Saeed, Masood Azhar Likely To Be 1st 'Terrorists' Under UAPA 2.0
Official’s Masood Azhar Dig Firmed up Resolve to Amend UAPA’
Malaysia, Pakistan to Lead Muslim Renaissance'
after Imran Khan’s Visit, US Approves $125 Million Sales To Support Pakistan’s
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Siang: Do Away With ‘Klepto-Theocracy’ To Make Islamic Civilisation Great Again
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Saeed, Masood Azhar likely to be 1st 'terrorists' under UAPA 2.0
DELHI: Globally designated Pakistan-based terrorists Masood Azhar and Hafiz
Saeed are likely to be the first individuals to be designated as
"terrorists" once the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act
comes into force, aligning India with international obligations mandated by the
UN Security Council obligations.
at such a move, officials speaking in the background said the government would
be able to choke networks linked to individually designated terrorists and
share relevant data in coordinated manner with foreign agencies under several
conventions once such a designation happens.
explanations on the nature of amendments to UAPA currently being considered by
Parliament came in the context of criticism that designating individuals could
turn out to be a vindictive and arbitrary exercise. Action will be against
individuals with a clear record and links to acts of terror, said an official.
of the actions under the changed law, such as seizures of assets and a travel
ban, would be worked out when rules to the Act are framed after the bill is
passed by Parliament and gets the President's assent. The bill, passed by Lok
Sabha on Wednesday, will go to Rajya Sabha next week where the Centre is
expecting its passage by banking on support from MPs of parties such as BJD,
YSRCP and TRS.
Centre is expected to elaborate how the multi-layered appeal mechanism in the
proposed law will check its misuse. Explaining the mechanism to designate an
individual as a terrorist, the official said the proscription, based on involvement
in terror acts, will happen only after the home ministry's approval. The
individual would have the option to appeal to the home secretary who will have
to dispose of the case in 45 days.Once that is done, the person can move an
"independent review committee" led by a sitting or retired HC judge
with at least two retired secretaries to the government of India as members.
The individual can even move court against the panel's decision.
official’s Masood Azhar dig firmed up resolve to amend UAPA’
Chinese official’s comment during diplomatic negotiations over listing
Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a UN-designated terrorist had firmed up
the government’s resolve to usher in amendments to the Unlawful Activities
Prevention Act (UAPA), Home Ministry sources said on Friday.
the past couple of years, when India was pushing hard for Azhar’s listing with
China, a Chinese official pointed out that Azhar had not been banned by India.
“The Chinese told us point blank that when you have yourself not banned Azhar,
why are you pushing us to help you,” a Home Ministry official said even as he
argued why adding “individuals” to the provision of the Act banning and
declaring an organisation as “terrorist” was necessary.
Lok Sabha passed the UAPA amendment Bill this week, further enhancing powers of
the National Investigation Agency (NIA). A key amendment in the Bill, which
gives powers to the government to designate individuals as terrorist, has led
opposition parties to express concern that it could be misused.
Ministry sources argued that there were ample safeguards in the UAPA to prevent
misuse of the provisions, and that they were brought in keeping the
international norm in mind. “It’s not that people will be randomly branded as
terrorists. There are laid down procedures and the government will have to
satisfy review committees with evidence to brand anyone a terrorist. Also, it
is meant for people like Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar. In fact, they are the
first people we plan to proscribe once the amendments become part of the Act,”
the official said.
official pointed out that a provision to proscribe ‘organisations’ as
‘terrorist’ already exists in the UAPA and the amendment will just add
‘individuals’ to it. “The record of ban on organisations will tell you that
there hasn’t been any misuse of the provision. So there is no reason why the
same provision would be misused against individuals,” the official said.
to the official, as many as 42 organisations have been declared ‘terrorist’
under the Act. Only one of these —Hyderabad-based Deendar Anjuman — has
challenged the designation. The review committee rejected its application, and
that decision has not been challenged in any court, the official said.
UAPA, once an organisation is notified as terrorist, it can make an application
to the government for denotification, within a month. If the government rejects
it, the organisation can go to the review committee, which will examine the
evidence furnished by the government. If here too the organisation is
disappointed, it can go to the Supreme Court.
countries dealing with the threat of terrorism have this provision. The US, the
UK, European Union, and even Pakistan and Sri Lanka. If the UN is ready to
designate an individual as a terrorist, what is the problem if we do it?” the
said the ministry is yet to come up with modalities of the action to follow on
an individual when he or she is designated a terrorist. “As of now, the police
would be able to take action. However, in terms of other action like freezing
of assets, blocking of access to finances and travel ban, modalities are yet to
be decided,” the official said.
added that the provision was necessitated because many individuals may not be
part of an organisation but may be indulging in or promoting terror activities.
“Dawood Ibrahim is not part of any organisation,” he said.
Malaysia, Pakistan to lead Muslim renaissance'
have welcomed visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's statement
that Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan can pave the way forward for development in
the Muslim world.
Islamic world needs a renaissance," said Huseyin Bagci, an expert in
International relations at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara.
Prime Minister Mahathir made a right point that these countries at least start
new projects which make Muslim world compatible and competitive in Islamic
sciences, technology, defense, etc.,” Bagci said.
Malaysian premier arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara on Wednesday evening to
kick off his four-day official visit.
words of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that solidarity among Turkey, Malaysia
and Pakistan “is necessary for the unity of the Islamic world”, Mahathir told
reporters at a joint news conference Thursday that it is crucial to relieve the
Muslim Ummah from being subjugated by others.
is why I proposed that three Muslim countries should work together. At least
these three [Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan]. So that we can speak with a louder
voice in terms of many areas; defense, for example,” the Malaysian premier
agreed saying the three countries have common values in democracy, human rights
and free press.
relatively feel free,” he said, adding: “[However], there is stagnation in
Islamic world… there can be kingdoms like in the U.K. but governments come and
go which is not the case in most of the Muslim world.”
noted that Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan stand out from the Arab world.
is interesting that why Prime Minister Mahathir did not mention any Arab
country,” Bagci said, referring to their dismal track record in upholding human
Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia are among the founders of the Muslim-majority D-8
group that seeks to establish strategic relations, increased trade, and more
cooperation among its members. However, the group is yet to realize its
the apparent failure of D-8, Bagci blamed “too much divisions, corruption and
stagnation in Islamic world”.
new mechanism which Mahathir has suggested can bring together even Afghanistan
and central Asian states,” he said.
Sami A. Al-Arian, director of Istanbul-based Center for Islam and Global
Affairs, described the ongoing visit as “historic”.
visit by Prime Minister Mahathir to Turkey to meet President Erdogan is
historic, as the two leaders have been repeatedly and frequently democratically
elected by their people,” Al-Arian said.
said that these leaders have demonstrated over the years "political
stability and economic dynamism”.
to Al-Arian, Mahathir's visit comes at a time when the economic and political
challenges faced by the two governments are “enormous in light of the looming
global economic uncertainty as well as the geopolitical shifts across the
Middle East because of the U.S. trade war with China, and other regional
U.S. sanctions against Iran and the latest tension with Turkey with regard to
the S-400 air defense system, have resulted in having other regional powers,
such as Turkey and Malaysia, to come closer together to restructure their
relations in order to stand up to the pressure being applied against their
economy and security,” he added.
after Imran Khan’s visit, US approves $125 million sales to support Pakistan’s
United States Friday approved the foreign military sales worth $125 million to
support the F-16 fighter jets of Pakistan. The development comes days after the
meeting between US President Donald Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran
Khan in Oval Office at the White House on Monday where both sides had declared
that the meeting was highly successful.
determination in this regard was made by the State Department and is the first
after all security aid to Pakistan was suspended by Trump in January 2018.
State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military
Sale to Pakistan for Technical Security Team (TST) in continued support of the
F-16 program for an estimated cost of $125 million,” Defense Security
Cooperation Agency said in a statement, according to the news agency PTI.
statement also read: “Pakistan had requested a continuation of technical
support services — US government and contractor technical and logistics support
services — and other related elements of logistics support to assist in the
oversight of operations in support of the Pakistan Peace Drive advanced F-16
Pentagon delivered the required certification notifying the Congress of this
possible sale on Friday. The Pentagon, in its report, said the proposed sale of
this support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The
proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the US
by protecting American technology through the continued presence of US personnel
that provide 24×7 end-use monitoring.”
of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 60 contractor
representatives to Pakistan to assist in the oversight of operations as part of
the Peace Drive F-16 program,” the statement read.
has been receiving F-16 fighters from the US since the early 1980s, when Ronald
Reagan was the US President and Zia was the military dictator of Pakistan. An
F-16 aircraft cost at least $18.8 million per unit with an operational cost per
flight hour of up to $24,000. With a wingspan of 31 feet, the aircraft can
attain a maximum speed of 1500 miles per hours.
April 2016, while Pakistan was about to receive 8 F-16 jets, US Congressman
Matt Salmon had expressed apprehensions about their use against India, rather
than terrorist camps.
had, in February this year, used F-16 against India, the latest being in the
aftermath of the Balakot airstrike inside Pakistan by India. However, it had
denied it saying it never used American F-16s in its attempted airstrike on
military installations in the Rajouri sector. After this, as a proof, India had
presented parts of a fired AMRAAM missile which can only be fired from an F-16
vows future Afghanistan won’t be terrorists’ hotbed
America’s longest war has come full circle.
United States began bombing Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to
root out Al-Qaeda fighters harbored by the Taliban. Now, more than 18 years
later, preventing Afghanistan from being a launching pad for more attacks on
America is at the heart of ongoing US talks with the Taliban.
Donald Trump’s envoy at the negotiating table says he’s satisfied with the
Taliban’s commitment to prevent international terrorist organizations from
using Afghanistan as a base to plot global attacks. There’s even talk that a
negotiated settlement might result in the Taliban joining the US to fight Daesh
militants, rivals whose footprint is growing in mountainous northern
world needs to be sure that Afghanistan will not be a threat to the
international community,” said the envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, who was born in
Afghanistan and is a former US ambassador to Afghanistan. “We are satisfied
with the commitment that we have received (from the Taliban) on
everyone is convinced.
Afghans worry that Trump’s desire to pull American troops from Afghanistan will
override doubts about the Taliban’s sincerity. Early in the talks, Hamdullah
Mohib, national security adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said
counting on the Taliban to control other militants could be like “having cats
guard the milk.”
