by Theo Russell
Peace campaigners gathered opposite Downing Street on Sunday for an emergency protest called by the Stop the War Coalition against the Western-led military aggression against Libya.
Left Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn told protestors that the action “is all about oil, it’s about control, and it’s sending a message to the rest of the region that we can do this if we want to,” adding “I fear we will are going to be involved in a ground war”.
“There is unbelievable hypocrisy here. Thirty people were killed in Yemen on Thursday, last week protestors were shot in Oman, and the Saudi army is now occupying Bahrain.”
Condemning the Arab League’s support for the so-called “no-fly zone”, Corbyn asked “Which leader of the Arab world is not under pressure from his own people who want human rights, freedom and democracy?”
“You reap what you sow, and we have sold arms to every country in this region. Only three weeks ago we were happily trading and buying oil from Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya,” Corbyn said, and added that as yet there is no undertaking from the British government not to us use cluster bombs or depleted uranium weapons.
George Galloway of the Respect Renewal party reminded the protesters that Sunday marked the eighth anniversary of the launching of “the Shock and Awe savagery against Baghdad”, and predicted: “This bombardment of Libya will not succeed. This will be a long war, and the radicalisation of the Arab world will proceed apace”.
Recalling the involvement of European colonialism in North Africa, he said “the last time Italian forces were in Libya, they were wearing the uniforms of Mussolini Fascism. Only last year Silvio Berlusconi agreed to pay €5 billion in compensation for war crimes committed during the Italian occupation of that country.”
And he recalled that “the Algerians had to give one million martyrs to drive the French out of their country.”
Galloway said that when asked last Saturday which Arab countries were participating in the operations in Libya, a senior Pentagon spokesman had replied: “those countries prefer that their names are not mentioned in public”.
Linsday German of the Stop the War Coalition said “the coalition government is taking us into a third war in this region,” and said “The people of Libya will not be helped by this intervention, they will be harmed, just as the people of Iraq and Afghanistan have been harmed.”
She said Cameron, Sarkosi and Berlusconi were using this opportunity “to cover up their failed domestic policies by launching another war.”
“The Arab League signed up to this attack as a quid pro quo so that Saudi forces could enter Bahrain. There are now 400 political prisoners in Bahrain, including the leader of the opposition, yet there’s not a word from our government or the BBC.”
German ended by listing the demands of peace campaigners: “Hands Off the Middle East, no interventions, stop all the wars, and bring all the troops home”.