Friday, 4 December 2015

Why won’t Stop the War engage with Syrians?

The Economist reports that the Stop the War coalition have been marginalising Syrian voices and accuses the organisation of being:

not anti-war so much as anti-West.

Labour MP Jo Cox wrote this week that the Stop the War coalition:

don’t seem to know or care that there is already a war in Syria and has been for many years. If they were really the ‘Stop the War’ coalition they would have been actively campaigning for resolute international action to protect civilians and end the war in Syria for many years.

Syria Solidarity UK released a statement explaining why they would not support the recent Stop the War demonstration, even though both organisations oppose airstrikes. They stated:

Syria Solidarity UK and Stop the War have very different concerns regarding Syria: Syria Solidarity is concerned with ending the suffering of Syrians under the Assad dictatorship; Stop the War with opposing any UK military involvement regardless of consequences for Syrians.

We oppose the British government’s proposal to merely mimic the American ISIS-only counter-terrorism war; not only do we believe it is immoral to fly missions in Syria against ISIS while leaving the even greater killer, Assad, free to bomb civilians en masse, we also believe that any war against ISIS that doesn’t put the needs of the Syrian people first will be a failure that can only prolong their suffering.

Stop the War similarly oppose British government proposals to bomb ISIS, but not because they would leave Assad alone; for Stop the War also oppose any action against Assad. This puts Stop the War against Syrians who are being bombed by Assad.

If Stop the War’s slogan “Don’t bomb Syria” is to have any meaning, let them demand the end of the regime whose bombs have killed so many.

If Stop the War oppose imperialism let them demonstrate their sincerity outside the Russian Embassy. Let them demonstrate with placards calling for Russia to stop bombing Syrian hospitals.

It’s right that Stop the War, as a western organisation, submits western propaganda to close scrutiny. Britain has done great harm in the world as well as good. But Stop the War should apply this same scrutiny, alongside its humanitarian values, to all people in all countries.