Second part of moqawama.org's exclusive interview with the Vice Chair of "Stop the War Coalition" London, Chris Nineham.
Q: If they go on into Syria, do you have any action towards that?
A: One of the things that we're protesting about on May the 19th is about the attack on Syria.
Q: Do you think they'll succeed more than their invasion on Iraq?
A: Who knows? Well I think the West, the governments, the NATO chiefs are in 2 minds about the situation in Syria, I think they are quite worried about it because on one hand they don't particularly like [Bashar] Assad although Assad in not a great threat to the West to be honest. He hasn't delivered much for the Palestinians in my opinion; I don't think the West has any fundamental problem with Assad. But on the other hand I think they're worried, truly worried, if they do intervene in Syria this would just inflame the civil war and it will spread across the region, so they are in 2 minds about it.
I think they may step up the military intervention and if they do obviously we would protest just as we did in campaign protest against the attack on Libya. The problem is that they will represent their intervention as being an intervention in favor of democracy and that makes our job slightly more difficult so we have to be very clear that the West is not interested in democracy in the Middle East. The problem is that even some sections in the Syrian oppositionists are calling for western intervention as you know, so that's a harder argument for us to be on, but it's an argument that we will have.
Q: Are you planning to do anything concerning the formula 1 in Bahrain? Like contacting the formula 1 or something like that?
A: There are some people doing that, the "Stop the War" coalition is about war. We have organized protests in support for the Bahrainis, we have done that and it is terrible, this formula one thing is an absolute disgrace.
Q: If anyone of you; chiefs like George Galway, people in the parliament, support the Palestinians and so on, that won't be hard for them? Won't they face a lot of problems?
A: They do, but the interesting thing is that ten years ago in Britain it was quite difficult to get support for Palestine, ten years ago most people didn't really understand the situation; but I think in all this period including the war on Iraq, the invasion of Lebanon which absolutely shocked a lot of people in Britain, and the strike on Gaza, all of these things changed opinion in Britain so that now the majority of people blame "Israel" not Palestine for the problems. So that's a huge step forward, that's a huge advance which I think we can take some credit for as well. So the establishment is still very much pro-"Israel", but at least half of the population in Britain has a lot of sympathy with the Palestinians. So that's a huge step forward. The problem we have is the political allies; the political allies are so corrupt. That's one of the real problems that we face.
Q: What about racism? Is it also like a war to stop it?
A: It's one of the things we were involved in from the very beginning. The things about "Stop the War" are 1- stop the war in the world, stop racism and Islamophobia. And in a view, the whole rise of Islamophobia has been intimately connected with the war on terror because what they do is they demonize Muslims; they demonize Islam as a way of trying to create their conditions where they can continue to pursue these foreign wars. So there's a very deep seated link between Islamophobia and racism and the war. So we pine against Islamophobia a lot, we also organize rallies; the next protest is against racism in Britain. We're fully inboard and fully involved in that.
Q: How do you see the ongoing occupation of the foreign forces in Afghanistan?
A: We want it to end, it's a disaster, and it's been a disaster from the beginning.
Q: So you call for stopping the war and for ending the occupation?
A: Bring the troops on because every day the occupation continues. The country suffers more. I mean people say to us why don't you leave the Afghan people to face the problems, but we are the problem in Afghanistan. NATO is the problem; again it's not the solution. If we can bring the troops out tomorrow I would be happy, I would be pleased.
Q: what about Palestine? Do you see an end for the "Israeli" aggression on Palestine? And do you consider it as a war that should be stopped?
A: Of course it's a war. It's a war of occupation.
Q: Some people don't consider it as a war, they say it's a state of "Israel", and the Palestinians are inside and they are making troubles for the "Israelis" so it's not invasion.
A: There are many opinions and obviously people in "Stop the War" have different views about how the situation should be resolved, but everyone agrees that this is essentially an occupation. The "Israeli" stay is daily breaking UN resolutions. It's repressing and oppressing the Palestinians on a daily basis, and it's an occupation we want to bring to an end quickly as we possibly can. So we stand shoulder to shoulder with Palestinian people. Their fight is our fight. We want justice for the Palestinians.