Michael Waltz, who did multiple combat tours in Afghanistan as a US special
forces officer, said he’s happy to see the Taliban are negotiating but does not
see how Afghanistan can keep from becoming a hotbed for terrorists wanting to
strike the United States.
have my doubts about the Taliban’s sincerity No. 1,” said Waltz, R-Fla. “But
even if you buy into that ... how does the Taliban have the capability to
enforce what a 300,000-man Afghan army, the United States forces and a
coalition of armies around the world are continuing to struggle to do?“
is at stake.
conflict in Afghanistan has cost more than 2,300 American lives and hundreds of
billions in taxpayer dollars. The Taliban control roughly half the country,
although not the cities. About 14,000 US troops plus other NATO-led forces are
still there. Senior intelligence officials have warned that a withdrawal could
return Afghanistan to a time when the Taliban ruled a country that was an
nearly two decades of war, militant groups remain.
UN Security Council report in April 2018 said Al-Qaeda was “closely allied with
and embedded within the Taliban.” The report said the Taliban, which have no
history of conducting attacks outside Afghanistan, provide operating space for
about 20 terrorist groups with thousands of fighters.
Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal at the Foundation for Defense of
Democracies, a conservative think tank in Washington, cites a video Al-Qaeda released
in May that highlights its alliance with the Taliban and shows an image of
militants fighting together under both Al-Qaeda and Taliban flags.
Taliban has not renounced Al-Qaeda nor is it likely to do so,” Roggio said.
“The two remain close allies. The Taliban refused to hand over Osama bin Laden
after 9/11 and was willing to sacrifice its control of the country. The Taliban
has the upper hand now. There are no incentives to denounce its closest ally.”
US intelligence official based in Kabul, the Afghan capital, told The
Associated Press that the Daesh group is an even bigger threat. The official,
who discussed terrorist threats only on condition of anonymity, said recent IS
attacks in Kabul are “practice runs” for more substantial ones in the future.
The official said “one of the hopes of a negotiated settlement is that it will
bring the Taliban into the government and into the fight against IS.”
Daesh group has expanded into eastern Kunar Province, where the US was forced
to withdraw after several punishing attacks from the Taliban. That’s one reason
the US wants to co-opt the Taliban: They clearly know the terrain and can take
the fight to Islamic State forces.
an alignment is hardly unheard of. During the 1980s, the US backed Islamic insurgents
in Afghanistan as they battled to end the occupation of the former Soviet
hasn’t specifically said why he’s satisfied with the Taliban’s guarantee that
it will prevent attacks from being plotted on Afghan soil. He says only that
the “US military withdrawal will be linked to the commitments the Taliban are
Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar, said such
guarantees will be written into law once US and NATO troops leave the country.
withdrawal of foreign troops from the country and formation of a new Islamic
government, legislation will be made that no one can use the soil of
Afghanistan against US and its allies,” Shaheen said.
Dempsey, senior adviser in the State Department’s Bureau for South and Central
Asia, said Khalilzad not only has been given assurances from the Taliban but
also is discussing ways the US will be able to verify them.
not going into the discussions naively and taking them at their word,” Dempsey
said. “He’s in discussions on putting in place verification and enforcement and
implementation guarantees. We’re not there yet.”
Director Gina Haspel was asked about verification at a Senate hearing this
there were an eventual peace agreement, a very robust monitoring regime would
be critical and we would still need to retain the capability to act in our
national interest if we needed to,” Haspel said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah told the AP that “neither the presence of American
military nor intelligence is acceptable to us.”
said that by Sept. 1, the US wants to resolve the issue about terrorist groups
using Afghanistan to plot attacks and wants to draft a timeline for withdrawing
troops. That agreement would allow more progress to be made in ongoing talks
between the Taliban and Afghans. Women are especially fearful about the future
because they were harshly repressed when the Taliban ruled the country from
1996 to 2001.
deep ethnic fissures in the country and the Taliban’s refusal — so far — to
negotiate with the current Afghan government, which it sees as a puppet of the
West, these Afghan-to-Afghan talks are expected to be even harder than the US
direct talks with the Taliban.
Siang: Do away with ‘klepto-theocracy’ to make Islamic civilisation great again
LUMPUR, July 26 — Malaysia can help bring back the greatness of past Islamic
civilisations, DAP lawmaker Lim Kit Siang said today.
was responding to the Malaysia-Turkey-Pakistan pact Prime Minister Tun Dr
Mahathir Mohamad proposed yesterday on his working trip to Ankara — for the
three Muslim-majority countries to take the lead in speaking up for the global
ummah which faces internal and external conflicts.
said Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan should pool their resources to make Islamic
civilisation great again, but must steer clear of what he coined as
“klepto-theocracy”, which he described as a culture of peddling lies,
falsehoods, distrust, suspicion, hatred and supporting thievery and corruption.
we dream such big dream for Malaysia — which includes transforming Malaysia
from a global kleptocracy into a leading nation of integrity in the world and a
top world-class nation in as many fields of human endeavour as possible?” he
asked in a statement.
it possible to make Islamic civilisation great again based on klepto-theocracy
which misuses Islam to peddle lies, falsehoods, distrust, suspicion, hatred and
which supports thievery and corruption?” he said.
Iskandar Puteri MP said Malaysia has the unique opportunity “as the confluence
of the great cultures, religions and civilisations in the world” noting the
country is an amalgamation of Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western influences.
said a “great Malaysian civilisation” could signal to the international
community a path towards new heights if it could rid itself of things holding
back its progress.
were not ‘reaching for the stars’ to achieve greatness but were instead locked
in destructive pursuits like creating suspicion, distrust and hatred by pitting race against race and religion
against religion,” he said.
said an example of “klepto-theocracy” was a reported remark by Umno president
Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi that his PKR counterpart Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had
become indebted to DAP.
had earlier insinuated that Dr Mahathir was my stooge and was only doing my
bidding. In his reply to Anwar, he insinuated that Anwar has become my stooge.
This would mean I have two stooges — Mahathir and Anwar.
[much] ‘dumb and dumber’ can an Umno leader get?” Lim asked.
Arabia’s government invites investors to open more cinema theaters
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Audiovisual Media has invited investors
who are interested in opening or operating cinema theaters in small cities to
communicate with the authority.
statement issued by the Saudi Press Agency said the invitation is aimed at
easing procedures for investors and provide them with the necessary permits for
move comes after the Kingdom’s cinemas ranked third place across the Middle
East for its record ticket sales during the second quarter of 2019.
far, seven theaters have been established in three main cities in the Kingdom.
Around 27 more theaters are expected to open in seven cities by the end of 2019
to meet the increasing demand, SPA added.
declares end to 'all agreements' with Tel Aviv amid Israeli violations
President Mahmoud Abbas has declared an end to "all agreements, including
security coordination" with Tel Aviv amid Israeli violations against the
all the violations committed against our people, we announce the cessation of
all agreements signed with Israel,'' tweeted Abbas on Thursday.
stressed that the suspension would also include "security
coordination" between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Tel Aviv
Abbas محمود عباس
نعلن وقف كافة الاتفاقيات الموقعة مع #اسرائيل ويشمل ذلك التنسيق الامني.
confirmation: We declare a cessation of all agreements signed with #Israel,
including security coordination
AM - Jul 26, 2019
Ads info and privacy
people are talking about this
made the announcement following an emergency meeting held at the presidential
headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday.
official WAFA news agency had reported earlier that the meeting had been
adjourned to discuss Israel's blocking of PA tax revenues, continued settlement
construction and Palestinian displacement.
the meeting, the Palestinian president said that the PA leadership had decided
to lay out "mechanisms" to establish a committee implementing the
decision amid continued "Israeli violations".
Israeli occupation authority has decided to ignore all its obligations in
accordance with the agreements signed with it. It continues to kill Palestinian
citizens, arrest them, demolish their houses and confiscate their lands,"
said Abbas in the meeting.
further denounced the US-designated "deal of the century" as a
further flagrant violation of Palestinian rights.
will not coexist with the occupation and we will not deal with the deal of the
century, or the slap of the century or the deal of shame - all names for one
title. Palestine and al-Quds are not for sale and bargain. They are not a real
estate deal in a real estate company," he said.
"deal of the century", formulated by Trump's son-in-law and senior
adviser Jared Kushner is yet to be officially released. The so-called
"peace deal" will reportedly deny Palestinians any right to a
sovereign Palestinian state, while claiming to provide economic incentives in
a tougher stance against Tel Aviv amid the so-called "deal", Abbas
also called for the implementation of an earlier reconciliation deal with the
Palestinian Hamas resistance movement.
and Fatah have been at odds since Fatah won the Palestinian parliamentary
elections Gaza in January 2006, splitting control over the Palestinian
territories between the West Bank-based Fatah party and the Gaza-based
on Thursday, Hamas issued a statement expressing support for Abbas’ decision as
“a step taken in right direction”, adding that people were waiting for its
movement also called for the establishment of a national unity government.
steps up violations of PA’s authority
to the WAFA news agency, the meeting came specifically in response to the
record demolition of 10 Palestinian apartment buildings in the Sur Baher
village situated in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.
Aviv claims the buildings had been constructed illegally and built too close to
Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank.
sources, however, say that the restrictions, imposed in 2011, had never been
seriously enforced and that Israel was using it as a pretext to displace Palestinians
as part of long-term settlement expansion efforts.
demolition has prompted international condemnation. The US, however, blocked a
draft United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution denouncing Tel-Aviv on
demolitions, seen as a further violation of the Palestinian Authority's legal
jurisdiction over the West Bank, come as the Israeli regime has frozen about
$138 million of Palestinian tax revenues belonging to the Palestinian
Aviv has said it has withheld the sum on grounds that the money is distributed
to current and former Palestinian prisoners convicted of "terrorism".
PA says the payments are a form of welfare stipend to the families who have
lost their main breadwinner. The stipends benefit roughly 35,000 families of
the Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel.
President Abbas has defended the payments as an important function of his
administration amid the West Bank's deteriorating economic condition.
to a World Bank report issued in April, about 160,000 PA employees have gotten
only half their salaries during the past months. Unemployment in the West Bank
has gone up to over 30 percent and the dispute over the withheld tax revenues
is likely to drive up the PA’s existing debt from $400 million to $1 billion.
