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Campaign to Support Afrin, as Turkey is alleged to recruit ISIS Genociders to attack the Kurdish YPG.

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Turkey using ISIS fighters for Afrin invasion – newspaper

Turkey is deploying Islamic State (ISIS) fighters to Afrin to help it fight the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) there, a former ISIS fighter told The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn.

“Turkey at the beginning of its operation tried to delude people by saying that it is fighting ISIS, but actually they are training ISIS members and sending them to Afrin,” he quoted the man, named Faraj, as saying.

Turkey was using members of the extreme jihadist group because of their fighting experience, and because there are few likely consequences for Turkish domestic opinion if they suffer casualties, Cockburn said.

ISIS, meanwhile, is trying to regain a foothold in Syria, and dealing damage to the U.S.-backed YPG would be an important strategic move, he said.

“The fighting between Turks and Kurds and the growing confrontation between the U.S. and Turkey are all in the interests of ISIS,” Cockburn said.

“It does not have the strength to recover from its crushing defeats last year, but the opponents it faced then are now fighting other battles.”

Turkey’s state news agency has also said that the YPG has freed jailed ISIS fighters in return for the militants joining the fight against Turkey.

There is growing international concern, as this campaign illustrates.

 A group of intellectuals, professors, academics and human rights activists launched world campaign against the Turkish occupation of Afrin and signed a petition against the Turkish occupation.

The petition called on the United Nations, America, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating the Syrian territories and allowing the people of Afrin to live in peace, and demanded an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Afrin is surrounded by al-Qaeda, jihadist groups and the Turkish state

According to the petition, the majority of Afrin residents are Kurds, the most secure areas in Syria. The population of the Afrin region has doubled over the past five years; the population is about 400,000. The petition noted that Afrin is now besieged by the jihadist groups affiliated with Turkey, as well as al-Qaeda and the Turkish state.

People’s Protection Units alone protect peoples

The petition also addressed the Turkish threats against People’s Protection Units in Afrin. These units, participated with US against IS, have opened the way for the establishment of democratic civil society councils in the areas under their control. It stressed that People’s Protection Units defend the Kurds and other peoples living in northern Syria.

The lives of thousands of civilians are threatened

The intellectuals also emphasized Erdogan tries to eliminate the safe and stable Afrin canton, pointing out any possible attack that would threaten the lives of thousands of civilians and displaced people. Stressing at the same time that any Turkish attack will be with the permission of Russia, Iran and Syria, and America’s inaction.

Supporting Kurds, who sacrificed thousands of their martyrs in the war against IS, is a moral responsibility

The petition signed by intellectuals and academics said that the Kurdish people sacrificed thousands of their martyrs to save the world from IS mercenaries. “The moral responsibility is imposed on the international community and on America to stand by the Kurdish people.”

The petition called on the United Nations, the United States, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating Syrian land and to allow the people of Afrin to live in peace. It also called for an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Among those who signed the petition were Noam Chomsky, Michael Walzer, Charlotte Bunch, Todd Gitlin, David Graeber, Nadje Al Ali, David Harvey, Michael Hardt, Marina Sitrin, David Phillips, Ann Snitow, Bill Fletcher, Joey Lawrence, Meredith Tax and Debbie Bookchin.

Full text of the petition:

We, the undersigned academics and human rights activists, insist that the leaders of Russia, Iran, and the U.S. ensure that the sovereignty of Syrian borders is not breached by Turkey and that the people of Afrin in Syria, be allowed to live in peace.

Afrin, whose population is predominantly Kurdish, is one of the most stable and secure regions in Syria. With very little international aid, Afrin has taken in so many Syrian refugees in the last five years that its population has doubled to 400,000. Afrin is now surrounded by enemies: Turkish-supported jihadi groups, al Qaeda, and Turkey.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to attack the U.S. military’s Kurdish partners – the Kurdish YPG or People’s Protection Units – with which the US has been allied against ISIS. Turkey accuses the YPG of being “terrorists” despite the YPG’s long track record of setting up local democratic governing councils in each of the towns it has liberated from ISIS and its repeated statements that it has no interest in Turkey and wishes to function only as a defense force for Syrian Kurds and other ethnicities living in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also known as “Rojava”, which includes Afrin.

