Last night's Stop the War protest had an impact. Keep up the pressure on MPs before the vote tonight, writes Yasmin Dahnoun
Once again the British public stood in solidarity against Cameron's plans to bomb Syria, with thousands attending last night’s protest called at two days’ notice by the Stop the War Coalition. The vote taking place in parliament today will also be met with a die-in and protest tonight in Parliament Square.
In 2003 the biggest anti-war demo in London's history took place against the Iraq War, where 2 million people marched to resist Blair's plans. Since then, ruthless combat has officially killed more than 165,000 Iraqi civilians, and violence between the Shias and Sunnis has escalated. Periodic suicide bombings have taken place, and an autocratic government replaced Saddam Hussein. Today Iraq is left in devastation.
Ih-tisham Ulhaq, 23, who was at the protest, said, "Europe has always been in a position to control the Middle-East... Britain is a bombing force on this planet. Anything that comes out of parliament I have no faith in, they don't represent us, they don't represent people, they represent power and right now it's capitalist, racist power."
The War on Terror unleashed in Iraq was a failed, catastrophic and un-humanitarian intervention, the worst since America's intervention in Vietnam. These policies are no different today. The public anticipated the outcome of Iraq, and we were right. The same arrogance, racism and colonialism is creating the same circumstances around Syria, and it will only recreate the death, destruction and war crimes that so many innocent people in the Middle East fell victim to.
Elsa, 58, spoke on behalf of the crowd when she told me that "bombing Syria is not a solution; send doctors, send teachers, send food, send clothes, send books, not bombs – bombing Syria is going to radicalise more people. The entire world has to be stable. We need to help these people, not bomb people."
Demanding a vote so suddenly, Cameron's irrational argument to bomb Syria is swiftly brushed aside with questions by both Corbyn and the public. Why bomb Syria when Isis cannot be directly targeted, but can become more radicalised by the intervention of Western powers? Why not find more strategic alternatives to defeat Isis that won't add to the killing of already over 200,000 Syrian civilians? Why aren't we cutting off funding towards those suspected to be funding Isis?
Having failed to answer these questions and persuade the majority of the public, and instead to persist on bombing Syria, it's clear that Cameron’s interests don't lie within the British public or the Syrian people. He would rather undermine British civil liberties and uphold foreign intervention.
CND's Kate Hudson, who spoke at the protest last night, reminded us that Cameron's 'moral case' for war is a repetition of Blair's narrative. She spoke loudly, for parliament to hear her message:
"There are no weapons that are smart enough, no drones that are accurate enough to avoid the loss of innocent lives. We had war lies from the Blair government and Blair proved to be a war criminal... We don't expect another war any more than we expect them to drive millions of British people into poverty with their criminal austerity policies."
Indeed last week Cameron announced that in order to fight Isis, another £12b would be added to the military budget. Britain, along with France, is already one of the biggest military spenders in Europe. The cuts to welfare won't affect Cameron, Osborne or Hammond. But if the airstrikes go ahead, it means more austerity and a weakened democracy for the rest of us. We must do everything we can to stop this war.
More articles from this author
- BDS: a response to the University of Manchester's Balfour Celebration
- The October Revolution in 1917, the Algerian Revolution in November 1954, and the victory of Dien Bien Phu
- The Women's Revolution: Russia 1905 - 1917
- Now is the time to fight back - Counterfire Freesheet October 2017
- We must drive the Tories out
- Storming the heavens: The Russian Revolution 100 years on - event
- The hype machine: employers and threats of automation