“Stop the War” in Birmingham fudges opposition to war

by Nu’man Abd al-Wahid

One of Birmingham ’s local ‘Stop the War’ (StW) Coalition groups held a meeting on the 7th November 2012 to discuss the Libyan situation. I attended on the basis that, surely a group, which in theory, claims to oppose British military intervention and was formed on the basis that it opposed the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq , was to highlight the extreme shortcomings of the British led intervention in Libya ? I should’ve known better.

And who did Stop the War invite to give an assessment of what has been happening in Libya since Gadhaffi’s lynching? Why, none other than the person they invited last year to give a pro-NATO talk on Libya , a certain Mr. Hassan Almagassabi. I presume we live in the era of ‘War is Peace’, so why not?

However, the local StW convener, Stuart Richardson, promoted this meeting on the basis that the speaker was offering his own personal perspective. But this misses the point entirely. Strangely, I am of the opinion that StW exists to oppose western interventions. Isn’t this what it says on the tin? (or on their ‘About Us’ page). Maybe on the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Birmingham StW could invite Clare Short or Tony Blair to give their personal perspective on the invasions of Iraq?

In other words, if I want to hear pro-NATO speakers I turn on the BBC/ITV/Sky or if I’m feeling insane, I would possibly entertain a visit to a Conservative/Lib Dem/Labour Party/EDL meeting. I certainly don’t expect to arrive at a StW meeting to listen to pro military interventionists.

Allow me to draw a simple analogy, if I were to attend a conference on learning more about the benefits of vegetarianism, I simply shouldn’t expect the convener of the conference or the main speaker to be eating a chicken or BLT sandwich when I arrive!

Yet this is precisely what happened at this local Birmingham StW group – two years in a row. The meeting began bizarrely enough with the pro-NATO speaker showing a you-tube clip of a person being lynched in an army barracks in 1995. The speaker claimed that this exemplified Libya before the “revolution” but it could’ve been recorded anywhere in the Maghreb , especially as there was no sound to the clip and therefore I couldn’t discern the accents. I am also sure that by “revolution” he was referring to the NATO-Islamist coup that ended the Jamahariyya.

From this he proceeded to address the killing of the American ambassador. At this point, he offered a bizarre hotchpotch of insinuations of why the Ambassador was killed. He claimed that the American compound wasn’t protected properly and then he said that 23 of the 30 Americans stationed at Benghazi were CIA agents but the cherry on the cake and mother of all explanations was when he claimed that the American ambassador did not respect local customs, the evidence of this was the Ambassador’s female colleague wearing a skirt at a meal with Libyans!

Bizarrely, he made no mention that al-Qaeda had announced the death Abu Yahya al-Libi, one of their senior commanders of Libyan origin, days earlier until I raised it in the Q&A.

After his sickening insinuations with regard to the death of the American ambassador the speaker then began developing some kind of theory on the bombing of Gadhaffi’s motorcade just before his lynching. Only God knows what points the speaker was attempting to make. He claimed that NATO bombs hit the front of the convoy and the rear but did not hit the middle where he claimed Gadhaffi was seated. He then played another you-tube clip showing what remained of the bombed convoy surrounded by charred bodies and gloating Islamists. After a couple of minutes of watching these gruesome images, I led the calls for him to stop playing the clip.

I would have to say, even by Birmingham’s StW standards this was one the most absurd anti-war meetings I have attended; and bizarrely they have invited the same pro-NATO speaker twice.

Birmingham StW has totally failed to address key issues on Libya . From the moment William Hague falsely claimed Gadhaffi had fled to Venezuela to the current fact that there may now be 300-400 militias in Libya it has remained silent. The other glaring omissions from this talk was the fact that with all the talk of “African” (i.e. read, black) mercenaries at the start of the Libyan “uprising” the only foreigners present were the six MI6 agents that had to be rescued. The same is now happening in Syria . The pro-interventionists are claiming that Hizbollah/Russia/Iranian troops are on the ground, yet the evidence points to the fact that Libyans/Asian/Gulfies/Turk Islamist mercenaries are on the ground assisting the FSA.

Furthermore, no mention was made of the murderous racism inflicted on Black Libyans and Black Africans. No mention was made of the ethnic cleansing of the Tawargha, a town of 30,000 black Libyans. No mention was made of Libya ’s frozen billions in European banks. No mention was made of bombing Libyan infrastructure including the water pipeline bring in water from the south of the country to the north. No mention was made of the up to 30,000 people currently being detained in Libyan prisons by the various militias. No mention was made of the lies that led to the intervention such as Gadhaffi’s army being high on Viagra and raping its way through Libya .

Revolutions are supposed to provide people new hope but what has replaced Gadhaffi is nothing but NATO/UK/Islamist engineered brutal mayhem and worse Libya is now an imperialist base. To the speaker’s credit he admitted that the national past time in Libya is now looting and none of the militias (or death squads) are listening to the weak central government. Although he disagreed with my assertion that this central government exists only on paper.

Needless to say Birmingham StW has totally fudged the wider issue of why the British state (not the United States ) has been leading the calls for interventions in Libya and now in Syria . StW has also keenly fudged addressing the revitalised geo-political relationship between the UK and Islamists. StW needs to address these new imperialist realities rather than living in a 2006 time warp.

