UK’s Johnson urges anti-war protests at Russian embassy
British foreign minister Boris Johnson yesterday called for anti-war campaigners to protest outside the Russian embassy in London, during a parliamentary debate on the bombing of Aleppo in Syria. “I’d certainly like to see demonstrations outside the Russian embassy,” Johnson told MPs in parliament. Johnson, a former mayor of London known for his many public gaffes, said the “wells of outrage are growing exhausted” and anti-war groups were not expressing sufficient outrage at the conflict in Aleppo. “Where is the Stop the War Coalition at the moment? Where are they?” he said.
The Stop the War group was cofounded by current opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to protest against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It brought millions of Britons into the streets to protest against the buildup to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. During yesterday’s debate in parliament, several lawmakers accused Russia of committing war crimes in Syria. Johnson was responding to a question from Labour MP Ann Clwyd, who called for protests by millions of people outside Russian embassies worldwide.
“I would therefore call once again on everyone who cares about the plight of Syrian civilians to picket the Russian embassy in London and in capitals around the world from today,” she said. “Two million, three million, four million people. It can be done. It has been done in the past.” Andrew Mitchell, a former international development minister, said British aircraft could help enforce a nofly zone to prevent Russian bombing raids.
“The international community has an avowed responsibility to protect and that protection must be exerted,” the MP from Prime Minister Theresa May’s governing Conservative Party said. “If that means confronting Russian airpower defensively, on behalf of the innocent people on the ground who we are trying to protect, then we should do that.” Mitchell compared Russia’s actions to those of Nazi forces during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
Russia has been waging a punishing aerial bombing campaign in Syria for more than a year in support of President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, part of a multifront war that has claimed some 300,000 lives and seen Moscow further estranged from the West.
Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday cancelled a visit to France in a furious row over Moscow’s role in the Syrian conflict. The announcement from the Kremlin came a day after French President Francois Hollande said Syrian forces had committed a “war crime” in the battered city of Aleppo with the support of Russian air strikes. — AFP
BASRA: Shiite Muslim pilgrims make their way through southern city of Basra on October 11, 2016, as they reenact the battle of Karbala. — AFP