Houthis bombing mosques, schools and a future

Houthi militia ride on the back of a truck. (Reuters)
Updated 28 January 2017

Houthis bombing mosques, schools and a future

ADEN: Houthi militias and troops loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh have been bombing mosques and schools in the Yemeni provinces since their coup against the legitimate government.
Houthis, accused of taking the country decades back to an era of ignorance, are denying the Yemenis a peaceful life and access to education.
Official statistics show that after their emergence as a militant group reportedly backed by Iran, Houthis have bombed a staggering number of mosques and schools in some provinces. They are turning some structures into barracks or weapons stores.
In a recent meeting with Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh in Riyadh, Dr. Ahmed Attia, Yemeni minister of Endowments and Guidance, said that “Houthi militias and Saleh loyalists bombed more than 299 mosques, and 24 others were severely damaged, besides turning at least 146 mosques into military barracks and storage of weapons.”
Official Yemeni sources said Houthis and Saleh’s loyalists destroyed 1,700 schools since they started insurgency in several provinces in March 2015.
Yemeni Minister of Education Abdullah Meles said recently that about 2,000 schools built under Basic Education Development Program and funded by the US, the EU and other countries, were destroyed in less than two years.
In the capital Sanaa, the media center of the Yemeni revolution, a non-governmental civil media center issued a report that stated that Shiite militias committed 279 violations against the educational process in the capital during the year 2016 only.
The report said that the “violations included five key areas: Students, teachers, schools, educational institutions and curricula.”
“The pace of violations increased during the last three months of 2016, to coincide with protests by the staff of educational institutions against delays in receiving salaries,” the report said.
It also stated that students and teachers were forced to pay money, starting this month, to support the war effort and of the Central Bank, after it was transferred to Aden.
Students’ parents expressed surprise at the request for money from the management of schools their children are attending.
Eyewitnesses said Houthi gunmen visit schools to urge students to donate to the Central Bank and the “war effort.”


Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

Updated 28 May 2020

Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP is working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties

ANKARA: Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is looking at ways to change electoral laws in order to block challenges to power from two new breakaway political parties.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP and its nationalist coalition partner the MHP are working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties — a move that has fueled rumors of an imminent snap election in the country.

Under Turkish election rules, political parties must settle their organization procedures in at least half of the nation’s cities and hold their first convention six months ahead of an election date.

Any political party with 20 lawmakers in Turkey’s parliament is entitled to take part in elections and be eligible for financial aid from the treasury for the electoral process.

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has hinted at the possibility of transferring some CHP lawmakers to the newly founded parties to secure their participation in elections.

Turkey’s ex-premier, Ahmet Davutoglu, and the country’s former economy czar, Ali Babacan, both longtime allies of Erdogan, recently left the AKP to establish their own opposition groups, and have come under pressure from the AKP and MHP to leave their parties out of the race.

Babacan has been critical of Erdogan’s move away from a parliamentary system of governance in Turkey to one providing the president with wide-ranging powers without any strong checks and balances.

“The AKP is abolishing what it built with its own hands. The reputation and the economy of the country is in ruins. The number of competent people has declined in the ruling party. Decisions are being taken without consultations and inside a family,” Babacan said in a recent interview.

He also claimed that AKP officials were competing against each other for personal financial gain.

Babacan, a founding member of the AKP, was highly respected among foreign investors during his time running the economy. He resigned from the party last year over “deep differences” to set up his DEVA grouping on March 9 with a diverse team of former AKP officials and liberal figures.

Berk Esen, a political analyst from Ankara’s Bilkent University, believes Babacan’s recent statements have angered Erdogan.

“As a technocrat, Babacan gains respect from secular circles as well as the international community, which Erdogan clearly lacks. Despite being in office for 13 years, Babacan has not been tainted by corruption allegations and is known as the chief architect of Turkey’s rapid economic growth during the AKP’s first two terms,” he told Arab News.

“The legislation that the AKP-MHP coalition is working on may prevent deputy transfer only in case early elections are scheduled for the fall. Otherwise, the newly established parties will most likely build their organizations across the country and become viable for elections by summer, if not the spring of 2021.”

If Davutoglu and Babacan were successful in capturing disillusioned voters, they could prevent the ruling coalition getting the 51 percent of votes needed to secure a parliamentary majority.