Late Wednesday night, President Obama announced the expansion of ongoing U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and the start of airstrikes in Syria for the first time with the aim to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, also known as IS.
In recent months IS has spread a wave of oppression and violence that goes well beyond the headline-catching executions and massacres to affecting millions of Iraqis and Syrians through fear, exploitation and gender-based violence. Now 12 years into the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, we witness how militarism expands violence and destroys hope rather than create lasting solutions to ongoing crisis.
War Resisters League condemns the violence of both U.S. military intervention, and the reactionary forces – led by IS – that it claims to be intervening. Further, it is the sectarian lens through which U.S. administrations have viewed Iraq, and increasingly Syria, that contributes to the suppression of emancipatory social movements while establishing the conditions for the rise of reactionary groups. By playing a major role in institutionalizing sectarianism in Iraq, and continuing to arm some the most repressive and sectarian regimes in the region – such as Saudi Arabia – the U.S. is deeply implicated in the dynamics at play.
The U.S. however is far from the only player on the scene, with global powers such as Iran, Russia and China backing Bashar al-Assad’s campaign of mass death and repression. Beyond competing regimes, there are an Iraqi and Syrian people, and it is their movements – striving for resilience, to survive and thrive – which War Resisters League lends our support:
Grassroots organizing by Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, building shelters in a context of ISIS attacks against women.
Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq writing and organizing against the basic assumptions of global and local oppressors ‘Sectarianism is the product of a political conflict, not the reverse’.
Mohja Kafh of Syrian Nonviolence Movement explaining: “People didn’t rush to Syria’s side and bring with them the people power to mobilize a new kind of horizontal help on the ground, this new kind of power that is not about states and super-states but the technologies and geniuses of a new rising generation”.
Against cynicism and despair that can only offer more destructive violence, these projects and their daily work build hope for a future beyond militarism and empire.
War Resisters League – National Office
(Image by Maysaloun Faraj, “Ahlam: Kites and Shattered Dreams” (2011). Courtesy of Ava Gallery, copyright Maysaloun Faraj)