Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Jeremy Corbyn Speak out on Syria!

with 42 comments


Morally Bankrupt. 

Jeremy Corbyn must ‘break silence’ on Assad and Russian bombings

Labour and Momentum activists sign letter calling on Corbyn to help Syrians stop the war.

The people who launched this appeal are right to express their concerns.

They are deep comrades.

LIke many I was repelled at the baying at the Stop the War Conference against people who expressed their views .


Dear Jeremy,

We write as members of the Labour Party and Momentum, as socialist activists, or as other supporters of your leadership of the Labour Party. We agree wholeheartedly with your opposition to militarism and nuclear weapons, and your call for an end to British arms exports to countries such as Saudi Arabia. Yet we are concerned by your silence – thus far – on the ongoing slaughter of civilians by Russian and Assad-regime forces in Syria.

We share your scepticism about kneejerk military responses to the situation in Syria, such as the bombing campaign against ISIS proposed by David Cameron last autumn. We are not asking you to back Western interventions of this kind, but simply to say clearly and unequivocally that the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria are barbaric war crimes, and that you will seek to end them, and to hold their perpetrators to account.

We applaud your efforts, over decades, to end the crimes of brutal regimes supported by Western powers. But we do not believe that this exhausts the duties of anti-imperialists, socialists and peace activists in Western countries. The fact that Assad is supported not by the USA or Britain, but by Russia and Iran, does not make his crimes any less horrific, or the political future he represents for the people of Syria any less dismal. Nor does it mean that Western political leaders are powerless in acting to oppose these crimes.

We know only too well that there are those in the anti-war movement who will denounce any move critical of Russia, Iran, or Assad as tantamount to support for Western imperialist intervention. We also know that there are those on the right of British politics who will claim any such move as a concession to their policy of militaristic grandstanding. The debate on Syria has been polarised between these two positions – scrupulous “non-intervention” in the face of massive carnage enabled by Russian intervention, versus support for bombing campaigns as part of a Western “war on terror”. We have all been asked to take up a position in these terms. But the terms are false.

We appreciate your concern not to lend support to right-wing calls for fruitless bombing campaigns. But in the face of the horrors being perpetrated across Syria, with impunity, and above all by Russian and Assad-regime forces, we believe socialists and anti-war activists cannot simply look on in silence. We ask that you condemn, clearly and specifically, the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria, which have caused the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths and which present the biggest obstacle to any workable solution to the Syrian crisis.

We also urge you to lend your wholehearted support to practical measures to support civilians and pressure the regime to end its attacks, such as airdrops of aid to besieged civilians by British military forces. Guaranteeing delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians is not only a way to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at risk of disease and starvation. It is also a non-violent and humanitarian way to pressure the regime into a negotiated political solution to the conflict, by undermining a key part of its strategy: the “kneel or starve” campaigns deployed against opposition areas since 2013. “Food not bombs” should be the rallying cry, not “Hands off Syria”, which only gives the Assad regime and Russia carte blanche to continue with their slaughter.

Failure to act on this issue now threatens to undermine practically and politically much of the work done over many years by the anti-war movement. The legacy of yourself and the anti-war movement over Syria must not be one of silence and inaction in the face of such momentous atrocities.

Yours fraternally,

Written by Andrew Coates

October 10, 2016 at 1:43 pm

42 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on Redvince's Weblog.


    October 10, 2016 at 1:47 pm

  2. I find this letter extremely naive as it actively encourages British military action in Syria. Once British military planes fly over Aleppo without being invited by the Syrian government you will be upping the ante of war, what ever their cargo. To trust the British government to act honourably in this region is naive to say the least.

    The British military have been part of the problem, their actions in Syria and Iraq have fed the flames of war. In Syria they are part of a coalition which is funding the armed opposition including islamic head choppers. At least in the Assad held areas people can live a life, west Aleppo is an example of this, it’s why we rarely see it on our TV screens or read about it in the mainstream media.

    I’m not saying Assad is not a scumbag but let me ask this, does anyone truly believe the British government would not use any of these proposed flights to assist the fighters they support?