Turkey has massed an enormous military force on the Afrin border and President Erdogan has promised to attack the Kurdish-controlled canton with full force, annihilating a peaceful enclave, and putting thousands of civilians and refugees at risk, all in pursuit of its vendetta against the Kurds.

An attack of this kind against the peaceful citizens of Afrin is a blatant act of aggression against a peaceful and democratically-governed region and population. Turkey cannot carry out such an attack without the approval of Russia, Iran and Syria – and inaction by the U.S. to stop it. The Kurdish people have endured the loss of thousands of young men and women who joined the YPG, and YPJ women’s force, to rid the world of ISIS. The U.S and the international community have a moral obligation to stand behind the Kurdish people now. We call on U.S. officials and the international community to guarantee Afrin’s stability and security and prevent further Turkish aggression from within Syria and across the Syrian border.

There is also this:

*Urgent call for Demo:
#STOPAFRINGENOCIDE#

Since 20 January Turkish army and its mercenaries are brutally continuing attacking Efrîn Canton bombing civilians homes and shelling hospitals and schools to destroying the peaceful co-existing people of northern Syria. To protest these attacks by Turkish State, we call everyone to join us and protest outside the Prime Minister Office in London, where leaflets and information will be distributed everyday for a week long desk with a tent/ Afrin resistance comp.
Start Date : 10/02/2018 Saturday
Time: 12:00am-6pm
Address: 10 Downing Street
Closest station: Westminister Station
Kurdish People Assembly
Roj Women Assembly
Democratic Union Party (PYD)-UK

2 of ISIS’ Infamous British Fighters Are Captured by Syrian Kurds

New York Times.

Syrian Kurdish fighters have detained two British men infamous for their role in the Islamic State’s imprisonment, torture and killing of Western hostages, according to American officials.

The men were part of a group of four Islamic State militants known as the Beatles because of their British accents. Officials identified the two men captured as Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh. They were the last two members of the group to remain at large.

The ringleader, Mohammed Emwazi, was killed in an airstrike in 2015 in Syria after an intensive manhunt. Known as Jihadi John, he beheaded American and British hostages. A fourth man, Aine Davis, is imprisoned in Turkey on terrorism charges.

All four had lived in West London. Mr. Kotey, born in London, is of Ghanaian and Greek Cypriot background, while Mr. Elsheikh’s family fled Sudan in the 1990s. Both men have been designated foreign terrorists by the United States.

The British extremists were known for their brutality. They repeatedly beat the hostages they kept imprisoned in Raqqa, Syria, formerly the Islamic State’s self-declared capital, and subjected them to waterboarding and mock executions. Mr. Emwazi was believed to have killed the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as Abdul-Rahman Kassig, an aid worker. The American government says the group beheaded more than 27 hostages.

 

 

Here

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Stop Turkish Attacks on Kurds in Afrin!

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Defend Afrin!

A couple of days ago le Monde (25.1.18) published this report:

A Afrin, forces turques et djihadistes se côtoient dans les combats

Le groupe djihadiste Tahrir Al-Cham, issu d’Al-Qaida, combat les forces kurdes à Afrin, sous l’œil bienveillant de l’armée turque.

At Afrin the Turkish forces and jihadists stand side by side in the fighting.

The jihadist group, Tahrir Al-Cham, with origins in Al-Qaeda, are fighting the Kurdish forces in Afrin, under the watchful eyes of the Turkish army.

Meanwhile the Free Syrian Army has made this claim, (27.1.18)

Afrin operation aims to protect Kurds: FSA commander

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) supporting the ongoing Turkish military operation in Afrin seeks to protect the Kurdish people oppressed by PYD/PKK terrorist group in the northwestern Syrian city, according to a FSA commander.

