Arab League backs Palestinian president’s call to restart Mideast peace talks

The Arab League Council holds its 149th session at the level of foreign ministers in Cairo on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 09 March 2018
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Arab League backs Palestinian president’s call to restart Mideast peace talks

CAIRO: The Arab League Council has supported the Palestinian president’s call to hold an international conference to relaunch the
Middle East peace process.
The resolution came at the end of its 149th session at the level of foreign ministers held on
Wednesday in Cairo.
The council confirmed its support for the peace plan presented by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Security Council on Feb. 20, and working to establish a multilateral international mechanism under the auspices of the UN to sponsor the process.
The council affirmed its rejection of the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer its embassy there.
Arab foreign ministers also stressed their continued support for the constitutional legitimacy of the government in Yemen headed by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. It supported measures taken by the government aimed at normalizing the situation, ending the coup and restoring security and stability to all Yemeni governorates.
The council stressed its commitment to preserving Yemen’s unity and sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and the rejection of any interference in its internal affairs.
The session was held under the chairmanship of Minister of State for African Countries Affairs Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Qattan, and in the presence of the Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Speaker of the Arab Parliament Dr. Mishal Al-Salami.
At a press conference, Qattan said that Saudi Arabia supported the continuation of the league’s role, pointing out that Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit had been seeking, since his appointment, to reform the league’s system. He said that the upcoming Arab summit in Riyadh would be an important and historic summit.
Qattan said that Iranian interference in Arab affairs had become a source of anger, and some Arab countries did not condemn Iran adequately and did not see the harm being done to Arab national security and the security of GCC.
“We heard blame for the decision for military intervention in Yemen,” he said. “We explained at length that it came at the request of the Yemeni government, stressing that the legitimate government must return to its place.”
Qattan said that Houthi missiles targeted the Kingdom’s cities and the two holy cities, and this was a red line. The Kingdom would defend its territory, even if this need continued for years and whatever the effort and cost, until its citizens felt safe.
He said that before the league’s council session, a meeting of the quartet involving Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain had issued a statement on Iranian interventions. This included a reference to the Iranian nuclear program.
“We in Saudi Arabia and the GCC and all Arab countries that have the same position will not be silent on what is happening,” he said, pointing out that the Iranians were fighting a proxy war that had succeeded in breaking up some Arab countries and but had not succeeded in GCC states.
Qattan said that “we have no objection to dialogue with Iran as a state, not with a militia, but it must first stop interfering in our internal affairs.”
On the Syrian issue, he said that it had not abided by the Security Council’s decision, resulting in the displacement of millions and the deaths of thousands.
Secretary-General Aboul Gheit said that the Arab League was the backbone of the Arab security system, and its role in defending Arab national security was provoking some neighboring countries.


Ex-child soldier presents damning testimony of Houthi recruitment in Yemen

Updated 22 June 2018
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Ex-child soldier presents damning testimony of Houthi recruitment in Yemen

  • Children who try to flee are recaptured and forced to continue fighting
  • The study shows 80 percent of child soldiers in Yemen begin fighting to earn much-needed money

JEDDAH: Children recruited as fighters by Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen are beaten into submission and face psychological abuse, as well as the risk of death, injury and disability, a former child soldier said on Friday.
Those who try to flee are recaptured and forced to continue fighting, he told the Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations (YCMHRV).
The child’s testimony is part of a documentary about the recruitment of children in Yemen, which was broadcast during the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Legal expert Lisa Al-Badawi highlighted efforts to rehabilitate former child soldiers and children affected by the war in Yemen.
She said children make up a third of fighters in the Houthi militias, according to a field study by the Wethaq Foundation for Civil Orientation.
The study showed that 80 percent of child soldiers in Yemen begin fighting to earn much-needed money amid deteriorating economic conditions, while just 10 percent join Houthi ranks for “ideological reasons.”
Al-Badawi revealed numerous human rights violations faced by the recruits, including the risk of death and injury, deprivation of education, and exposure to sexual and psychological abuse.
She also discussed the methods used to treat and rehabilitate these children, emphasizing the importance of promoting awareness among parents.
She presented statistics on the areas covered by the rehabilitation process, which is carried out with support from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief).
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, said he is not surprised by the Houthis’ large-scale recruitment of children.
“By devious design, they push children onto the frontlines so that when the children become victims, the Houthis can cry foul and blame the legitimate Yemeni government for killing children,” he told Arab News.
“These are terrorist militias, and like all terrorists, they have no qualms about playing with the lives of children.”
It is easy for the militias to brainwash children, Al-Shehri said. “Grown people are difficult to convince, but children become easy prey,” he added.
“In most cases, the Houthis don’t even tell children that they’re going to the frontlines. They lure them by saying they’ll be helping their men.”
Now that the Houthis have been cornered in Hodeidah, they will use children and the civilian population as human shields, Al-Shehri said, asking: “What can we expect from such terrorists?”
Meanwhile, the Houthis have indicated they would be willing to hand over management of Hodeidah port to the UN, according to sources quoted by Reuters. The port is a principal entry point for relief supplies for Yemen.
This week, UN envoy Martin Griffiths has been in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital Sanaa and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to try to negotiate a solution.
The source, quoted by Reuters, said the Houthis indicated that they would accept overall UN management and inspections of the port.
A Western diplomat said the UN would oversee income from the port and make sure it gets to Yemen’s central bank. The understanding is that Yemeni state employees will work alongside the UN.
Griffiths on Thursday said he was “encouraged by the constructive engagement” of the Houthis, and will be holding meetings with Yemen’s internationally backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Speaking earlier at the UN, Saudi Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi reiterated the Saudi-led coalition’s demand that the Houthis quit the city of Hodeidah entirely.
“What we are offering is for the Houthis to hand over their weapons to the government of Yemen and to leave, to leave peacefully, and to provide information about the locations of mines and improvised explosive devices,” he said.