Chicago Protest: #HandsOffSyria!
By Samantha Jacobs
On the day following Trump’s bombing of Syria, over 250 people took to the streets of Chicago to say no to war and U.S. imperialism. On April 7, actions to say #HandsOffSyria happened in over 35 cities across the country.
The protest began at Trump Tower. While the crowd was diverse, their message was clear and unified: no new U.S. war of aggression in the Middle East! Ali Hasan from People United Against Oppression, as well as ANSWER Chicago coordinator John Beacham spoke to the crowd about rejecting the lies and war propaganda. They called on the protesters to resist yet another war that uses false pretenses to justify U.S. military actions against sovereign countries. After a short rally, the crowd took to the streets.
Marching down a busy Michigan avenue with signs and chants of “No justice, no peace! U.S. out of the Middle East!” protesters were greeted by onlookers in store fronts and on the street with lot of cheers and great approval.
For decades, spending for health care, education, and jobs have been cut, while war spending continues to increase. The people are fed up and reject more U.S. involvement in the Middle East. The people know that war is not about “spreading democracy” or “humanitarian intervention.” It is about U.S. domination and increasing profits for the richest people in this country.
At the end of the march, protesters rallied again, chanting “From Syria to Palestine, occupation is a crime!” Additional speakers included Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network, Patrick of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Erica from Worker’s World Party. The speakers addressed the links between all of the people’s struggles, drawing parallels between the struggles of Palestinians, indigenous peoples, and more. Speakers talked about the many contradictions of U.S. foreign policy, regardless of which party is in power. The evening culminated in a passionate display of solidarity against war, racism, and the Trump agenda. On April 7 in Chicago and across the country, the people stood up to say, in no uncertain terms, that there will be no more blank checks for war without our resistance.
The emergency protest on April 7 was organized by ANSWER Chicago and was endorsed by organizations such as People United Against Oppression, the Anti-War Committee Chicago, March 19th Anti-War Coalition and Workers World Party.
Orlando says “Hands off Syria!”
By Dylan Tyer
On April 9, around 50 protesters convened on crowded Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando, in an emergency anti-war protest and march. Organized by members of the ANSWER Coalition, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the UCF student group Knights for Socialism and the Orlando Workers League, the march was very successful in initiating a dialogue among members of the community.
All eyes were on the activists as they garnered attention from all ends of the political spectrum. Many supporters of the Trump regime shouted and swore their disapproval, while church-goers leaving their Palm Sunday mass greeted the protesters with affection and peace signs.
When asked why they had assembled to protest, one organizer exclaimed:
“It is all too similar to the buildup to Iraq. We don’t have all the information, we already killed civilians, including children, in that strike, and no military solution can bring about the kinds of changes necessary for the region to be palatable to Western sensibilities and cultural norms, nor should they have to be. In short, you can’t bomb people into seeing it your way and any further military action by the United States will be used as a recruiting tool for ISIS. ISIS has already taken advantage of the chaos we created with one strike and moved in on the areas surrounding the airstrip.
“War in our time is always indiscriminate, a war on the most vulnerable sectors of society. We consistently kill more civilians than intended targets and then wonder why people are willing to follow any group who promises vengeance on the West. The point of whether this was Assad or not is irrelevant; at this point, he stands between a stable Syria and allowing it to fall into the hands of ISIS. That is the choice we face in reality with regard to Syria.”
“We stand against all imperialist wars. War is for the bankers, the billionaires, and the ruling class politicians. It’s not for our class, the working class. This war is killing people here by depriving them of basic needs and it’s killing people in Syria with the terrorism of illegal war.”
Los Angeles protest demands no war on Syria
Anti-war activists and members of Los Angeles’ Syrian community gathered April 7 to reject Trump’s bombing campaign in Syria. The ANSWER Coalition—in which the Party for Socialism and Liberation is proudly an anchoring organization—convened and organized the demonstration.
