Why students should oppose bombing Iraq and Syria and whipping up of Islamophobia

There has been a smear campaign in the media accusing the anti-war movement of supporting the barbaric terrorist group ISIS, says student leader Aaron Kiely.


THE STUDENT movement in Britain has a proud tradition of standing up for peace and justice around the world.

In the 1980s, whilst the British government was colluding with the Apartheid regime in South Africa and branding Nelson Mandela a terrorist, the National Union of Students (NUS) joined the global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Apartheid.

And in 2003, the British student movement joined the millions-strong global movement against the war on Iraq. We marched in the name of peace. We argued consistently the US/UK invasion of Iraq would lead to huge death, destruction and an enormous growth in terrorism.  

Sadly, our predictions proved to be correct. As a result of the US/UK invasion of Iraq, which began just over a decade ago, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, injured and displaced. In the chaos, sectarianism and civil war unleashed within Iraq by the US-led war, the ‘Islamic State’ terrorist organisation was created and grew.

The current US bombing campaign of Iraq and Syria will not defeat ISIS. The way to defeat ISIS is not by using the methods which led to its creation. The wars and interventions in the Middle East for over a decade broke up existing states, destroyed their infrastructure and fostered sectarianism. This provided the fertile soil within which reprehensible ISIS rose.

Over the past week there have been a series of atrocities which included Kurds being slaughtered by ISIS at Kobane in the north of Syria. Perversely, US imperialism is colluding with Turkey, which is blocking any arms reaching the Kurds so they can defend themselves against ISIS. 

The ISIS terrorists have been carrying out all manner of brutal crimes and they must be defeated, but the airstrikes by the US, Britain and their allies are not intended to save lives or to defeat ISIS, but to strengthen the west’s domination of the Middle East region strategically and control its resources, most notably its oil.

We are told by Barack Obama and David Cameron that the latest wars on Iraq and Syria are about defeating ISIS. If this was really the case, why is Saudi Arabia, which is believed to have been a source of finance for ISIS, a key member of the military alliance that is now bombing Iraq and Syria? 

Even US Vice-President Joe Biden has confirmed that Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states provided ISIS with huge amounts of arms and funds. Saudi Arabia is a dictatorship which is currently beheading people at a rate of one a day for ‘crimes’ including renouncing Islam and being gay.

There has been a disgusting smear campaign against the Stop the War Coalition, CND, prominent NUS student leaders and others, accusing the anti-war movement of supporting the barbaric terrorist group ISIS. This is similar to what the pro-war lobby did to opponents of the Iraq war in 2003, when we were all absurdly smeared as supporters of Saddam Hussein. This maligning of the anti-war movement must be opposed.

The negative rhetoric about Muslims used to promote the ‘war on terror’ has encouraged an increasing number of Islamophobic attacks. Tell Mama UK, which monitors anti-Muslim attacks, are reporting a rise of Islamophobia in the UK. In August it received 219 reports of abusive incidents targeted at Muslims in England - the same month as the ISIS beheaded US journalist James Foley. This was almost double the 112 incidents recorded in January. Tell Mama stresses its figures only show a glimpse of the full picture as many victims of such racial hate crime are afraid to report abuse.

Muslim communities are strong opponents of terrorism. But a false agenda about terrorism is being fanned by the government, that presents Muslim communities as ‘a fifth column’ in society. This needs to be opposed, because it is untrue, encourages the attacks taking place, and is latched onto by the far right.

Young people and students want a future free from the scourge of war, terrorism and Islamophobia. We want a world built on the grounds of peace, justice and cooperation. We must play our part in struggling for this future.

Source: Stop the War Coalition

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