Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged politicians and activists to seek political and humanitarian solutions to conflicts rather than military ones.
In a speech to the Stop the War Coalition conference in London yesterday he said we could not solve every problem in the world by sending in troops and bombers to bring about peace.
He said that in the past – in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – political establishments across the West had got it wrong, had ignored public opinion and had sent in troops. We are all paying the price of that and a lot of people did so with their lives, he argued.
On Syria he said: “The pain and loss and the deaths and destruction in Syria has to stop. There has to be a ceasefire, there has to be an end to bombing by anybody on any target anywhere in Syria. And there has to be an investigation into who ordered the bombing, what the targets were and in particular whether international law was broken by any of those people doing it.
“But there has to be a political solution in Syria, peace is not going to be achieved by more bombing and more arms flowing in. Therefore Geneva 2 has to be reconvened. There has to be a peace process to bring about a political solution in Syria as quickly as possible….
“Those of us that have opposed the wars in Afghanistan, opposed the wars in Iraq opposed the military involvement in Libya or indeed the proposals for Britain to undertake bombing campaigns in Syria never did so from the point of view of approval of the status quo or the regime that was there, we did so because we didn’t believe in the bombing and military campaigns that were on offer, there had to be a political solution.”
Corbyn also said that we had to be more generous to refugees fleeing conflict zones because they were “desperate people.” And he said that arms sales to Saudi Arabia needed to be stopped because of the bombing they are doing in Yemen.
He concluded: “Are we going to say there is a military solution to every crisis in the world or are we going to say that we are going to base our attitude on international law, on human rights , on justice and democracy and supporting the victims of war?
“You won’t solve the refugee crisis with gunboats, barbed wire, tear gas and opposition to them, you will only solve it through a hand of humanity and friendship and thinking about the causes of the refugee crisis in the first place.”
Corbyn was repeatedly interrupted by a small group of activists who accused him of abandoning the people of Aleppo, which is currently under bombardment and siege.
The main heckler, Oz Katerji, issued the following statement: The responsibility to protect civilians is a fundamental precept of international law. The British government, along with the United States and the powers of the world have abdicated their responsibility toward Syrian civilians and have turned to a policy of appeasing the principle forces responsible for 95 %of civilian deaths in Syria, the Assad regime, Iran and the Russian military.
“What is hapenning in Syria now is a genocide under every working definition of the term, the silence of British political parties towards this is tantamount to complicity in Assad’s genocide. Jeremy Corbyn has been at the forefront of this appeasement policy, as his allies at the Stop the War Coalition continue to deny platforms to Syrian voices yet providing voices to those who openly back Assad’s criminal war such as Tariq Ali and George Galloway.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s official policy of ‘peace negotiations” for a ‘unity’ government make no mention of accountability or justice and provide nothing for Syrians facing extermination. Rivers of blood flow daily through the streets of Syria and the British Labour Party’s only response is to ask for more talks while demanding the slaughter is allowed to continue unabated.
“The late MP Jo Cox called for the Labour Party to support civilian protection measures in Syria, I call on Jeremy to listen to Jo and stop ignoring Syrian activists, the bloodshed in Syria cannot be stopped while continuing to refuse to hold Assad accountable for his crimes. We must act to protect civilians now, a sea-enforced deter and retaliate no-bombing zone would be a good place to start as would aid drops to civilians starving under Assad’s brutal submit-or-starve sieges. Enough of the silence, enough of the complicity, it is time to act now to protect Syrian lives.”
Stop the War statement on Syria
Meanwhile, Stop the War has issued the following statement on Syria: “The announcement that the ceasefire in Syria has ended only confirms its failure from the very beginning. Even a temporary end to hostilities might have given the chance of some respite for the suffering people of Syria. Instead, the terrible war in Syria has intensified and the Syrians’ misery has deepened. The battle for Aleppo is causing untold suffering in the city. Attacks on hospitals or other civilian targets by Syrian, Russian or any other forces are appalling atrocities. The ceasefire collapsed because of attacks by a variety of forces in different parts of the country including the killing of more than sixty Syrian soldiers in a bombing by the US led coalition which included British forces.
“Foreign intervention, including Western intervention aimed at regime change, has only prolonged and escalated the war. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry’s insistence on regime change as a prerequisite for negotiations has been a key obstacle to attempts to bring peace. A damning report by the Commons Defence Committee has underlined the failure of British intervention, and highlighted the dishonesty of David Cameron in his justifications for the war. This failure has been compounded by the British government’s refusal to accept significant numbers of Syrian refugees.
“This catastrophic war must stop. Increased intervention by the western powers, currently being discussed in Washington and Whitehall, would be a disaster. What is needed is a strengthening of the campaign to end all foreign interventions in Syria, and to stop the fighting immediately.”