The British ‘anti-war’ movement’s hypocrisy over Syria

Through their (in)direct support of Assad, the Stop the War Coalition blindly ignore Russia's own imperialistic goals in the region and prove themselves anything but anti-war.

Noor Barotchi is a British-Syrian national who is a founding member of Bradford Syria Solidarity and a volunteer with the humanitarian aid charities Hand in Hand for Syria and Syria Relief

They call themselves an anti-war movement. Set up in 2001 in the UK to counter the Bush Administration’s ‘War on Terror’, the Stop the War Coalition claims to defend civil liberties.

And yet their binary vision of ‘West equals evil/anti-West equals good’ has led them and other self-professed ‘anti-imperialists’ to adopt a utilitarian vision of the conflict in Syria.

Far from standing with the oppressed, their stance has proven that Syrian blood means little. Most recently, they invited Lebanese-Palestinian nun Mother Agnes Mariam to speak at their International Anti-War Conference, who preaches that Assad is a protector of minorities and all havoc in the country has been caused by militant Sunni jihadists.

The hypocrisy lies in the fact that her views and actions make her the exact opposite of anti-war.

Unfortunately, Agnes Mariam has exploited her religious status to be an accessory to mass murder. Syrian Christians for Peace and Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest based in Syria who is now missing (believed to have been kidnapped by the Al-Qaida affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), have called Sister Agnes a regime agent, the latter claiming that her “interpretation of the facts is always selective and one-sided”.

In 2012, she blamed the Houla massacre on the rebels, claiming that the victims were Alawites and Shia converts. This contradicted the United Nations’ investigation, which found government forces and Shabeeha [paid regime militia] culpable.

Mo’dhamiya (Damascus countryside) has been besieged for almost a year. Civilians living inside are dying of starvation due to the strict blockade imposed by the Syrian government, which prevents food, water and medical supplies getting in. Agnes Mariam allegedly encouraged civilians to evacuate the area by saying that “it is better if unarmed civilians surrender and turn themselves in”. In doing so, she was complicit in the detainment of 200 plus civilians from the area, the fate of whom presently remains unknown.

When the chemical weapons attack was perpetrated in Ghouta, she presented ‘evidence’ to the U.N. to try and pin the blame on the rebels. First, she determined that the videos were “manipulated and disposed with theatrical arrangements.” She then concluded that the children shown in the video were actually Alawite children kidnapped from Latakia (the same line was given by Bouthaina Shaaban, the political and media advisor to Assad).

Her polemics, however, were refuted by many organisations, including Human Rights Watch, who issued a statement saying: “there’s just no basis for the claims advanced by Mother Agnes.”

Agnes Mariam has now ‘withdrawn’ from the conference after two keynote speakers, Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones, refused to share a platform with her. While this is news worthy of celebration, we should not forgive nor forget the fact that StWC invited her in the first place. Through their (in)direct support of Assad, they blindly ignore Russia’s own imperialistic goals in the region and prove themselves anything but anti-war.

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

43 Responses to “The British ‘anti-war’ movement’s hypocrisy over Syria”

  1. David Lindsay

    who preaches that Assad is a protector of minorities and all havoc in the country has been caused by militant Sunni jihadists

    Whatever can have given her that idea?

    Russia’s own imperialistic goals in the region

    The protection of the Christians.

    Drivel of this kind has already been torn apart today both on Coffee House and on Harry’s Place. Yes, Harry’s Place.

    In both cases, it had been written by the editor of this site. Get the message.

  2. AlexisWolf

    Confused, simplistic & sectarian propaganda. If there was genuine solidarity theses groups Noor represents would be standing with all Syrians not just the foreign sponsored ones doing the zionist / neo con’s dirty work. The StWC seems to be happy to stop the all out NATO war but not the all out NATO war by proxy. The divide and rule tool is working perfectly to exacerbate splits in the ME, wtf is LFF falling in the same hole?

