 4:01 pm

  3. Ah, geopolitics! It might well make sense for Kurds to make overtures to Moscow, given that Russia’s war aim at the moment seems to be to restore all of Syria to the Damascus government. How it will all work out, of course, who can tell?


    October 1, 2015 at 4:37 pm

  4. Russian is bombing the FSA

    Why would they back the Kurds?

    Vastly increased aid to the Peshmerga and ManPADS to the FSA. How’s that sound?

    Incidentally, I wonder what impact the presence of Syrian activists in Brighton had? Have seen some amusing stories of Stoppers arguing with them but vast majority seems to show great interest in what the activists were saying – and showing.

  5. Nobody knows Francis, and I would not even begin to make claims.

    This is how one world-renowned expert predicted the future in February 2012,

    “Syrian President Bashar Assad should resign if he doesn’t want to repeat the fate of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, while Russia and China should help him to do so, the Middle East expert Tariq Ali told RT.

    “He has to be pushed out,” Tariq Ali insists, for which “the Syrian people are doing their best”.

    “Tariq Ali agrees that mounting international pressure on Bashar Assad is needed because simple economic sanctions will not bring the desired results. Countries like Iran and China would not abide them, so it is time for Russia and China to realize they need Assad no more.

    He believes that once Assad falls, the new government will keep good relations with Iran, because this will be in the interest of the new democratic government.

    “If the Assad clan refuses to relinquish their stronghold on the country, sooner or later something disastrous will happen,” Tariq Ali predicts, threatening a foreign intervention and recalling the inglorious deaths of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi lynched by mobs inspired by the west.

    “That is the future that stares them in the face, there is no other future,” Tariq Ali said.

    “The fact is that the overwhelming majority of people in Syria want the Assad family out – and that is the key thing that we have to understand and he [Assad] should understand,” Tariq Ali claims.

    He also warns about letting Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood take control of the Syrian government. Even if it becomes a moderate one, religious minorities will most probably be targeted to divert attention from economic and social problems.”


    My position is based on firstly, backing on the Kurds, getting rid of Daesh, backing the Kurds, next the other far-right Islamists, backing the Kurds, and finally backing any chance of a democratic outcome.

    That’s quite enough.

    Andrew Coates

    October 1, 2015 at 5:11 pm

  6. I wouldn’t blame the Kurds for wanting to reach some kind of deal with Putin. At the same time, I’m not very hopeful that they will get what they want from Putin any more than from the US or Turkey or Assad. My guess is that Assad still believes he can eventually get all of Syria back under his control, and if he thinks he can shaft the Kurds he will go right ahead. I don’t believe he’s actually capable of getting Syria all back under government control, even with the aid of Russia, so there may be several years more of war… with what left at the end? Who knows? Assad still in power is a terrible option – and Syria without its current government may be as bad or perhaps worse.

    My worry is that apart from ISIS – who really could be quite easily destroyed if there was the will and co-ordination – the major players in this don’t actually know what they are doing (I don’t buy either that this is all going to US plan/conspiracy or that Russia or its allies are going to find this a cakewalk, or that Turkey is necessarily going to come out of this enhanced). This could be a war with a lot of losers – or some unlucky winners.

    “My position is based on firstly, backing on the Kurds, getting rid of Daesh, backing the Kurds, next the other far-right Islamists, backing the Kurds, and finally backing any chance of a democratic outcome.”



    October 2, 2015 at 1:48 am

  7. To add: I think Tariq Ali was right in what you quote, but that was then and this is know – and athough I wish Assad would step aside, I can’t see him doing so unless Russia really decides he’s got to go; and I’m not sure at this point what would bring that about. Apart from the SWTC loons, most will agree he’s very bad, but he’s probably not going anywhere, and it’s not impossible that he may end up president of a completely ruined and largely depopulated country.


    October 2, 2015 at 1:54 am

  8. People may be interested in the Morning Star’s editorial today,

    “The US, Nato, Britain, France and Saudi Arabia have all expressed their concerns about Russian military strikes against “terrorist” targets in Syria.

    Forces opposed to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime claim that scores of civilians have died in areas occupied not by Isis, but by the self-styled Free Syrian Army and other insurrectionist militias.

    Some of these objections to Russia’s intervention in the war in Syria can be dismissed for the hypocritical and duplicitous nonsense they are.

    President Vladimir Putin and the Russian parliament decided to act in response to requests for aid from the internationally recognised government of Syria.

    They had every right to do so under international law — unlike the US and its Western and Middle Eastern allies, which received no such invitation from Damascus.

    While Assad and his beleaguered armed forces may be content that the US-led air campaign has so far targeted Isis bases, they have no illusions about the ultimate aim of Western intervention.

    It is to replace Assad with a puppet who will comply with US and Western economic, military and diplomatic demands.

    Steps towards this objective include arming and training the misnamed “moderate opposition” in Syria and extending and consolidating its occupation of “buffer” and “no-fly” zones cleared of both Isis and Syrian government forces.

    This strategy is what motivates the latest attempts in Britain to participate openly in Nato operations there, ostensibly against Isis but ultimately in order to effect illegal regime change.

    Unless and until the Syrian government requests direct British military intervention, it should be rejected out of hand inside the Westminster Parliament and beyond.

    US objections that its military and diplomatic staff in Baghdad were given only one hour’s notice of the initial wave of Russian air strikes are yet further breathtaking examples of US arrogance.

    How much notice has the US ever given anyone, with the possible exception of British subordinates, of its military actions across the Asian sub-continent and in the Middle East or Africa?

    As for Saudi Arabian concerns, the murderous dictatorship in Riyadh demonstrates its contempt for human life every day, whether by beheading its own subjects at home or slaughtering civilians in neighbouring Yemen.

    What really troubles Western powers and the Saudis, respectively, is that Russian targets may well include the Free Syrian Army and the non-Isis Islamist fundamentalists loosely assembled beneath its banner.

    Indeed, anti-Russian propaganda has accused Putin’s warplanes of attacking only those forces and not Isis.

    This is despite recent Western news agency reports of Isis activity in such targeted towns as Talbiseh (also a stronghold of al-Qaida affiliate the Nusra Front) and Rastan where, according to the anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, nine men and a boy were executed by Isis only last week for being gay.

    The reality is that Isis and all other terrorist groups fighting to overthrow the Damascus regime are part of the problem, not the solution.

    This is not to dismiss legitimate concerns about civilian deaths in Syria. The US and Nato already have the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan people on their hands, while Russia’s war in Chechnya indicated a similar disregard for civilian lives.

    What the Syrian people desperately need now is peace and stability, both of which are preconditions for free elections.

    Both also require an end to support for all terrorist forces in the country and unity with the Damascus government to crush Isis.
    Syria Russia War Nato Isis.”


    Andrew Coates

    October 2, 2015 at 4:32 pm

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