Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Sept. 23
Activists rally for, against military action in Syria
Several dozen activists gathered outside Congresswoman Susan Davis’s office yesterday afternoon (September 6), arguing both against and in favor of United States military action in Syria.
Ray Lutz, a common fixture at such events representing Citizens Oversight Projects, called into question the validity of limited evidence available confirming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against the country’s citizens, drawing a parallel to the second Bush administration’s “weapons of mass destruction” claims that led to war in Iraq.
“We found out later, of course, it was all a bunch of bullshit,” said Lutz, urging further delay until and unless global consensus could be reached on any action. “You don’t have to act instantly.”
Lutz also conveyed concerns from the anti-action group that targeted missile strikes could backfire, with errant missiles possibly killing the very civilians a strike would be intended to protect.
“You can’t hit the chemical [storage facilities]. Guess what a drone strike will do? Blow it up and spread the chemicals all over the place.”
As Davis staffers took small groups of protesters upstairs to hear their concerns (the congresswoman herself was not in the office yesterday), a dozen or so counter-protesters assembled on the opposite corner of Adams and Oregon, donning “Walk for Free Syria” t-shirts and displaying poster board-sized photos of victims of the ongoing civil war.
With a handful of police officers on site, the two groups interacted mostly peacefully, save for one anti-action protester who identified himself as a military veteran and screamed insults at the pro-action demonstrators, at one point accusing them of being terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. Others on his side of the street attempted to silence him, with some success.
Anthony Khiralla, a former Syrian resident who says he has been unable to return home to visit his family since fighting broke out in 2011, was among the counter-protesters. He believes that outside intervention to depose al-Assad is the only way to put an end to the fighting.
“The killing never stops – every day 100, 200 people die, chemical weapons have been used,” Khiralla says. “[al-Assad] has a fighter jet and you have a Kalashnikov. This is why we need assistance from a world superpower.”
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- Lack of action in Syria a stain on the world — Feb. 8, 2012