Iran big winner from region’s turmoil: Arab League head

A still image taken from a video posted on a social media website and said to be shot on April 30, 2017, shows smoke rising after what purported to be barrel bombs were dropped on an area said to be Latamneh, in Hama province, Syria. Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul Gheit on Monday said that Iran and Israel were the main beneficiaries of turmoil across the Arab world, which he described as the worst he has ever seen. (Social Media Website via Reuters)
Updated 02 May 2017
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Iran big winner from region’s turmoil: Arab League head

DUBAI: Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit warned Monday that Iran and Israel were the main beneficiaries of turmoil across the Arab world, which he described as the worst he has ever seen.
“I have never seen anything worse than what we are now seeing,” Abul Gheit said at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai.
“Iran is enjoying what the Arab world is going through. There are those in Iran who are watching and waiting for us to destroy ourselves.”
Ties between Iran and Arab states have grown increasingly tense in recent years, with Tehran backing Syrian President Bashar Assad, Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels and armed Shiite groups in Iraq.
Arab governments largely back Syrian opposition groups.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have for the past two years battled the Houthis, who control the capital and strategic ports along the Red Sea coastline.
Israel also stood to benefit from conflicts across the region, Abul Gheit said.
“Israel was under enormous pressure to find a solution with the Palestinians,” he said.
“If I were the prime minister ... I would have thought these were the happiest days for Israel.”
Long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been overshadowed by global concerns over the Syrian war and Daesh group jihadists.


Syrian children study on the ground in abandoned villa

Displaced Syrian children attend class at a makeshift school in the village of Muhandiseen, in the south western countryside of the Aleppo province, on September 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 31 min 10 sec ago
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Syrian children study on the ground in abandoned villa

  • Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side

ALEPPO, Syria: In rebel-held northern Syria, displaced children sit or lie on the ground of an unfinished villa, bending over their notebooks to apply themselves as they write the day’s lesson.
Four teachers instruct around 100 children — girls and boys aged six to 12 — at the makeshift school in an opposition-held area in the west of the northern province of Aleppo.
Between the bare walls of the villa abandoned mid-construction, children sit or lie on sheets or plain carpets, their small backpacks cast by their side.
Dubbed “Buds of Hope,” the teaching facility has no desks, library or even working toilets.
Instead, the air wafts in from beyond the pine trees outside through the gaping windows in the cement wall.
Dressed in a bright blue T-shirt and jeans, her hair neatly tied back in a pony tail, a barefoot girl kneels over her book, carefully writing.
“This isn’t a school,” says 11-year-old Ali Abdel Jawad.
“There aren’t any classrooms, no seats, nothing. We’re sitting on the ground,” he says.
In one classroom, a gaggle of veiled young girls sit on a bench, as the teacher explains the lesson to one of their male counterparts near a rare white board.
In another, the school’s only female teacher perches on a plastic chair, as her students gather around on the floor, their backs against the wall.

Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side.
The children — as well as their teachers — have been displaced from their homes in other parts of Syria due to the seven-year war, a teacher told an AFP photographer.
Some hail from Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus, a former rebel stronghold that fell back under regime control in April after a blistering offensive and surrender deals.
Others come from the central provinces of Hama or Homs.
A dry fountain lies in the courtyard outside the villa’s elegant facade, where girls link arms and swing around in a circle.
Schools in opposition-held areas are generally funded by aid organizations, but have in the past been hit by bombardment.
“We’re always scared of bombardment and of the situation in general,” says one of the teachers, giving his name as Mohammed.
The building lies in rebel-held territory adjacent to regime-controlled parts of Aleppo city to the east, but also the major opposition stronghold of Idlib to the west.
Some three million people live in the Idlib province and adjacent areas of the neighboring Aleppo and Latakia provinces, around half of them displaced by war in other parts of Syria.
Earlier this month, many feared a regime assault on Idlib, but last week Damascus ally Moscow and rebel backer Ankara announced a deal to temporarily halt it.