US Trump Administration also made sweeping aid cuts to the Palestinian
territories last year.
religious American Muslims, hostility from the right and disdain from the left
Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is the author of “Islamic
Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World” and the
co-editor of “Rethinking Political Islam.”
celebrate the end of Ramadan at a mosque in Brooklyn on June 4. (Photo by
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
is an odd time to be a Muslim in America, in part because it depends on which
America you happen to live in. Here, too, there are two Americas.
the one hand, this is a sort of golden age for American Muslims and their place
in public life. Sometimes it seems like Muslims are everywhere, even though
they’re not. They star in their own television shows; they headline the White House
correspondents' dinner ; they win Academy Awards; they become Snapchat
sensations. Some of it is more subtle but striking nonetheless: If you live in
a semi-hip urban setting, it’s not unusual to see a headscarf-wearing woman in
an ad flanked by a rainbow coalition of other diverse Americans.
can make it easy to forget the other reality that exists alongside the liberal
pop-culture embrace of Muslims. The increase in anti-Muslim bigotry and other
forms of discrimination against Muslims is well documented. But even if you
don’t experience it or see it, you know Islamophobia exists, because it is
there on social media. It is also in our president’s rhetoric. It is
to polling by University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami, favorable views
of Islam actually increased during the 2016 presidential campaign, but this
increase came entirely from Democrats and independents. Among Republicans,
favorable attitudes toward Muslims, as people, and Islam, as a religion,
remained worryingly low (at around 40 percent and 25 percent, respectively).
This is the America that the lawyer and writer Asma T. Uddin is most concerned
with in her book “When Islam Is Not a Religion.” The title comes from the
growing movement to paint Islam as a political ideology rather than a religion.
If Islam is not a religion, Uddin writes, then it cannot claim the protections
that U.S. law grants to religious expression. This, in effect, is how many
Christian conservatives reconcile the seemingly contradictory positions of
advocating for religious freedom for themselves but not for Muslims. In the
process, the free exercise of religion, protected and guaranteed by the First
Amendment, becomes yet another victim of partisan polarization.
such an argument about Islam would come from Christian conservatives is
somewhat ironic. After all, the notion that religion should remain private and
personal is precisely the argument that secular liberals employ against
Christians when it comes to issues like abortion and baking cakes for same-sex
weddings. Conservatives bristle, rightly, at the idea that their faith
commitments should not influence their politics. Why, then, would they insist
that American Muslims become the very thing — in effect good, docile
secularists — that they refuse to be?
is at her best and most passionate when discussing how this strain of
anti-Muslim sentiment has affected her as an observant Muslim who shares some
of the concerns of Christian conservatives regarding secular intolerance of sincerely
held religious conviction. She was part of the legal team representing Hobby
Lobby, the arts-and-crafts company that refused to provide certain
contraceptives to employees as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. She worries
that Muslims have become too closely tied to the Democratic Party, noting for
example that “the Right’s tribal opposition to the political Left multiplies
the Right’s hostility toward Muslim religious rights.”
the book, Uddin reserves most of her criticism for Republicans and
conservatives, since they are the ones imperiling, indirectly or directly, the
safety and security of Muslims through the rhetorical delegitimization of
Islam, along with practical measures like opposition to mosque construction in
local communities. But she also points to the occasionally awkward embrace
between Muslims and the left and wonders whether that awkwardness might one day
reveal deeper tensions. Many Muslims (including myself) are relieved that at
least one of the two major parties is taking it upon itself to defend Muslims
during a period of uncertainty. But there is, at the same time, an undercurrent
of growing discomfort among avowedly conservative Muslims. Will Muslims who
openly criticize the left’s stances on gender, abortion and gay rights still
have a place in the Democratic Party?
a conservative Muslim friend once told me: “I can sense the disdain from the
Democratic Party towards my faith, even as they don a cape against
Islamophobia. The underlying view Democrats have [about] anyone seriously
religious is that they’re, at best, silly and gullible, and at worst,
dangerous.” Uddin cites the infamous example of Sen. Dianne Feinstein
(D-Calif.) telling appeals court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, a practicing
Catholic, that “the dogma lives loudly within you.” It is difficult to imagine
Feinstein saying this to a Muslim judicial nominee, but it is an affront to
American traditions of religious liberty all the same and one that could be
easily turned against conservative Muslims in due time.
seems to be a book about the place of Muslims (and the anti-Muslim sentiment
they are subjected to) in the Trump era is actually something different: It
builds into a stirring defense of religious freedom, which, try as we might, is
inseparable from human freedom. As Uddin writes: “It’s not our beliefs that
religious liberty protects — it protects us, the humans who hold those beliefs.
Put another way, religious liberty protects believers, not beliefs.”
shouldn’t matter, then, whether someone is religious or not, since most
Americans believe in something strongly enough for them to hope that the
government will not interfere in those beliefs. These beliefs, and those who
believe them, seem to be in growing conflict with each other. Americans no
longer share the same starting premises, if they ever did, on what it means to
live well. We’re perhaps more aware of it today because our fellow citizens —
angry, impatient and increasingly educated — are more willing to express their
“uncivil” opinions and have access to social media platforms where they can do
precisely that. Uddin’s careful, fair and often quite powerful account offers
up religion not as a source of our divides but as a window into how we might
better manage them. Like all debates around autonomy and choice, the debate
over religious freedom — and the place of Muslims in American public life — is
one that speaks to a fundamental question, perhaps the fundamental question of
the Trump era: how to live together with deep difference, not in spite of it.
outrage, bias’: Colleagues criticise artistes’ letter to PM Narendra Modi
days after 49 artistes, including Aparna Sen and Anurag Kashyap, wrote to PM
Narendra Modi expressing concern over recent cases of lynching and ‘Jai Shri
Ram’ becoming a ‘war cry’, several members of the film industry and other media
issued a counter to it.
“open letter”, shared with the media on Friday, accuses these artistes of
“selective outrage, false narratives and a clear political bias”. The 62
signatories include lyricist and CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi, actor Kangana
Ranaut, dancer Sonal Mansingh and musician Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.
to their colleagues as “self-styled guardians of the nation and democracy”,
they claimed their aim was to “tarnish India’s international standing and to
negatively portray Prime Minister Modi’s untiring efforts to effectuate
governance on the foundations of positive nationalism and humanism which is the
core of Indianness”.
have argued that ‘anti-government stands cannot be equated with anti-national
sentiments’, in fact under the Modi regime we see maximum liberty to differ, to
criticise and to abuse the government and the dispensation in power —- the
spirit of dissent has never been stronger. The Constitution of India certainly
gives the right to dissent but not the right to try and break India apart. To
disguise the propensity for subversion by the name of dissent is a dangerous
trait,” said the letter.
listed 12 points on which, the signatories claimed, their colleagues were
silent, for instance when Hindus were under attack in West Bengal recently or
the Kashmiri Pandit issue.
Vivek Agnihotri said, “One cannot let them give the impression that select
communities are in danger. They have been criticising the Modi-led government
ever since it came into power. But this outrage is selective. Did they speak up
when Jagannath Tudu was bludgeoned to death in Purulia just because he followed
a different political ideology from that of the ruling dispensation in West
Ashok Pandit added that these artistes were merely creating an atmosphere of
US has a very good and growing relationship with India, the White House has
House Counsellor Kellyanne Conway was responding to a question on Thursday on
the denial by the Indian government that Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested
President Donald Trump to mediate on the Kashmir issue.
have a very good and growing relationship with (Prime Minister) Mr Modi and the
Indian government,” Conway told reporters during a press gaggle.
a separate State Department briefing on Thursday, while responding to a
question whether the Kashmir policy of the US has changed, spokesperson Morgan
Ortagus declined to comment.
I don’t have anything to say beyond the President’s statement,” she said.
Monday, President Trump stunned India during a joint media availability with
visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan by claiming that Prime Minister
Modi asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue during their bilateral meeting
on the sidelines of G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, last month.
Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that Prime Minister Modi never asked for
mediation and the issue of Kashmir was never discussed between the two leaders.
External Affairs Ministry has also strongly reiterated India’s consistent
position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan will have to be discussed
bilaterally, including the Kashmir issue.
Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Thursday said it was time to
“move on” and asserted that the Indo-US ties remained very strong.
said the controversy should be put to rest as India made its position clear and
the US State Department issued a quick clarification.
should move on. A statement was made by the External Affairs Minister in both
houses of Parliament. The ministry made a statement on the issue. The US State
Department has issued a clarification. I think we should leave it at that,”
Kumar said in New Delhi.
public's expectation from the Narendra Modi government is really high. And why
not, the government came to power in the 2019 parliamentary polls on the
promise of ushering a new India, driven by the motto Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas,
integral part of this motto for 'New (Hindu) India' is the inclusivity of the
Muslims of India — economic as well as social.
driven by this desire to include Muslims — though some Lok Sabha MPs on
Thursday claim it to be part of some anti-Muslim agenda — the BJP has launched
a crusade against the practice of instant triple talaq and several other issues
preventing the upliftment of the social status of the religious minority.
has already set the ball rolling in another major issue — the modernisation of
the madrassa education system. If executed well, it could become the biggest
accomplishment of any political party in the upliftment of the Muslim
community, and perhaps an even bigger move than banning criminalising triple
talaq. Why the madrassas are so important is a topic for another day.
focus on the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, which
was tabled in the Lok Sabha by Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and
passed with 303 votes in favour amid protest from the Opposition MPs.
major point of contention between the Opposition and ruling MPs in the said
Bill is the criminalisation of instant triple talaq. As per the Bill passed in
the Lok Sabha, a Muslim man can be sentenced to a jail term of up to three
years for giving instant triple talaq to his wife.
the debate progressed in the Lok Sabha, the Opposition MPs asked why the
government only wishes to punish Muslim men and not all men who unjustly
divorce their wives.
leader Asaduddin Owaisi accused the government of not keeping in mind the
welfare of the women while criminalising the practice.
will a husband pay maintenance from jail? Why should the woman stay in such a
marriage for three years while the husband is in jail? The court decides
whether or not to give bail. Why are you deciding the same?” he asked demanding
higher maintenance amount in such cases.
and several other leaders, including Jammu and Kashmir National Conference's
Hasnain Masoodi and NDA ally JD(U)'s Rajeev Ranjan Singh highlighted how the
law puts the burden of proof on the wife.
will be the fate of the family if we allow Section 4 to be implemented through
the Bill. Moreover, after it is proven, how will she ask for maintenance if her
husband is in jail?” Masoodi questioned.
