Chicago, IL - “Not another Libya! Hands off Syria!” chanted the crowd as they picketed against war June 26. The protesters mobilized in response to the events of recent days, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s lie about Russia sending attack helicopters and then Turkey’s convening of a NATO meeting after a Turkish fighter jet was shot down over Syrian territory.
Joe Iosbaker of the United National Antiwar Coalition told those gathered, “We’re here to oppose the U.S. and NATO’s threats of war against Syria and Iran. Today, NATO met and we are told to ‘be relieved’ that they didn’t call for immediate bombing.” Turkey had asked for a military response against Syria. “But there’s more to the story,” Iosbaker continued. “Turkey is amassing tanks at the Syrian border and has stated that there will be war if Syria dares to again defend their air space.”
The protest was called by an ad hoc group of activists and groups, including a large number from the Occupy movement. Occupy Rogers Park was an endorser of the picket.
Standing in front of the national headquarters of President Obama’s re-election campaign, Sister Kathleen Desautels of the 8th Day Center for Justice read a poem by a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. She urged President Obama to listen to the poetry and recognize the humanity of those who the U.S. wages war on, imprisons and tortures.
A small group tried to disrupt the protest, calling for the overthrow of the Syrian government. Two people, including a member of News and Letters, at first tried to ‘mic check’ protest leaders as they spoke during a brief rally. When the disruptors failed to get any support, one of them forced his way into the middle of the speakers, thrusting his sign over their heads on the narrow raised platform. Joe Iosbaker explained to the crowd, “If anyone here believes that intervention by the U.S. will aid the people of Syria, they’re wrong. The U.S. isn’t threatening war with Syria because they care for the Arab people. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has cost the lives of one million, mainly Arabs.” He concluded, “Go tell the Iraqi people that the U.S. government cares for Arab lives.”
What explains U.S. intervention in Syria? Hatem Abudayyeh of Chicago, and a member of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, stated, “the U.S. wants to attack Syria because it has historically been independent and anti-imperialist, a supporter of national liberation struggles in Palestine and Lebanon, and closely allied with Iran. The U.S. does not care about the Syrian people’s will.” He added, “The U.S. wants to consolidate control of Middle East oil and other natural resources for the 1% that dictates foreign policy.”