The Stop the War Coallition (StWC) were joined by several hundred outside the US embassy in London's Grosvenor Square yesterday to call upon the governments of the USA, UK and Israel to cease the 'beating of war drums' as western rhetoric and sanctions piles the pressure on Iran.
Billed as an event to stop any military intervention in both Iran and Syria, the talks between world leaders in Davos the previous night drew focus upon a heightening of pressure from Israel for the West to bring strong intervention to Iran's nuclear program. Familiar anti-war speakers and activists took to the microphone to state what they see as the hypocracy of accusing Iran of aggression and aiming to arm themselves through their nuclear program, when they themselves have the worlds biggest caches and the most aggresive histories, particularly in the Middle East. StWC support other strong views that there is no evidence to support nuclear weapons ambitions by Iran despite increasing claims from governments and mainsream media.
Tony Benn opened the meeting by drawing attention to the correlation between severe austerity measures and the cost of further aggression in the region by saying 'every bomb that is dropped is paid for by cuts in public expenditure'. He went on to make clear that the rally was "not an endorsement of President Ahmadinejad but a determination not to engage in another imperialist war to safeguard the interests of the west."
StWC activist, John Rees reminded the crowd that a reason repeatedly given to attack other countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq was because "these peoples suffer such tyrrany that it is only with the help of the West that they can achieve change". Rees, who had recently returned from Cairo, then highlighted the Egyptians condemnation of such claims by the success of their own revolution against a 30 year dictatorship "...without the bombers and the bullets, the tanks and the soldiers, the United States, Britain, or any of the Western powers..." and "even after a year...there is not one single Egyptian revolutionary who will ask for support from the United States or military assistance from the United States... because... they are still being shot down in the streets by Egyptian soldiers who are using American weapons and American bullets.." He stated that it was only by intervention of outside powers that a country ends up without real democracy and no control of their own resources. It is our business to see that countries can take care of their own business.
A passionate speech from Unite the Unions Andrew Murray began with the claim that war on Iran had in a way already started with targeted assassinations, sanctions and military manouevres that are underway in the gulf. He too highlighted the lessons to be learned from previous attempts to install preferred regimes and received the biggest applause when he declared that anyone believing that democracy in Iran could be brought by imperialist bombardment was living in a 'fool's paradise'.
The performance of an inaudible anti-war choir had any attention taken away from it as a group of 'Free Iran' protestors moved into the middle of the crowd with banners and began chanting. Demands to respect the performance were ignored and continued into following speakers, which raised tensions between the rally and the group which led to a minor scuffle. Banners were dragged down from the 'Free Iran' group and they were forced to the back of the crowd and then seperated by police. It is not clear whether the group agreed with military intervention or had merely taken on a 'less British' form of political rally.
Another group from the London Occupy movement then joined the rally in 'V' masks adding their support to the opinion that western governments are now sabre rattling to make their next power grab in the Middle East. StWC called for organisation across the country to get underway for mass protests against what seems an increasingly inevetable new military campaign if previous patterns are anything to go by.