Jayadev Galla questioned the House about cases where men abandon their wives
without giving talaq, calling the Bill discriminatory.
the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill, the govt argued that the SC
judgment hasn't acted as a deterrent and in bringing down the number of
divorces by this practice among certain Muslims. And therefore, State action
the Opposition MPs made important remarks, which, if not addressed in time will
only create more problems for Muslim women seeking legal recourse in instant
triple talaq cases.
Prasad, who tabled the Bill in the Parliament nor any other MP of the ruling
party, addressed these concerns. They rather chose to parrot the party line
that the bill is crucial for the dignity of Muslim women to ward-off every
issue raised against the Bill.
Poonam Mahajan said the bill is not about the empowerment of women alone but it
is also in consonance with government's motto of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vishwas
aur Sabka Vikas'.
chose to focus mostly on why a Bill was brought only for Muslim women, ignoring
important questions on compensation and rehabilitation for the affected women,
BOTH of which should have ideally been the focus of the bill, and who according
to the Union minister are the only stakeholders in the Bill.
an ideal world, the government would have deliberated on the amendments and
responded thoughtfully to the questions of the Opposition MPs. Or even better,
brought out a Uniform Civil Code (rather than a Bill focussing mostly on Muslim
women), where an unjust divorce, irrespective of whether the husband in
question is Hindu, Muslim or Christian, gets penalised. But this isn't one.
also doesn't shy away from trivialising an important issue like women's rights
to earn brownie points or to push its agenda. It's evident that a woman,
irrespective of her religion, is on the losing side in an unjust divorce. Yet
the government is focussing only on Muslim women.
Muslims in India need inclusion, more than imagined, but to do it in a
haphazard manner disregarding every other point of view reeks of arrogance —
something which was clearly visible in the way the ruling party sidelined the
crucial concerns of the Opposition MPs.
appeasement or reform
triple talaq practice is an example of the misuse of religious freedom. And
there are many such evils practised under the guise of religion.
of Muslims alone, a woman in the community doesn't have an equal right to
property after the death of her husband or father.
Muslim woman, who is divorced unjustly, suffers also because the Muslim
Personal Law doesn't allow her to claim equal right on her parent's property
after their death, while the rules of inheritance prevent the parents (as well
as husbands) from bequeathing property to them without the approval of all
heirs, which again is subjected to Shariah limitations. There is also the
question of property rights, which is not available to adopted children among
Muslims. The latter problem also exists among Christians.
short, without repealing or bringing amendments to change contentious sections
of the Muslim Personal Law or other personal laws, any act of reform will end
up being mere lip service.
triple talaq could have served as a means to end evil practices practised under
the garb of religion across communities, but in a haste to present itself as
the benefactor of Muslims, the BJP, lost a golden opportunity.
was the third time the Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha. In the previous two
occasions, the Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha, but never taken up for
consideration in the Rajya Sabha. In both situations, the government reasoned
that the bill could not be presented for consideration. And on both occasions,
the government chose to opt for an ordinance, instead of pushing for the Bill
to become an Act.
has freed nine Indian crew members of a Panama-flagged tanker it seized this
month, the Indian foreign ministry said on Saturday, and it appealed for the
release of three remaining crew members held from the same ship.
of Indian crew members on ships in the Gulf have been caught up in rising
tensions between Iran and the West.
MT Riah was detained by the Iranian coastguard on July 13, with 12 Indian crew
members on board, the Indian foreign ministry said.
crew members have been released and they will be on their way to India soon,”
foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.
mission in Iran has requested the concerned Iranian authorities for the release
of remaining crew members.”
reason was provided as to why the three were being held.
state TV aired footage of the vessel a few days after it was seized, saying it
had been detained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for smuggling fuel.
and Iranian authorities said this week Iran had granted India consular access
to 18 Indian crew seized on another ship, the British-flagged Stena Impero that
Iran seized in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19.
seizure of the British tanker in the world’s most important waterway for the
oil trade has deepened a crisis between Iran and the West that was triggered in
May when the United States tightened sanctions, effectively barring all
countries from buying Iranian oil.
said it had seized the Stena Impero because it had collided with a fishing
junior foreign minister, V. Muraleedharan, said India was pushing for the
release of the Indian crew on the British vessel.
50 per cent families in Pakistan cannot have two meals a day: Survey
Nearly half of all the families in Pakistan are unable to meet their nutritional
needs due to poverty, affecting a large number of children with chronic
malnutrition and stunted growth, a media report on Friday quoted the first-ever
survey of its kind in the cash-strapped country as saying.
to the National Nutrition Survey 2018, poverty keeps more than 50 per cent of
Pakistani families from having two meals a day, leading to severe dietary
deficiencies, The Express Tribune reported.
a result, as many as 40.2 per cent of all children in Pakistan are affected by
chronic malnutrition and stunted growth, which inhibits both their cognitive
and physical development, the exercise carried out by the Ministry of National
Health Services (NHS) revealed.
survey also discovered that 36.9 per cent of Pakistani households remain food
insecure and lack reliable access to affordable nutritious food in sufficient
objective of the survey is to draw the attention of authorities towards the
ever-growing problem of malnutrition among Pakistani children.
survey is one of the biggest in Pakistan's history and covers both the rural
and urban population of all four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and
many as 115,600 families, including 145,324 women, 76,742 children under five
years of age and 145,847 minors aged between 10 and 19 years were studied
during the course of the survey, the report said.
conducting the research took blood and urine samples from participants and
investigated water quality and sewerage situation in and around their homes to
determine their natural body development and whether it was hindered by
diseases or lack of nutrients, it said.
the key findings of the survey is that only 48.4 per cent of women in Pakistan
breastfeed their children during infancy. It also found malnutrition to be at
least partially a hereditary issue as women who lacked necessary nutrients in
their diet gave birth to weak children.
International Monetary Fund, together with other international partners, is
working closely with the government of Pakistan to support the implementation
of the economic reform programme. Recently, the IMF cleared a USD 6 billion
bailout package to Pakistan to overcome the financial woes.
out of every 10 children under the age of five in Pakistan were discovered to
be affected by stunted growth and lack of education and awareness was found to
be a significant factor behind this.
study also discovered dietary discrimination in the favour of boys over girls
in a significant number of families in the country.
to reap rich dividends from religious tourism in Kartarpur Sahib
To encash the vast religious tourism potential with the opening of Kartarpur
Sahib corridor , the Pakistan government has planned to construct five and
seven star hotels in Kartarpur Sahib even as , under pressure from Sikh bodies,
it has agreed to not carry out any commercial activity in 104 acres of land
around Gurdwara Darbar Sahib which was cultivated by Baba Nanak himself.
to sources, Pakistan government had in principle given its nod to construct 5
and 7-star hotels, shopping malls, etc. during the second phase of development
of Kartarpur corridor which was likely to be completed by 2022.
time constraints, Islamabad has already expressed its inability to construct an
all-weather bridge near the international border and had assured to construct
the same in the second phase of Kartarpur corridor.
help strengthen its feeble economy Pakistan government has already invited Sikh
businessmen from across the globe for the development of Sikh religious tourism
in the country especially at Kartarpur Sahib and Nankana Sahib.
the invitation, many Sikh businessmen had visited Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur
Sahib to inspect the commercial sites.
among others US-based Sikh businessmen Jasdeep Singh Jassi had visited Nanakna
Sahib and had shown a keen interest in the development of religious tourism in
Pakistan. He had also held a meeting with Pak prime minister Imran Khan.
businessmen from Thailand Charanjit Singh had also visited both the religious
places in Pakistan to explore the business possibilities of the opening of
hotels at both the places.
talking to TOI on Friday, Evacuee Trust Property Board. (ETPB) chairman Dr.
Aamir Ahmad said that local administration had imposed a ban on sale and
purchase of about 1493 acres of land in the area which includes 408 acres of
land for Gurdwara complex, 214 acres for the road network, parking and border
terminal and 871 lands for other future projects.
both the phases of Kartarpur corridor, Pakistan would construct 6 residential
blocks for pilgrims with each having a capacity to accommodate 700 pilgrims
besides it was constructing 100 immigration counters added he.
Sikh individuals and organisations around the globe had objected on
commercialisation of the surroundings of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib especially any
commercial activity on the 104 acres of land which was farmed by Baba Nanak
following which Pak government announced to protect the same and construct
luxury hotels, malls and shopping plaza’s beyond 104 acres of land surrounding
Education in Pakistan largely sharpens the existing divisions, mainly around
religious lines. Discriminated against in all respects, the life of non-Muslim
students and teachers is miserable.
was stated in a report titled ‘Education and Inequality’ launched by the
Institute of Development Research and Corresponding Capabilities (IDRAC) and
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday.
report, which was launched at the HRCP office, pointed out that the situation
was quite alarming.
massive 60pc of the non-Muslim students interviewed as part of this study said
they had experienced discrimination or felt they were being discriminated
against and disrespected,” reads the report.
said that similarly 70pc of teachers admitted to having faced discrimination
based on their faith. While, as many as 72pc of parents believed their children
to be discriminated against in schools and colleges because of their
at the launching ceremony, lead author Amjad Nazeer of IDRAC said during
research work for the report, he pointed out that there was need to change
mindset and behaviour of Muslim teachers, who had been teaching the minorities
changing behaviour of teachers, change in syllabus will be useless,” he said.
said because of “situational” issues in many schools, like shortage of
teachers, students from minorities were left with no other option but to study
Islamiyat. However, he said that during his research he did not find any case
where such students were forced to take Islamiyat as a compulsory subject.
member Nasreen Azhar said in Pakistan the environment for minorities was not
conducive and the government should pay heed to issues being faced by minorities.
rights activist Tahira Abdullah said the Supreme Court in its landmark
judgement of 2014 had decided that students from the minorities community could
not be forced to study Islamic books in schools. However, she said the
judgement was not fully implemented yet.
participants of the ceremony said Ziaul Haq promoted Jihad and extremism
through school and college curriculum, and for making Pakistan a peaceful
country, all such material should be removed.
the report said that in Punjab, from where the data was collected, an alarming
60pc of non-Muslim students experienced discrimination or felt they were being
report said education and academic environments lacked the characteristics of
objectivity, impartiality and critical cum analytical thinking. It said that
scientific and empirical principles of thought and inquiry, mainly in the
social arena, were almost absent. “Other ethnic, linguistic and cultural
identities that are integral part of Pakistan’s composition are rarely
acknowledged or respected. Even one’s professional distinction or eminence is
subordinated to one’s faith,” the report said, adding that sometimes, Muslim
students were found to be confusing ‘the west’ with the local Christians and India
with the local Hindus and Sikhs.
report pointed out that non-Muslims were perceived to be the enemies of Islam
by Muslim students and teachers. Ceremonies and festivals of non-Muslim
communities are never considered by the academic system.
report recommended that the policy and purpose of pre-university education
needed to be thoroughly revised. The process needs to be instrumentalised to
create objective, critical and analytical thinking and understanding in
children. It said that scientific and empirical principles of thought and
inquiry need to be promoted across all subjects. It also said most importantly,
humanist values of respect, equality and empathy need to be instilled and
strengthened in young minds.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit gave President Donald Trump and Secretary Michael
Pompeo the chance to build a personal connection and rapport with the premier
and now it’s time to make progress on this success, says the US State
Department. At a Thursday afternoon’s news briefing, the department’s
spokesperson Morgan Ortagus disagreed with the suggestion that the Trump-Khan
talks, particularly some of Mr Trump’s comments, were a source of “unhappiness”
for the Afghan people.
