Silent Taiz protest denounces deadly strikes by Houthis

Villagers in Taiz's Al-Sailah hold a vigil to denounce deadly attacks by the Houthis that killed and wounded many civilians. (Photo: Maher Al-Abessi)
Villagers in Taiz's Al-Sailah hold a vigil to denounce deadly attacks by the Houthis that killed and wounded many civilians. (Photo: Maher Al-Abessi)
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Updated 14 May 2022

Silent Taiz protest denounces deadly strikes by Houthis

Villagers in Taiz's Al-Sailah hold a vigil to denounce deadly attacks by the Houthis. (Photo: Maher Al-Abessi)
  • The vigil came less than a day after a mortar shell fired by the Houthis ripped through a house in Al-Sailah, killing a 5-year-old child and fatally wounding his parents

AL-MUKALLA: The Yemeni villagers stood in silence, but the words on their placards spoke volumes.

“On TV, we see a truce, but on the ground, we see blood, body parts and siege,” read a poster carried by two veiled women and a child.

The unequivocal message was delivered by families in the southwestern Yemeni city of Taiz who held a silent vigil on Saturday to denounce the Houthi shelling of their homes and demand the militia lift its eight-year siege of the center.

Carrying posters that condemned the Houthi attacks, men, women and children from the residential village of Al-Sailah stood in a line outside their homes to draw attention to deadly militia strikes that have killed and wounded many people, including a child.

“We appeal to the world to act to stop the killing of civilians by the Houthis in Taiz,” read another poster.

During the vigil, a Houthi shell exploded near the gathering, Maher Al-Abessi, a local journalist, told Arab News by telephone.

“Shrapnel from the shell fell near us. Luckily, no one was hurt,” he said.

The vigil came less than a day after a mortar shell fired by the Houthis ripped through a house in Al-Sailah, killing a 5-year-old child and fatally wounding his parents.

Shelling and other strikes by the Houthis on the besieged city have sparked outrage across Yemen at a time when the UN Yemen envoy is pressuring Yemeni parties to uphold a two-month ceasefire.

“Since the truce was announced, Houthi missiles have intensified and their crimes against civilians in Taiz have multiplied,” Mohammed Al-Omada, head of the Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedoms, tweeted.

Sharing an image of the dead child, Hamza Al-Jubaihi, a Yemeni activist who was once abducted and held in a Houthi prison, denounced the militia killing of civilians in Taiz and their violations of the truce.

“This innocent child was killed by the Houthis less than two hours ago with a terrorist shell, and his father and mother were wounded next to him in Taiz. This is the Houthi truce,” he said on Twitter.

Under the UN-brokered truce that came into effect on April 2, warring factions were expected to halt hostilities across Yemen, resume flights from Sanaa airport, and allow fuel ships to enter Hodeidah port, while a joint committee would convene to discuss opening roads in Taiz and the other cities.

The Yemeni government said that the Houthis are unwilling to lift their siege of Taiz and have failed to name their representatives on the committee.

On Thursday, the Yemeni government said it would allow passengers with Houthi-issued passports to fly from Sanaa airport, removing a barrier that obstructed the resumption of commercial flights from the Houthi-held Sanaa.

At the same time, a gathering of Yemeni NGOs that document war crimes said in a joint report that the Iran-backed Houthis had raided, blown up and destroyed 12,038 houses in 17 Yemeni provinces from July 2014 to December 2020, and are responsible for displacing hundreds of families living in the properties.

During this period, the Houthis blew up 853 homes, damaged or ruined 462 more and seized 243 houses as they sought to settle scores with people who allegedly opposed their military expansion across the country.

The Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations, also known as Rasd Coalition, said that armed Houthis killed 566 civilians, including 51 children and 64 women, and wounded 740 more, including 97 children and 130 women, while raiding houses.

The raids violated religious and tribal norms that forbid terrorizing children and women or displacing them from their homes, the coalition report said.

At the end of the report, it named 29 Houthi leaders responsible for raiding houses, based on interviews with their victims, and demanded the militia stop the attacks and compensate families who had lost their homes.

Mutahar Al-Badhiji, the coalition’s executive director, called on human rights groups and journalists to work together to expose violations by the Houthis and pressure the militia to stop the attacks and release abducted civilians.

“There should be human rights and media campaigns directed at the militia to stop these practices and release the civilians who were kidnapped from their homes,” Al-Badhiji told Arab News.


Iran man kills teenage daughter

Iran man kills teenage daughter
Updated 41 min 13 sec ago

Iran man kills teenage daughter

Iran man kills teenage daughter
  • The death was an apparent so-called “honor killing”

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.