The attacks on Syria signal an ominous pledge to continue the endless U.S. wars in the Middle East—something which the anti-imperialist movement gathered last Friday to resist.
This bombing campaign was comparatively sudden relative to the campaigns in Iraq, Libya and the many other countries attacked by the United States. Instead of the months-long demonization campaigns against the country’s leadership, Trump and the Pentagon simply attacked. The move was no doubt calculated in part to minimize the opportunities for a popular movement to build mass opposition to the war; this administration no doubt learned from the lessons of 2013 when the Obama administration had to back down from a war on Syria due to an outpouring of mass opposition.
Los Angeles’ march consequently was as much about resisting U.S. imperialism as it was about the suppression of dissent; though the march and rally themselves were clearly against the bombing and any future U.S. intervention in Syria, the acts of marching and rallying themselves were acts of defiance against the attempts to circumvent popular resistance.
Members of Los Angeles’ sizable Syrian-American community turned out in force. Their presence was felt not only in numbers, but also by their leadership in chanting and their speakers at the beginning and end rallies.
Of course, many other communities also were represented in a true show of solidarity, from the Korean-American community to the Latino/a community—communities which understand intimately the disastrous effects of U.S. interventions on the populations the hawk politicians claim to be “saving.”
As the Trump administration readies for war in Syria and elsewhere around the world, the need for a strong anti-war movement is felt more than ever. Check the ANSWER Coalition’s Facebook page and other social media for future action alerts.
Sarasota protests Trump’s bombing of Syria
By Bryan Ellis
On April 7, 30 demonstrators protested in Sarasota against Trump’s escalated bombing of Syria, joining numerous other protests around the country. They gathered at the “Unconditional Surrender” statute at the bay front, holding signs reading “Endless war for empire” and “War Against Syria: Built on a lie!”
ANSWER Suncoast called the emergency protest in response to Trump’s illegal airstrikes on Al Shayrat Airfield in Homs on Thursday night. The bombing killed 14 people including 9 innocent civilians. Syrians have condemned the bombing as a “criminal act” and “war crime.”
“I came out here to defend Syrian sovereignty against imperialist aggressors,” said protester James Walker. “We gotta get out here and show we mean business. We have to show our solidarity with the Syrian people and their democratically elected leader.”
On the basis of several international agreements, the Syrian government disposed of its chemical weapons in 2014 under the supervision of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The move came after a 2013 chemical weapons attack in Ghouta killed hundreds of Syrian civilians. Opposition forces blamed the Syrian government for the attack, but later analysis determined that the rebels were likely responsible.
“I came out today because I oppose the U.S. getting further involved in wars in the Middle East. The number of civilian lives lost is astronomical,” said Aiden Juge, a student at New College of Florida.
“I think the U.S. needs to start withdrawing from the Middle East and possibly work within the U.N. to encourage the people who actually live there to negotiate peace.”
Days before the chemical attack in Idlib, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that the U.S. would not seek to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The opposition, backed by Western imperialist nations and Gulf monarchies, was nearing defeat. The Syrian military would have had little reason to use chemical weapons, however a bombing raid could have set off sarin gas stockpiled by opposition terrorist groups.
“I feel like America’s actions regarding the Middle East have been very biased towards our own interests in oil as well as our racist tendencies against Muslims,” said local activist Lemon Reimer.
“We’ve eviscerated that entire region for 20, 30 years,” said Matt Cuffaro, who traveled from Tampa to join the protest.”I think it’s a serious step toward another endless war.”
Regardless of who was behind the chemical attack, all progressives should oppose Trump’s escalated war on Syria. As in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere, “humanitarian intervention” is no more than an excuse for the expansion of Western domination, the overthrow of independent governments and the acquisition of new markets and natural resources. The people of Syria deserve the right to determine their own destiny, free from the meddling of imperialists and foreign-backed terrorists who have for years brought the nightmare of war to Syria.