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William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, expressed his support for a new round of sanctions launched by the EU against the government of Syria earlier this week. Although the British government has called for all violence to cease in what amounts to a civil war in parts of Syria, it is continuing to attack the Syrian government while increasing its support for those who have taken up arms against it. Acting in this way Britain and its allies in the EU, the NATO and elsewhere are openly flouting international law and the UN Charter. As was the case in regard to Libya, the UN organisation is itself is being used as a means to flout the principles for which it was established.
The latest and twelfth round of EU sanctions aims to freeze the assets of the Central Bank of Syria and deny the Syrian government access to the gold and precious metals markets. The EU has also banned cargo flights by Syria’s national airline and added to existed sanctions, which target particular members of the Syrian government and other sectors of the Syrian economy. These sanctions constitute an act of aggression against a sovereign country with the stated aim of imposing a stranglehold and bringing about regime change, or what the Foreign Secretary refers to as “a peaceful and more open political system”.
Syria’s ambassador to the UN condemned the sanctions. He pointed out, “Unjust and unilateral sanctions imposed by some countries on the Syrian people are preventing access to medicines, to fuel in all forms as well as electricity, and are also impeding bank transfers to buy these materials.” He added, “We reaffirm to all those alleged friends of the Syrian people that the simple step to immediately help the Syrian people is to stop inciting sectarianism, providing arms and weapons and funding and putting the Syrian people one against the other.”
But the British government and its allies who attended the so-called “Friends of Syria” conference are intent on continuing to create instability in Syria with their intelligence agencies and special forces while weeping crocodile tears about the consequences of their action as they did in Libya. The British government has recognised the opposition Syrian National Council as a “legitimate representative of the Syrian people” and Hague has once again reiterated his government’s intention of trying to unite, organise and support all those opposed to the Syrian government. Indeed, he lamented the fact that this opposition was not yet in control of any Syrian territory, which was as he put it “a different situation to that we faced last year in Libya”. Nevertheless, Hague was confident that with the appropriate support the opposition could make progress. The new economic sanctions are therefore designed not only to weaken the government of Syria but also to create such conditions of instability within the country that will aid the armed opposition groups. Hague’s statements are evidence of the levels of incitement and organisation being unleashed against a sovereign country and its government, which the Foreign Secretary has already arrogantly declared is “doomed”.
News agencies report that over eight million people, nearly 60% of those eligible, voted in the referendum recently held by the government of Syria to decide the future constitution of the country. According to the figures released, over 89% of votes were cast in favour of a new constitution that will end the political domination of the Ba’ath Party in the country and usher in other political reforms. The referendum results were welcomed by the Foreign Minister of Russia, who suggested that they showed the limited influence of the opposition groups, which called for a boycott of the referendum, and called in to question their right to be considered representative of the people of Syria. The results of the referendum, which were also welcomed by the Foreign Ministry of China, are expected to lead to new elections in three months time.
But although the governments of Britain, the US and other countries claim to be those most concerned about the Syrian people deciding their own future and the need for a “Syrian-led political transition”, William Hague was scathing in his remarks about the referendum and similar derogatory remarks were made by the representatives of the US government. Far from acknowledging the decisions that appear to have been taken by the majority of the electorate in Syria, the British government and its allies continue to intervene in Syria to incite mutiny and to encourage an armed rebellion to topple the Syrian government. The British government has continued to threaten that those Syrians who oppose its objective of regime change will be held to account. Such an arrogant warmongering approach must be condemned and the anti-war movement must step up its activities in order to hold the warmongers and those who plan crimes against peace to account. This is a matter of principle.
Motions for discussion and voting on at Stop the War Coalition's Annual National Conference. Saturday 3 March 10 - 5pm, University of London Union, Malet Street London WC1
Stop the War Coalition Officer’s Group:
Motion: The continued threat of war
The continuation of the war on terror, and its extension from the original wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The disastrous NATO intervention in Libya last year, which effected regime change and was used to try to rehabilitate the doctrine of ‘humanitarian intervention’ discredited after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The renewed threat of Western military intervention in Syria and Iran.
That airs attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities will open a new and even more dangerous period of warfare and instability.
That any military intervention in Syria will not be for humanitarian reasons but to prepare an attack on Iran by weakening one of its regional allies and cause greater suffering than Syrians are currently enduring.
To mount a major campaign around the slogan Don’t Attack Iran.
To campaign to halt any attempted military intervention in Syria.
To oppose all Western intervention in the Middle East, and to defend the right of all the people of the Middle East to determine their own future.
South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition:
Motion: No Sanctions. No to War Preparations. Hands off Syria and Iran.
Recognising that the sanctions imposed by US, Israel, the UK and EU powers on Syria have the aim of supporting the armed opposition and not the right to self-determination of the Syrian people.
Recognising that the same powers are imposing sanctions on Iran that are in fact an economic blockade of Iran's trade and banking. At the same time surrounding Iran with military hardware and trying to force other nations to isolate Iran.