Ortagus said that the prime minister’s July 22 White House summit with the US
president was an initial meeting, which “gave the chance for the president and
the secretary to meet Prime Minister Khan, to build a personal connection and
now, “we think it’s time to make progress on the success of this first
meeting”, said the US official. She recalled that in his meetings in
Washington, Prime Minister Khan also “vowed to urge the Taliban to negotiate
with the Afghan government”.
United States, she said, was committed to peace in Afghanistan and it believed
that the Trump-Khan meeting was an important step towards achieving that goal.
was a number of issues that were discussed not only in the president’s meeting
but with the secretary’s meeting as well,” said Ms Ortagus while re-emphasising
that “now is the time to build upon that meeting and to build upon those
prime minister met Secretary Pompeo at the Pakistan House in Washington on July
23. Later, the US State Department said that Mr Pompeo availed this opportunity
to emphasise the “continued importance of the United States and Pakistan
working together to advance shared priorities”.
the same evening, the prime minister told members of the US Congress in
Washington that Pakistan and the United States shared the same objective of
reaching a peaceful solution in Afghanistan, which includes persuading the
Taliban to hold direct talks with Kabul.
Thursday, a Taliban official told journalists in Doha, where the group
maintains a political office, that senior Taliban leaders would soon visit
Islamabad to learn from Mr Khan the details of his talks in Washington.
the State Department briefing, an Afghan journalist told Ms Ortagus that the
Trump-Khan talks — particularly President Trump’s comment that he could have
won the war in 10 days by killing millions of Afghans — had made the people of
Afghanistan “very unhappy”.
Ortagus said she would “remind the Afghan people of the countless number —
thousands, tens of thousands — of American lives and lives of our Nato allies
and our European allies that have been lost fighting in Afghanistan for the
people of Afghanistan to have a right to choose their own future”.
United States, she said, had not only lost thousands of lives and billions of
dollars in Afghanistan but there were countless others who also had served there.
could probably look at most of the people in this room that serve here at the
State Department, and we have either served ourselves or we have had family
members that have served. I have someone on my staff who is serving there right
now,” she said.
I think that the people of Afghanistan should know that for almost 20 years,
Americans have lost their lives and have spent their hard-earned taxpayer money
to see the people of Afghanistan have a choice for their own future,” she said.
that commitment has not been a small commitment. That has been a vast and
sweeping commitment by the American people.”
if Prime Minister Khan delivered the “good news” of securing the release of two
US hostages within 48 hours after returning to Islamabad, Ms Ortagus said the
Trump administration had a very strong record on getting American hostages
take human lives incredibly seriously, and we will use every means available at
our disposal to secure and to see the secure and safe return of American
citizens who are held hostage abroad,” she said.
Ortagus confirmed that the Pakistani prime minister had made that promise and
now US officials were working closely with the Pakistanis on recovering the
Inadequate measures for curtailing HIV/AIDs have brought embarrassment to
Pakistan as the United Nations has put it on the list of 11 countries which
have the highest prevalence of the disease — 13 per cent — in its latest
is the highest ratio of HIV prevalence the country has touched during the last
decade, raising concerns among global health partners.
UNAIDS-2019 analysis revealed that the world is on track to end the AIDS
epidemic by 2030, but Pakistan is among the countries where ratio of new AIDs
cases saw a sharp increase. The report termed it a blow to global efforts to
curtail the disease.
stated that the average HIV incidence per 1000 people in Pakistan was 0.08 in
2010, which had risen to 0.11 last year.
situation has aggravated despite grant of “massive funding” by international
health partners to curtail HIV.
report, which has already been communicated to Islamabad, stated that the
number of people living with HIV in the country stood at 160,000 last year. The
number was 120,000 in 2015 and 67,000 in 2010.
number of people living with HIV under 14 years of age was 5,500 in 2018, 4,000
in 2015 and 1,800 in 2010, according to the report.
ratio also witnessed an increase in the number of females aged 15 and above
living with HIV. The numbers were 19,000 in 2010, 37,000 in 2015 and 48,000
number of males aged 15 and above living with HIV stood at 110,000 last year,
compared to 84,000 in 2015 and 46,000 in 2010.
UNAIDS report also dwelt on mortality ratio because of this deadly disease as a
good number of patients living with HIV remained untraced and untreated. It
stated that the average annual death ratio of HIV patients was 6400 in 2018,
4700 in 2015 and 1400 in 2010.
report put the number of fresh HIV infection cases for all age groups at 2200
for 2018, 18,000 for 2015 and 14000 for 2010.
UNAIDS analysis recorded HIV prevalence at 3.8pc among sex workers in 2018,
3.7pc among gay men, 21pc among drug addicts and 5.5pc for transgender people.
revealed 45pc of sex workers were aware of their HIV status, 35.1pc use condom
and 0.7pc had access to an HIV prevention programme.
per cent of gay men know their HIV status, 22.4pc use condom and 1.2pc had
access to an HIV prevention porgramme.
drug addicts, 39.3pc were aware of their HIV status, 15.3pc use condom and
1.6pc were benefiting from any HIV prevention programme.
situation was not satisfactory in respect of transgender people as 69.1pc know
their HIV status, 24pc use condom and only 1.1pc had access to an HIV
to the report, 18pc children and eight per cent women living with HIV who know
their status had undergone tests and treatment last year.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz vice president Maryam Nawaz on Friday said that
Balochistan issues could not be resolved through the use of force and dialogue
was needed to heal people’s wounds.
to party workers at the residence of Senator Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasar at the
end of her two-day visit to Quetta, she urged all political parties to take up
issues of Balochistan at every forum and find solutions to end the sense of
deprivation among people.
criticised the coalition government of Balochistan, terming it selected and
alleged that in the general elections of 2018 the mandate of the people of
Balochistan was stolen to bring the Balochistan Awami Party into power.
to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the US and his meeting with President
Donald Trump, she said the US was using Pakistan for its interest, which would
be a catastrophe for the country.
incompetent prime minister has been misleading the nation and spreading
propaganda that his visit was successful,” she said, adding that all parties
should unite against the “selected PTI government”.
Leaders belonging to the opposition Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) on Friday
expressed their concern over “rampant incidence of corruption” in Sindh and
demanded that the prime minister and Sindh governor play their part in
eradicating corrupt practices in the province.
today’s meeting of the GDA, we have demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan and
Governor Imran Ismail to take notice of the incessant corruption in Sindh and
take appropriate action to root it out,” said GDA leader Ayaz Latif Palijo
while briefing reporters about the meeting of the alliance held at Kingri
meeting, presided over by Pir Pagara, was also attended by former Sindh home minister
Dr Zulfikar Mirza, Dr Safdar Abbasi, Pir Sadruddin Shah Rashdi and other
asked to go after ‘big fish’
Palijo said the meeting also called upon the National Accountability Bureau to
take action against the “big fish” involved in corruption.
GDA demanded that the provincial government provide jobs to unemployed youths
in various government departments and establish more industrial zones.
meeting demanded child protection cells to ensure protection to vulnerable
were concerned over the scarcity of water and incidence of HIV in epidemic
proportions in the northern parts of the province and called for devising
effective policies to handle those issues effectively.
protection for girls — both belonging to Muslim and non-Muslim communities —
was also demanded.
meeting formed a coordination committee comprising Pir Sadruddin Shah Rashdi,
Mr Palijo, Dr Mirza and others to contact the federal government and
parliamentarians in Islamabad over the issues relating to Sindh.
Palijo said on one hand people in the province were “dying in search of water
like the Kachho region” while on the other there were serious dangers
inflicting Sindh in shape of floods if rains came as dangerously as predicted
by the Meteorological department. “There is a serious threat to a big part of
Sindh, coastal regions in particular, [of floods] if it rains as predicted.”
by-poll termed ‘engineered & rigged’
claimed the recent by-election on a vacant National Assembly seat in Ghotki,
which was won by the Pakistan Peoples Party candidate, was “engineered and
[PPP leadership and workers] are jubilant on winning an election which they had
only won through rigging and managing the police force,” he said.
said the meeting also expressed its concern over increasing law and order
problem in the province.
on the occasion, Pir Sadruddin Rashdi said the meeting discussed all issues
ranging from the province to the prime minister’s “successful” visit to the
have not yet called for change in Sindh. We’ll not call for a change in
whispers; because whenever we will want to call for a change we’ll duly
announce it through the media,” he said.
said the GDA leadership was happy to see “the civil and military leaderships on
the same page”.
hope the country will see good days again soon and days are not far when
everyone will have equally patriotic thinking,” he said.
Mirza said the ruling PPP had “destroyed entire Sindh”. He said the city of Badin
that formed his constituency was deliberately turned into ruins only to take
revenge on people for not voting for PPP candidates.
Abbasi claimed there was no city in Sindh that the ruling party had not
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday telephoned Prime Minister Imran
Khan and discussed with him matters pertaining to bilateral relations and
Imran apprised the Turkish president of the current situation in
Indian-occupied Kashmir and also discussed the Afghan situation.
two leaders expressed satisfaction on Pak-Turk relations and assured each other
of cooperation in various sectors. They also agreed to hold a meeting of the
Pak-Turk Strategic Cooperation Council this year in Islamabad.
the occasion, the prime minister invited Erdogan to visit Pakistan for the
Pak-Turk Strategic Cooperation Council meeting.
