Stop bombing in Syria
1 Stop bombing in Syria from Greens Senator Scott Ludlam
Malcolm Turnbull, when he announced he was challenging Tony Abbott, said that the “captain’s calls” must stop. The most reckless of these was begging the United States to ‘ask’ for Australia’s involvement in bombing missions inside Syria.
This is Mr Turnbull’s first and only opportunity to show he’s learned from the mistakes of his predecessors.
Please add your voice to our message to the new Prime Minister: the bombing must stop.
Prime Minister Turnbull, Tony Abbott’s decision to bomb Syria was the most reckless and dangerous of his “captain’s calls”. Sending our servicemen and women into harm’s way should never be done for such brazen political reasons. Without a clear plan to work towards a multilateral agreement in the region, we risk accomplishing nothing but further endangering the Syrian people.
In a last desperate effort to keep his job, Tony Abbott pleaded with the US to have them ‘request’ Australian involvement in the bombing campaign. The only plan was to boost Abbott’s flagging polling numbers. The only objective was for Abbott to keep his job.
It’s the most atrocious misuse of the Prime Ministership in recent memory. Correcting it should be the new Prime Minister’s first priority.
Join me in a letter to the new PM, telling him to fix the worst mistake of his predecessor.
Syria is a nation in turmoil. A brutal Assad regime, a devastating three year drought, multiple vicious jihadist groups, and seemingly endless violence. An ill-devised intervention with no plan for the future is the last thing that is needed there.
Australia could play a constructive diplomatic role in the region. But that will be impossible if all we’re delivering are high explosives.
The complexities of the civil war in Syria were certainly beyond the understanding of a Prime Minister whose policy framework was a series of three word slogans. The situation there will only be worsened by the Western military blindly charging in with no clear plan. This is Prime Minister Turnbull’s first and only chance to avoid repeating the mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan.
As well this petition from Peter Murphy
Dear Prime Minister,
I ask that your government refuse the US government request for the RAAF to bomb targets in Syria. This will kill civilians, provoke more sectarian violence and increase the flow of refugees. It is not legal, and not moral.
Why is this important?
The proposal for the RAAF to bomb targets in Syria will continue to expand the human disaster in Syria and the Middle East, which began with the Bush-Blair-Howard invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The six Australian fighter-bombers make no practical difference to the military situation, but provide political support to the US-led attacks in both Iraq and Syria.
These attacks have increased the sectarian Shia – Sunni violence, and not addressed the deeper problems of the Iraqi and Syrian people.
Many Australians feel that this move is a cynical political distraction from the Abbott government’s problems, and is designed to increase fear in our communities. But if we speak out, we can stop it happening.
Earlier statement from IPAN
Anti-war activists in Sydney last June.
This is an abridged version of a speech given by Pip Hinman on behalf of Sydney Stop the War Coalition to protest against the bombing of Syria at a rally on that day.
Stop the War Coalition (STWC) adds its voice to those saying Australia should not join the latest “Coalition of the Killing” and the disastrous bombing of Syria.
The United Nations-declared international day of peace, September 21, is a good time to recommit to opposing Western imperial intervention in the Middle East.
We opposed the US-led bombing and invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and we oppose the bombing of northern Syria for the same reasons.
The horrendous consequences of those wars and occupations continues. Those impoverished countries are struggling to rebuild, to control their national assets and to rehabilitate the war wounded.
A reminder of the scale of the devastation is Iraq’s inability to deal with the heat wave that swept the Middle East last northern summer. In the hottest year on record, a majority of Iraqis still have very limited access to electricity, let alone water. This is despite the country being rich in oil and other minerals, and natural energy sources such as the sun. The inability of Iraq to cope with heat waves is the horrendous legacy of more than a decade of war.
US warmongers Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, along with Tony Blair and John Howard, should be tried for war crimes. Cheney and Rumsfeld used the 2001 terrorist attacks to launch “regime change” in the Middle East with their man — George Bush Jr — a willing accomplice.