  3. erefdsfsfasfs

    Through their (in)direct support of Assad

    Why the brackets here? This is just the old ‘anyone who opposed the Iraq war objectively supported Saddam’ line trotted out again. By that logic, anyone who supports military action in Syria is an al-Qaeda supporter. Pisspoor.

  4. gulls

    what a load of BS – Owen Jones was too afraid to debate the Syrian conflict with a nun from syria. why? because you and he can’t face being told the truth by someone who has seen first hand the murder and massacres of innocent civilians at the hands of the rebels.

  5. gulls

    Opposition fighters execute 190 civilians in Lattakia countryside

  6. The Farney Fontenoy

    A quick check shows the author here is rabidly anti-Assad NOT anti-war. His FB page:

  7. rhoderickgates

    “we should not forgive nor forget the fact that StWC invited her in the first place. Through their (in)direct support of Assad, they blindly ignore Russia’s own imperialistic goals in the region and prove themselves anything but anti-war.”

    First of all, there is such a thing as making a mistake, and second there is no “blindly ignore Russia’s own imperialistic goals in the region and prove themselves anything but anti-war”; henceforth no citation is provided. As a Edinburgh delegate for the 2006 conference, I ensured introduction of a motion to oppose ‘unconditional support’ for Iraq guerrillas, given that Islamists had entered the occupation war & other such brutal terrorists, war criminal non-state actors, etc. Thankfully was overwhelmingly passed.

    If you want you can ask a delegate for your area to pass a similar motion condemning Russia, if you so wish. Instead of lunging for your PC or laptop to denounce STWC, act more constructively please.

  8. Dee

    What ‘imperialistic goals’ does Russia (and China) have?
    If Syria falls, the next is Iran – already half killed by sanctions in the usual cruel pre-war weakening phase.
    Then it’s the Pivot to Asia – along the rest of the ‘Pipelineistans’ not yet being occupied and / or droned …… and as per Bandar bin Sultans not-idle threat, he will unleash his Wahhabi savages at the winter Olympics …. and we have already seen those threats made good in Russia and heart of Beijing.
    So why condemn Russia (and China) for opposing yet another unjust war and destruction of yet another middle east country. As an African, Russia and China standing against the bombardment of Syria is NOT ‘imperialistic goals’ – but is done in the knowledge of the entire plan of both Asia Pivot and Africa Pivot / African – and Russia and China most definitely represent the vast majority of ‘International Community’ being the billions of Asians, Russians, Africans, S.Americans who are totally fed up with WESTERN IMPERIALISM!!!!

  9. SteveE9

    This article is another example of grossly dishonest propaganda by ‘humanitarian (sic) inrerventionists’ who want the US/UK/FRANCE to randomly bomb Syria. There have been atrocities and war crimes on both sides. This dishonest dissembling achieves nothing ethical or principled but shows the author and their supporters as allies of the west – not the Syrian people.

  10. rhoderickgates

    They’ve been selling arms & sending money, etc, to Assad & providing diplomatic support. I doubt it was for benign reasons.

