Many of those MPs have payed close attention to what Syrian civil society has been urging. In an impassioned post Kellie Strom for Syria Solidarity UK (SyriaUK), the organisation which channels those demands here in Britain, outlined what the UK could be doing.
There are still people alive to be saved: on the run in Aleppo, under siege in Madaya and the suburbs of Damascus, in prisons across Syria. There are many possible actions that we and others have proposed that haven’t been attempted by our Government.In response to Parliament one of the loudest leaders of the Stop The War Coalition (StWC), Lindsey German, said:
We haven’t seen UK airdrops, even to areas away from the Russian focus of operations such as Madaya which is only minutes from Syria’s border.
We haven’t seen RAF surveillance drones make their presence felt over hospitals and other civilian targets to deter war crimes.
We haven’t seen the UK track and publicly identify aircraft committing war crimes and publicly identify officers and officials with command responsibility.
We haven’t seen any sanctions against Russian individuals implicated in war crimes.
We haven’t seen any sanctions against Iranian airlines resupplying Assad.
We haven’t allowed our much discussed prospective allies against ISIS, the Free Syrian Army, to have the means to defend themselves and their fellow Syrians against Assad’s and Putin’s air attacks.
We haven’t dared do anything to constrain or deter Assad’s ongoing chemical attacks, at the same time as Israel has regularly enforced its own red lines by carrying out air strikes against Assad and Hezbollah forces.
Assad and Putin’s mode of operation is to attack the weakest: to attack hospitals, schools, and aid workers. They are free to attack the weak because we are afraid to be strong.
This is a war against humanity, a war against every law and convention that keeps us secure. We must defend ourselves now and end Assad’s and Putin’s slaughter.
Every time they get the chance, MPs rush to promote further intervention and to justify past ones.To her organisation the use of the UK's armed forces to meet the requests of Syrians, such as those articulated by SyriaUK, is 'intervention'. This is the group which also opposed the use of those UK armed forces to defend Yazidis under genocidal threat from ISIS. This is the group which opposed any aid to Mali when is was faced with occupation by the same sort of Islamists.
Defending Yazidis = 'war'. Defending Malians = 'war'.
Their 'hearts' are not in the 'right place'. Someone tell Eno.
Socialist Gabriel Levy:
I have gone through the last six months of statements on Syria by the “Stop the War” coalition, looking in vain for any mention that the main responsibility for the assault on civilians this year is borne by the Syrian and Russian forces. If anyone’s seen one, please let me know. There are repeated calls for “all” intervening forces to withdraw and underlining the role of US, British and other forces (but not Russian ones).They write of the need for 'aid' but refuse to outline by what mechanism it can be delivered.
They write of the need for 'peace' as if they are the only ones demanding it. They talk of the need for negotiations as if no one else had thought of it.
They back their posture with thuggery that descends into outright racism.
Syrians are pawns to them, nothing more
an event happened which exposed StWC to a wider world than the one they usually inhabit. Again the focus was in Parliament.
They held a meeting in a Parliament room where UK Syrians attempted to get their voices heard. The police were called on those Syrians.
Later, German told lies on Twitter about what had happened. She behaved, as one of those who was there observed of her co-silencer Dianne Abbott MP, in the manner of the Harry Potter villain Dolores Umbridge. It was notable that she did not engage, furiously. with those Syrians at that meeting, she did it instead with one of their supporters, Peter Tatchell, who is a famous, white UK leftie.
It was almost as if they do indeed have a soft spot, which other white Westeners can poke.
She avoids Twitter wars with brown Syrians or their UK supporters. It, their edifice, cannot stand giving an inch to Syrians. They will stop any branch giving that inch. Their politics means that such Syrians must not be heard - ever - and sometimes they must behave as thugs.
What does this amount to?
Imagine how their behaviour towards Syrian refugees would have been treated in any other circumstances. Imagine women in hijabi yelling at white lefties that they are wrong (and what ensued) in any other circumstance but this.
The refusal to listen to Syrians and to the presentation of Syrian's views (even when they outline a civilian protection agenda as articulated by SyriaUK and others) as fitting a US agenda is racist. The argument of the overwhelming older, white British StWC, shown by their actions, amounts to 'we know better than brown people.'