Blair stated publicly in 2010 that Cheney wanted forcible “regime change” in all the Middle Eastern countries he considered hostile to US interests: Iraq, Syria and Iran.
According to Blair: “[Cheney] thought the world had to be made anew, and after 9/11 it had to be done by force and with urgency. So he was for hard, hard power. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.”
The John Howard government agreed with Cheney. However, the Labor opposition opposed Australia joining the war on Iraq and, before 2003, it helped create a large, powerful anti-war movement.
When the invasion took place, the anti-war movement faded, and now the ALP, led by Bill Shorten and shadow foreign affairs minister Tanya Plibersek, is shamefully supporting the bombing of Syria.
The Greens are the only parliamentary party to oppose it and because of that they will have to play an important role in helping revive the anti-war movement against this latest assault.
As we know, for several years, Syria has been in the grip of a civil war. Millions of Syrians have had their lives uprooted, or destroyed, and millions more are now travelling the world looking for safe haven. More than 1.2 million Syrians are in Lebanon, 2 million in Turkey and 600,000 in Jordan. Hundreds of thousands are risking all to get to Germany.
Australia’s offer to take 12,000 Syrians is indescribably pathetic. The Turnbull government knows bombing Syria will create more refugees, and yet has still only agreed to this minuscule amount.
Some who opposed the Iraq war have been either scared, or taken in, by the warmongers’ rhetoric that the only way to deal with Islamic State (IS) is to bomb it — supposedly into submission.
To believe this, you have to be either very scared, or willfully ignore history and the evidence that this is precisely what didn’t work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
IS, the Taliban and al-Qaeda will only ever be defeated politically. This is the message from those such as democracy activist Malalai Joya who has spent her entire adult life fighting the Taliban — and the West’s occupation of her country, Afghanistan.
It is good to see some leadership coming from Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of the British Labour Party and a former chair of the British Stop the War Coalition. He has called for dialogue between all the parties in the region saying there is no military solution to a military stalemate in Syria.
The sad truth is that only when the US and Russia; Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Iran; and Turkey and Egypt agree that this war must end will it begin to end.
We must pressure the government and the opposition to rescind support for the bombing campaign. We must push for more Syrian refugees to be allowed into to this country and to settle permanently if they wish.
We must continue to say no to the bombing of Syria. Peace with justice. End the wars.
[Pip Hinman is a member of the Stop the War Coalition and the Socialist Alliance.] See more at: https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/60185#sthash.dwhmlElc.dpuf
Anger at threat to bomb Syria
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) released this statement on August 28.
Peace activists across the nation are united in anger at the prospect of Australia joining the US in bombing targets in Syria.
IPAN is a network of peace groups with affiliates in every state and territory. It has consistently opposed the use of military power to solve international problems and believes that Australia has lost its independence through too close an alliance with the US.
Nick Deane, spokesman for IPAN said: “After more than a decade, it should be clear that military intervention in the Middle East has been an utter failure. It has achieved no worthwhile outcome in Iraq, instead reducing that once prosperous nation to destitution.
“Many respected observers attribute the growth of fundamentalist militarism to the large-scale Western interventions in the Middle East over the past few decades. Intervention hasn’t worked and it isn’t working. It is time for us to admit this and seek new strategies. Why persist in repeating the patterns that we can all see are failing?
“Significantly, once again, our nation’s military commitment may be ramped up without any debate in Parliament. One backbencher — Daniel Tehan — floats the idea and the next week the government announces that it is giving his suggestion serious consideration.
“Increasing our military activity in this way, which will undoubtedly mean the deaths of more civilians, is not in Australia’s best interests. This is blatant ‘mission creep’, whatever its proponents might say.
“While our Prime Minister maintains that he is responding to ‘a request from the USA’, the more likely reality is that he actively canvassed the request beforehand.
“It is time for the defence establishment to wake up to the realisation that increased military activity does nothing more than add fuel to the fire that is ISIS.