That's what we talk about and that will be a struggle, there's no question. The only thing I might say is that the fortunes of the war on terror and the fortune of the Palestinian people are connected. If we can get the troops out of Afghanistan; that would weaken the US, if we weaken the US we weaken "Israel". If we can stop an attack on Iran that would be a blow against "Israel" and that would be something that would strengthen the Palestinians. These are the two things that are connected.
The fact that the Iraqi people managed to get rid of the US is a fantastic thing and that's very important. We shouldn't believe that the US is all powerful. I think that the US power is in decline, and that's what gives me hope about the Palestinian people because the Arab spring is itself an indication that the US control of the Middle East is weakening. If you look for the next 5 or 10 years, I think there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the possibilities in the Middle East.
Q: You know US and "Israel" is threatening Iran to stop its development, they are accusing Iran of making a nuclear weapon. So what is your program if there will be any attack on Iran?
A: Well, we're not waiting for that, we are already calling protests, public meetings and rallies across the country. We've had 2 or 3 days of action already, our slogan "Don't Iraq Iran". We're kind of mobilization already in the streets and this will be center piece of the protest on May the 19th because clearly there are sections of the British establishments, sections of the US establishments who want to see an attack, that's without even mentioning Netanyahu. It seems to me [they're] very hawkish about having an attack on Iran. I think they're worried though.
It seems as if to some extent that the hawks have been kind of pushed back a little bit over the last few weeks, which will have something to do with public opinion; it's not unconnected. The majority of people in Britain think that an attack on Iran would be absolutely insane. I think we made something towards getting that opinion across to the British government. They know that if they attack Iran there will be hell to pay in Britain, not to mention the Middle East.
Q: So your main title will be about Iran and Syria and Afghanistan?
A: Yes these three things.
Q: Do you cooperate with another coalition in US? Because the US is monitoring everybody, so do have anything with someone inside the US?
A: Yes, there's a big movement, we cooperate with some in US.
Q: But you are more well-known than other coalition, do you think it should be something inside US?
A: Of course, but there is. We went to a conference in Chicago two months ago which was a quite big conference of anti-war movements. And when the NATO meeting happens on May the 19th, there will be a big protest in Chicago. Well, they've had crisis early on, 5 or 10 years ago, there was a very big movement in the US in the beginning of Iraq. They've had problems since then but still are campaigning and it's a significant thing.
Q: Are they the same as Occupy Wall Street?
A: No, they are connected. There's a group called UNAC.
Q: How do you arrange your activities? Is it upon request or is it upon incidence? Like why did you choose May the 19th?
A: Because it's the NATO conference.
Q: And because of the three issues you said about?
A: Yes, exactly. We chose them politically, we think strategically about the situation and we then make a decision, like the most things that are important. In a way, whatever that is most important for the US, is most important for us. That's the thing. If the US is thinking about Iran, we're thinking about Iran.
Q: Do you have good active relations with the UN? Do they agree to your actions? Did you try to contact them or to influence their regulations?
A: No, not in a direct sense. We have had it different times, we've had some contacts with various officials in the UN particularly the more radical ones like Scott and some of the inspectors who've made contact with us. The problem is that the UN is in many ways part of the problem not a solution I mean the UN Security Council is ran by the people who invaded Iraq. Those differences are important and those arguments. Russia and China are opposing an attack on Iran that's good. By the end of the day, the UN is the club of the most powerful countries in the world; it's the club of the imperialist's powers, so they won't have anything to do with us. Why would they have anything to do with us? We do what we can do to put pressure on them but they're not our allies.
Q: Do you have any plans after May the 19th?
A: At the moment that's the thing that we're doing, there'll be other things but now that's our main protest and after that we'll have to look at the situation and make a decision on the basis of "where we are".
Q: Do u depend on donations?
A: Entirely, yes. Trade-unions give us money. Our local branches give us money, individuals give us money. We're entirely funded by the movement; we have no government money obviously.
The first part of the interview could be viewed here.