    Mick Hall

    October 11, 2016 at 1:20 pm

  3. The question should be: how can the civil war be brought to an end as speedily as possible, and what constructive things can we do – if any – to help this? Moralising is almost certainly worse than useless here. The same goes for calls to ‘act’ without any clear idea of how such ‘acting’ will help end the war. Whoever ‘wins’, locally or nationally, will be a blood-drenched war criminal. The choice is between a crushing victory for one faction of war criminals, a carve up between several war criminals, or war and war crimes without end. And whether Jeremy Corbyn says anything or not will make not one iota of difference.


    October 11, 2016 at 2:24 pm

  4. “And whether Jeremy Corbyn says anything or not will make not one iota of difference”: which masy be true, but the same can be said (in the short-term) about all statements of international solidarity. Given that Corbyn remains a prominent supporter of the pro-Assad/pro-Putin Stop The War Coalition, it’s important that Momentum members and others on the left keep up the pressure on him over this.

    Jim Denham

    October 11, 2016 at 4:18 pm

  5. I fear the only hope of this civil war coming to an end is with a victory for the Assad regime, that is the time to pressures internationally to ensure there is democratic election in Syria. Our main enemy is at home and that means challenging the British government’s military involvement in the middle east, not encouraging it to become more involved. If the RAF were to drop supplies into east Aleppo, their head chopping proxies would know the coordinates of where they were to land before it hit the ground and would be waiting to receive it so they can continue the war.

    If it comes to electoral support for Assad or the islamic factions the gulf states and Saudis support at the behest of the USA/UK, I believe Assad will win easily and understandably so. As a Syrian friend said to me Assad is a criminal but at least you can live a life under his regime.

    It’s as if the British propaganda machine says jump and some on the lift reply how high. I agree with Frances on this. It is difficult to be on the side of the angels when none exist.

    Mick Hall

    October 11, 2016 at 6:19 pm

  6. Mick Hall represents the true, honest voice of Stop The War: support for Assad and Putin.

    Jim Denham

    October 12, 2016 at 8:29 am

  7. Jim,

    I’m not even a member of stop the war, and I do not doubt your sincerity, but tell me whats the difference between your demand for the RAF to become further embroiled in the Syrian civil war and those of the British security services, and come to that that Boris Johnson when he is acting on behalf of the Tory government. Jim, the days are gone when the left has to have an answer and position on everything, we have to keep banging it into our own heads the main enemy is at home.

    Mick Hall

    October 12, 2016 at 11:02 am

  8. Mick, you are right to underline just how horrible this is.

    I have no answers: but I will listen to the arguments of people expressing their deep moral concern at what is happening, something, that frankly the StWC is not.

    Andrew Coates

    October 12, 2016 at 11:48 am

  9. And Jim Denham and the AWL represent the dishonest voice of Zionism. – make war on the enemies of Israel under a left or human rights guise!
    that’s all there is to it.

    Instead of protests outside the Russian embassy, how about outside that of the Zionists warmongers?


    October 12, 2016 at 12:11 pm

  10. I enjoy as many advanced members of the left, your contributions Dean.

    They indicate, under your pseudonym, the real thinking of some people.

    But surely you are busy chap these days advising LIndsey Germain and John Rees?

    Andrew Coates

    October 12, 2016 at 12:35 pm

  11. Andrew I agree and it is important we debate this issue I’m not against that, all the best comrade, keep up the good work.

    Mick Hall

    October 12, 2016 at 12:37 pm

  12. Most imporatntly Corbyn is leader of the opposition and people both want and need to know what a Lab Gvt would do in power. We are only going to win an election when we can provide credible alternatives on all issues including this one. Staying silent, or worse backing Assad/Putin, will not provide that credibility.

    Boleyn Ali

    October 12, 2016 at 12:56 pm

  13. Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman (Seumas?) speaks out on Syria.

    This one is more specific as to what should, in the Corbyn/StWC mindset, be the main focus –

    John Rogan

    October 12, 2016 at 1:45 pm

  14. Syrians, left wing and ordinary Syrians – not ‘head choppers’ – have said what they want from us. What is beneath vile is how the Western left is flat out refusing to listen. StWC have actively blocked Syrians. Labour’s policy has zero input from Syrians. I am not going to spell out what they are asking for, you can go and look it up. If you disagree then talk to them, not me.

    Yes this infuriates me.