A slightly different version of this article is available at www.yamyam-yemeni.blogspot.com

15 comments on ““Stop the War” in Birmingham fudges opposition to war

  1. 2# Don’t think so- goggle the author- useful research

    If anyone on here was at the meeting in question it would be useful to have their view of the meeting


  2. http://mondoweiss.net/2012/11/the-suez-canal-and-the-british-empires-need-for-the-balfour-declaration.html

    About Nu’man Abd al-Wahid
    Nu’man Abd al-Wahid is a UK based freelance Yemeni-English writer specialising in the political relationship between the British state and the Arab World. My focus is on how the United Kingdom has historically maintained its interests in the the Middle East. A collection of articles are posted at http://www.yamyam-yemeni.net.

  3. Were there many people there?

    I would have thought that a meeting of this nature would have been very well attended, particularly given who seems to have organised it.

    Have many wind farms been built in Libya yet btw?

  4. Stuart Richardson on said:

    Dear comrades

    It is difficult to start in reply to this article in which so many things are untrue.
    Firstly Nu’man doesn’t even get the organisation which held the meeting correct. It was not held by Birmingham StWC but Erdington/Sutton Coldfield StWC which although in Birmingham is separate from Birmingham StWC. The Bham StWC committee had no responsibility for holding the meeting.
    Nu’man does not make clear in the article but he was clear in the meeting that he supported Gadaffi and his muderous dictatorship.
    He has also been associated with the Bham Marxist/Leninists one of
    whose main themes in Bham is “Victory to Assad”.
    Of course there is a role for critical reflection in the Anti-War
    movement but it often better to engage with comrades who are actually participants. Nu’man has played no role in the impressive activity
    in opposition to the recent Gaza war with 300 people at an outdoor protest in the centre of Bham last Friday. He has played no role in the activity opposing western imperialist intervention into Syria and was not even at the StWC public meeting (the only significant meeting against intervention in Bham) last month when we had John Rees national officer of StWC and others speaking. Clearly opposing British and other imperialist intervention into Syria.
    Last year Bham StWC held a series of small protests and two major public meetings against British and NATO in which John Rees and Sami Ramadani condemned the British military intervention in Libya. Sami was on prime time local BBC radio (about 8 am) opposing the western imperialist bombing. Our anti-intervention voice was clear and strong. Nu’man despite his rhetoric was not at these meetings and generally nowhere to be seen.

    Returning to the StWC meeting on the 7th November. We have know the Libyan comrade H for sometime and he has held a number of different even contradictory positions. He was at first firmly
    against western intervention but was caught up in the emotions around the seige of Benghasi and shifted his view as many on the left incorrectly did. He spoke at a Erdington/Sutton Coldfield StWC before the shift.
    The notice advertising the StWC meeting was entitled “Libya: chaos or progress since the fall of Gadaffi”. The leaflet says
    clearly “H will present his individual perspective on Libya today, his views may not coincide with the recent positions of the Stop the War Coalition.” The chair Pete Duffy said quite clearly that the StWC invites people to speak at our meetings who may not agree with the StWC. In his report on the meeting which was heavily distorted to say the least, he nowhere reports that comrade H did not state any support for the NATO intervention. He showed a video of a critic of the Gadaffi regime being brutally killed with no judicial process which annoyed Nu’man, spoke about the newly elected Libyan parliament, the weakness of the trade unions mainly based in the Oil sector but emphasised the chaos and looting rampant in the country.
    I may have disagreed with aspects of his political perspective but
    it was an informative meeting for supporters of the Erdington/Sutton Coldfield StWC.

    Stuart Richardson Convenor Erdington/Sutton Coldfield StWC

  5. Stuart Richardson: Nu’man does not make clear in the article but he was clear in the meeting that he supported Gadaffi and his muderous dictatorship.
    He has also been associated with the Bham Marxist/Leninists one of
    whose main themes in Bham is “Victory to Assad”.

    The vile scoundrel! I hope he was stoned in the car park or that alternatively BBC Radio4 commission your fine satire. Well done.

  6. jock mctrousers on said:

    Sorry if I’m slow on the uptake, but ‘Nu’man Abd al-Wahid; is Arabic for ‘Andy Newman’, right?

  7. I would like to say for the record that, in the spirit of McCarthyite denial, I have never been a member or an “associate” of any Marxist-Leninist joint.

    As for your other false accusations and insinuations Mr.Richardson,I’ll mention these to you next time we bump into each other.

  8. I get the frustrated feeling one always gets with a tale part told.

    How many people were at this meeting?

    What is the relationship between Birmingham StWC and Edgbaston/ Erdington StWC? Is it that StW is so big in Birmingham that local branches are required for it to function effectively? Or is there another reason for their separate existence?

    Who are the B-hm Marxist-Leninists? Are they the local CPGB-ML, RCPB-ML, CPM-ML, Revolutionary Internationalist Movement or are they some Brummie phenomenon?

    What will happen next time N’Uman bumps into Stuart Richardson? I’ve met the former a few times but not N’Uman so I can easily assess who’s likely to win a verbal argument, but not who’s hardest.

    Why did Andy consider that this event was significant enough to require a post in its own right?

    Was it to educate, inform or to provide entertainment?

  9. Karl Stewart on said:

    Just an idea, but how about making “When Stuart bumps into Nu’man” a fundraising event for Gaza?

    I’ve never met either of these “Brummie Bruisers”, so no idea who’d win, but it’d be fun to watch!

    Maybe we could also invite TonyC and that guy who called him “baldy” – make it a double bill?