On Jan. 20, the Turkish army launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin. It is noted that Kurds oppressed by PYD/PKK are in the FSA frontlines during the offensive.

“Our motive was never to bomb or kill innocent people,” Isa Kedlo, a Kurdish commander of FSA, said on Saturday. “We are part of the locals and want them not to be manipulated by the [PYD/PKK] black propaganda,” he said.

“We will save our Kurdish people who were oppressed by PKK,” Kedlo said.

The FSA commander said Operation Olive Branch aims to bring back peace and freedom to the city and return people who were forced out of their homes.

“We will liberate our friends locked in YPG dungeons, and secure our region and then provide stability for our people,” he said.

Peter Tatchell tweeted,

Against the triple alliance of jihadists, the ‘Free Syrian Army’  and Turkey, protests took place across Europe yesterday.

These are from London.

This is a helpful article on the consequences of Turkey’s invasion.

Turkey’s attack on Syrian Kurds could overturn the entire region

The new front is not just a local conflict: it could lead to a broader Kurdish revolt that redraws the map. The west must finally decide what it wants to achieve in the Middle East or other players will benefit.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 28, 2018 at 1:15 pm

International Volunteers for the Kurdish Freedom Fighters Prepared to Fight Turkish led Forces in Syria.

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parliamentary_meeting_afrin.jpg

 

This was a major news story on BBC Radio Four this morning.

Volunteers ‘prepared’ to fight alongside Kurdish militia

Kurdish fighters have released a video showing an international group of volunteers who previously fought in Syria against so-called Islamic State.

In the video, a man with an American accent says: “We’ve been training for a significant amount of time. We are prepared.”

Britons prepare to fight Turkish-led forces in Syria

British men are among a group of international volunteers preparing to fight against Turkish-led forces in north-west Syria, the BBC understands.

They have joined the Kurdish militia, the YPG, in its offensive on the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin.

Among the volunteers is a 24-year-old British-Chinese fighter from Manchester, known as Huang Lei.

Lei, who originally travelled to Syria in 2015 to battle against IS, told the BBC it was his “duty” to fight.

The YPG has released a video showing an international group of volunteers who previously fought in Syria against so-called Islamic State.

Lei has told the BBC that there are two other Britons with him among the group, although they have chosen to remain anonymous.

In the video, an American says: “We’re all ready to go and fight in Afrin, against the invading force of Turkey.

“We’ve been training for a significant amount of time. We are prepared, and we have been supplied by the YPG to fight against the Turkish terrorists.”

We were fighting against ISIS in Syria and suddenly we heard that Turkey is attacking Afrin and bombing the city,” he says.

“We want to go there to help people defend the city and protect the people.”

This marks a significant shift in the involvement of international fighters in the Syrian war.

With the IS threat diminished, for some volunteers their mission has changed.

Lei says there is now a group of around 20 international volunteers who will go to defend the city, including Britons from Manchester, London and Leeds, and others from France, Germany, Spain and the US.

He says: “For me personally, the kindness and comradeship the Kurdish people have shown is my motivation to stand against Turkey”.

The British Foreign Office has repeatedly warned people not to get involved in fighting abroad, so signs of changing motivations from western anti-IS fighters may prompt fresh concern.

Michael Stephens, a Middle East analyst from the Royal United Services Institute, said: “Previously their actions had aligned completely with the goals of coalition partners.

“Now these volunteers are taking on a sovereign country and a NATO ally and this brings up certain legal considerations.”

Lei accepts he may face consequences if he comes back to Britain.

“I really hope I can return, but I don’t want to come back and get arrested,” he says.

“I am here to fight against terrorists. I don’t want to come back home and become a terrorist.”

