Houthis using summer camps to train child soldiers, parents warned

Special Houthis using summer camps to train child soldiers, parents warned
A Yemeni boy holds a rifle at a tribal meeting near Sanaa, Yemen. (AP/File)
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Updated 12 May 2022

Houthis using summer camps to train child soldiers, parents warned

Houthis using summer camps to train child soldiers, parents warned
  • Continuing recruitment of youngsters shows that militia readying for new military operations, say analysts

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s government officials, human rights activists, religious figures and journalists have warned families living in Houthi-held areas against sending their children to the militia’s summer camps, and have accused the Iran-backed group of wanting to recruit these young people for their army.

This comes in the wake of the movement’s leader, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, ordering his supporters to open these camps in areas under their control, where he pledged to “immunize them” against misconceptions about his organization and Islam.

Houthi officials have reportedly said that 57 camps were launched in Sanaa alone, which are expected to attract hundreds of students during the upcoming summer vacations.

Yemeni officials and activists say that the Houthis are using these gatherings to radicalize and indoctrinate minors, so that they can prepare them to become soldiers.

“Your child that you will send to the Houthi summer and military course is a time bomb that will kill you tomorrow,” said Ghamdan Al-Yosifi, a Yemeni journalist, labeling them “factories for manufacturing explosives.”

A similar warning to parents had been issued last year when the Houthis launched these centers. The Houthis have claimed that thousands of children graduated with religious education from these camps.

However, critics have said that the children were brainwashed, taken to graveyards and trained to use weapons.

This year’s camps are being set up as the Yemeni government and the Houthis have halted hostilities under a truce brokered by the UN.

Abdul Kareem Al-Medi, a Yemeni journalist, said that the recruitment of children threatens the country’s fragile peace.

“To our honorable people and to all those who trust us, avoid the evil of the summer terror centers. Let him go with them if you want your son to turn into a mobile death machine,” Al-Medi said.

But the Houthis argue that their summer camps are meant to teach the correct recitation of the Qur’an, counter misconceptions about Islam, and prepare the new generation to fight their enemies, including Israelis.

“The summer courses are a step and an initiative that prevents youth from wasting time during the summer holidays, immunizes them from false cultures and enables them to master the Holy Qur’an and to recite it correctly,” Jalal Al-Ruwishan, a Houthi military official, was quoted as saying while visiting a summer camp in Sanaa on Wednesday.

However, Yemen’s information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani accused the Houthis of trying to turn young people into ideologically driven soldiers, and shared images of dead child soldiers and children inside the group’s camps.

“We call on parents, sheikhs and tribesmen in Houthi-controlled areas to boycott child recruitment camps, preserve their children … refrain from sending them to fuel their absurd war and to implement (an) Iranian agenda,” he said on Twitter on Thursday.

But given the Houthis’ harsh treatment of those who disobey their orders, many Yemenis believe that parents might still allow their children to sign up for these camps.

In January, a report prepared by the UN Panel of Experts found that some women who refused to participate in these Houthi activities were abducted and raped.

“While some adults join these cultural courses because they agree with the ideology, others participate in order not to lose employment benefits or humanitarian assistance, or out of fear of reprisals for non-participation,” the experts stated.

They added that almost 2,000 Yemeni children, some as young as 10, recruited by the Houthis, were killed in fighting between early 2020 and May 2021, and children received military training or were taken to military sites during summer courses.

Mohammed Jumeh, Yemen’s permanent delegate to UNESCO, said that those children who were killed on the battlefields were initially indoctrinated and recruited inside the Houthi camps, and blamed parents for not heeding warnings.

“Protecting children from extremist ideology and priesthood is the responsibility of parents in the first place,” Jumeh said.

Yemeni military analysts argue that the continuing recruitment of children by the Houthis show that they are getting ready for a new round of military operations, despite their announced commitment to the UN-brokered truce.

