By Theo Russell
The Stop the War Coalition held a packed meeting in central London last week to mobilise for the protests in Newport against NATO expansionism and to hear expert views on the crises in the Ukraine and Iraq.
The meeting heard that the true number of casualties in eastern Ukraine is far higher than being reported, the US had given “a helping hand to the formation of ISIS,” and that the ultimate aim was to “destroy the centres of the Arab world”.
Boris Kagarlitsky, editor of the Moscow journal Levaya Politika (Left Politics), said the true figure for those killed in the Eastern Ukraine fighting “is around 40,000”. “This is happening in Europe, and it is happening now,” he said.
He said according to “semi-official figures” by mid-August there were 6 to 7,000 lives lost, but any information given out by the Kiev government could not be believed.
Kagarlitsky said the Russian ruling class was “deeply divided on this crisis, with a major element extremely angry that this rebellion has taken place. They realise this could also happen in Russia itself, and the same demands are being made by many people in Russia such as ending neo-liberal economic policies on privatisation and health care.
Richard Bremmer of Solidarity with Ukraine said that the coup in Kiev had brought “a neo-Liberal and all but fascist party to power, whose aims were to make the Russian language and culture illegal and to destroy the industrial infrastructure of Eastern Ukraine”. He called for “similar support to the people fighting in Ukraine to that given to the people of Spain in 1936”.
Sami Ramadani, of Stop The War’s steering committee, said ISIS (now the ‘Islamic State’) was “one of the outcomes of the US led War on Terror, which has led to the creation of the biggest terrorist organisation in 100 years or so. But no matter how bloody the IS’s crimes are, what the US has done in the last 60 years is the biggest crime in human history. The victims of US-led imperialism have covered Africa, Latin America and Asia in blood.
He said the CIA-backed coup right-wing coup in Iraq in February 1963, Suharto’s one million victims in Indonesia, and the coups in Chile and the Congo were “supreme terrorist acts which have led the people of the world to unite and point the finger at the United States”.
After the US occupation in 2003, faced with mass resistance, he said “the US military turned a blind eye to the formation of any organisation in Iraq. Six militias emerged which the US hoped would elevate sectarian tension to a level of brutal violence, the only way it could rule over the Iraqi people. Thus the US gave a helping hand to the formation of ISIS.
“The aim is to serve Israel and destroy Iran, Syria and possibly Egypt. These are the centres of the Arab world, and it has always been Zionism’s aim to destroy them.
“A week before ISIS announced the creation of a Caliphate, Benjamin Netanyahu declared that ‘the Sykes-Picot agreement has come to an end’ and that in the future Israel would be defended ‘along the Jordan River’. He also called for a new ‘axis of regional cooperation’, strengthening Jordan and supporting Kurdish aspirations for independence.
Ramadani added that “just after the Caliphate announcement, Israel’s ambassador in Washington declared that ‘there are bad guys and there are much worse guys,’ describing ISIS and its allies as ‘less bad’ and the groups backed by Iran as ‘much worse’.
He said the terrorist threat whipped up around ISIS “is being used to re-invade countries and use Iraq for future wars against Syria and Iran”.
The Biden Plan for Iraq envisaged three regions with a weak central government, hence the weak and toothless Iraqi army established under Paul Bremer, head of the US occupation authority.
“We must attack and isolate ISIS, but remember that the sectarian ideology they espouse belongs to the Saudi and Qatari royal families. The danger of this Wahhabism is not military, but as a sectarian ideal which could destroy the entire Middle East”.
He said the atrocities carried out by ISIS should be compared with the US crimes at Abu Ghraib. “The photos released to the media were heavily censored. The uncensored photos shown to members of Congress include US troops holding severed heads of prisoners, and women being raped”.
Lindsay German, convenor of Stop the War, said the goals of the NATO summit in Newport was about setting up new NATO bases in Poland, expanding to the Russian border and including Georgie and Ukraine in the organisation, adding that “the only non-NATO head of state invited was Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko”.
She attacked liberals in Britain who continue to support Kiev, such as a writer for the Guardian who described the right-wing militias as “volunteer battalions”.
She said Turkey had allowed ISIS to set up bases on its soil and cross the Syrian border hundreds of times, and recalled the 30,000 people killed during NATO’s assault on Libya, adding: “David Cameron’s ‘humanitarian’ interventions in Libya and now Iraq are in stark contrast to Britain’s inaction while Gaza was being bombarded”.