Recognising that these measures have nothing to do with support for the people in Syria and Iran. But like the sanctions against Iraq they are aimed at preparing for an attack on these sovereign countries. These measures are not an alternative to war but are war preparations.
Recognising that these powers are also openly doing propaganda for war against Iran with their statements that all options are available to them.
Conference calls on the stop the war coalition to call for hands off Syria and hands off Iran.
To condemn the sanctions against Syria and Iran as preparations for regime change and war. That such a warmongering economic and military blockade is being pursued and that such hostile misinformation and militarist propaganda is being broadcast by the US, Israel, the UK and EU powers against Iran is an act of war and is a crime against peace.
Conference calls on the Stop the War Coalition to bring the British government to account for its part in these crimes against humanity.
Resolution on Stop the War Groups
The widespread anxiety and opposition to an attack on Iran.
To influence decisions about an attack on Iran or Syria the movement will have to up the tempo, scale and imagination of our campaigning, rebuilding or setting up new groups.
That each Stop the War group should now be involved in the most imaginative and effective campaign possible involving street protests, getting local media coverage, using facebook and twitter, and organising public rallies and activist meetings.
To encourage our supporters to set up Stop the War groups in every area where none exist, including in colleges.
To approach a wide range of potential supporting organisations in each locality in order to ensure that a sufficiently broad, representative and diverse campaign is established.
To contact local trade unions, campaigning and protest groups to get involved in the campaign.
To organise the lobbying of local MPs to sign up to the EDM backing dialogue rather than war with Iran.
To encourage new members and supporters to help organise and lead the local campaigns.
To have a membership drive in each group to help fund the campaign.
Those groups should be working towards a national day of action on March 24th.
For full list of motions, see:
Health workers, trade unionists and many concerned people and organisations take part in a mass lobby of Parliament and a rally in Westminster on Wednesday, March 7. Their watchword is that health care is a right and their demand is that the Health and Social Care Bill be dropped.
The bill is currently making its way through the House of Lords, and is expected to return to the Commons after Easter for final consideration. In a matter of weeks it would receive the Royal Assent and become law.
Opposition has been growing relentlessly to the bill ever since its introduction by the Coalition. All are concerned that the bill will put the final touches to the privatisation of health care, and that the very future of the NHS is at stake.
The Coalition must not be allowed to go against the public good and the right to health care of all members of society by placing the future direction of the NHS under the determination of private interests.
Health workers, health professionals and the working class and people as a whole are demanding a say to safeguard to future of the health service. Control over the direction of the NHS is a crucial part of defending the public good, the claims of the people on society, and the control over the direction of society as a whole.
The lobby of Parliament will take place from 2pm, and the “Save our NHS” rally is at Central Hall Westminster at 6pm.
Visit the website: http://www.dropthebill.net/
Sign the e-petition: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22670
Our Hospitals! Our NHS!
Health Care Is a Right!
Drop the Health and Social Care Bill!
On March 1, there was a rally at the town hall steps in South Shields against the next round of public sector spending cuts amounting to £20 million. Representatives of Unison and the GMB trade unions, and members of the Public Service Alliance, gathered on the steps of South Shields Town Hall to express their opposition to council jobs and service cuts. The speakers, Tina Roche, of the borough’s Unison branch, Roger Nettleship, of Unison’s health branch, and Alan Smith, of the National Union of Teachers, spoke on the impact of cuts.
The speakers pointed out that there is a systematic plan of the Coalition government to wreck public services alongside an already wrecked manufacturing base.
With the increasing economic crisis caused by the pay-the-rich system and when public services are needed the most, the government is turning back the clock on those vital services needed to maintain a civilised society.
More services are to be cut back at district general hospitals. This year it is planned to end long-term acute children’s beds and move them from south Tyneside to Sunderland.
The government’s Health and Social Care Bill, which has been receiving massive opposition, is turning every health service whether it be trauma care, elective surgery, medicine and community services into a marketable commodity where what they call “any qualified provider” can compete for business.
This is having the immediate effect that all health services, instead of being orientated to the needs of the patient and moulding healthcare to individual needs, are instead being turned into a rationed bite-size commodity following the “internal market” model of health care.
Instead of quality services being provided by the NHS, any “qualified provider” can bid for providing this bite-size health care and there will only be a “choice of services” until those services go to the wall. In other words, the choice that is being promoted by the Coalition is a sham. It is handing over control of the health service to private interests.
There is an alternative to cuts to the social economy, to public services and to welfare benefits. The alternative means redirecting the priority of the economy from serving the rich to investing in those who live and work in it. This is an alternative direction that not only stops paying the rich but changes the direction of the economy to one serving the people’s needs with investment, not cuts, in social programmes.
Let us build the resistance
and plant the alternative!
These are our jobs, our workplaces, our communities and our public services!
These services are not a drain on the economy as they keep trying to tell us. It is the rich that are the drain on the economy!
Whose economy? Our economy!
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