“Summer centers and cultural courses are epicenters of sectarian incitement (and) mobilization in preparation for new rounds of conflict and endless battles,” Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Kumaim, a Yemeni military analyst, said.


Iran man kills teenage daughter

Iran man kills teenage daughter
Updated 12 sec ago

Iran man kills teenage daughter

Iran man kills teenage daughter
TEHRAN:: A teenage girl in Iran was killed by her father who blasted her with a shotgun in the heart, local media said on Friday.
The death, an apparent so-called “honor killing” in the ultra-conservative country, came after the father confronted his 16-year-old daughter after she met a young man in the southern city of Nurabad, women’s activists said.
The girl fled to her grandmother’s house after an argument with her father, who then confronted her.
“I didn’t really intend to kill my daughter, I shot unintentionally,” the father said, quoted by the Rokna news website. “I went there with my shotgun only to scare her.”
The father, 43, was arrested and “confessed to his crime,” Rokna added.
In Iran, a father does not incur the death penalty if he kills his child.
There are no exact statistics on honor killings in Iran, but the ISNA news agency estimates there are “between 375 and 450 cases of honor killings” a year.
According to ISNA, such killings account for around a fifth of murders committed in the Islamic republic.

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row
Updated 01 July 2022

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row
  • Ice cream brand said it does “not agree” with the deal made by the parent company

JERUSALEM: Unilever this week sold its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream business in Israel to its local licensee for an undisclosed sum, aiming to smooth over a potentially damaging diplomatic row over the company’s political stance.
The deal comes after the US ice cream brand announced last year it would stop marketing products in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, saying that selling there was “inconsistent” with its values. Under the new arrangement Ben & Jerry’s ice cream will be available to all consumers in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Ben & Jerry’s has said it does “not agree” with the deal made by the parent company.
The episode highlighted the challenges facing consumer brands taking a stand on Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinians, such as San Francisco-based Airbnb, which in 2019 reversed its decision to delist Israeli settlements.
The international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to pressure Israel to abide by international law in its treatment of the Palestinians. Israel says such boycotts are discriminatory and anti-Semitic.
On Wednesday, Israel’s foreign ministry called the Ben & Jerry’s deal “a huge victory.”
“We will fight delegitimization and the BDS campaign in every arena, whether in the public square, in the economic sphere or in the moral realm,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement.
Last year, Israel condemned the sales boycott as “morally wrong” and said Unilever would face “severe consequences.” The consumer goods giant defended Ben & Jerry’s autonomy, but said it was “fully committed” to Israel and would find a solution by the end of this year.
Unilever had said previously it did not support the BDS movement, and reiterated that stance in a statement on Wednesday.
The new owner is the brand’s long-time Israeli ice cream licensee Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products. Zinger had sued Ben & Jerry’s after its decision in the West Bank, saying the company illegally severed their 34-year relationship.
“The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee,” Unilever said.
A representative for the Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s said the company does not agree with Unilever’s announcement and will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.
“We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the representative told Reuters.
Pension officials in at least six US states had restricted or sold Unilever stock or bonds to protest the Ben & Jerry’s decision, among them New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, and Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee. Representatives for all three told Reuters on Wednesday they would review Unilever’s move.
Billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz, who is joining the board of Unilever next month, was involved in the discussions to bring about the resolution, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human rights organization that supported the deal. Peltz is the chairman of the center’s board of governors.
Peltz met with Unilever CEO Alan Jope in September before Trian Partners, the investment fund Peltz runs, bought any shares, to discuss the situation, a person familiar with the matter said.
Trian Partners commended the new arrangement in a statement, saying that “respect and tolerance have prevailed.”
Ben & Jerry’s and its independent board maintained the right to decide on its social mission when it was bought by Unilever in 2000. But Unilever said it “reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions and therefore has the right to enter this arrangement.”
Israel captured the West Bank, part of the territory Palestinians want for an independent state, in a 1967 Middle East war. Most countries consider Israeli settlements on Palestinian land to be illegal. Israel disputes this.
“The return of Ben and Jerry’s to Israeli settlements, which were built on Palestinian land, exposes it to international legal accountability and its name will be on the United Nations blacklist of companies operating in settlements,” The Palestine Liberation Organization’s Wasel Abu Yussef told Reuters.
Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, said the deal sought to undermine the “principled decision” to stop selling the ice cream in Israeli settlements.
“What comes next may look and taste similar, but, without Ben & Jerry’s recognized social justice values, it’s just a pint of ice cream,” he said in a statement.
Ben & Jerry’s Jewish founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, no longer manage the brand but are well known for their commitment to social justice. The company has recently expressed strong support for the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ rights and electoral campaign finance reform.


Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty

Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty
Updated 01 July 2022

Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty

Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty
  • Turkey would consider turning back the 2004 abolishment of capital punishment

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he would approve possibly reinstating the death penalty if parliament were to send a bill on the matter to him, broadcaster NTV cited him as saying on Friday.
Erdogan’s justice minister said at the weekend Turkey would consider turning back the 2004 abolishment of capital punishment after the president earlier raised the issue in connection with the cause of wildfires. His nationalist ally Devlet Bahceli has backed the idea and said the penalty should extend to terrorism, rape, and the murder of women.
“If necessary, this should be brought back on the agenda and made into a debate. We should see what comes of this debate,” Erdogan was cited as saying.
“I said it before, if parliament makes such a decision as a result of our justice ministry’s work, I will approve this decision,” he added. (Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)


Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin al-Hussain sworn in as deputy to the king

Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin al-Hussain sworn in as deputy to the king
Updated 01 July 2022

Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin al-Hussain sworn in as deputy to the king

Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin al-Hussain sworn in as deputy to the king

Jordan's Prince Faisal bin al-Hussain sworn in as deputy to his brother King Abdullah II of Jordan, Petra news agency reported on Friday.

Born in 1963, Prince Faisal is the son of King Hussein and Princess Muna. He is the younger brother of King Abdullah II. He has periodically served as regent during his brother's absences abroad.

He holds a private pilot's licence and received helicopter training while serving in the Royal Jordanian Air Force.

He has served as the president of the Jordan Olympic Committee since 2003.


Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 

Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 
Updated 01 July 2022

Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 

Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 
  • Al-Alimi praised the US’ efforts in supporting the truce in Yemen, and its constructive approach when dealing with the humanitarian crisis in the country

DUBAI: Abdullah al-Alimi, a member of Yemen’s Presidential Council, warned that the Houthi militia’s mobilization, regrouping and constant breaches of the UN truce continue to threaten the peace process. 

The comments were made when al-Alimi met with Stephen Fagin, US Ambassador to Yemen, state news agency SABA reported on Thursday.

Al-Alimi said that the Houthi militia must honor its commitment by lifting the siege on Taiz, opening roads in and out of the city, and allowing Yemeni people to move safely and freely across the country. 

Fagin agreed that the commitment on the Houthi’s part is crucial to honor the UN truce, and he confirmed the US’ continuous support for Yemen's internationally-recognized government by helping it perform its responsibilities.

Meanwhile, al-Alimi pointed out that the Presidential Leadership Council has a clear work-plan to tackle challenges faced in the economic, service, security, and military fields, in addition to combating terrorism in the country. 

The two also spoke about ways to promote mutual relations between the two countries. 

Al-Alimi and Fagin addressed issues of common interest during their meeting, which include regional security and the latest methods for combating terrorism. 

Al-Alimi praised the US’ efforts in supporting the truce in Yemen, and its constructive approach when dealing with the humanitarian crisis in the country. 

Fagin also praised the positive position of the Presidential Leadership Council and the government in tightening the humanitarian truce and supporting all efforts for achieving peace in Yemen.