When Britain elected recently to stay out of any military involvement in the Syria conflict, the opposition was certainly not limited to the left. But an organization called Stop the War Coalition played a key role in that Parliamentary vote, and as Andrew Gilligan at the Telegraph reported last week, central to the Coalition is a number of groups which support Assad’s regime and oppose any action against it whatsoever – not to spurn the al Qaeda-backed rebels, but to limit American and Zionist influence in Syria and the Middle East.
Stop the War was founded in the wake of the 9/11 attacks when George W. Bush kicked off the badly named War on Terror. The UK organization’s stated principal aim, in fact, is “to stop the war currently declared by the United States and its allies against ‘terrorism.’” Note the quotes around the word “terrorism,” which is the left’s not-so-subtle way of calling into question its very meaning and legitimacy. The group deplores the “consequences” of the war on terror and claims that it is “the US-led drive to war which has been the prime cause of these crises, backlashes and other repercussions.”
Stop the War has since been dedicated, as it describes itself, “to ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing the troops home and forcing the British government to change its disastrous foreign policies.” In the UK, the website asserts, “the Stop the War Coalition has organised massive demonstrations against these wars, in conjunction with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, whose founders supported American Cold War disarmament but not that of the Soviets, and the Muslim Association of Britain, which protested the Iraq War (but has also condemned the Assad regime).
As Gilligan notes, the Communist Party of Britain is formally associated with Stop the War, whose deputy president and former chairman is Andrew Murray, a member of the CP of Britain. The CP’s General Secretary Robert Griffiths declared that the U.S. was “not motivated by any desire to help the Syrian people or stem the flood of refugees to Lebanon. It has long been US imperialism’s strategy to establish control over the ‘Greater Middle East’ region with its unequalled oil resources and vital transportation routes.” He warned that “tipping the military balance against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime would… remove a critic of US foreign policy and the illegal Israeli occupation of Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese land.”
Murray also happens to be the chief of staff of Unite, one of Labor leader Ed Miliband’s four biggest donors – the others being the TSSA transportation union, public service union Unison, and the Communication Workers’ Union, whose head of policy Steve Bell happens to be Stop the War’s treasurer. This very likely played a significant factor in the vote against Syrian intervention because, as the Telegraph’s Gilligan points out, it was Miliband’s last-minute switch which made the difference.
Another key associate of Stop the War is the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran, whose chairman, Abbas Edalat, is a member of Stop the War’s steering committee. Iran, of course, is a close ally of the Assad regime. Unsurprisingly, Stop the War is also opposed to sanctions and military attacks on Iran.
Among Stop the War’s vice presidents are socialist former Member of Parliament and friend to the “Palestinian” cause, George Galloway, and passionately anti-American author Tariq Ali, who supports violent resistance against the Iraqi “occupation” by American and coalition forces.
Another vice-president is Kamal Majid, a founding member of the Stalin Society, as Gilligan points out, created in 1991 to “defend Stalin and his work… and to refute capitalist, revisionist, opportunist and Trotskyist propaganda directed against him.” At a meeting last year of the New Communist Party, Majid described the Assad family as rulers “with a long history of resisting imperialism” who must be supported “because their defeat will pave the way for a pro-Western and pro-US regime.” The uprising against Assad, he said, is part of an “imperialist plan to replace the Syrian government with a puppet state, à la Libya, which will do the bidding of the Americans and Zionists.”
At a Stop the War public meeting in early June, Majid said “the whole [rebellion against Assad] was started by the Americans,” and that “the main aim for all the West’s wars in the Middle East, in Iraq, Libya and in Syria is Israel, to weaken all the countries in the region except Israel.” Although America complained about Assad’s use of chemical weapons, he said, “remember that it was the US who used weapons of mass destruction in Japan, who used chemical weapons in Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea. The Americans have had weapons of mass destruction all along.”
Issa Chaer also spoke at that meeting. Chaer runs the Syrian Social Club, a London regime supporters’ group, and has regularly defended the dictator on TV. Another Stop the War officer, Shamiul Joarder, represents Friends of al-Aqsa, which defends the “Palestinian” terrorist group Hamas and focuses on “mobilising international condemnation for Israel’s apartheid policies.”
Stop the War too is equally committed to “supporting Palestinian rights, opposing racism and defending civil liberties.” What do supporting “Palestinian” rights have to do with the anti-war movement? Nothing except that anti-Zionism is a de rigueur position for any leftist activist group.
At a “Hands Off Syria” protest at the end of August, Lindsey German, another official for Stop the War, touted the group’s influence on this major national decision: “Never let them say demonstrations don’t work – our demonstration has worked.” Murray was there as well, claiming that the Stop the War Coalition had stopped the war.
They hadn’t stopped the war, but Stop the War Coalition did score a victory for the British leftist anti-war movement, which at its heart is anti-American and anti-Israeli.
Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture.
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