Solidarity call for Iraqi fight against terror from Newham councillor

Cllr Clive Furness is chair of Labour Friends of Iraq

Cllr Clive Furness is chair of Labour Friends of Iraq - Credit: submitted

A Newham councillor is calling for urgent and “meaningful solidarity” with democratic forces in Iraq and Syria fighting Islamic State terrorists.

Kurds protest in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, in support of the city of Kobane Photo: PA

Kurds protest in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, in support of the city of Kobane Photo: PA - Credit: LANDOV/Press Association Images

Clive Furness, councillor for Canning Town north, signed a joint statement saying the Labour movement should do more to support Kurdish and other fighters, and make the pledge “never again” really mean something.

The letter was signed by Labour party and trade union members from across the country, and demanded British airstrikes against IS in Iraq be extended to Syria to help the besieged Kurdish town of Kobane.

Speaking to the Recorder, Cllr Furness, said: “I’ve been involved with support of solidarity with the Iraqi people since 1979, when I went there as a student.”

Cllr Furness is chair of Labour Friends of Iraq, whose members took different positions on the war in 2003 but support Iraqis who wanted to rebuild their country after Saddam Hussein’s decades of tyranny.

In IS, Cllr Furness said Iraqis are facing a new and deadly foe.

He said: “Their very capable military force is built on the deliberate terrorising of civilian populations and the torture and murder of anyone they disagree with.

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“I can’t envisage any way the left could ally with or even acquiesce with a movement that goes against all democratic and humanist values.

“I would like to see the party rediscover it’s genuine internationalist roots.

“There are democratic forces that are seeking to build real democracy in the middle east. They value pluralism.

“But too often they are sidelined because they don’t fit in with the ‘anti-imperialistic’ rhetoric of the far-left in Britain.”

He added: “I would hope that the party would see that our values and our interests coincide in supporting democratic forces in northern Iraq and in Syria.”

He said support should go to everyone in the region, such as Turkemans, but that the Kurds in particular deserve urgent help.

He said: “They are the people there who have in Iraq supported democratic principles in a way that’s far better than 99 per cent of the middle east. They are holding the line against ISIS.”

Read the joint letter here.

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