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Michael Karadjis was joined on the petition by Australian freelance journalist Antony Loewenstein who, in turn, was joined by the pro-Israel British journalist Nick Cohen and British journalist and SWP member James Bloodworth. The latter backs western intervention in Syria and has demanded ‘free speech’ when his own SWP is under attack (Bloodworth 2014). They all wanted to block my views on the conflict and its implications for refugees.
Under banners of ‘Protect civilians’ and ‘Listen to Syrians’, the SSUK FB site reproduces pro-ISIS propaganda. They cite with approval posts in ‘Solidarity with the peoples of Fallujah and Raqqa’, which complain about Iraqi, US, Kurdish, Iranian and Syrian attacks on ISIS in Raqqa and Fallujah, arguing: “Will Stop the War Coalition [UK] oppose the US-backed Iranian and Kurdish YPG blitzkriegs of Raqqa and Fallujah?” The SSUK links to a video from another British group which claims Iraqi Army attacks on ISIS in Fallujah represent “the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis”.
Peter Tatchell, a British gay activist, was one of those who emailed the conference organisers. He is a person who, even after the disaster in Libya, called for a no-fly zone in Syria. He disingenuously claimed that his ‘Don’t bomb Syria … no bomb zone’ placard did not mean ‘UK bombing of Syria’. But, after the NATO destruction of Libya, all intelligent people should understand what a ‘no fly zone’ means. Even conservative US academic reports, after the event, have demonstrated that more than ten times as many people died in Libya after the NATO intervention, on the ‘no fly zone’ pretext (Kuperman 2015).
Another signatory to the petition, British man Oz Katerji, supported the NATO ‘no fly’ intervention in Libya, and tries to justify it even after the disaster. He supports the armed groups in Syria. Further, he is a project coordinator for ‘Help Refugees UK’, and takes aid to the refugee flooded but Jabhat al Nusra-dominated town of Gaziantep in Turkey (Help Refugees UK 2016).
This highlights a dilemma with these ‘humanitarian’ al Qaeda supporters. They proclaim political support for the al Qaeda groups then, in the name of helping refugees, deliver aid to camps controlled by those same internationally banned terrorist organisations. This is a short step away from providing material support to terrorist groups.
Dr Rola Hallam, another of the signatories on the petition to gag me, is a doctor involved with the UK-based NGO ‘Hand in Hand for Syria’ (HHS). She supports US military intervention in Syria. HHS, backed by the BBC, was exposed by British investigator Robert Stuart for fabricating evidence over an alleged Syrian attack on a Syrian school in August 2013. The aim was clearly to create a scandal which would attract western military intervention.
Building a catalogue of evidence, Robert Stuart (2016) found the BBC sequences of the alleged school attack, ‘purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack … are largely, if not entirely, staged.’ Fabrications included the filmed commentaries from Dr Rola Hallam.
Amongst the other signatories on the SSUK petition were academic Thomas Pierret, who backed the NATO intervention in Libya and has since commented ‘Why should we be scared of statelessness in Syria? Libya is so much better than Syria without a state’. Razan Ghazzawi quotes with approval an article which says ‘the Western left should reject knee-jerk anti-imperialism’. Kyle Orton (2015) argues ‘NATO Was Right to Intervene in Libya’.
Similarly, Clay Clairborne regards the NATO-bombed catastrophe of Libya ‘a revolutionary success story’, arguing that Assad is behind al Qaeda (Clairborne 2015), even as the al Qaeda groups slaughter Syrian soldiers as well as civilians. Louis Proyect (2012), who calls himself ‘The Unrepentant Marxist’, attacks ‘the Islamophobic left’ for not supporting the campaigns to arm Islamist groups against Libya and Syria. He says he is ‘inspired by’ the Islamist attacks on Libya and Syria.
There is no extremist armed group in Syria that the SSUK and its allies have not backed, while they claim to support refugees that flee from war and the head choppers. Most displaced people within Syria seek refuge in government controlled areas, in Sweida, Damascus, Lattakia and Aleppo. They are clearly not ‘fleeing Assad’.
The SSUK never uses the sort of detailed evidence that I have applied in my book, yet their online campaign seemed to carry more weight with the ‘Crossing Borders’ committee. I simply ask my academic colleagues: what is wrong with reasonable public debate?