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) has issued this statement,

We oppose all outside intervention in Syria, from whatever side. We see this latest intervention as one which can only worsen the situation, while in particular targeting the Kurdish YPG. We note that the Syrian government had denied the Turkish government’s claim that “all parties being involved were informed and operation is being carried with respect to Syria’s territorial integrity”.

It is reported that a ground operation is expected to follow with the support of the Free Syrian Army. The Turkish government is trying to justify this as “protection of the border and security”. This is a false justification of Turkey’s war on the Kurdish population in the region. These attacks are not aimed at protecting security because Turkey’s border security is not endangered. Afrin has been the calmest region in the whole Syrian civil war.

This war will have devastating consequences for the peoples of Turkey, Syria and of the region. The responsibility for this will lie with Turkey’s ruling AKP government, its leader Erdogan, and those imperialist powers who consent to these attacks.

We are particularly concerned given that Turkey is an important NATO member and there is a danger that its involvement here will herald wider intervention from other NATO powers.

This is not in the interests of anyone who is suffering as a result of this seven year long war. All outside intervention must end now. Only the people of Syria can decide their future.

We call on the British government to use all efforts to put pressure on Turkey to end the attack. It is important that the trade union movement and the anti war and peace movement exert as much pressure as possible through protests, lobbying and campaigning.

Stop the War & SPOT (Solidarity with the People of Turkey)

While some of this statement is welcome, that is opposition to “targeting the Kurdish YPG”,  how can this “pressure” possibly deal with the attack? Does it also mean that the StWC also calls on the  internationalist volunteers to follow the Foreign Office’s advice and not get involved in the fighting?

These are heroes and heroines, prepared to stand up the genocidal killers and their own volunteers, the Einsatzgruppen of ISIS.

Now they face the murdering forces of the Turkish, ‘moderate’ Islamist,  Erdoğan.

We back this:

HANDS OFF AFRIN Kurdish Solidarity Campaign.

Urgent concerns have been raised over the imminent threat by Turkey of military attacks on the Kurdish Afrin canton in Northern Syria

Representatives from the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) have been invited and will be attending the Sochi peace talks to be hosted by Russia at the end of this month (January 29th-30th). This is the first time the DFNS will have a seat at Syrian peace talks of this level, despite the fact they have, for many years now, proven to be the most efficient force against terrorist groups such as ISIS in Syria who were defeated by the Syrian Democratic Forces in the terrorist groups self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa, just a few months ago. The only force in Syria to have received support from both the US-backed coalition and Russia, the SDF (the armed forces of the DFNS) is a major power in the new emerging Syria; however, it is now under serious threat from Turkey who vehemently opposes its participation in the peace talks and moreso its existence in general. Indeed, Turkey is seeking to extend its own influence over the Syrian border using its military power and Salafist “rebel” proxies (further detail of Turkey’s links to Salafist terrorist groups in Syria can be found in our submission to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee).

Ankara is angered by the announcement last week that the Kurdish-led SDF will create a new border force in the north of Syria with support from the US Coalition, as part of its ongoing strategy to maintain stability and shore up defence against Turkish invasion. In light of this new border force plan, the upcoming Sochi peace talks, and Turkey’s historical aggression towards the DFNS, it is very likely Turkey will commence a full military incursion into the SDF-held Afrin canton by the weekend hoping to gain significant leverage in future peace talks and negotiations. Shelling and artillery fire by Turkey and Turkish-backed group was reported late last night (17th January) in Afrin’s Sherawa and Shera districts. If successful, Turkish leader Erdogan will be able to claim a political and military victory and add legitimacy to his continuous threats against the SDF and the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria.

This aggressive move from Turkey has the potential to totally jeopardise all chances of peaceful resolution for the Syrian conflict. Further, it risks millions of lives in an area filled with internally displaced people (around 2.5 million) from the conflict zones of Syria that sought safety in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, a secular, multi-ethnic, multi-faith, democratic autonomous zone with a strong emphasis on women’s rights and defence against the scourge of ISIS.

French Communist Daily, L’Humanité, backs the Kurdish fight against the Turkish invasion.

