In opposition to Western intervention in Iraq and Isis

Proposed by Sheffield branch of Left Unity. This motion won a narrow majority at Left Unity conference in November 15-16 2014

Conference notes:

1.1: That in 2014 the Islamic State (IS) seized control of large parts of northern Iraq and eastern Syria, taking advantage of a power vacuum created by a weak government in the former and the ongoing civil war in the latter.

1.2: The IS was formed as a splinter group from the official al-Qaeda organisation in the region, which rose to prominence after the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent fall of the Ba’athist regime. The IS split from al- Qaeda in order to establish their version of a new “Islamic Caliphate”.

1.3: The IS has been supported both financially and materially (including provision of arms) by prominent people within several reactionary Arab dictatorships in the region, notably Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

1.4: This support is an attempt to undermine attempts to create a legitimately democratic space in the region, which would potentially threaten their own regimes from within.

1.5: Under the auspices of supporting moderates in Syria against the Assad regime, the UK and US have actually provided assistance to the IS.

1.6: That ironically, only a year ago all the talk was of US military intervention on the side of the Syrian opposition – forces that were even then dominated by jihadists who have today evolved into Isis. Today the US and UK are waging an air war against them.

1.7: That with the rise of IS nothing has changed except the priorities of the imperialist powers – there is now an urgent need to maintain control over the country these powers ruined in another ‘humanitarian’ intervention in 2003: Iraq.

1.8: The IS has brutally oppressed anyone who does not support their virulently reactionary, fundamentalist interpretation of Sunni Islam. This includes Shia Muslims, Christians and Yazidis, among many others. When the IS takes control of an area all non-Sunni Muslims have been given a choice of forced conversion or death, and countless people have already been murdered at the hands of the IS.

1.9: This has in turn resorted in a refugee crisis as persecuted groups flee from the IS.

1.10: The governments of the United States and the United Kingdom have committed to air strikes against the IS, citing humanitarian grounds and a supposed threat to people in their respective countries. This is part of coalition which includes other Western countries and also other reactionary regimes in neighbouring Arab countries, which themselves have appalling human rights records, including the government of Saudi Arabia, and which themselves have played no small part in the rise of IS.

1.11: Among the main defenders of the Kurds against the IS have been the Kurdistan People’s Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), even though many Western governments consider both “terrorist organisations”.

1.12: The Turkish government has attempted to undermine efforts by the Kurds to defend themselves – notably by preventing Kurds from joining the defence of town of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border, until the IS had been successfully repelled.


Conference believes:

2.1: That the IS is a viciously reactionary organisation and in no way an ally of the international working-class movement, which needs to mobilise its forces against IS’s murderous and genocidal agenda.

2.2: That the 2003 invasion of Iraq laid the foundations for the current crisis by destabilising the country and creating a power vacuum which the IS seeks to fill. Similarly, military action against the Gaddifi regime in Libya in 2011 ultimately served to destabilise that country. Therefore any further military intervention in Iraq from the UK or other Western countries will not be in the interests of the Iraqi people.

2.3: This underlines how the workers’ movement in the imperialist countries must oppose ‘their’ governments’ interventions, which will only further destabilise the region and boost the forces of reaction.

2.4: Military intervention from the UK, US and other Western countries, whilst carried out under the guise of humanitarianism, is always a cynical measure used to further the interests of their governments and their corporate backers.

2.5: The people of Kurdistan and anywhere that is in the path of the IS have every right to resist IS incursion and use whatever means available in order to protect their homes and communities from them.

2.6: The people currently under IS control have every right to resist and attempt to overthrow the IS if and when such opportunities arise.

2.7: That the workers’ movement in this country has a duty to establish material and political solidarity with working-class forces in Kurdistan, Syria and the region as a whole. There are no easy solutions to this mess, but it is essential that our movement develop its own foreign policy free from imperialist hypocrisy and reaction.


Conference resolves:

3.1: To oppose UK military intervention in both Iraq and Syria

3.2: To stand against lending any support, even supposedly ‘critical’ support to any regional dictator or Islamist group (‘moderate’ or otherwise) that oppresses the people living under its rule.

3.3: To stand alongside those sections of the working class movement that have not been tainted by either social-imperialism or false anti-imperialism.

3.4       To show solidarity with the people of Iraq and Syria (including the Kurds) and with organisations within Iraq and Syria which are fighting the IS and for the freedom of people, even if we as socialists may not 100% agree with the principles of certain groups, since they are all that stand between the ordinary people of the region and the much more oppressive and reactionary forces of the IS, Assad and other Islamist organisations.

3.5: To demand that the government no longer considers the PKK and PYD terrorist organisations.

3.6: To oppose entities that use the threat of the IS in order to further their own oppressive agenda. This includes the Assad regime in Syria, the theocratic regime in Iran, and any other rival reactionary Islamist groups.

3.7: To oppose attempts by the government to prosecute anyone from the UK for “terrorism” who decides to join the armed struggle against the IS.



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