  11. Dee

    Roderick – it is of great interest to me to know what your expectations of your own govt would be if :
    – You are placed on someone’s Axis of Evil – because you don’t support the genocidal expansionism of a foreign military outpost for Empire in your region.
    – As per wiki and Stratfor leaks, there is a long planned strategy to destroy your govt and leave it a festering balkanised sectarian bloodbath like Iraq and Libya. The worlds most powerful nations sit in GCHQ and Pentagon planning with regional allies how to destabilise and destroy.
    – The water cut off from a stolen region – Golan Hts – now occupied by the Empire’s military outpost (purporting to be a religious tribal nation) exacerbated by 2years of drought causes some social malcontent in your nation.
    – Peaceful demonstrations are immediately incited to turn violent – as per the long planned strategy; snipers (whose?) ensure bloodshed; scores of police are killed, property damaged and looted in the ensuing violence – the police lose control.
    – Peaceful demonstrators suddenly find themselves outnumbered by recruited mercenary / paid ‘protesters’ – directed and managed by professionals.
    – The army is brought in to restore order. They meet opposition from ‘rebels’ – also funded by foreign sources.
    – The ‘rebels’ rapidly find they are outnumbered by Wahhabi savages – intent on killing your fellow countrymen not of their perverted fundamentalist views – killing by decapitation, cutting out liver and heart of their live captives, destroying churches, raping, pillaging …..
    Hand over to the foreign Wahhabi terrorist savages – who kill both the minority legitimate ‘Syrian rebels’ , Syrian armed forces, children, civilians, priests, Imams ….. ?
    Lie down and die – or leave the country – to turn into yet another Iraq or Libya WITH ZERO DEMOCRACY. PEACE NOR STABILITY?
    So tell me Rhoderick – why are Russia and China villains for helping IN THE FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM – that every western nation purports to be doing … yet oddly enough, with all the NSA-GCQH-European SPYING and vast networks of intelligence agencies – has not apprehended one of the many 1000’s of European (Brit, Dutch, German, Danish, French etc etc) terrortists – let alone the Saudi Al CIAda’s, Chechen etc terrorists traversing the world and freely crossing from Turkey and other neighbouring countries into Syria?

    If there was a SHRED of integrity from western powers – they would be helping Assad rid his nation of extremist terrorists. AND THAT IS WHY RUSSIA ARE HEROES TO THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE WORLS POPULACE … of course not in the propagandised-brain-dead west however.

  12. rhoderickgates

    Neither of the two countries I am a citizen of have an ‘Axis of Evil list’. It is, afterall, a political soundbite that was uttered by a US President no longer in office.

    When it comes to tactics, there is such a thing as using direct weapons, instead of indiscriminate weapons. And don’t resort to air-strikes in population centers; because even direct aircaft bombs can miss & kill civilian bystanders.

  13. Dee

    Neither you nor I are expert in the warfare of MASS URBAN TERRORISM, but I would hazard a guess yours is a more naïve view if you believe that former presidents list was just a list and the pentagon plans were scrapped when the nobel peace prize winner took office and bombarded Libya, and the hawks and the dual citizen congressmen changed their agenda after Hellary the Hag from Hades declared ‘we came we saw he died hahahaha’ after the slaughter of Gaddafi and his corpse obscenely displayed like a hunting safari trophy on western media.
    But I do like your thinking. Pity it was not applied nor condemned in the ‘standard invasion & occupation warfare’ in Iraq, Libya, deliberately avoided in the mass bombardment of Gaza at the exact time children were leaving school … nor applied in the ongoing drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and all the other ‘Pipe-line-istans’ so called War oF Terror.
    But should your 2 home nations ever be overrun by wahabbi savage terrorists, I’m sure they will be very considerate and not use the well known tactics of targeting and shielding themselves in schools and urban areas – and so a little aiming for the feet type gentlemans duel can be carried out.

  14. rhoderickgates

    Are you going to return to the topic eventually?

  15. Dee

    Your response gave the direction. If you have no rebuttal – I bid you Pax, Vrede, Paz, Frida, صلح and above all – on topic : Мир

  16. rhoderickgates

    No, the topic was set by the article author. So….DO you have a relevant post?

  17. Themadmullahofbricklane

    Steve E9.
    I rather think that the Syrian people would want what we have in the west. Stuff like elections, the rule of law, religious toleration and all of those other terrible afflictions that capitalism and imperialism have forced on us. The proof of the pudding is that if Europe and the US, among others, are so bad why is it that so much of the world wants to be with us?

    When the middle eastern component of the Ottoman Empire was carved up after the First World War boundaries were drawn which in no way reflected the religious or ethnic realities on the ground and we are still feeling the effects of that nearly a century later. What the far left in this and other countries fail to take into account is that what we are seeing in Syria at the moment is a popular uprising against what is essentially a fascist regime. Ba’athism is a thinly disguised version of and a mixture of the Hitler/Mussolini regimes with a few local ingredients thrown in for good measure.