Feleknas Uca, députée kurde : « Nous sommes la force principale pour défendre les valeurs démocratiques au Moyen-Orient »

Demonstration outside the Council of Europe.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 24, 2018 at 12:45 pm

American Anarchist, Heval Demhat, Fighter for Freedom, Falls in the Battle against Daesh.

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Yesterday on BBC 2 Newsnight reported on the battle to liberate Raqqa. After interviewing a heroic Kurdish woman commander, the programme talked to Kimberley Taylor, 27, who has joined the forces against Daesh, reminding viewers  that some brave people from across the world  have taken their side.

This has also happened, another courageous volunteer amongst the martyrs who have joined the struggle  against Jihadist Islamism.

This has also happened, one amongst the martyrs against Jihadist Islamism.

American Anarchist Killed in Battle to Liberate Raqqa from ISIS.

Report from: It’s Going Down  July the 10th, 2017.

According to the IRPGF (International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces), an anarchist militia fighting within the Rojava revolution against ISIS in so-called Syria, an anarchist from the United States, Heval Demhat (nom de guerre) has been killed during the struggle to liberate Raqqa in Syria from ISIS control.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 11, 2017 at 11:33 am

Will the left hear the cries from Aleppo?

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London, Saturday.

Will the left hear the cries from Aleppo?

Syrian solidarity activists should therefore go and make the case in defense of the original uprising against the Syrian regime and Russia at, for example, forums put on by the U.S. Peace Council, which is currently touring apologists for Assad. We can organize debates about Syria and Palestine at political conferences, and challenge the views put forward by Blumenthal and Khalek in left publications and websites.

This attitude of fighting to win the debate is important. We have to win the left to a genuine anti-imperialism that opposes not just the U.S. empire, but its rivals (and sometime collaborators) as well. As revolutionary socialist Eamonn McCann put it so well in a speech in the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland, we must protest American imperialism’s crimes in Iraq, Yemen and beyond, while also challenging Russian imperialism in Syria.

Finally, and most importantly, we must stand in solidarity with genuine liberation struggles from below, regardless of which imperial camp they are challenging. Our slogan is neither Washington, nor Moscow, nor Beijing, nor Damascus, nor Tehran, nor Riyadh, but self-determination for oppressed nations and international socialism.

From Socialist Worker.

No, not the UK Socialist Worker of the SWP, but the US Socialist Worker of the International Socialist Organization.

This is only one contribution to a very serious debate taking place on the entire  US Left about these issues.

One could begin with one important and  latest contribution:  The numbers game in East Aleppo by Louis Proyect.

In the UK Socialist Resistance have published this: Syria – calling for an end to intervention is not nearly enough

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty republishes this: What’s wrong with “Stop the War”?

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 23, 2016 at 11:53 am

Stop the War Coalition Opposes ‘Outside’ Help to Defeat ISIS in Mosul.

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Image result for mosul

StWC Opposes Outside Help to Defeat Genocidal ISIS.

Iraqi-led forces have surrounded a Christian town in an attempt to liberate it from ISIS control, but they are facing fierce resistance, exchanging heavy gunfire with the militants, a paramilitary general told CNN.

The operation in the town of Qaraqosh by Iraqi forces, Peshmerga fighters and a Christian paramilitary group is the latest in an aggressive push toward the city of Mosul by a coalition of around 94,000 people, aimed at unshackling the strategic city from more than two years of brutal ISIS control.

Part of Qaraqosh has already been liberated, according to General Amr Shamoun, who belongs to the Christian militia involved in the attack.

 More on CNN. 

Inside Mosul: IS threatens US and spreads terror among civilians

As Iraqi forces close in on Mosul, IS targets suspected spies and is believed to be using civilians as human shields.

Sky.

Meanwhile in another universe.

StWC Statement on Mosul (17th of October).

