More than 200 gather in Oakland to protest potential escalated war in the Middle East | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

More than 200 gather in Oakland to protest potential escalated war in the Middle East

More than 200 gather in Oakland to protest potential escalated war in the Middle East
CP photo: Ryan Deto
Anti-war protesters in Schenley Plaza
On Thu., Jan. 2, the Trump administration announced it had carried out the killing of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian general considered one of the most powerful people in Iran.

Following the killing, there have been several reports of the large possibility of an escalated war with Iran. The Pentagon announced yesterday that about 3,500 additional troops were being sent to the Middle East.

Today in Pittsburgh, more than 200 people gathered in Schenley Plaza to protest any escalation with Iran. The protesters denounced the current conflict in the Middle East, which has been ongoing since 2003, and called for an end to the wars.

Paul Dordal, an Iraq War veteran who was stationed in Mosul, spoke to the crowd and shared his opposition to the war.

Dordal said he and other vets are frustrated with the prospect of prolonging and growing American involvement in the Middle East.

“I am angry, other vets are angry,” said Doral, who organizes with local group Veterans for Peace. “Thousands of lives lost, for what? Nothing, no peace, no increased democracy.”
Soleimani has been instrumental in terroristic events and U.S. officials have said he is responsible for the killings of hundreds of U.S. service members. The Trump administration has claimed Soleimani was close to carrying out another attack against Americans, but has yet to provide details or proof.

Last month, the Washington Post published a report detailing how the U.S. government lied about progress being made by American armed services in Afghanistan. Fighting in Afghanistan has resulted in the deaths of more than 2,300 Americans, and more than 140,000 Afghans, including 31,000 civilians. America has spent more than $1 trillion in that conflict.

Emily Hannon is a Pittsburgh resident and member of the ANSWER Coalition, a national anti-war and civil rights group. The Pittsburgh rally was part of a national day of action organized by ANSWER that spanned more than a dozen U.S. cities. In total, thousands protested across the country against an escalation to war with Iran.

Hannon spoke to the Pittsburgh crowd and questioned who really benefited from escalations of armed conflicts, and noted that stock prices for weapons manufacturers had increased dramatically after Soleimani was killed.

“But look at the working class,” said Hannon. “They are suffering and living paycheck to paycheck.”

Last year, Trump requested that 61% of the nation's $1.19 trillion discretionary budget be spent on the military. In that same request, he only asked for 2% to be spent on unemployment and only 5% on housing.

Helen Gerhardt, a veteran of the Iraq War and local activist, decried the nation’s involvement in war efforts, saying the country was wasting valuable time and resources to address other problems like climate change.

“The precious resources that could save our planet are instead going towards very few who profit off of war,” said Gerhardt.

University of Pittsburgh student John Wearden cautioned the crowd that only continuous action will help avoid another war.

“Unless we protest more, there will be another war,” said Wearden, who is also a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. “This gathering scares the ruling class.”

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