Assad and Russian propaganda is everywhere online. Circulated by the right and the left.
It all comes down to 'we know better than brown people'. All of it. On the left, none of them* even pretend to genuflect. This does not occur in other situations. There is no reflection. None. By white Westeners.
This is racist. Imagine this about Trinidadian or Ghanaian politics. Imagine this refusal to listen about that.
Syrians disagree amongst themselves. Obviously. Those opposed to the fascist regime have different arguments. Some more thinking lefties have said that aid drops are not technically feasible. Some engage on such a useful, practical basis - The basis of listening, real listening. because they want to help. But none of this exists according to StWC. None.
StWc oppose any engagement. Any. Never listen and never support 'intervention'. All who do not support their line are in service to 'empire'. They have demonstrated this. 'Foreign' people are to be collectively judged. (And those who listen to them.)
There is a name for this.
To many this is crystal clear when the same arguments promoted by StWC are advanced by the likes of Nigel Farage. Yet the simple, smart branding of 'Stop The War' deflates all questioning for a section of opinion.
This must end. StWC must become toxic. StWC must become branded as excusers of war, excusers of massacres, excusers of genocide.
This exercise is essential for the left. The defeat of StWC is essential, has always been essential, to aid Syrians.
Many are woke. In October an open letter was published saying:
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.
If it is not clear who these people oppose, one year on we have a StWC treasurer defaming Syrians using Russian propaganda.
This is what they do. Who they are. Jo Cox's friends defamed.
A few weeks earlier we had a spokesperson for the Labour leader* deflecting from Russia hitting an aid convoy to Blame America.
The Labour angle
At the time of that Parliament meeting one year ago the Labour leader, the former StWC leader, was besieged over his StWC history.
News crews attendance meant he had to enter the StWC Christmas party by the back door.
Major media had picked up on left critics and the more outrageous content of the StWC website had been exposed to wide scrutiny. Myself and many others had picked through the detritus of what StWC was frantically deleting.
One year on and we have defenders of the Labour leader again focusing on Tatchell over Syrian voices.
Again they chose Lindsey German's tactic, focus on the white leftie (Tatchell), ignore the Syrians.
What got drowned out again was what drowned out a year ago: #ListenToSyrians
The Labour leader, as some have pointed out, has become the focus. Acting becomes dependent on internal Labour politics. Instead, Syrians must be.
What must be done
As SyriaUK outlines, the actions we can take are many.
There are practical actions outlined by them which you can lobby your MP about - but the main one I urge to readers is to listen to Syrians. All flows for that.
Many of them are silenced because of Assad. The terror is beyond anything and this bleeds into their visibility. Literally bleeds.
- Contact SyriaUK to ask how you can support them.
- Support refugees and amplify the voices of Syrian ones.
- If you are a socialist argue, everywhere, against StWC and its influence.
- If you are a union member demand they stop supporting StWC.
- Ask your MP to carry on pressing the government to support the sort of civilian protection measures outlined by SyriaUK.
It is really important to note that StWC has many, many left critics. At the Downing Street demonstration over Aleppo left-wing groups were unrepresented save one. There are many other voices. Tendance Coatsey has an overview of left critics here. This is the resistance.
*I have picked up here on an idea advanced by Michelle Obama of not naming 'him'. Yes I know it may not work but worth a try. I have done this because my last post was understood by some as critiquing all of Labour when many have done good work over Syria. Yes, but, your leader. Nail him to the trucking wall. You have not nailed him. This is the question of our time. You must do more.
*'Them' covers a lot. From those who have a job who have decided to, or were inclined to, ignore Syrians to those who think they're on the left who have done the same.
- Planet Syria’s open letter to Stop The War Coalition
- Syria Freedom Forever: Open letter to the Stop the War Coalition (STWC), or real solidarity is needed! (2012)
- Seven reasons Stop the War are wrong about Syria
- That time STWC got intervention in Mali completely wrong
- British forces could help achieve an ethical solution in Syria, by Andrew Mitchell MP and Jo Cox MP
- What Diane Abbott gets wrong about Jo Cox’s proposals on Syria
- The No-Fly Zone Debate
- Until the Assad regime’s murderous tyranny is halted, the refugee crisis facing Europe will continue to worsen
- How Labour trashed Tatchell, not Assad