The misery of the people of the Middle East continues. We have condemned the bombing of Aleppo by Russia and that of Yemen by Saudi Arabia. Now there is the battle over Mosul in which both US and UK planes will be used for air strikes. While no one can support the brutal behaviour of ISIS, and all would welcome its disappearance, more aerial bombardment of civilians will not help to bring about peace and stability in Iraq. Indeed, the offensive on Mosul which began today is in danger of creating a grave humanitarian crisis as hundreds of thousands try to flee the city.

This is the key part of the statement,

The US and UK governments do not have the interests of the people at heart, but are concerned with their own strategic interests and control of the resources in the region, in the case of Mosul oil. Stop the War opposes all the outside interventions by foreign powers and all the bombing being carried out from whatever source on the people of the Middle East.

So the StWC would welcome the “disappearance” of ISIS – presumably in a puff of smoke.

In the meantime they are opposed to the military aid which might bring their defeat.

Because?

Because the US and the UK have an interest in Mosul Oil?

Because  they are “outside interventions”?

Mosul is a very hard case but what was their stand during this: the siege of Kobanî  when our Kurdish comrades fought for dear life against the genociders of ISIL (ISIS)?

By 2 October 2014, ISIL succeeded in capturing 350 Kurdish villages and towns within the vicinity of Kobanê,[60] generating a wave of some 300,000 displaced Kurds, who fled across the border into Turkey‘sŞanlıurfa Province.[61] By January 2015, this had risen to 400,000.[56] The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), coordinated as part of the Euphrates Volcano joint operations room,[citation needed] were later joined by further Free Syrian Army (FSA) reinforcements, heavily armed Peshmerga of the Kurdistan Regional Government, and American and Arab airstrikes providing air support.[62]

On 26 January 2015, the YPG, along with the continued US-led airstrikes, began to retake the city, driving ISIL into a steady retreat. The city of Kobanê was fully recaptured on 27 January; however, most of the remaining villages in the Kobanî Canton remained under ISIL control.[8][63] Kurdish militia along with allied Arab armed groups backed by further airstrikes, then made rapid advances in rural Kobanî, with ISIL withdrawing 25 km from the city of Kobanî by 2 February.[64][65] By late April 2015, ISIL had lost almost all of the villages it had captured in the Canton, but maintained control of a few dozen villages it seized in the northwestern part of the Ar-Raqqah Governorate.[9] The battle for Kobanî was considered a turning point in the war against ISIL.

Wikipedia. Siege of Kobanî

Well, we know they oppose all foreign interventions.

This is important background reading: this time on the related struggles in Syria.

Joey AyoubWhat’s behind Stop the War’s aversion to Syria voices?

On 15 November 2015, Diane Abbott went on the BBC’s ‘Daily Politics’ show to defend herself and the Stop the War (StW) coalition against a rather odd accusation: that they refuse to give a platform to Syrians when discussing Syria.

It followed a heated exchange just days prior, in which Syrian activists challenged StW’s leadership on the matter during a talk on Syria. They were backed by Peter Tatchell, the veteran anti-war activist who had also been criticising StW for what many perceive as its intolerance towards left-wing, democratic and anti-Assad Syrian activists.

This was not a new accusation. StW has prevented Syrian activists from speaking at their rallies or from taking part in any “anti-war” campaign, while giving a platform to pro-Assad apologists and inviting Assad’s own allies like the Ghouta massacre-denier Fadia Laham, also known as “Mother Agnes”, for years.

This exposes two fundamental aspects of StW today: A de facto tolerance and acceptance of Assad’s tyranny translated as the problem of people “over there” which “we” must not get involved in, regardless of the repercussions, and a hatred for subaltern voices, in this case Syrians, who do not fit the accepted narrative.

This, in turn, works hand in hand with an outdated cold war-era framework, still plaguing much of the western and Arab Left, which romanticises (read: whitewashes) the Kremlin’s politics.

More on The New Arab.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 19, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Jeremy Corbyn Speak out on Syria!

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Confbanner

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