SWEDEN – No to War Against Syria!

by Mike Powers on 09-09-2013

4,000 protesters marched in a cordoned off city centre in Stockholm during Obama´s short visit to Stockholm on September 4. His 24 hour stop-over, the first direct state visit by a US president ever, was hastily arranged to replace the bilateral summit with Putin planned in Moscow. The cancellation was “diplomatic punishment” for Russia´s granting of asylum to Edward Snowdon. Protests were held in a dozen other towns, including Gothenburg where 700 took part.

Before the visit a well known doctor filed police charges against Obama for suspected war crimes. The only welcome one protestor expressed was the chance for the Swedish police to question him. The public prosecutor here still maintains for example that it is necessary in the case of Julian Assange to interview him because a criminal complaint has been filed. The hypocrisy and double standards used for the war lords in Washington is obvious. It shows how the US intimidates smaller countries into following their political line.

 Under the unifying slogan “NO to Big Brother Obama” the demonstration drew support from protestors saying “NO to mass surveillance!”, “NO to US war policies!” and “NO to NATO!” Opposition to US plans to attack Syria dominated the chants of the marchers and the speeches held. The OFOG street theatre group arranged a street dinner where a masked Obama could answer the questions of spectators about torture in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and drones. Those who knew about these policies were symbolically either water boarded or forced-fed to taste American specialities. There was a strong Syrian contingent in the march which was angrily concerned about the fate of civilians and especially the Christian community as US threats of armed aggression escalated the conflict. Other groups had more specific demands. Iraq activists demanded “the guilty must be held accountable!” One banner read “Give me five, Obama – the Cuban Five!” Another said “Obama No, Snowden Yes!”

The Iraq Solidarity group in a letter to the Swedish Prime Minister insisted that he make it clear to Obama that his opposition to chemical warfare could not be taken seriously as long as the US did not own up to its own use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus in Iraq. Sweden must demand that US war criminals be held responsible for the genetic consequences of the use of these weapons in Fallujah, Basra and other cities. Their leaflet reminded people of the lies that preceded the attack on Iraq as well as US plans to re-draw the Middle East. “Justice for Iraq” continues to be an anti-imperialist demand.

The Swedish PM, although expressing “understanding” for the US position, made it clear that he opposed military attack without the UN backing by the Security Council. Like most world leaders he supported efforts to find a political solution. Still NATO in the following days held a joint naval exercise in the Baltic which Sweden, a non-NATO country, hosted! Partnership for Peace first dragged the alliance free country onto the US side in Afghanistan and now threatens two centuries of neutrality if the people can not stop the drift to NATO membership. This protest was also a good start into forging the mass movement that can stop it.

Mike Powers - Stockholm

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