Houthis ‘recruiting thousands of Yemeni children’

Special Children recruited by the Iran-backed Houthis to fight have died in battle, according to a UN report. (AFP file photo)
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Children recruited by the Iran-backed Houthis to fight have died in battle, according to a UN report. (AFP file photo)
Special Children recruited by the Iran-backed Houthis have died in battlefields, according to a UN repoirt. (AFP file photo)
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Children recruited by the Iran-backed Houthis have died in battlefields, according to a UN repoirt. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 30 January 2022

Houthis ‘recruiting thousands of Yemeni children’

Children recruited by the Iran-backed Houthis have died in battlefields, according to a UN repoirt. (AFP file photo)
  • Child soldiers indoctrinated at camps and sent to their deaths, UN report alleges
  • Families who refused to send their children to Houthi summer camps or battlefields were punished

AL-MUKALLA: Almost 2,000 Yemeni children, some as young as 10, recruited by the Iran-backed Houthis were killed in fighting between early 2020 and May 2021, the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen said.

The Yemeni militia continues to arrange mass indoctrination and recruitment gatherings for children, the experts said.

Families who refused to send their children to the rebels’ summer camps or battlefields were punished by the rebels.

In their annual report to the UN Security Council released on Saturday, the experts confirmed that the Houthis held large summer camps in schools and mosques where Yemeni children were radicalized, given weapons training and then sent to the battlefields to fight Yemeni government forces.

“The panel received a list of 1,406 children recruited by the Houthis who died on the battlefield in 2020. The panel also received a list of 562 children recruited by the Houthis who died on the battlefield between January and May 2021,” the experts said in the 303-page report.

During the annual summer camps, children received military training, including evading rockets, planting mines and digging tunnels.

“Summer camps and cultural courses targeting children and adults are part of the Houthis’ strategy to gain support for their ideology, and encourage people to join the fighting and motivate troops,” the report said.

The experts also said they documented cases of Houthis sexually assaulting women who refused to join their indoctrination camps.

The rebels also deprived other people of humanitarian assistance for refusing to fight, and raped some young participants.

According to the experts, many Yemenis join the recruitment events out of fear of Houthi punishment or losing financial benefits.

“Two women who refused to participate in these courses were arrested and raped,” the report said.

“The panel also documented a case in which sexual violence was committed against a child who underwent military training. The panel received information on 10 cases in which children were taken to fight on the pretext that they would be enrolled in cultural courses or in which they were taken from such courses to the battlefield.”

Yemeni military experts and officials believe that the Houthis have intensified the recruitment of children through summer camps and courses in recent years to boost their manpower, which has been depleted by attrition tactics used by government troops in Marib province or by massive airstrikes by the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen.

Military officials told Arab News that child soldiers have been killed on battlefields outside the city of Marib as the Houthis pushed to seize control of the strategic city.

“Most of the Houthi deaths in Marib are children. We have captured 500 children fighting along with the Houthis. We believe that the Houthis sent children to the battlefields to compensate for their large casualties,” Yahiya Al-Hatemi, director of the Yemen army’s military media, said.

Covering the year to Dec. 5, 2021, the UN report accused the Houthis of staging deadly drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia and violating the UN arms embargo on Yemen.

“The Houthis continue to source critical components for their weapon systems from companies in Europe and Asia, using a complex network of intermediaries to obscure the chain of custody.” 

Yemeni human rights activists, who have long campaigned against Houthi recruitment of children, say that they are not surprised by the UN report’s findings and the number of children’s deaths on the battlefield is much higher than 2,000.

“In my opinion and observation, the number of children killed in fighting is bigger than the UN findings. This is a war crime. There are huge masses of children influenced and recruited by the Houthi summer camps,” Ahmed Al-Qurashi, director of SEYAJ Organization for the Protection of Children, told Arab News.

“Schools have been turned into military sites for educating children on war, and directing them to the battlefields,” Al-Qurashi said.


Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’

Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’
Updated 05 July 2022

Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’

Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’
  • France is among world powers trying to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran
  • Iran has itself been in breach of the deal, ramping up projects with bomb-making potential

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid will press French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday for a tougher and time-limited tack on the Iranian nuclear negotiations, and warn that the Tehran-backed Hezbollah group is “playing with fire,” an official said.
Lapid’s visit to France, his first abroad since becoming caretaker premier last week, is also a chance to flex diplomatic muscles as Israelis gear up for a snap election in November.
France is among world powers trying to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that the previous US administration quit and which Israel opposed, deeming its caps insufficient.
As Lebanon’s former colonial administrator, France has additional clout in Beirut — whose economic crisis-hit leaders were jarred on Saturday when Israel shot down three Hezbollah drones launched toward one of its Mediterranean gas rigs.
“The French are very, very active on the Iranian issue,” a senior Israeli official told reporters.
“It is important for us to make our case ... Israel opposes a return to the JCPOA (2015 nuclear deal). In the same breath, we do not oppose a deal. We seek a very strong deal.”
Israel is not a party to the nuclear negotiations. But Western capitals have been attentive to its worries about its arch-enemy and worried it might take preemptive military action if it deems diplomacy a dead end.
Since the US walkout, Iran has itself been in breach of the deal, ramping up projects with bomb-making potential — though it denies having such designs. Its technical advancements have set a ticking clock on the so-far fruitless negotiations.
“We want an end to the unending talks,” said the senior Israeli official, calling for “coordinated pressure” on Iran and offering help on “drafting an appropriate framework” for that.
Israel has de facto front with Iran in Lebanon, home to Hezbollah. The senior Israeli official, alluding to Saturday’s shoot-downs, accused the group of “playing with fire.”
The official declined to elaborate on that warning, but said Lapid would share with Macron “new material explaining how Hezbollah is endangering Lebanon.”
Hezbollah and Israel fought a war across Lebanon’s border in 2006 but have been in a largely stable standoff since.
The Karish rig near Lebanon’s coast will produce gas not only for Israel, but eventually also for the European Union, the official said, tapping into EU countries’ quest to replace Russia as an energy supplier since it invaded Ukraine.


Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council

Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council
Updated 04 July 2022

Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council

Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry headed to London to inaugurate the first partnership council between his country and the UK.

The council will be co-chaired by Shoukry and British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. It will include political consultations and discussions on economic and trade issues, with the participation of British Trade Policy Minister Penny Mordaunt.

A spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the launch of the council comes in light of strengthening cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

While in London, Shoukry met with Lord Tariq Ahmad, British minister for South Asia, North Africa, the UN and the Commonwealth, to discuss bilateral relations.


Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan

Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan
Updated 04 July 2022

Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan

Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan
  • The woman, who was rushed to the hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit, was listed in fair condition.

AMMAN: A woman was stabbed by her husband in a public street in Karak in front of the Karak Sharia Court on Monday, according to a Jordanian security source.

The unidentified man pulled out a knife and stabbed his wife in the back, chest and right hand, according to a source at Al Karak Public Hospital.

She was rushed to the hospital shortly after and admitted to the intensive care unit. She was described as in fair condition.

The attacker has since been apprehended, and police are currently investigating the incident.

According to eyewitnesses, family disputes between the couple led them to review the case at Sharia court before the situation escalated and the husband attacked the victim.

Following the death of 18-year-old Iman Ersheid, who was shot dead on campus, public outrage in Jordan has fueled calls for the death penalty to be enforced in such cases.

Last week, the High Criminal Court in Jordan sentenced a 50-year-old to death for stabbing his ex-wife before the Northern "Rusaifa" Sharia Court in a similar incident.


US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling

US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling
Updated 05 July 2022

US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling

US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling
  • Navy targets weapons and drugs in Arabian Gulf and Red Sea

JEDDAH: The US Navy is offering cash rewards of up to $100,000 for information leading to the interception of smuggled weapons and narcotics in the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea.

The initiative by the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet does not directly name Iran but analysts said it was clearly aimed at curbing the flow of Iranian arms to the Houthi militia in Yemen and restricting the lucrative regional drugs trade operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“Any destabilizing activity has our attention,” 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins said. “Definitely we have seen in the last year skyrocketing success in seizing both illegal narcotics and illicit weapons. This represents another step in our effort to enhance regional maritime security.”
Operators fluent in Arabic, English and Farsi will staff a phone hotline, and the Navy will also take tips online in Dari and Pashto. Payouts can be as high as $100,000 or the equivalent in vehicles, boats or food for tips that include information on planned attacks targeting Americans.
Asked whether new seizures could increase tensions with Iran, Hawkins listed the weapons and drugs the Navy hoped to intercept under the program. “That’s what we’re after,” he said. “That’s not in the interest of regional stability and security.”