  15. Jim Denham

    October 12, 2016 at 4:17 pm

  16. As in,

    “Jeremy Corbyn’s team rejects call for anti-Russia protests over Syria – because it ‘diverts attention’ from US.”

    “Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson today rejected calls for protests outside the Russian Embassy, after suggestions they deliberately targeted civilian aid convoys and hospitals in Syria.

    He said outrage over Russian air strikes in Aleppo ‘divert attention’ away from casualties caused by bombing raids by the US and others.

    And he hinted there should be protests against the US instead of Russia.

    Brendan Cox, the widower of Jo Cox who was co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Syria group tweeted in response: “This isn’t just wrong, it’s absolutely disgraceful.”

    Daily Mirror.


    Andrew Coates

    October 12, 2016 at 4:57 pm

  17. Andrew Coates

    October 12, 2016 at 4:59 pm

  18. The Stop the War Coalition exists first and foremost to oppose British military interventions in Middle Eastern wars. It argues that such interventions make bad situations worse. The examples of Iraq and Libya suggest that it is right to argue that. It is therefore absurd for people who want British military intervention to denounce StWC for doing what it was set up to do, which is oppose British military interventions. There is nothing to stop people who want to protest outside Russian embassies, or call for air strikes, no fly zones or whatever from doing so. They will be in respectable company – Brexit Boris will make barnstorming speeches along much the same lines. But StWC won’t be there. Nor should it be.


    October 12, 2016 at 10:33 pm

  19. So much for real socialist internationalism then, which opposes ALL imperialisms EVERYWHERE.

    And the “we only oppose the West” types think they’re following Lenin. What idiots.


    October 12, 2016 at 11:46 pm

  20. Paul

    I don’t need to look it up to know what you’re talking about. You’re saying that they want us to support reigning further death and destruction on a country already torn about by civil war. It probably won’t surprise you to find that I, like (probably) most on the left in the West, will NEVER agree to that!


    October 13, 2016 at 2:49 am

  21. @Francis – This is absurd. StWC have backed demos outside the US and Israeli Embassies. Their leading figures have supported the so-called ‘People’s Republics’ in East Ukraine, and used StWC to back that absurdity. They have published material backing the invasion of Crimea. This ‘we only oppose British military interventions’ line is simply nonsense, demonstrably nonsense.

    They argue that we sell arms to Israel. Well the UK is a leader in providing practical support for the Kremlin kleptocracy – we school their kids, launder their money and clothe their wives. StWC have never, once, shown any support for the campaigns against Russian dirty money in the UK. We could shut down their sh&t tomorrow, if we chose to.

    On Libya, you, StWC and most ‘anti imperialism of fools’ people refuse to face the simple fact (never mind the implications of this fact) that the vast majority of Libyans welcomed intervention – something I have just written about > http://paulocanning.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/most-libyans-welcomed-intervention.html

    I am tired of this.

  22. @maleredfem – I just said you should look up what SYRIANS are saying. Plainly you are not interested. Sadly, this is a common attitude, which says everything about this version of being ‘left’.

  23. Screw Milne. Screw Corbyn. Screw Tariq. Screw Pilger. Screw Caroline (late!). Screw Steele. Screw Rees. Screw Murray. Screw the lot of them.

  24. Paul – you listen to the Syrians who tell you wnat you want to hear. That’s fine. Just don’t pretend that this is what all “the Syrians” want. It isn’t. They disagree violently. That’s why they’re having a civil war.

    Some people campaign for what they believe in. Others prefer to campaign against other campaigners who believe in something else for failing to embrace their critics’ campaign. That’s a waste of energy


    October 13, 2016 at 10:17 am

  25. Can anyone tell me who finances Syrian Solidarity UK? Genuine question not a put down.

    Mick Hall

    October 13, 2016 at 10:27 am

  26. @Francis – true( in terms of the spectrum of opinion) – but there is only one context – and one context alone – in which determining what people “want” can be achieved…and that is within the context of an open democratic society. “Wanting” a dictatorship is self-contradictory as it undermines the very basis via which consent (the ‘wanting’) can be achieved and verified.

    So it is natural that democratically minded people will listen more carefully to the small number of democratically minded organisations involved in the conflict – as they are the only ones proposing a legitimate outcome.

