Stop the War Continues to Promote Assad Apologists
Stop the War Coalition is a British grassroots group that ostensibly lobbies the West to “change its disastrous foreign policies.”
In truth, as the Spectator writer James Bloodworth notes: “[Stop the War] isn’t so much opposed to war as has accrued a sorry reputation for supporting the other side in every conflict it has pretended to oppose.”
Stop the War has a long history, in fact, of working in support of Iran and her allies, Syria and Hezbollah. In 2007, one of the speakers at Stop the War’s annual conference was “Somaye Zadeh of Campaign Iran”, who used her speech “to counter the imperialist lies [about Iran].” Somayeh Zadeh, whose real name is Somaye Bagherzadeh, is a member of the anti-sanctions lobby group CASMII, whose Directors are closely involved with senior Iranian regime officials and institutions.
Stop the War’s vice-president is Kamal Majid, who has urged support for the Assad regime because of their “long history of resisting imperialism” and claims that their downfall “will pave the way for a pro-Western and pro-US regime.” Majid was also the founder of the Stalin Society, which was established to “defend Stalin and his work.”
In 2005, Stop the War told a group of anti-regime Iranian refugees that Stop the War “can not allow any statement against the Islamic regime in Iran from the platform.” Stop the War official Andrew Burgin has stated: “There are supporters of Ahmadinejad who we do not want to exclude.”
On the 30th November, Stop the War is holding its annual conference. Originally, the proposed line-up of speakers included Mother Superior Agnes Mariam de la Croix, a Catholic nun based in Syria.
In August, Mother Agnes published a 50 page document that claimed to demonstrate the chemical attacks conducted in Damascus that month were in fact staged by the Syrian rebels – Assad’s forces supposedly had nothing do with the atrocity.
Once Mother Agnes was outed as an apologist for the Assad regime, fellow conference speakers Owen Jones and Jeremy Scahill suddenly considered her to be an unsuitable bedfellow, and allegedly refused to speak at the conference unless Mother Agnes was dropped.
Subsequently, Mother Agnes agreed not to attend. Stop the War published a statement that assured its members: “In inviting speakers to participate in its events, Stop the War has never sought to endorse all their views. We have always provided a platform for a diversity of opinions within a broad anti-war perspective.”
James Bloodworth, writing in the Spectator, noted:
The real question is why any respectable person would think it ok to appear at a Stop the War event in the first place. In inviting Mother Agnes to speak the Stoppers were simply sticking faithfully to their own ‘anti-imperialist’ worldview — hence why the organisers still see nothing wrong in having selected her as a speaker. It was after all the organisation’s National Officer John Rees who once wrote: ‘Socialists should unconditionally stand with the oppressed against the oppressor, even if the people who run the oppressed country are undemocratic and persecute minorities, like Saddam Hussein.’
The Stop the War Coalition are not anti-war; they are a malevolent Leninist front whose leadership has a long record of lining up alongside any movement or tyranny that is sufficiently anti-Western. Mother Agnes would have fitted in very well.
This is an important point. But one does not actually need to scratch the surface that deeply — another question might be: why have these Stop the War speakers condemned the participation of one Assad apologist while saying nothing of the others with whom they are sharing a platform?
Manik Mukherjee, for instance, is also billed as a headline speaker at Stop the War’s conference. Mukherjee is a Politburo member of the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) and General Secretary of the International Anti-Imperialist Coordinating Committee.
Like Mother Agnes, Mukherjee is an ardent defender of the Syrian regime, and believes the chemical weapons attack to be Western conspiracy:
The imperialist powers [are attempting] to destabilize Syria and oust the present Government of President Bashar el-Assad. They hatched a conspiracy to instigate some anti-Government forces to start an armed conflict against the legitimate Government led by President Assad.
Now their latest salvo in the propaganda war is the allegation against the Assad Government of using chemical weapons on its enemies, an allegation which has been stoutly denied by the Government. We all know that propagating lies with vigour is a standard tactics of the fascists and imperialists in their wars against the enemies.
Unlike Mother Agnes, no one has objected to Mukherjee’s presence at the 30th November conference.
Mukherjee is also an unequivocal supporter of the North Korea regime, whose response to “US-South Korean aggression” he describes as “heroic resistance” and urges North Korea “to employ all possible means in self-defense.” Mukherjee declared that he and the organizations that he represents, “stand by the side of DPRK [North Korea] in this struggle.”
Mukherjee has declared that the Soviet Union “existed with all of its glory and might, so long as it was led by able leadership of the great proletarian leader, Comrade Stalin, the worthy successor of Comrade Lenin.”
In 2007, Mukherjee organised a conference in India, named “Imperialism, globalization, Zionism—Resistance to military occupation and war.” According to news reports: “Leading members of Hezbollah gave presentations on the Lebanese Resistance and the changes it has achieved.”
Other conference speakers described peace initiatives between the Israelis and Palestinians as “phony” and instead expressed praise for the “continuing heroic Palestinian resistance.”
Moreover, concluding conference resolutions signed by Mukherjee declared the “conference’s deep admiration and respect to the courageous and militant Lebanese resistance led by Hezbullah and its leader Mr. Hassan Nassrallah, for achieving this tremendous victory facing the US-Israeli brutal and devastating aggression against Lebanon.”
The conference further “affirmed solidarity with the resistance in Iraq [i.e terrorist attacks against US and British troops] … solidarity with Iran, full support of the Palestinian demand for the right to return, solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and the Cuban Revolution, and condemnation of imperialist aggression and destabilization in Latin America, especially against Cuba and Venezuela.”
Despite the Mukherjee’s varied collection of extremist statements, there has been no objection from Stop the War. Nor has anything been said by the conference speakers who, citing the need for a principled stand, had so boldly positioned themselves against an elderly Catholic nun, albeit one with extremely objectionable ideas.
It seems likely that Stop the War will refuse to drop Manik Mukherjee as a speaker. This is partly because Mukherjee belongs to a number of Marxist international groups, whose members include officials from the Communist Party of Great Britain, a key founding member group of the Stop the War Coalition.
Mother Agnes might fit in, as James Bloodworth notes, with the Stop the War crowd, but Manik Mukherjee could lead them.