Turkish president also expressed condolences to Prime Minister Imran Khan over
last Sunday’s terrorist attacks in Dera Ismail Khan.
wished God’s mercy on those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery to the
wounded, and conveyed his condolences to the Pakistani people, said Turkey’s
Presidential Communications Directorate.
United States has said that it is time for Washington to build upon progress on
the success of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first meeting with President Donald
Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
her weekly press briefing, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said
the visit helped President Trump and Secretary Pompeo build a personal
connection and rapport with the Pakistani premier.
meeting, of course, gave the chance for the president and the secretary to meet
with Prime Minister [Imran] Khan, to build a personal connection and rapport.
And now we think it’s time to make progress on the success of this first
meeting,” she explained.
asked how the State Department sees the Pak-US and Pak-India ties progressing
after Imran’s US trip, the spokesperson said, “I would note one of the things
that the prime minister says that he vowed to urge the Taliban to negotiate
with the Afghan government. We are committed to peace in Afghanistan. We think
that was an important step.”
there was a number of issues that were discussed not only in the president’s
meeting but with the secretary’s meeting as well, and now is the time to build
upon that meeting and to build upon those commitments,” Ortagus continued.
asked about Imran’s statement that there would be good news on US hostages
soon, Ortagus said the Trump administration had a “very strong record,
actually, on getting American hostages returned”.
take human lives incredibly seriously, and we will use every means available at
our disposal to secure and to see the secure and safe return of American
citizens who are held hostage abroad. The prime minister [Imran Khan] did say
that. We are, of course, working closely with the Pakistanis on recovering
them. We think his statements were helpful and we’re of course hopeful that
there will be some action proceeding those statements.”
Trump gave a warm reception to PM Imran and his delegation including the Chief
of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and the head of the ISI intelligence
service in the US.
premier returned home from Washington on July 25 after the visit seen by
supporters as a major diplomatic success, saying he felt like he had when he
came back after winning the cricket World Cup.
Gang In Sri Lanka Hung A Pig's Head In Front Of A Muslim Shop To Taunt
gang in Sri Lanka hung a pig's head in front of a Muslim shop three months
after the April 21 Easter Sunday Islamic suicide bombings that rocked the
monks in the island nation have accused Muslim doctor Siyabdeen Mohammed Safi
of covertly sterilizing 4,000 Buddhist women.
examples are among a plethora of cases cited by minority rights campaigner
Nuwan Athukorala of Muslims being victimized in retaliation for the attacks on
churches and luxury hotels that claimed more than 250 lives.
this week also referred to the fact that monk-turned-politician Athuraliye
Rathana conducted a protest hunger strike demanding the removal of two
government ministers he accused of being linked to the Jihadi group National
Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ).
government banned the NTJ and as well as another militant outfit, Jamathei
Millathu Ibrahim (JMI), in the wake of the Easter carnage.
prominent monk, Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera, has accused Islamic
restaurant owners of drugging food served to non-Muslims to make them sterile
and over time reduce the majority-Buddhist population.
Athukorala notes that the rabble-rousing has all been based on fabricated
Buddhist hegemonic majoritarianism that prevails in Sri Lanka is very
dangerous," Athukorala said.
also referred to Muslim journalists who were black-banned by Buddhist media
practitioners at July 21 events to commemorate the April 21 attacks.
make up 70 percent of the nation's 21 million population, while Muslims account
for about 10 percent.
Lanka has a long history of ethno-religious tragedies, not least the 1983-2009
civil war in which hundreds of thousands of people died.
days after this year's Easter bombings, Buddhist mobs went on rampages,
attacking mosques as well as Muslim businesses, homes and vehicles.
incidents in the cities of Naththandiya, Minuwangoda, Negombo, Chilaw and
Kurunegala occurred despite a government-imposed curfew.
recent years, hard-line groups such as Buddhist Power Force, Mahasohon
Balakaya, Sinhala Ravaya and Ravana Balaya have preached hatred against Muslims
and issued threats against them.
2014, four people were killed in clashes in the coastal town of Aluthgama, with
more than 2,000 displaced and 17 mosques attacked.
Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organization Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) was accused of
instigating the strife.
BBS is also suspected of involvement in 2018 anti-Muslim riots in Kandy,
central Sri Lanka.
450 Muslim homes and shops were damaged and more than 20 mosques were attacked.
has publicly complained that most Sri Lankan politicians exploit ethnic and
rights defender Aruna Shantha Nonis believes existing laws governing religious
practices mitigate against communal harmony.
Father Noel Dias, a lecturer at the Sri Lankan Law College, said such laws were
ineffective without fundamental changes in people's attitudes to faiths other
than their own.
this respect, religious leaders themselves needed to reconsider their roles in
society, said Father Dias, who is also chaplain of the Catholic Lawyers' Guild.
cited the isolation of many religious leaders from their faithful, and failure
to act as spiritual role models, as contributing towards religious disharmony
in Sri Lanka.
Says Deal on U.S. Troop Pullout From Afghanistan Is Near
Henry Meyer and Eltaf Najafizada
Taliban said it’s nearing a peace deal with the U.S. to bring an end to the
foreign military presence in Afghanistan, though it ruled out a halt to
hostilities for now.
are getting close,” Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s
Doha-based political office, said by phone on Thursday. If the U.S. makes “a
reasonable and convincing proposal, the peace agreement will be concluded
fundamentalist Islamic movement and the U.S. are due to resume negotiations
soon in the Qatari capital after adjourning their seventh round of meetings
earlier this month. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Afghan President
Ashraf Ghani agreed Wednesday in a phone call that “now is the time to accelerate
efforts to reach a negotiated end to the war,” according to a State Department
said in a Fox News interview late Thursday that he expects “real progress” in
reaching agreement by September on “a complete reduction in the scope of the
conflict,” allowing for inter-Afghan peace talks to begin followed by the start
of a withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces.
Taliban controls or contests about half of territory in Afghanistan. That’s
more than at any time since it was ousted from power in 2001 by an American-led
invasion after the al-Qaeda group based in the country carried out the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks in the U.S. The Taliban refuses to hold talks with the
authorities in Kabul until it first reaches a binding deal with the Trump administration
on withdrawing foreign forces.
it wants the 14,000 U.S. troops and allied NATO forces to leave Afghanistan,
the Taliban is showing some signs of flexibility over the timetable, dropping
its previous insistence that the withdrawal happen within months.
hope the Americans come up with a reasonable timeline and that we can agree
to,” said Shaheen, who declined to say how soon the foreign forces should go.
losing more than 2,400 soldiers and spending more than $900 billion in
Afghanistan since 2001, critics say the U.S. risks losing hard-won gains.
President Donald Trump on Monday called the nearly 18-year campaign
“ridiculous” and said he could win the conflict in a week but “I don’t want to
kill 10 million people.” Ghani’s office responded that Afghanistan “will never
allow any foreign power to determine its fate.”
envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad described the latest round of talks that
paused July 9 as the “most productive” ever. Among U.S. demands is a commitment
by the Taliban to stop terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State from
continuing to use Afghanistan as a base of operations.
its conciliatory language, the Taliban insists it won’t accept a single foreign
soldier remaining on Afghan soil, fanning fears in Kabul that the U.S. will
leave the government at the mercy of its armed opponents.
Afghan people see it as occupation, whether it is 1,000 or 100 soldiers,”
Shaheen said. “So we want this to end.”
Taliban won’t consider a halt to violence until they thrash out a settlement
with other Afghans after the U.S. commits to pull out its forces, Shaheen said.
The U.S. maintains that no deal can take effect until the Taliban talks
directly with the Afghan government, something the militant group has resisted.
Taliban will join negotiations that involve all of Afghanistan’s political
forces and not just the administration in Kabul, Shaheen said. It also refuses
to recognize the result of the Afghan presidential election planned for Sept.
28, irrespective of the outcome of the talks with the U.S.
would hope that schools and universities would be sanctuaries of knowledge,
where students learn to develop a critical mind. But in Afghanistan, some
universities have become a breeding ground for those looking to radicalise the
this month, an investigation revealed that two teachers and a lecturer at Kabul
University had been pushing their students to join ISIS. One of the suspects
exhorted his students to wage jihad against the “infidel government”, while
another deduced marks for students dressed in western-styled clothes. All
detained suspects are believed to have been involved in deadly attacks in
this is not the first time professors have made use of their status to
radicalise students. In February, authorities arrested a university lecturer
and imam in Kabul, who had pushed hundreds of youngsters to join ISIS –
including his own nephew.
influence of these extremists poses a serious challenge to a younger generation
of Afghans who simply seek higher education. A recent report by the Afghan
Institute for Strategic Studies found that half of the students surveyed at
three major universities supported establishing an Islamic state or a caliphate
in the country. This is especially concerning given the nation’s long history
of harbouring extremist groups.
1996 to 2001, the Taliban ruled over most of Afghanistan, where they
established a brutal regime, imposing their extremist view of religion on
Afghans. After the Septembre 11 attacks, the group was ousted from power by the
US-led invasion, as they provided a safe haven for terrorist organisations
including Al Qaeda, and its leader Osama bin Laden. Since then, Afghanistan has
been embroiled in an unending war between Taliban militants and the US-backed
government in Kabul, costing 147,000 people their lives.
while the US-Taliban peace talks, which were launched in December, sparked hope
of a better tomorrow for many Afghans, there are fears that a US withdrawal
will only weaken the government – which has been sidelined from the
negotiations – and allow the Taliban to extend their rule. Such a security
vacuum would not only allow the Taliban to thrive, it might prompt other
extremist groups to fester, notably ISIS. Just this Thursday, three
back-to-back bomb attacks killed at least 12 people in Kabul and only one of
them was claimed by the Taliban.
- A series of attacks rocked Afghanistan Thursday, killing at least 58 people,
including 38 members of Afghan security forces, as the chairman of the U.S.