    And Paul is very much correct on the double standards with which the StWC target their protests (Israel – with which we really don’t really have that much of a substantial relationship – demonstrate outside the embassy; Pakistan, which is a huge UK aid recipient with a dreadful Human Rights record – ignore; Russia, currently occupying territory in 3 sovereign states, where we still have tonnes of their dirty cash floating around London – Ignore).

    In fairness, I don’t think a protest outside the Russian embassy would achieve anything. But what is more concerning is that many in the StWC hierarchy actually admire Putin’s chutzpah (or at least see him as a bastion against “imperialism”) and contribute towards his propaganda efforts in the UK (e.g. by appearing on RT).

    alex ross

    October 13, 2016 at 12:23 pm

  27. @Mick – You really shouldn’t listen to max Blumenthal.

    http://www.syriauk.org/p/about-us.html Email them and ask.

    Thanks Alex.

  28. @Paul Canning – most people in Libya did not support intervention, and look at the situation now. Predictable.

    I suspect you are against anything Russian because Russian does’t go down (no pun intended) with the gay agenda.


    October 13, 2016 at 1:36 pm

  29. Dean really is a loathsome “Red-Brown” semi-fascist,isn’t s/he?

    Jim Denham

    October 13, 2016 at 2:30 pm

  30. @Jim Denham – and you support Zionazism.


    October 13, 2016 at 3:29 pm

  31. ” and you support Zionazism”:
    I rest my case.

    Jim Denham

    October 14, 2016 at 12:52 am

  32. @Jim Denham – what case? you are unable even to give a definition of anti semitism.
    You also don’t seem to realize that the term ‘anti semitism’ has been so overused that it is like the boy who cried wolf, it doesn’t work anymore. It’s become devalued by people like you.

    AWL – Zio Trots.


    October 14, 2016 at 1:18 pm

  33. “The gay agenda.” “Zionazism.”

    Someone needs to be banned from this site, Andrew.


    October 14, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    • I think he stands as an excellent illustration of the politics of the anti-imperialism of fools and should be allowed to rant himself into the grave.

      Andrew Coates

      October 14, 2016 at 5:17 pm

  34. No, let the red-Brown semi fascist antisemitic loon carry on making an asshole of himself.

    Jim Denham

    October 14, 2016 at 2:41 pm

  35. Agreed! let’s have some more of your shite, “Dean” !

    Jim Denham

    October 14, 2016 at 9:24 pm

  36. I still suspect “Dean” isn’t actually so stupid as to hold such opinions (who possibly could be??) – and just gets a thrill from trolling.

    alex ross

    October 17, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    • I can say with hand on heart that I have met people who are stupid enough to hold these opinions.

      Andrew Coates

      October 17, 2016 at 4:07 pm

  37. The Syrian gov and allies, with Russian air support, fire artillery shells and bomb east Aleppo to defeat or drive Isil and their fellow armed islamic extremists out.

    The Iraqi gov and their allies with US and British air support bomb, and fire artillery into Mosul to defeat and drive out isil and other armed islamic extremists.

    According to western media east Aleppo has a population of 500K and Mosul 2 million, both greatly exaggerated IMO. One is being portrayed as war crime here perpetrated by criminals; and one doesn’t have to have a crystal ball to know when the attack on Mosul is in full fight it will be portrayed by western politicians and their tame media as a necessary and unavoidable battle which we all should support.

    Is there not a degree of hypocrisy going on here? It seems to me, the sooner these murderous head chopping extremists are defeated and driven out of both cities the better for all, especially the populations of both cities.

    The fact is when great powers become embroiled in other people’s wars, right and wrong evaporates and political advantage becomes all.

    The main thing the left should do is remember our main enemy is at home and act accordingly.

    Mick Hall

    October 18, 2016 at 5:48 pm

  38. Sigh. There is no ISIS in East Aleppo and the al-Nusra presence is small – far, far less than FSA.

  39. Paul, I’m no expert but reliable sources whom I have come to trust including Fisk and Cockburn,claim Al Nursa/Jabhat Fateh al-Sham has the overwhelming majority of fighters within east Aleppo. Indeed the so called Free Syrian army has not been operating within that area in any great numbers.

    Mick Hall

    October 19, 2016 at 6:55 pm

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