Iranians react angrily to education minister comments on sending students into war

Iranians have reacted angrily to comments made by the country’s education minister Mohammad Bathaee about the regime’s willingness to send schoolchildren to war. (INRA/File Photo)
Updated 16 May 2019
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Iranians react angrily to education minister comments on sending students into war

LONDON: Iranians have reacted angrily to comments made by the country’s education minister Mohammad Bathaee about the regime’s willingness to send schoolchildren to war.
In a speech on May 10, Bathaie said: “We have 14 million students in school, and they are willing to sacrifice their lives if we need them, such as in the period of the sacred defense,” making a reference to the Iran-Iraq War.
The Iranian Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child condemned the minister's statements.
And Iranians also took to social media to vent their anger at the comments. Prominent singer Zepa Murmalki said: “This is the minister in charge of educating the next generation of Iranians." Others claimed the minister’s own son had not performed military service.
Tensions between Iran and the US, and its Gulf allies, have been rising in recent weeks. The US has sent further military forces to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles, in a show of force against what officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and its interests in the region.
It is not the first time Iran has been warned about the use of child soldiers. Human Rights Watch has consistently accused the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of sending children of Afghan refugees to fight in Syria.
And a report in UK newspaper the Mirror earlier this week revealed that Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen have been accused of luring child soldiers to fight by giving them keys and promising them it is to “enter paradise” when they die in the country’s ongoing conflict.
In December 2018, a senior Houthi military official acknowledged to Associated Press that they had inducted 18,000 child soldiers into their army — some as young as 10-years-old — since the beginning of the Yemeni conflict in 2014.


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 21 May 2019
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Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.