Joint Chiefs of Staff met with Afghan officials.
of those bombings targeted the capital, Kabul.
ministry of interior spokesman, Nasrat Rahimi, said a suicide bomber on a
motorcycle targeted a mini bus in Kabul carrying the staff of the Ministry of
Mines and Petroleum as they were on their way to work Thursday morning. The
blast killed at least 11 people. A secondary explosion rocked the site of the
explosions are common in Kabul and have in the past killed first responders and
journalists covering the attack. A separate car bomb hit Jalalabad road in
Kabul a few hours later. Local TV channels showed footage of relatives wailing
outside local hospitals as they searched for their loved ones.
local branch of the Islamic State terror group took responsibility for the two
attacks on the minibus.
the Taliban claimed responsibility for the third attack in Kabul in which they
claim they targeted "foreign invaders."
seeker [Muhammad Kabuli] using VBIED [ vehicle-borne improvised explosive
device ] struck convoy of foreign invaders in Spechari area of #Kabul city 9am
this morning resulting in 2 SUVs destroyed & 9 senior foreign officers
killed," a Tweet from Mujahid said.
blasts came as U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford met
with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss peace and stability in
Thursday , the State Department said Ghani had spoken to Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo the previous day. In the call, Pompeo told Ghani that Dunford and
U.S. envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad had been sent to Kabul to
"discuss in detail the next steps," toward peace and a
"conditions-based" drawdown of foreign forces.
elsewhere in the country, Taliban militants stormed security check posts in
Takhar province while a bomb blast rocked Jalalabad in Nangarhar province.
spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed that the militants ran over two bases in
Ishkamesh district, killing and capturing security personnel and seizing their
weapons and vehicles.
local provincial council members, Wafiullah Rahmani and Khalil Aseer, confirmed
the Taliban attacks. Rahmani said the attacks killed 38 members of civil and
another blast in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, killed nine
members from the same family, six women and three children, according to
Ataullah Khogyani, a spokesman for Nangarhar governor's office.
Sangar, a spokesman for Nangarhar civilian hospital, said five other victims of
the attack are in stable condition.
Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass tweeted U.S. condemnation of the Kabul
perpetrators demonstrated a heinous disregard for the sanctity of human life,
democratic values & #Afghanistan's future. The US stands with the
people of Afghanistan in their aspiration for peace and a better future.
#AfghanPeaceProcess," he tweeted.
Khalilzad in Kabul
the violence rages in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, the man appointed by U.S.
President Donald Trump to find a way to extricate the United States from
Afghanistan, is in Kabul, discussing “where we are on the #AfghanPeaceProcess,”
according to his tweets. He met senior Afghan leadership Wednesday, including
President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and Foreign Minister
Tuesday, as he arrived in Kabul, the Afghan government issued a strong press
release demanding a “clarification” for President Trump’s words that
"Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth if he wanted to win
the war but he did not want to “kill 10 million people."
Khalilzad and Taliban’s political team based in Doha have been sending out
positive indicators about their ongoing negotiations, now in its seventh round.
sides acknowledge that they have made progress on two issues: announcement of a
timeline of withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and promises by the
Taliban that Afghan soil will not be used for terrorism against any other
there seem to be differences on two more issues on the table: announcement of a
comprehensive cease-fire and agreement by the Taliban to enter into direct
negotiations with the Afghan government.
United States has asked Pakistan to help use its influence with the Taliban to
resolve these issues. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was on a three
day trip to Washington and the White House this week, promised to help.
July 26 (Xinhua) -- Seven police officers and 15 militants were killed in
clashes in two Afghan provinces overnight, officials confirmed Friday.
one incident, three policemen and four militants were killed after Taliban
attacked Khogyani district's police station in eastern Ghazni province,
provincial government spokesman Harif Noori told Xinhua.
police personnel were also wounded during the clashes which lasted for hours in
the remote district.
southern Kandahar province, four police officers and 11 Taliban militants were
killed after police repelled Taliban gunmen who stormed a security checkpoint
in Yazdan village, Maiwand district, a provincial police official, told Xinhua.
official added that four militants were also wounded in the fighting.
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has assured Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
that there will be no change in Trump administration’s South Asia strategy, the
State Department said on Thursday.
statement said that in this telephone call on Wednesday, the Afghan president
and the top US diplomat “agreed that now is the time to accelerate efforts to
reach a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan”.
Pompeo “assured President Ghani that there has been no change to President
(Donald) Trump’s South Asia strategy, including US commitment to a
Pompeo informed President Ghani that he had dispatched Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and Special Representative for
Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to Kabul to discuss in
detail the next steps on the road to peace.
Ghani welcomed the Secretary’s engagement and the US visitors, and confirmed
Afghanistan’s commitment to working side-by-side with the United States to
achieve a stable, peaceful, democratic Afghanistan that is not a centre for
terrorism, the State Department said.
Ghani had asked for clarifications following President Trump’s remark earlier
this week that he had a plan that could win the war in Afghanistan “in a week”,
but he didn’t “want to kill 10 million people”.
July 20, Taslima Begum went to a government primary school in the Badda area of
the capital Dhaka, to find out about the admissions process.
40-year-old Muslim and single mother of two was planning to enroll her children
at the school next year.
even in her worst nightmares could Taslima have expected this would be the last
day of her life.
reached the school gate about 8 am and started talking to other parents waiting
for their children.
of the parents suspected her of being a child abductor just as some people were
approaching from the street.
shouted, “a child abductor has been caught,” causing a frenzy. A violent mob
was formed, and people started slapping and kicking Taslima by the school gate.
It escalated rapidly as others joined in, beating her mercilessly with bamboo,
wood and metal sticks.
tried to rescue her and took her to the head teacher’s room but the mob would
not relent. They dragged her out and resumed their savage beating.
finally lost consciousness, her body bloodied and battered from the brutal
attack. By the time police arrived, she was already dead.
killing sparked a massive public and media outrage. Police arrested five suspects
for inciting and taking part in the violence after a nephew of Taslima filed a
murder claim against 400-500 people.
chiefs later issued a notice declaring that beating or killing someone based
solely on a suspicion of them being a child kidnapper was a serious criminal
offence and urged people not to take the law into their own hands.
tragic end is just one of a spate of deadly mob-lynching cases in Bangladesh in
recent weeks that have left at least eight people killed and 30 injured.
mob violence was sparked after rumors spread on social media that child
abductors were wandering around in the hope of abducting unsuspecting
children. There were even fake stories
that the children were to be used as human sacrifices to bring good luck in the
completion of Padma Bridge, the country’s largest infrastructure project ever.
authorities, including police, issued warnings that it was just a false rumor
but many people, mostly in rural areas, wouldn’t listen to them and so-called
mob justice started being meted out on a daily basis.
people have also tried to exploit the situation for personal interests.
Catholic woman was beaten by a Muslim mob July 24 after being accused of being
a child abductor by two women at a village teashop in the Mymensingh district
of central Bangladesh.
her case police managed to rescue her after someone called an emergency hotline
and duly arrested two women for inciting violence.
Fidelis Nengminja, parish priest of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in
Biroidakuni, Mymensingh, confirmed the woman was one of his parishioners.
woman is a Bengali and married to an indigenous Garo man. A local politician
told me that she was carrying 2,000 Taka ($23.65) and that two women who knew
about the money plotted to snatch it from her,” Father Nengminja told
say the rumor of human sacrifice, public frenzy and mob justice are a legacy of
primitive, superstitious beliefs in a Muslim-majority country where illiteracy
is still rampant and a culture of impunity dominates.
Cross Archbishop Moses M. Costa, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of Bangladesh, condemned mob violence as “unprecedentedly heinous”
incidents, which had resulted from the development of a “restlessness and
ultra-reactionary force” within the society.
and politically, we are passing through a troubling time,” Archbishop Costa
told ucanews.com. “There has been a decline in moral values and human rights
and this has led people to becoming extremely reactive and defying their
conscience in their behavior. This means we are failing to enlighten minds of
people through education and leadership.”
absence of truly democratic politics and the curtailment of freedom of
expression can give birth to “grievances” that explode from time to time, the
prelate pointed out.
we live in a culture of impunity, complexity of justice system and
extrajudicial killings by lawmen, and together these have encouraged people to
take the law into their own hands,” the prelate added.
Shah Ehsan Habib, professor of Sociology at Dhaka University, agreed.
sense of insecurity has developed among people because of a lack of rule of law
and poor legal justice system. People consider themselves vulnerable amid a
lack of social protection; they develop aggression and resort to violence like
hardened criminals,” Habib told ucanews.com.
man who took part in mob violence here would never do it if he was in
Singapore, because he feels secure due to the strong social protection. Here, a
toxic mental framing has developed in people the breed violence.”
an age of political bias and manipulation of technological advancements, rumors
can be deadlier than ever, he warned.
the past rumors spread through word of mouth and now social media is being
used. The state mechanism is failing to perform properly due to political bias,
traditional institutes like families and schools cannot educate and enlighten
people, and even the media is biased too. So, people don’t trust media, they
only trust social media today,” Habib added.
Barua, a Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist, said the state had to accept
responsibility for the rise in mob justice.
have seen the state legitimize extrajudicial killings in the so-called drug war
while a culture of impunity exists and state law agencies fail to do their duty
and prosecute and punish criminals through an effective legal system. So,
people have taken for granted that mob killing is fine, even if someone is simply
accused of a crime,” Barua told ucanews.com.
airstrike killed a Taliban group leader Qari Syed and his three militants in
northern Faryab province of Afghanistan.
209th Shaheen Corps in a statement said the security forces conducted the
airstrike in Gurziwan district of Faryab.
statement further added that the airstrike killed Taliban group leader Qari
Syed and his three militants.
the 209th Shaheen Corps said the airstrike also wounded 2 other militants.
leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has suggested that President Trump
should flex muscles at Russia and should test his power on President Putin if
he wants to examine his might.
during a gathering in Kabul, Hekmatyar said President Trump should test his
power on Russia’s Putin, not innocent Afghans.
comes as President Trump said Monday that he could end the war in Afghanistan
in a week but he did not want to kill 10 million.
during a press conference with the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in
Washington, Trump said “I have plans on Afghanistan that, if I wanted to win
that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be
gone. It would be over in — literally, in 10 days. And I don’t want to do — I
don’t want to go that route.”
he said “So we’re working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves. Nor
do we want to be policemen, because basically we’re policemen right now. And
we’re not supposed to be policemen. We’ve been there — we’ve been there for 19
years, in Afghanistan. It’s ridiculous.”
also added “And I think Pakistan helps us with that because we don’t want to
stay as policemen. But if we wanted to, we could win that war. I have a plan
that would win that war in a very short period of time. You understand that
better than anybody.”