    I don’t suppose it’s any use pointing out that there hasn’t been any “random” bombing of Syria precisely because the elected representatives of Britain and France refused to sanction it, a point which seems to have escaped your attention. No one with an ounce of humanity can fail to sympathise with the Syrian people.

    What you and your ilk strive to do, unsuccessfully, is to blame the west for what is
    happening as the whole thing is clearly the fault of “imperialism” a word that has become fashionable again in loony left circles and one that I haven’t heard being bandied around since the Viet Nam war. Interesting how that country like other similar ones is now a one party capitalist state.

    John Rees is a disgrace to humanity and is on record as saying that he would support any regime however repressive and undemocratic as long as it opposed western imperialism. Out of the mouths of you and your ilk imperialism has become anything which you say it is. Fortunately you are political joke having been rejected not just by the electorate but civilised society as a whole. The real disgrace here is that the speakers including Owen Jones are prepared to get on the platform at all, that is the real issue.

  18. Rhoderick Gates

    “What the far left in this and other countries fail to take into account is that what we are seeing in Syria at the moment is a popular uprising against what is essentially a fascist regime. Ba’athism is a thinly disguised version of and a mixture of the Hitler/Mussolini regimes with a few local ingredients thrown in for good measure.”

    I take that into account.

  19. patriciasheerinrichman

    …A hijacked popular uprising…

  20. patriciasheerinrichman

    So, if Stop the War Coalition is pro-Assad, is the writer pro-organ-eating rebels? Just asking for clarification before I cancel my standing order to StWC.

  21. Rhoderick Gates

    I didn’t say otherwise, as I indicated in my above post.

  22. Themadmullahofbricklane


    I think all you need to do is introduce shape changing lizards and the Queen selling class A drugs and you will have developed a coherent world view of something or other. Oh, sorry. I forgot The Protocols of The Elders of Zion.

  23. patriciasheerinrichman

    I know. I was just saying…

  24. Brian S.

    Please don’t tar the whole “far left” with the same brush. There are quite a few of us (although maybe I don’t count as so “far” any longer) who have been consistent supporters of the Syrian people’s struggle for democracy .from the very beginning – and will be so until the end (however that comes out).

  25. Ramdev

    We have no way of knowing what the queen does.
    You idiots are a monarchy, not even a democracy.
    Dont even have a written constitution.
    And shut up, you sound like a conspiracy theorist.

  26. Themadmullahofbricklane

    Ramdev. You really should get out more. The far left and the Stoppers are conspiracy theorists par excellence. I was being tongue in cheek when I mentioned the Queen and shape changing lizards as these are favourite theories of David Icke, himself one of if not the greatest conspiracy theorist in the world and that’s saying something.

    The loony left as now represented by the remains of the SWP and assorted odds and sods of other groups that could have their AGMs in a phone box are convinced that there is an imperialist plot to break up and control all of the countries of the middle east to get control of the oil. This conveniently ignores the fact that they have to sell it to the west anyway and have been doing so for many decades.

    Basically all that has happened is that the inherent instability in the countries now affected by upheavals exacerbated by the lack of democracy and corruption has led to popular uprisings which in some cases have turned to civil wars. Not the fault of the west.

  27. TM

    Wherever the backing comes from, there is always an agenda from someone or some group. Like it or not, that is reality. And whenever there is a bitter and dreadful conflict, there are always two sides to every story. There are few angels and few demons after all, just people.
    Maybe if we got out from behind ideologies, agendas and point scoring and just learned to have a little more compassion for other people, things might change. Even a little. Wouldn’t hurt to give it a try?

  28. Rhoderick Gates

    If you’re in a newspaper with an editorial line you’re supposed to comply with, yeah. You might get sacked.

  29. VT

    Goodness me! And what should we say of the likes of Qatar and the KSA, the major supporters of the opposition?

