Some of the biggest demonstrations took place in Spain. Hundreds of thousands marched in Madrid and more than 10,000 in Barcelona. Protests involving thousands more took place in many other Spanish cities.
The scale of the protests reflects both an anti-war mood in Spain and domestic political tensions.
The right wing opposition the Partido Popular (PP), has been busy attacking the limited reforms carried out by the Socialist government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who was elected in 2004 on an anti-war ticket.
The PP has organised mass demonstrations against same sex marriages, education reforms and the limited steps towards a peace process in the Basque country.
The right’s lies and rhetoric have angered millions of people across Spain, and the Socialists have responded by giving unusually strong support to last Saturday’s anti-war demonstration in Madrid – including running full page adverts in the national press.
Sadly, the radical left in Madrid organised its own much smaller protest, complaining that the call for the main demonstration didn’t mention the Spanish troops in Afghanistan and Lebanon. This separate protest was undoubtedly an error.
The anti-war feeling in 2004 always had a strong element of hatred of the PP, and that feeling exploded onto the streets again last Saturday.
Barcelona, in contrast, saw a unified march organised by the Plataforma Aturem la Guerra anti-war coalition.
It featured angry slogans against the PP and the war in Iraq combined with calls for the withdrawal of Spanish troops in Afghanistan.
This is a good basis for future mobilisations against the continuing US threats in the region.
David Karvala Plataforma Aturem la Guerra (writing in a personal capacity)
Some 30,000 people marched through the streets of Rome last Saturday to call for the withdrawal of Italian troops from Afghanistan.
A large delegation came from the northern city of Vicenza, where a nearby US air base is set to be massively expanded.
The demonstration was led by a banner reading “bring back the troops, shut down the bases”.
Italy’s centre left government, led by Romano Prodi, has withdrawn troops from Iraq but remains committed to supporting the occupation of Afghanistan and the US military presence in Italy.
The anti-war demonstration brought together activists from the Cobas trade union federation, local groups and left wing organisations.
Rifondazione Comunista, the largest radical left party, did not participate in the march. It has voted to support the Italian presence in Afghanistan.
But Sinistra Critica, a minority current within the party, opposes the Afghanistan occupation and mobilised for the protest. Salvatore Cannavò, a left wing Rifondazione deputy, spoke at the closing rally.
Around 8,000 people marched in Athens last Saturday. The biggest delegations came from the Greek universities that are currently being occupied by students fighting the right wing government’s pro-market education policies.
In the US, United for Peace and Justice coordinated some 1,000 local protests against war.