Veterans to join last-ditch protest to stop Britain bombing Syria

Demonstrators chant at a rally against taking military action against Islamic State in Syria, held outside Downing Street in London, November 28, 2015 © Suzanne Plunkett
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will join anti-war activists at an emergency protest in London’s Parliament Square on Tuesday night ahead of Wednesday’s debate and vote on extending airstrikes from Iraq into Syria.

Speaking to RT, Ben Griffin, who served on operations in Iraq and helped to found anti-war group Veterans for Peace UK, said: “It is making me feel physically sick, listening to politicians telling us that it is vital for the UK to get involved in the ongoing slaughter in Syria.

I have heard it all before and seen the outcomes first hand. No good will come from this.

Anti-war activists will gather in Westminster for the eleventh hour protest ahead of Wednesday’s debate and vote. A number of MPs opposed to the intervention are expected to address the crowd.

Scheduled to begin at 18.00 GMT, the Stop the War coalition protest could attract up to 3,000 people, according to its Facebook event.

We are very, very angry about this. We think it doesn’t represent Labour opinion; we think it doesn’t really represent wider opinion,” Stop the War convener Lindsey German told the Guardian on Tuesday.

She said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to allow MP’s a free vote made it more likely that MPs would support bombing, but that many politicians seemed to be wavering.

I’m quite interested that whereas we were talking about 100 [Labour] rebels at the weekend, people are now talking about 50, even with the free vote,” she said.

I’m hopeful that we can push that figure still lower,” she said. “Everything I’ve seen in the past few days suggests that Labour MPs and even some Tory MPs are getting more skeptical.

The more that people scrutinize it, the worse the case looks. We are there to put as much pressure as we can on MPs,” she added.

Similar protests will be happening in major cities up and down the UK over the course of Tuesday.

Later on Tuesday, Stop the War released a statement urging a thorough examination of the voting records of those in favor of war.

Many of the same parliamentarians who “voted for the occupation of Iraq in 2003, widely regarded as the worst foreign policy disaster since Suez,” the statement argues, are those “keenest on war” today.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians died and the country was plunged into the very chaos from which ISIS emerged,” Stop the War said.

“Those voting for that war include David Cameron, Michael Fallon, Philip Hammond and George Osborne for the Tories and leading figures of the minority hawks in Labour, Hilary Benn, Tom Watson, Yvette Cooper, Maria Eagle and Angela Eagle.

The statement also highlighted the situation in Libya, which the coalition attributes to the NATO intervention there in 2011.

Let their record speak for them, we should not follow them into another catastrophe,” it adds.