Houthi minister’s war strategy: Send schoolchildren to battlefield

A child (front) joins members of the Shi'ite Houthi movement celebrating during an occasion in Sanaa, Yemen, on September 9, 2017. Houthi's youth minister has proposed using child soldiers in the country’s ongoing civil war. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
Updated 21 October 2017
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Houthi minister’s war strategy: Send schoolchildren to battlefield

JEDDAH: The youth minister of Yemen’s Houthi rebels has proposed using child soldiers in the country’s ongoing civil war.
On Friday, Hassan Zaid, minister for youth and sport in an administration set up by the Iran-backed rebels and not internationally recognized, suggested suspending school for a year and sending pupils and teachers to the front.
“Wouldn't we be able to reinforce the ranks with hundreds of thousands (of fighters) and win the battle?” Zaid wrote on Facebook.
The Yemeni government described Zaid’s proposal as a “fascist procedure.”
“This is further proof that this militia is a war-mongering group that pays no regard to the values of the Yemeni people,” Rajeh Badi, Yemeni government spokesman, told Arab News on Friday. “While students should be encouraged to consistently engage in the education process, this top Houthi official calls for suspending school and sending them to the war zone.”
Badi stressed that the Houthis pose a threat not only to the stability and security of Yemen and the Yemeni people, but also to that of the region and the world at large.
“The world, and human rights organizations that have been turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to ongoing Houthi violations of Yemeni civil rights, must realize the savage nature of this fascist militia who has been using Yemeni children to fight for them,” he said.
Yemen has been devastated by a war between the Houthis, who control the capital, Sanaa, and the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
A teachers' strike in rebel territory, in protest at salaries going unpaid for around a year, delayed the start of the school year by two weeks. When schools did open, on Sunday, classrooms were largely empty.
Social media users responded angrily to the minister's post.
“What if we let the students study and send the ministers and their bodyguards to the front?” one wrote. “That would give us victory and a prosperous future.”
Zaid seemed bemused by those who complained about his proposal.
“People close the schools under the pretext of a strike and when we think about how to take advantage of this situation, they take offense,” he said.
UNICEF estimates 13,146 schools, or 78 percent of all of Yemen's schools, have been hit by the salary crunch, while nearly 500 schools have been destroyed by the conflict, commandeered by armed factions, or repurposed as shelters.


Letter to Qatar: Abandon PR, change attitude, and siege would be lifted

Updated 26 April 2018
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Letter to Qatar: Abandon PR, change attitude, and siege would be lifted

LONDON: Four Arab ambassadors have called on Qatar to improve relations with its neighbors, change its attitude and stop its support for extremism, terror and destabilization in the region.

The four ambassadors of Saudi Arabia (Mohammed bin Nawwa), Bahrain (Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa), the UAE (Suleiman Al-Mazroui) and Egypt (Nasser Kamel) co-wrote a letter published on Wednesday in the Financial Times to answer an FT lead article titled “Qatar siege is meaningless.”

The ambassadors stressed in the letter that their governments had no plans to incorporate Qatar, as the FT claimed, but all they hoped for is that the Doha government committed to the international criteria to fight terrorism and “stop its support for terror and extremism in the region.”

In the letter, the four ambassadors reminded the paper that the prime minister of Qatar attended the wedding of the son of Abdel Rahman Al-Nueimi,who is listed on a US terror list, and is the main conduit to Al-Qaeda in Iraq where, according to the US, he funnelled millions of US dollars to the organization there.

The ambassadors added that Al-Nueimi is one of many sponsors of terror living and working in Qatar.

The ambassadors drew the readers’ attention to Qatar’s “double standard behavior” — saying one thing to the West, and doing the opposite.

They concluded the letter by demonstrating Qatar’s “duplicity.”

They said that Qatar has recently intensified the use of its media and PR to promote and support terror in the Middle East generally and in Saudi Arabia especially.

Recently Qatari broadcasters opened their airwaves to Houthi militia in Yemen and its propaganda calling for attacking Saudi Arabia.

In conclusion the ambassadors called on Doha to quit its public relations campaign and change its attitude — only then would the siege be over.