Mattis: Don’t restrict US support to Saudi-led forces in Yemen

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2018

Mattis: Don’t restrict US support to Saudi-led forces in Yemen

WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis defended US military support to Saudi Arabian-led coalition forces in Yemen on Thursday as he explained a personal appeal to lawmakers who are considering whether to end Washington’s involvement in the devastating conflict.
The Trump administration has been warning Saudi Arabia since last year that concern in Congress over the humanitarian situation in Yemen, including civil casualties in the war, could constrain US assistance.
Since it began in 2015, the conflict has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than 2 million and driven Yemen – already the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula – to the verge of widespread famine.
Mattis said the US assistance, which includes limited intelligence support and refueling of coalition jets, was ultimately aimed at bringing the war toward a negotiated, UN-brokered resolution.
“We need to get this to a negotiated settlement, and we believe our policy right now is correct for doing this,” Mattis told reporters, as he flew back to Washington from the Middle East.
A bipartisan group of senators, Republican Mike Lee, independent Bernie Sanders and Democrat Chris Murphy, are attempting to take advantage of a provision in the 1973 war powers act that allows any senator to introduce a resolution on whether to withdraw US armed forces from a conflict not authorized by Congress.
Their resolution would force Trump “to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen,” except operations against Al-Qaeda or associated forces. Those are authorized under a 2001 congressional authorization.
Their action is the latest salvo in an ongoing battle between the US Congress and the White House over control of military conflicts.
In a March 14 letter to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and copied to other lawmakers, Mattis described the US assistance as “non-combat support” focused on helping reduce the risk of civilian casualties.
“New restrictions on this limited US military support could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counter-terrorism and reduce our influence with the Saudis — all of which would further exacerbate the situation and humanitarian crisis,” Mattis wrote.
Mattis also warned that a withdrawal would embolden the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, who have fired missiles at Saudi Arabia and targeted commercial and military vessels off Yemen’s coast.
Lawmakers have argued for years that Congress has ceded too much authority over the military to the White House. Under the Constitution, Congress – not the president – has the authority to declare war.
But divisions over how much control they should exert over the president have stymied efforts to pass new war authorizations.


Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

  • The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide

CAIRO: Egypt is seeking Japan’s help to improve its education system, which has fallen to 130th place in international rankings.

The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide, and Cairo is hoping to apply key aspects of Japan’s approach to the Egyptian curriculum.

Education has played a major role in transforming Japan from a feudal state receiving aid following World War II to a modern economic powerhouse. 

During a visit to Japan in 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed political and economic development with Japanese officials, and was also briefed on the Japanese education system.

The Egyptian leader visited Japanese schools and called on Japan to help Egypt introduce a similar system in its schools.  

As part of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation, Japan’s embassy established cultural cooperation as well as technical and professional education links between the two countries. Collaboration has been strengthened from kindergarten to post-university, with Japanese experts contributing in various education fields.

Japanese experts have held seminars in schools across the country, focusing on basic education. 

During one seminar, Japan highlighted the importance of enhancing education by playing games during kindergarten and primary school, encouraging children’s ability and desire to explore.  

Education expert Ola El-Hazeq told Arab News that the Japanese system focuses on developing students’ sense of collective worth and responsibility toward society. This starts with their surrounding environment by taking care of school buildings, educational equipment and school furniture, for example.

“Japanese schools are known for being clean,” El-Hazeq said. “The first thing that surprises a school visitor is finding sneakers placed neatly in a locker or on wooden shelves at the school entrance. Each sneaker has its owner’s name on it. This is a habit picked up at most primary and intermediate schools as well as in many high schools.”

Japanese students also clean their classrooms, collect leaves that have fallen in the playground and take out the garbage. In many cases, teachers join students to clean up schools and also public gardens and beaches during the summer holidays.

El-Hazeq added that neither the teachers nor the students find it beneath their dignity to carry out such chores.

The academic year in Japan continues for almost 11 months, different from most other countries, with the Japanese academic year starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year.

Japan’s school days and hours are relatively longer in comparison with other countries. Usually the school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers normally work until 5 p.m. but sometimes up to 7 p.m. Holidays are shorter than in other countries. Spring and winter holidays are no longer than 10 days, and the summer holiday ranges from 40 to 45 days.