Stop the War Coalition

Set up ten days after the twin towers fell on September the 11th, 2001, Stop the War Coalition is a platform to campaign against unjust wars. This includes the war against terror in Afghanistan and the Iraq War.

I first heard of the Stop the War Coalition in 2003 at the anti-Iraq war demonstration. Tony Blair’s New Labour government was intensifying the Special Relationship between the UK and the US. Advanced talks centred on the threat of Saddam Hussein's Ba’athist regime on Western democracy, alleging collusion with al-Qaeda and the stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Hussein frustrated both Blair and President Bush’s attempts at disarmament, and following failure to comply with the final UN resolution - number 1441 - the US and UK governments took action with the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

Part of an internationally coordinated protest on the 15th of February, the London demonstration was attended in excess of 750,000 people. Despite the magnitude of these demonstrations, the invasion proceeded, with 160,000 ground troops entering the country on the 20th of March.

The three week invasion overwhelmed the Iraq military forces and resulted in the fall of Saddam Husein's Ba'athist government. After the invasion, no such WMD were found, nor any links to al-Qaeda, and in 2011 the US formally withdrew. The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq Was is due to publish its findings next year and it is hoped it will shed light on the situation. What is not debated, is the political consequences for the region continue to destabilise the region as a whole, with multiple insurgent uprisings.

This political vacuum resulted in an opportunity for radical insurgencies to gain territories and in 2014, the ultraconservative jihadist movement Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant grew in stature, eventually maintaining strongholds over large parts of Iraq and Syria. Described as a death cult, and its legitimacy over proclaiming an international caliphate over the muslim world as a whole, it is widely acknowledged that ISIL must be removed. The debate is by what means.

Todays demonstration echoed the intensity of the February 15th demonstrations, although on a much smaller scale. Starting outside Broadcasting House on Portland Square and continuing on to WhiteHall, the demonstration, while retaining the intensity expected for such an event, was altogether more modest in comparison. The demonstrations were held as opposition to the passing of the motion for airstrikes on ISIL in Syria. The vote was 397 to 223 for the motion.

Violence begets violence. War is absurd. 

Mehmet Hassan