US anti-war activist visits region

This a story i reported back in Thursday,August 10, 2006 to the Star Newspaper.

When the war against Iraq started in March 2003, a minority often labeled unpatriotic, sprouted throughout the US. But with the war stretching into its 4th year, the US public’s rejection of war and its support of anti-war activism have been on the rise, according to retired US Colonel Ann Wright.

“With the US death toll in Iraq in the raise and the raise of cost of the war –over $300 billion- the public in the US is with us” Said Wright in a press conference held in Amman last Saturday. She added “when the war started in the US media the voice of those who against the war was marginalized, despite the propaganda by the Bush administration, now the mood has changed in favor of ending the occupation.”

Geoffery Millard a US soldier who is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War a US organization said “ this was in Iraq is not popular with the American soldier, 8,000 from national Guard deserted, and 15,000 from active duty deserted,” according to him a pull done by Zoughbi institute showed that 70% of US soldiers in Iraq want the war to end before the end of the year.

Wright and Millard is part of a group of Americans representing anti war US NGOs who visited Jordan during their regional visit that also includes Syria and Lebanon, they met earlier with Iraqi delegation in Jordan including 7 Iraqi parliament representatives where they explored ways to end the occupation of Iraq.

Medea Benjamin a founding director of human rights organization Global Exchange said “we need to get a proposal for reconciliation in Iraq, which we need to push with the congress, and put a schedule for US to leave Iraq, with no US bases, and to make the US pay for reconstruction.”

The groups of anti war Americans met with Iraq delegations in Jordan not in Iraq because it is according to Benjamin “it is too dangerous in Iraq.”

Dr. Jabor Habeb Jaber Iraqi Parliament member from Al Etelaf board قائمة الأتلاف--said” we had meetings with anti war NGOs representative and some anti-war congressmen from the Democrat party where we discussed with them that all US soldiers need to go back home from Iraq, and we talked about the reconciliation that the government is doing.”

He added “ we are looking forward to end the foreign military presence in Iraq and to get back real national sovereignty, we want to transfer powers to the Iraqi state to withdraw the foreign forces from the cities, then minimize them and then for complete withdrawal. We are looking forward for schedule with a time table. And the money that is being spent on these forces should go to rebuild Iraq and in helping the Iraqi people and to build the Iraqi forces.”

He went on to say that all Iraqi parties are in agreement with the need for the US forces to leave Iraq.

Dr. Salam AlJameli Iraqi parliament member from Al Tawafouq board –Qaema قائمة التوافق – said “ we exchanged ideas with the US peace activist and we emphasized the need for all occupation forces to leave Iraq, we see that there is a voice coming from America against the occupation, and those are peace supporters…we told them we need to see a light at the end of the tunnel and the end of occupation.”

He added “ we also talked about the mechanism that can work to schedule the US withdrawal timed with the building of Iraqi security forces that will fill the gap that will happen when these forces leave, we also stressed the importance of making the US recognize the national resistant that is different than the terrorist groups. Resistant is a legitimate right for any country that falls under occupation, and the entrance to make reconciliation is to recognize the resistant and to have a dialog with them as a legitimate representative of groups who are against the occupation.”

Colonel Ann Wright who is also a former US diploma who resigned in 2003 as an opposition to the US war in Iraq said “ we came from all over America and we do represents a huge number of Americans…the parliamentarians were specific about what they want : get the US troops out, and Iraqis can handle their own affairs. US has to offer economic compensation to help rebuild Iraq, there is no fear that we will leave Iraqis defenseless without defense, we should give the country back to Iraqis.”

“Finally the Democratic party started to move in the track to withdrawal all US troops from Iraq.” She said.

Jeeni Criscenzo a candidate for the Democratic part in California, USA told The Star” I press every person running for office in the congress to join me to make commitment that the very first thing to do at the 11th congress in January is to withdrawal troops from Iraq.” She added “this is an opportunity for the American public to vote for what they want.”

As for the group visit to Syria and Lebanon Benjamin said” our visit is to asses the damage done by the Israeli army and to hookup with local NGOs to aid and help.”

She added that the US government has not allowed an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon that means the US is responsible for the death and destruction that happens in Lebanon.

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