Anderson, Tim (2015) ‘The Dirty War on Syria: Chemical Fabrications, The East Ghouta Incident, Global Research, 12 December, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-dirty-war-on-syria-chemical-fabrications-the-east-ghouta-incident/5493698
Anderson, Tim (2016) The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change and Resistance, Global Research, e-book available online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-dirty-war-on-syria-washington-regime-change-and-resistance/5504372
Bartlett, Eva (2015) ‘“Human Rights” front groups (“Humanitarian Interventionalists”) Warring on Syria’, Fall, online: http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/tag/the-syria-campaign/
Beeley, Vanessa (2016) ‘George Soros: Anti-Syria Campaign Impresario’, 21st Century Wire, 22 April, online: http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/04/22/george-soros-anti-syria-campaign-impresario/
Boothroyd, Mark (2015) ‘Who are the Syrians rebels?’ Syrian Solidarity UK, 19 December, online: http://www.syriauk.org/2015/12/who-are-syrian-rebels.html
Bloodworth, James (2014) ‘Shutting down abortion debates and banning the SWP – what a terrible week for free speech’, 21 November, online: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/shutting-down-abortion-debates-and-banning-the-swp-what-a-terrible-week-for-free-speech-9875022.html
Clairborne, Clay (2014) ‘Why I consider Libya a revolutionary success story’, Linux Beach, 4 March, online: http://claysbeach.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/why-i-consider-libya-revolutionary.html
Cohen, Nick (2015) ‘Future generations will despise our ‘realism’ on Syria’, The Guardian, 13 September, online: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/13/west-offer-alternative-to-isis-and-assad
Democracy Now (2013) ‘As Assad Regime Accepts Russian Plan on Chemical Weapons, A Debate on Syria’s Path Forward’, 10 September, online: http://www.democracynow.org/2013/9/10/as_assad_regime_accepts_russian_plan
FARS News (2016) ‘Ahrar Al-Sham, Not ISIL, Responsible for Monday Blasts in Lattakia’, 24 may, online: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950304001226
Ghazzawi, Razzan (2012) ‘Libya and Syria: When anti-imperialism goes wrong | Pham Binh’, 5 July, online: https://razanghazzawi.org/2012/07/05/libya-and-syria-when-anti-imperialism-goes-wrong-pham-binh/
Ghazzawi, Razzan (2016) ‘Revolt and war in Syria five years on’, Socialist Worker, 8 March, online: https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/42301/Revolt+and+war+in+Syria+five+years+on
Help Refugees UK (2016) ‘Turkey’, online: http://www.helprefugees.org.uk/tag/turkey/
Karadjis, Michael (2013) ‘Syrian rebels overwhelmingly condemn US bombing as an attack on revolution’, online: https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/syrian-rebels-overwhelmingly-condemn-us-bombing-as-an-attack-on-revolution/
Kuperman, Alan J. (2015) Obama’s Libya Debacle’, Foreign Affairs, 16 April, online: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/libya/2015-02-16/obamas-libya-debacle
Orton, Kyle (2015) ‘Why NATO Was Right To Intervene In Libya’, 21 October, online: https://kyleorton1991.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/why-nato-was-right-to-intervene-in-libya/
Proyect, Louis (2012) ‘Libya, Syria, and left Islamophobia’, The Unrepentant Marxist, online: https://louisproyect.org/2012/07/23/libya-syria-and-left-islamophobia/
Sinclair, Ian (2016) ‘Countering Peter Tatchell’s pro-war anti-war arguments on Syria’, Open Democracy, 15 January, online: https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/ian-sinclair/countering-peter-tatchell-s-pro-war-anti-war-arguments-on-syria
SSUK (2015) Why Stop the war don’t want to listen to Syrians’, 12 November, online: http://leftfootforward.org/2015/11/why-stop-the-war-dont-want-to-listen-to-syrians/
SSUK (2016) Syria Solidarity UK’, online: http://www.syriauk.org/p/about-us.html
SSUK FB (2016) Facebook Posts, online:
Stuart, Robert (2013-2016) ‘Fabrication in BBC Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children’’, online: https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/