“If we genuinely want to live in a peaceful and independent Australia, we must end our proclivity for engaging in military action whenever it suits the interests of the USA.” See more at: https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/59953#sthash.nvNATWjZ.dpuf
Running for their lives: the global refugee crisis
13 September 2015 | Liz Walsh
The 340,000 people who have made it to Europe this year represent only a small fraction of a desperate movement of humanity running for their lives, desperate for freedom for themselves and their families.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 59 million people are forcibly displaced across the globe; 20 million are refugees.
Military conflict in Colombia, Pakistan, Ukraine and different parts of Africa have forced millions more to leave their homes, as have the systematic human rights abuses of various dictatorships from Eritrea to Myanmar.
Most of those who flee remain stuck in neighbouring countries, housed in vast refugee tent cities or makeshift shelters in informal settlements. Their lives are marred by insecurity, with few rights to work or education and with little hope for the future. Many more remain displaced within the borders of their home country.
All are the victims of a savage system that puts the power, profits and privileges of the few over the lives of the many. Above all, the crisis is the bitter fruit of a long history of imperialist intervention that has ripped apart and militarised societies for the sake of resources and geopolitics.
No less central has been the ruthless counter-revolutionary offensive by authoritarian regimes, aided and abetted by a variety of regional and foreign powers, which has unleashed a veritable hell to crush the popular democratic uprisings that swept North Africa and the Middle East in 2011.
The exodus from the Middle East and Africa has been described as Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. For those fleeing, it certainly is a crisis.
But the crisis is not strictly about the number of people attempting to enter the European Union. The EU is home to more than half a billion people. Taking in 5 million more, a far greater number than is likely, would increase the population by less than 1 percent. That’s about half the annual rate of growth of Australia’s population over the last decade.
Nor is it a crisis of resources. Take housing. According to estimates by the Guardian, there are 11 million empty homes in Europe. Every single homeless person on the continent and every refugee breaching the militarised borders could easily be housed.
This is a crisis of Fortress Europe. For more than a decade, official politics has centred on the construction of a new European imperialist bloc and been consumed with the war on terror. Billions of dollars have been spent policing the borders to keep out asylum seekers and migrants, national security scares have been used to justify greater police powers and imperialist intervention, while the domestic Muslim population has been subjected to heavy surveillance and depicted as a fifth column.
Ruling class politicians have attempted to weld together an electoral base and divide their public. All the while they have offered only social misery as the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression continues to play out – cuts to social spending while banks are bailed out, the privatisation of public services, mass unemployment and the squeezing of workers’ wages.
The ruling class agenda, already undermined by the economic crisis, is being further undermined by this desperate movement of people. To find safety hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers have been prepared to risk drowning in the Mediterranean Sea or suffocating in the back of unventilated trucks. They have faced down riot police, cut through razor wire and put up determined collective resistance – reminding us that they are not only victims but also fighters.
Their struggle has not only defied the borders. It has elicited an outpouring of solidarity by Europeans in ways that can only further disturb the powers that be. From the emotional welcome committees at train stations, to the inundating of reception centres with donations, to the tens of thousands who have marched in the streets demanding the borders be opened so that Europe’s fringes not become a mass graveyard, the reaction has shown the possibility of overcoming the divisions needed by our rulers to keep us all at bay.
While there is now a space to organise resistance and spread solidarity, and in so doing undermine the neoliberal consensus across the continent, the situation is polarising. The EU Schengen Area of common internal borders and a controlled external border has been made ungovernable, thus forcing a number of governments, notably Germany, to make accommodations. These are pragmatic, rather than principled; an opportunity to be seen as humanitarian simply by acknowledging the reality that they have temporarily lost control.
The conservative right is waiting for an opportunity to turn the tide against the refugees and attempt to regain control of the external borders and strengthen Fortress Europe. German chancellor Angela Merkel, for example, has been hardening her stance and placing strict conditions on those entering, while preparing for deportations of those seen as “unfit” to stay. Also, the European far right is sizeable and has begun organising racist riots and attacks on refugee centres. The fascists are calculating how they can best use the seeming chaos to further their own reactionary ends. So the stage is set for an ongoing struggle over the right of people to seek asylum.