Opinion

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The fleet and its allies seized $500 million in drugs alone in 2021, more than the four previous years combined, and intercepted the shipment of 9,000 weapons, three times the number in 2020.
Despite a UN Security Council arms embargo on Yemen, Tehran has long been transferring rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and other weapons to the Houthis in Yemen. UN experts have examined missiles aimed at civilian targets and oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and traced the components back to Iran.
The rewards program is the latest initiative under 5th Fleet Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, who also launched a drone task force last year amid rising tension with Iran. The US Navy and Revolutionary Guard naval forces have had several encounters in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Houthis said last week they were monitoring increased US activity in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.“Because of this, defense and confrontation options are open,” a spokesman said.


Gaza’s economic crisis puts a damper on Eid celebrations

Gaza’s economic crisis puts a damper on Eid celebrations
Updated 04 July 2022

Gaza’s economic crisis puts a damper on Eid celebrations

Gaza’s economic crisis puts a damper on Eid celebrations
  • Commercial activity is unlikely to show much improvement during the Eid Al-Adha season as people further tighten their spending

GAZA CITY: Samira Shamali will not buy Eid clothes for her four children because of worsening economic conditions in Gaza, with businesses struggling to stay afloat, rising poverty and unemployment, and skyrocketing prices.

Commercial activity is unlikely to show much improvement during the Eid Al-Adha season as people further tighten their spending, say analysts.

“There are more (important) priorities than new clothes for Eid,” said Shamali. “I will only buy basic necessities so that we can celebrate Eid and receive guests. Prices are all on the rise, and our income is limited.”

The 47-year-old mother’s oldest child is 16 and the youngest seven.

In contrast, Mahmoud Al-Talouli, 33, has decided he will buy clothes for his children. He was out shopping with his wife and two daughters on Omar Al-Mukhtar Street in the Rimal area in search of suitable clothing.

“My two daughters are young, and they don’t know if the economic conditions are tough or good, so I can’t (have) Eid pass without buying them clothes,” said Al-Talouli, who is a carpenter and works for daily wages.

“The economic conditions are difficult, but the children should rejoice. Aren’t the difficult conditions and wars they witness sufficient (unhappiness) for them? At least (they should have a) celebration during the Eid period.”

The Gaza Strip has unemployment of over 45 percent due to the Israeli blockade.

About 80 percent of its population depends on food aid provided by UNRWA and international institutions, according to official UN reports.

Although Israel allowed about 12,000 workers from the Gaza Strip to work in the country after the last war in May last year, they were not better-paying jobs.

Hamed Jad, an economist and director of Al-Ayyam newspaper’s office in the Gaza Strip, believes that these workers are paying off old debt, and because of the uncertain job situation, are forced to save what little money is left over.

“The number of workers is limited, and the Gaza Strip has been (having these) harsh economic conditions for many years. Those who have money are afraid of the future. The political and security conditions are unstable,” Jad told Arab News.

The economy of the Gaza Strip depends mainly on the salaries of those working for the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government in Gaza.

About 50,000 workers and retirees in the Gaza Strip receive salaries and pensions from the Palestinian Authority, while about 40,000 are employed by the Hamas government in Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority has not yet paid the salaries of its employees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip because of the economic crisis. Payments are likely to be made on Wednesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh announced on Monday.

Basem Skaik, a women’s clothing merchant, stood in front of the door of his shop, complaining about the lack of customers during the Eid season.

“The economy in Gaza has been suffering for years, (there is) security instability, high prices for most commodities, and instability in the exchange rate of the dollar, which increases prices for the consumer, reasons that may limit (people’s) purchasing (power),” Skaik told Arab News.

“We are merchants, but at the same time we live in Gaza and we also have needs. Many merchants and shop owners closed the doors of their stores, and some of them were imprisoned because they were unable to pay their debts,” he added.