The following briefing was presented to the Stop the War Coalition Steering Committee on Saturday by Respect National Secretary John Rees and approved for circulation by them today.
Briefing on the crisis in the Middle East
1. The kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers has been used by the Israeli state as an excuse to launch a massive military offensive against Lebanon.
2. Israel is the most heavily armed state, and the only nuclear armed state, in the Middle East. It is the biggest recipient of US military aid. It is the only state in the world that can purchase directly from US arms corporations without the oversight of the US government. It is the only state in the world that can use US military aid to purchase from non-US firms. It is the only state in the world that can use US non-military aid for arms purchases.
3 The current offensive is against the democratically elected government of Lebanon which includes elected cabinet members from Hezbollah.
4. The current offensive is caused in part by the Israeli state's attempts to crush the Palestinian people and their allies. The Israeli state has arrested and holds 14 members of the Palestinian authority.
5. The current offensive is in timing and scale connected to the wider conflicts in the Middle East, particularly the failed occupation of Iraq.
6. The great fear of the Bush government and its allies is that the failure of the Iraq occupation is making Iran into a regional superpower. The dominant political current in Iraq is Shia and sympathetic to Iran. Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon are now seen as part of the 'arc of terrorism' described by Tony Blair as also including Iran and Syria.
7. The Israeli state is acting with the explicit endorsement of the Bush and Blair administrations.
8. This alignment of forces risks a generalized Middle East war between some or all of the US, Israel and Britain on the one hand and Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah on the other.
9. The Stop the War Coalition demands an end to this escalating cycle of violence which has flown from the Pandoras Box of the occupation of Iraq.
10. We demand the cessation of attacks on Lebanon, an end to the occupation of Iraq and justice for the Palestinians.
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