Sunday, October 23, 2016

Peace Coalition Forms to Stop War in Syria

  By Reginald Johnson


   As violence continues in Syria and tensions rise between the United States and Russia, a large number of anti-war groups have banded together to lobby for peace and head off a catastrophic war between the two superpowers.

   Some 30 organizations and about 20 prominent leaders of the peace movement have joined to form the “Hands Off Syria Coalition.”
   A statement put out by the coalition said,  “Our objective is to create the broadest possible united front for peace and justice by peace activists and organizations in the U.S. and around the world to fight for an end to all violence, intervention and sanctions against Syria, which is now threatening world peace.

  Among the organizations which have pledged to work in the coalition and signed a “Points of Unity" statement are the U.S. Peace Council, the International Action Center, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Syria Solidarity Movement, the United National Antiwar Coalition, and Women Against Military Madness (WAMM).

   Some of the prominent signers of the statement include Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney and human rights attorney, Gerry Condon, national board vice president, Veterans for Peace, Margaret Kimberly, editor and senior columnist, Black Agenda Report, Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and Presidential briefer, Colleen Rowley, retired FBI agent, and Cindy Sheehan, anti-war Gold Star Mother.

  In the Points of Unity statement, members of the coalition say that the continuation of the war in Syria is the “result of a U.S.-orchestrated intervention by the United States, NATO, their regional allies and reactionary forces, the goal of which is regime change in Syria.”
   The policy of regime change --- clearly illegal under international law --- has threatened the security of the region and the world and “has increased the danger of direct confrontation between the United States and Russia, with the potential of a nuclear catastrophe for the whole world,” the statement said.

  The coalition has called for an “immediate end to the U.S. policy of forced regime change in Syria” and an “immediate end to all foreign aggression against Syria and serious efforts toward a political resolution to the war.”

   The group also demands that the U.S., NATO and regional allies stop providing military, financial or other support to “foreign mercenaries and extremists” in the Middle East region.

   Henry Lowendorf of New Haven, a member of the U.S. Peace Council and the Greater New Haven Peace Council, said that the groups came together due to the urgency of the moment. He said that the risk of a  world war breaking out in Syria is growing, with two nuclear-armed nations --- the United States and Russia --- edging closer and closer towards a military confrontation.

  “There’s been a paralysis in the peace movement around Syria. That means the peace movement has been doing nothing about war,” said Lowendorf.

  “The statement was meant to get people off the dime” and start taking action, he said.

Henry Lowendorf and Deborah Taylor demonstrate for peace in New Haven

  One of the actions being discussed is an anti-war demonstration at the time of the presidential inauguration in January. “We know whoever gets elected on Nov. 8, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and is inaugurated in January, is a hawk, one way or another,” Lowendorf said.

   Also being planned are congressional lobbying efforts and a statewide peace conference at Middlesex Community College in Middletown on Saturday, Nov. 12. (For information, contact

  Lowendorf expressed disappointment that some large peace organizations, like United for Peace and Justice, have so far chosen not to join the new coalition. But he said renewed efforts will be made to persuade them to come on board.

  Nearly 1200 people have now signed on endorsing the coalition's Points of Unity and demands for a change in U.S. Syria policy. 

(For more information on the coalition, go to