Howard should heed UK general: Troops must leave Iraq

Sydney Stop the War Coalition welcomes the recent comments from General  Sir Richard Dannatt, the chief of the UK's armed forces, that foreign troops should leave Iraq sooner rather than later, and that occupation forces are contributing to the violence in Iraq.

According to an authoritative study by John Hopkins University, more than 600,000 Iraqis have so far been killed during the course of the war and occupation.

The refreshingly candid views of the army chief reflects the weight of public opinion in Britain, the US and Australia, which is overwhelmingly
opposed to the occupation of Iraq.

More importantly, there is very little support among Iraqis for continuing the occupation as proposed by President George W. Bush and
Prime Minister John Howard.

On September 28, the /Washington Post/ published a US State Department survey of Iraqi attitudes toward the US and the war. It found that
majorities blamed the occupiers for the violence, and wanted the troops to leave. Another poll, from the University of Maryland, published the
next day, showed that 60% of Iraqis support attacks on US troops.

Opposition leader Kim Beazley has vowed to make the call for the Australian troops to leave Iraq a key plank of Labor's election platform.

Stop the War Coalition welcomes that commitment, but is wary of Labor's pledge to increase its military focus on Afghanistan.

Stop the War Coalition calls on the Labor Party to recognise the parallels between the fruits of the occupation of Iraq and the
occupation of Afghanistan. This forgotten war is also resulting in needless deaths and destruction with the much promised aid and
reconstruction failing to materialise.

Stop the War Coalition is joining other groups around Australia in organising a welcome for President Bush during his visit Sydney in
September 2007 for the APEC conference. The public demonstrations are designed to remind the US leader that he and PM Howard are among a dwindling minority who refuse to heed the evidence that the occupation of Iraq causes unnecessary suffering and is making the world an increasingly unsafe place.
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