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      The New Era of War and Occupation
      Imperialist War, Ocupation and the Refugee Crisis
      Vancouver Events Highlight the Importance of Builing the Antiwar Movement

      By Janine Solanki

      Since 2001 we have seen imperialist invasions, wars, occupations, sanctions and every flavor of foreign military intervention plague people throughout the Middle East and Africa. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were used by the US government as the catalyst to set their new era of war and occupation into motion. This new era started with the war on Afghanistan, continued with the invasion of Iraq, and has since hit Somalia, Libya, Mali, Syria, Yemen and done a full circle to create another war on Iraq. Drone wars have targeted innocent people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond. Sanctions are crippling the economies of Iran and Venezuela. US meddling and covert operations have led to the US-backed coup that has created a complete crisis in Ukraine, and is working to destabilize countries and back coups in Latin America, especially in Venezuela.

      The largest refugee crisis the world has ever seen is now on Europe's shores, with over 65 million people seeking asylum because their homelands are uninhabitable war zones. While the governments of imperialist countries side-step the important question of why there are so many refugees, one only has to look at the countries they are fleeing from. Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia account for some of the highest numbers of refugees – countries that have been under some of the worst attacks by the US-led war drive.

      This new era of war and occupation shows no sign of slowing, and is instead opening new and more ambitious fronts. Currently the US and their allies in NATO, including Canada, are building up their military presence in Eastern Europe. They make no secret that they are doing so with the intention of flexing their muscles against Russia.

      While operating this Cold War 2, the US is also ramping up it's strategic “Pivot to East Asia” plan which the Obama administration first outlined in 2012. The US politicians are claiming China has to answer to the US for it's presence in the South China Sea. This hypocrisy was pointed out in a comment by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying who said “The U.S. has talked about militarization in the South China Sea. But can it explain whether its own increased military deployment in the region is equivalent to militarization?”

      While the mainstream media and political rhetoric is spouting misinformation, fear mongering and double standards, the role of the antiwar movement is to fight back. The worst enemy of people in the US, Canada and other imperialist countries isn't Muslims, isn't China and isn't Russia, as news headlines might lead you to believe. Our worst enemy is imperialist governments that are spending trillions of dollars on brutal war and devastation, instead of funding the very real and dire needs of housing, healthcare, education and poverty at home.

      Actions and Events

      On June 18, 2016 Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) hit the streets to speak this truth, with MAWO's monthly antiwar rally and petition campaign outside the Vancouver Art Gallery in Downtown Vancouver. Passerby's stopped to get information and to sign petitions demanding that Canada stop it's $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. In contrast to the pro-war messages bombarding us on the news everyday, anyone who walked by couldn't miss the signs and banners demanding an end the war on Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and for self-determination of all oppressed nations.

      MAWO continued from action to discussion, with the June 28 public forum titled “Imperialist War, Occupation and the Refugee Crisis” at Joe's Cafe in Vancouver. News and video clips started off the forum, showing the destruction that this new era of war and occupation has brought throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and the human face of it's result – the refugee crisis. Azza Rojbi, a Tunisian social justice activist and MAWO executive committee member and Alison Bodine, MAWO chairperson, were the forum's speakers. They discussed the real roots of the refugee crisis, which is coming now after 14 years of the new era of war and occupation, and how Canada, as an active player in this war drive, has the moral responsibility and capability to open the doors to many more refugees.

      I encourage you to join MAWO in our next monthly rally and petition drive on July 9th at 2pm in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in Downtown Vancouver. This action will be joining protests world-wide, as part of International Days of Action to Stop NATO, during the NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland. As the US and it's imperialist allies are further spreading the reach of this new era of war and occupation, they are doing so utilizing the same NATO body which bombed and destroyed Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya. Canada is very much a part of this renewed NATO war drive military spending. US President Obama spoke in Canadian Parliament on June 29th, 2016, encouraging more Canadian response and proclaiming that “NATO needs more Canada.” We say Canada and the world needs an end to NATO! Join us to demand NO to NATO, NO to war and occupation, and YES to self-determination for all oppressed nations!

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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