Veterans For Peace Statement on Syria

12/21/2016

The war in Syria has been ongoing for five years, with the situation in Aleppo, once Syria’s most populous city, having deteriorated over the past four years into a multi-proxy war and a humanitarian disaster.

We have seen strong disagreements within the peace movement on the reasons behind this war, and on what our response should be. Those disagreements even exist within our ranks. As we struggle through the complexities of the war, we recognize that most of us are far removed from it, fortunate to be safe in our homes and able to voice these disagreements without fear of reprisal.

However, our mission at Veterans For Peace has not changed. We oppose war. We are against the targeting of, as well as the failure to protect, innocent civilians caught up in war, or any other conduct by an individual, group or nation that could be classified as a war crime. We oppose U.S. military involvement in other countries that violates international law.

Veterans For Peace believes we have a great responsibility to hold our government accountable for the atrocities it has committed across the globe. Therefore, we call upon the U.S. to end its wars that violate the Constitution, in particular Article 1, Section 8, as well as its obligations under its treaties, including, but not limited to, the United Nations Charter, War Powers Act, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force 2001 and the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

The U.S.-led “War on Terror,” and its war and occupation against Iraq, led to the destabilization and destruction of several countries, which contributed to the creation of ISIL and to an increase in terrorist activity throughout the region, including in Syria.

The U.S. is bombing Syria, while supporting armed extremist groups who seek to overthrow one of the last secular, multi-religious states in the Middle East.

A continuation of the war in Syria, which has been waged by many actors, including the U.S., NATO, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, will not be the answer to ending the extreme suffering of the Syrian people.

The U.S. and other countries are responsible for the tragic outcomes of military imperialism. We will continue to demand justice for the people – most of whom are the victims of war, not only in Syria, but also in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, where militarism and war have brought devastation.

Veterans For Peace knows from experience that civilians are the primary victims of modern warfare. We call on all sides to take extra precautions to protect civilian lives, and to uphold human rights for civilians and combatants alike.

We will continue to urge our government to open its borders to Syrian refugees. The U.S. has done little to accept refugees from the region. We will continue to stand against anti-Muslim hate and bigotry. Veterans For Peace denounces Islamophobia and the rhetoric of the "War on Terror,” which has been deployed as a means to deny a safe haven to refugees whose very lives are at risk.

We will continue to push for a ban on all U.S. and foreign arms sales to the region. We realize it is the height of hypocrisy that our government condemns arms sales to the region by other countries, while ignoring its own.

We will hold the U.S. media accountable and demand coverage of Syria that engages in critical reporting on our government’s involvement in the war and its influence in the region.

We are relieved that the terrible Battle of Aleppo might finally be coming to an end. Many observers believe this could be a real turning point in the Syrian war, bringing it closer to an end. However, many experts believe the war will continue for several more years, wreaking even more death, destruction and displacement on the Syrian people.

We believe that the U.S. has a responsibility, as one of the most powerful nations in the world, to use diplomacy to push for an immediate ceasefire and to apply pressure on other parties who are contributing to civilian deaths, to do the same. We urge all sides to agree to a ceasefire immediately, and to begin sincere efforts toward a just peace for all the Syrian people.

Peace in Syria will only be achieved through a political process.

Veterans For Peace continues to recommend full normalization of relations between the U.S. and Syria, including recognition of Syria’s elected government and constitution, withdrawal of all covert and overt support of internal or external aggression against the Syrian government.

We call on the U.S. and all foreign governments, including any armed groups, to bring to a complete halt of their war making in the Middle East, including in Syria, and to withdraw their armed forces and contractors immediately. We also call on these parties to cease “regime change” efforts in the Middle East and elsewhere, to end economic sanctions and all forms of war by other means, and to redirect resources to helping war refugees.

The wars in Syria and throughout the Middle East will continue to cause environmental damage and ecological degradation, further decimating a region already suffering from widespread resource depletion and the devastating effects of climate change, such as severe and prolonged drought and climate driven conflict. Veterans For Peace urgently appeals to all nations and warring factions to end these wars, which are a direct attack on our shared planet and the ecological systems on which all life on Earth depends.

Finally, the wars in the Middle East have heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia, with the real potential to increase the risk of nuclear war. We urge the U.S. and Russia to reach out to each other to find ways to ensure that no differences or potential conflicts are allowed to escalate beyond the ability of each to control the outcome, without resorting to violence in any form.

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