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Anti-War activists respond to Obama’s plans to expand war in Iraq, Syria

By staff

Minneapolis, MN – On Sept. 10, President Obama spoke to the nation to try to justify increased intervention in the Middle East, using the specter of the upcoming 13th anniversary of 9/11.

President Obama outlined his plan for increasing attacks in Iraq and Syria, by conducting air strikes in coordination with the Iraqi government, sending 475 U.S. troops to Iraq, increasing U.S. military assistance to Syrian ‘rebels,’ and coordinating counter-terrorism against ISIS. Obama claimed this would be “American leadership at its best” and that “we stand for freedom, justice and dignity.”

Meredith Aby-Keirstead, an activist with the Minnesota Anti-War Committee, responded to the speech, stating, “Obama is hoping that he can distract the American public and Congress from asking the real question we should be addressing: Will U.S. military intervention in Syria and Iraq create peace and stability in the Middle East? The U.S. has used bombing campaigns, economic sanctions, regime change, occupation and puppet-governments – none of which have produced a stable and peaceful Iraq. In fact, the sectarian violence the president used tonight as a pretext for U.S. intervention is a direct by-product of U.S. intervention in Iraq.”

Aby-Keirstead continued, “In Syria, the U.S. has already tried a variety of strategies including economic sanctions, non-lethal aid and weapons to rebel groups, training rebel fighters and calls for a regime change. These strategies have expanded the civil conflict across Syria’s borders. It is absurd that the president is calling for more air strikes and more weapons to Iraq and Syria when in fact these tactics are causing the conflicts in these countries to expand into a regional conflict.”

Sami Rasouli, an Iraqi-American activist with the Muslim Peace Maker Team came to Minnesota this summer to give an update on the situation in Iraq. He said, “We did not have these sectarian divisions before the occupation. I am here to tell you: Don’t try to solve the problem of Iraq. Solve the problem of the U.S. We want the foreigners to leave.”

“Since June of this year, the U.S. has spent $500 million on operations in Iraq. People need funds for jobs, housing and education, not more wars and interventions,” said Alan Dale, with the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, “The U.S. has been at war for 13 years. Enough is enough. If we have learned anything, it should be that U.S. intervention, in the form of advisors, troops or bombs, does not help establish peace and justice, but only lays the basis for new wars and interventions. The Minnesota Peace Action Coalition will be planning protests and other activities to speak out against a new chapter of U.S. war in Iraq and against a new war in Syria.”

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