Anti-War Rallies Hit World-wide

As we reach the 12 year anniversary of the Gulf War, protests arguing against a new war against Iraq have escalated: the voice of campaigners in Palestine, Iraq and Turkey was publicised today as being an effective tool against the United States’ plans for an invasion of Iraq.

Palestine Empathizes With Iraqi Civilians

An estimated 3,000 Palestinians marched through the streets of Gaza City, demanding the United States refrain from an attack on Iraq. Although not as often discussed in American media, Palestinians have held several rallies and marches in defiance of aggression against innocent Iraqis.

The majority of protestors are peaceful. Even though Yasser Arafat was in strong support of Hussein during the 1991 Gulf War, he has made clear that a peaceful resolution with Iraq is important this time around.

More hard-line approaches were taken by some demonstrators, with anti-American chants and pro-Saddam picket signs. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of the Hamas, announced that Arabs and Muslims plan to focus on any American targets if the United States and Britain decide to wage war on Iraq.

American Concern

Americans are worried about the implications home and abroad of an attack on Iraq with regards to further terrorism. Anxiety about terrorism has been see-sawing for several months in response to news about international incidents and threats to the country.

Overall concerns about a future threats have subsided somewhat, with numbers fearing such attacks dropping 5% from 73% in the past month alone. The proportion “very worried” has fallen from 31% after 9/11 to 18%. By comparison, personal concerns over terrorism have remained more stable. About four in ten (41%) say they are at least somewhat concerned about becoming a victim of a terrorist attack; that figure has changed little since last January (38%). [1]

Iraq Responds To The Pressure

In a televised speech, Hussein stated, “We have determined and planned to defeat the aggressors. We have mobilised our abilities, including those of the army, people and leadership.”

This statement has been viewed as intimidation by some, but for others is as a mere acknowledgement that the United States’ government is not backing down from its stance and is seeking full fledged war.

Cornering an oppressive dictator could spark a drastic reaction if he feels no alternative is available. It is an unpredictable situation that warrants a careful approach. Saddam will no doubt use his army to protect power and territory.

Polls are battling it out in hopes of a clear answer expressing the public’s true opinion on this topic. No one is truly prepared for or would consent to being bombed, yet both sides are racing to the finish line over accusations of WMD.

Turkey’s Involvement – Unclear

America has repeatedly requested that Turkey allow as many as 75,000 U.S. troops on their bases. The location is key for launching an attack into the northern territories of Iraq.

The Washington Post reported today that Turkish officials were close to permitting 15,000 American troops to be deployed in south-eastern Turkey, which borders Iraq.[2]  This request has sparked debate within the country of Turkey as protesters made it clear where they stand today.

American Join in Protest

Anti-war sentiments are high as thousands are preparing to join forces in Washington, D.C. protesting troop deployment and possible war. Tomorrow’s protest has been termed “unpatriotic”, but it sets to prove a point – a significant number of Americans are unsure if war is the answer. Rather than giving complete support to the administration’s plans, the public is seeking a peaceful solution to this crisis.

The thousands who are coming to Washington, D.C., oppose a criminal war in Iraq and demand instead that the hundreds of billions of dollars earmarked for the conflict instead be spent on preserving and creating jobs, better education, increased funding for better housing, and improved health care.

Americans have made the decision to educate themselves on the topic of Iraq. More are aware of the consequences of an unprovoked attack and know the aftermath may leave many dead, may possibly create a sense of anarchy in Iraq and cause the U.S. economy to nosedive further into failure. This list of course does not include the many displaced, wounded and resentful Iraqis that may not see this war as liberation, but instead a violent exorcism.

Media coverage of resistance world-wide should be a wake-up call to the administration to slow down. Civility goes a long way, and it is about all we have to ensure a positive outcome.


[1] Public Wants Proof of Iraqi Weapons Programs Released: January 16, 2003.

[2] Turkey, U.S. Near Accord on Deployment By Karl Vick Washington Post Foreign Service. January 17, 2003; Page A15.

“Assessments of the likely humanitarian and economic consequences of war on Iraq”. Provided by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq (CASI).

“Why Another War?: A Backgrounder on the Iraq Crisis”, 2nd Ed., Middle East Research and Information Project by Chris Toensing and Sarah Graham-Brown. Dated December 2002.

Anai Rhoads contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN).