192 Community Leaders Urge Peaceful Solutions in Syria


192 Massachusetts leaders from a diverse range of backgrounds wrote today to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation urging them to help advance peaceful solutions to the problems of Syria and the Middle East.

“We stand at a decisive moment,” the signers wrote. “It is critical that the United States build upon the Iran nuclear deal and the Syria ceasefire, both of which demonstrate the power of diplomacy.  It is essential that the Iran nuclear deal—which opens a window for the United States to play a peaceful role in the Middle East—be defended and remain in place.

“We call upon you to work in Congress to allocate funds for humanitarian relief for refugees and reconstruction of war-torn areas in Syria, Iraq, and Libya.”

Pointing out that U.S. arms sales in the Middle East are a key driver of conflict, they said: “We urge you to support legislation to impose a moratorium on US arms sales to states in the region until peace has been established . . . . We cannot effectively work for peace while simultaneously fueling war.”

“We urge you to end the funding, training, and support of non-state groups in Syria and the region.”

“Bombing and U.S. military action reinforce the narrative that the West is the problem and creates animosity towards the United States, making the ISIS message more appealing. In its stead, we urge you to work in Congress for measures that will isolate ISIS financially and diplomatically.”

Pointing out that U.S. military action in the Middle East rests on shaky legal footing, they urged: “Congress should reclaim its war powers and ensure that any military action by the United States is governed by a well defined Authorization for Use of Military Force that emerges from broad Congressional and public debate and discussion.”

The 192 signers included former Gov. Michael Dukakis and MIT institute professor Noam Chomsky; 60 faculty members from Boston College, Tufts, Northeastern, UMass, Harvard and other institutions; 13 faith leaders; 33 officers of community and labor organizations; 30 professionals and business people; state legislators, local elected officials, and others.  Each of Massachusetts’ nine congressional districts were represented. The letter was delivered today at Congressional offices in Washington; it was organized by Massachusetts Peace Action, the Commonwealth’s largest grassroots peace organization with headquarters in Cambridge.

Read the full text of the Community Leaders Letter on Syria Policy