  30. VT


    Tariq Ali has no love for the Syrian regime.
    Neither does Owen Jones.
    I understand Jeremy Scahill isn’t a fan either.
    Ditto for Jonathan Steele, Tonny Benn — heck, all of the Western speakers at that conference!

  31. Rhoderick Gates

    Nothing, The topic is STWCUK

  32. Rhoderick Gates

    Is partly. major Western powers such as the USA & UK have propped up the dictators that were removed. Like Egypt’s.

  33. ProquciProdesse

    And the western have bene training, arming and funding the scum sucker rodent AL CIAeda and the MI6B (moslem MI6 brotherhood) since way way before this war kicked off.. I know, I know many Brits and Americans who have been doing just that since 2010 in Turkey and Jordan… This war is not about Syria, thats just a stepping stone to build the sunni front from Turkey, through Syria, into Jordan, down into the Sinai, and together with Saudi and the other sunni Gulf States.. Once Syria is destroyed and brough to a ruinous heap, then the march back into Iraq will begin, and the great sunni versus shia war will thus have been created and to be fought out in Iraq.. This has bene planned for decades.. I first knew the west was going into Syria when I WAS IN IRAQ IN 2006..

  34. ProquciProdesse

    The true Syrian people were actually quite happy, I know, I have been several times, first time actually in 1981.. The sunni want democracy, of course they do, and if anyone votes against sharia, loses his head..

  35. ProquciProdesse

    We do have a constitution, the Bill of Rights, English common law which is in fact the only law of the land and the Magna Carta.. Trouble, is, we dont adhere to it, live by it or, more importantly enforce the laws.. But there is a great awakening and folk are now realising this and the common law movement is growing in strength massively.. Not only the freeman movement, British constitution Group and all others fighting for true justice and justice we will have against the scum who took us into the EU strenuously.. Oh happy dayz 😉

  36. ProquciProdesse

    I`m not left, far far from it for sure.. However, it is true and factual that these wars have been planned for decades by the western power elites, not just the oil, but to be able to take oil and gas to market, PIPELINES..!! Syria is a stepping stone.. Sit tight, Iran is the goal, then Central Asia and the TAPI PIPELINE and onwards and upwards to the borders of China.. Ahhh bisto…

  37. ProquciProdesse

    The MI6B (moslem MI6 brotherhood) has been a British intelligence operation since their inception way back in 1928/29… 🙂 .. The west will prop up anyone and always have players and agents on both sides, it guarantees a win.. 😉

  38. ProquciProdesse

    Wahabbi, another fantastic British creation … 🙂 ..

  39. Lamia

    Some of them. It turned out Mubarak went a lot more quietly and with a lot less bloodshed than those dictators propped up by the far left’s heroes, Russia and China, have done.

    When it looked like Mubarak would fall, the far left was very pro-Arab Spring. Since then, when it came to dictatorships not supported by the West it has decided that the revolutions are in fact possibly counter-revolutionary and therefore a bad thing. Which has allowed them to keep making excuses for Assad, Gaddafi, the Iranian regime and any other supported by Russia and China.

    It is pure nonsense for the ‘anti-war’ left to claim as they do that they are motivated by humanitarianism. They will happily support or make excuses for a proven mass murderer over a lesser thug if it fits their deranged West=Bad, ‘Russia, China and their allies = good’ worldview. The West has supported some brutal dictatorships in the Middle East, but the ar left has supported and continues to support provenly worse ones. Mubarak and the UAE are half-hearted amateurs compared to Assad, Gaddafi and the Iranian regime.

  40. Lamia

    Stop drivelling. You are a nutter.

  41. ProquciProdesse

    lol.. Yea, well, when hook handed hanza is an mi5 agent, go figure. But my statement is fact on the MI6B.

  42. winston smith

    I find it disgraceful that LFF should allow an article attacking Mother Agnes, a Syrian NUN, who exposed disgraceful things done by Washington and its Jihadist Assets. This included the killing of 200 children, that Obama claimed had been killed a month later in Goula.
    This shows exactly where he and his charities actually stand and who they represent.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.