Hekmatyar said withdrawal of foreign forces, fair and transparent elections and
respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan are the only to end the ongoing
violence in the country.
Afghan Special Forces inflicted heavy casualties on Taliban militants during
the operations in Ghazni and Uruzgan provinces.
military officials said Friday that the Special Forces killed 4 Taliban
militants during a raid in Qarabagh district of Ghazni.
officials further added that the Special Forces conducted another raid in
Qarabagh district in which they killed 10 Taliban militants and destroyed a weapons
the Afghan Special Forces conducted an operation in Tarin Kot district of
Uruzgan killing 13 Taliban fighters and wounding 6 others.
security forces killed 8 Taliban militants including a commander of the group
during the operations in northern Balkh and Jawzjan provinces.
209th Shaheen Corps in a statement said the security forces conducted an
operation with the support of the Air Forces in Asiab Khan area of Chamtal
district in Balkh.
statement further added that the security forces killed 7 Taliban militants
during the operation and wounded 9 others.
the security forces clashed with Taliban militants in Mangjik disrtict of
Jawzjan killing a Taliban commander Qari Kefayat.
security forces carried out separate airstrikes in Kandahar and Zabul provinces
killing 12 Taliban militants.
informed military officials said Saturday that the security forces conducted an
airstrike in Shorabak district of Kandahar.
officials further added that the airstrike in Shorabak killed 11 Taliban
the officials said an airstrike in Shah Joy district of Zabul killed 1 Taliban
Taliban group has not commented regarding the airstrikes so far.
security situation in Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces has deteriorated during
the recent months.
militants are active in some districts of the two provinces and often conduct
terrorist related activities.
the Afghan forces routinely conduct counter-terrorism operations against the
anti-government armed groups in the two provinces.
Afghan official says at least three police officers were killed when a Taliban
suicide bomber targeted a district police headquarters in eastern Ghazni
Khan Serat, provincial police chief’s spokesman, says the explosion on Saturday
morning in the Ab Band district also wounded 12 policemen.
says the Taliban, who control much of the province, used a stolen military
Humvee in the attack, which partially destroyed the headquarters.
spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Taliban hold sway in around half of Afghanistan and launch daily attacks across
the country, mainly targeting Afghan security forces.
forces are tracking down at least seven foreigners who are working with the new
Islamic State militant leader in the volatile southern Philippines, the country’s
defense chief said Thursday.
seven are believed to be under the protection of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, a
little-known commander of the Abu Sayyaf Group, officials said. He took the
reins of the local Islamic State (IS) chapter after leader Isnilon Hapilon was
killed in the 2017 battle of Marawi, according to Filipino and American
Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters in Manila that the government was
looking at raw information that at least a hundred foreign militants had entered
the country and were operating in the south.
of that total, he said, “we only confirmed seven foreign fighters” that were
being tracked by the military’s Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom), which is
based in southern Zamboanga city.
cannot find them so we consider those as just information and it cannot be
confirmed,” Lorenzana said of the 100 militants. “We do not know if they are
really there or not.”
to the WesMinCom there are seven foreigners. I think the nationalities are
Egyptian, Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean. So we have the names of a
couple but we are not going to give (this) out yet until we get all the names
of everybody,” Lorenzana said during a program launching new vessels for the
reports say they are with the group of Sawadjaan in Jolo,” the defense
military chief Lt. Ge. Cirilito Sobejana said troops were already tracking down
the militants, but he declined to give more information, saying it may
jeopardize the operation.
are doing something about this report,” Sobejana told BenarNews, adding that
authorities decided to reveal some of the militants’ alleged nationalities as
part of the military’s increased awareness campaign in the south.
are doing something about it and [this] increases the vigilance level of our
people so everybody should be observant now,” he said.
revelation came shortly after police and military intelligence troops arrested
three Pakistani nationals over the past two months.
of those arrested, Waqar Ahmad, 36, was a suspected bomber with IS. He was
arrested following an anti-terror blitz that also led to the capture of two
Filipino terror operatives in Manila. Ahmad was deported and turned over to
two other Pakistanis, identified as Salid Ali, 28, and Rahim Zada, 42, were
also captured in Zamboanga, where Ahmad was also arrested.
two had entered the country illegally through the southern Sulu Islands, and
apparently were among those being pursued by authorities.
were arrested after two suicide bombers, one of them a Filipino, launched an
attack that left three soldiers and three civilians outside a military camp in
the island province of Sulu in late June. IS claimed responsibility for that
January, an Indonesian husband and wife team, blew themselves up at the Our
Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral Catholic on Jolo Island, which is part of Sulu,
killing 23 people in one of the country’s worst attacks in years.
Tuesday, Indonesian police named the couple as Rullie Rian Zeke and Ulfah
Handayani Saleh, who were deported from Turkey in 2017 after they allegedly
tried to cross its border to enter IS-controlled territory in Syria.
two apparently left to join IS via Turkey in March 2016, taking their three
children with them. But Turkish authorities caught them in January 2017 and
deported them back to Indonesia, where government officials enrolled the couple
in a short rehabilitation program before releasing them.
was not clear, however, how the two managed to sneak into the Philippines, but
local police earlier caught five Filipino accomplices who said that the
Indonesian couple had apparently sailed to Jolo from the nearby island of
two met with Sawadjaan who plotted and financed the church bombing in Jolo,
according to Philippine police sources.
the third incident in three months after two years of apparent inactivity,
Islamic State claimed its fighters were responsible for two bombs targeting
police in the Bangladeshi capital this week, although the devices were
identified and dealt with before they could do any harm.
recovered two bombs – both with seven small butane gas canisters taped to them
– in Dhaka on Tuesday, The Star reported officials from the Bomb Disposal Unit
of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit as saying.
traffic police officer told The Star that a carton was found outside the
traffic police box at Khamar Bari intersection at around 1700 and, thinking it
may belong to a colleague, a police officer brought it inside.
Star published an image of the Khamar Bari device.
no one claimed it, we thought it was a container of biscuits. We opened it
around 7 p.m. and saw the cans tied with tapes,” the officer said.
device was destroyed at around 0300 in a controlled explosion by the bomb disposal
second bomb was discovered hidden inside a thick polythene packet near the
traffic police box at Paltan intersection around 22:45, The Star reported. It
was destroyed in a controlled explosion two hours later.
militant groups, which were active earlier, might be behind the incident,”
Inspector General of Police Mohammad Javed Patwary said.
framed the incidents as a success, claiming in a statement that fighters from
its Bengal affiliate had placed explosive devices at the two police
checkpoints, and their explosions had caused “material damage.”
State in Bangladesh
attempted bombings are the latest incident since ISIS resumed its activities in
Bangladesh earlier this year.
April 29, three police officers were injured when a bomb exploded in the
Gulistan area of Dhaka. ISIS said its fighters were responsible for the attack,
the first they had claimed in Bangladesh in two years.
May, a police officer and two other people were injured in another bombing in
the Malibagh area of Dhaka. Police at the time said the device may have been on
board the police vehicle targeted, NDTV reported. ISIS again claimed its
fighters were responsible.
has been active in Bangladesh since shortly after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
declared a Caliphate in June 2014. Just two months later a video was released
of five masked people pledge allegiance to Baghdadi in the Bengali language.
2015 article in ISIS’s now-defunct English language magazine Dabiq said a
leader, Abu Ibrahim Al-Hanif, had been chosen for the group’s Bengal affiliate,
and he was interviewed in a later edition.
to a July 2018 report from the International Centre for the Study of
Radicalization at King’s College, London, around 40 people from Bangladesh may
have joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Bangladeshi nationals who joined ISIS are believed to have been detained in
Iraq and Syria, the Indian news website Economic Times reported in May.
first claimed an attack in Bangladesh in September 2015 after three men on a
motorbike shot an Italian aid worker in Dhaka.
wave of attacks followed, which often targeted foreigners, Shia Muslims, and
places of worship.
the most high-profile incident, 22 people were killed during an 11-hour siege
at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka in July 2016.
then, around 100 suspected extremists have been killed in a security crackdown,
and hundreds more suspects have been detained.
of the recent attacks have been deadly and the most recent bombs were detonated
by police, but they suggest local ISIS affiliates and their supporters remain
active in Bangladesh.
uptick in ISIS activity coincides with the group attempting to emphasize its
affiliates around the world following the capture in March of the last of the
territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria.
Orthodox man who has launched a protest campaign against the Chinese
Government’s alleged detention of Uyghur Muslims has said he is motivated by
“similarities to the Final Solution”.
who gave only his first name for fear of repercussions for his business, has
held twice-weekly protests outside the cultural section of the Chinese Embassy,
in Hampstead, North West London, since early March.
Tuesday demonstrations take place between 6pm and 7pm.
aim of the protest, he said, scheduled during the evening rush hour, is to
attract the attention of motorists with placards reading “3 million Muslims in
Chinese Concentration Camps”.
Uyghurs are a Turkic Muslim group originating from central Asia, with the
largest population of Uyghurs found in the Xinjiang region, in north-western
recent years, the Chinese government has faced allegations that Uyghurs have
been arbitrarily arrested and detained, with an estimated one million kept in
“vocational training centres”, according to the Conversation, a non-profit
online academic journal.
to reports, there is growing evidence of human-rights abuses in the
purpose-built detention centres, which resemble high-security prisons.
Satellite images taken from space appear to confirm their existence.
to the JC outside the Chinese Embassy building, Andrew made the distinction
between the Chinese detention centres and Nazi “extermination camps” but said
that “the Final Solution only happened after the world did nothing for a number
said: “There are approximately three million people locked up in concentration
camps in China. I don’t see, on that scale, how I could sit still and do
nothing. My mother taught me that the world kept quiet when our forebears, 80
years ago, were in concentration camps, and that was wrong. I can’t see
something that’s wrong and keep quiet.”
Tuesday’s demonstration, a number of motorists stopped to speak with Andrew,
while others beeped their horns in support.
minority, he said, disapproved of the campaign — some uttering Islamophobic
tropes regarding “child grooming”. One person had previously opined that
Muslims should be “strung up”.
Adnan, a 47-year-old Uber driver from Harrow, North-West London, was driving to
pick up a client when he noticed the protest, cancelling the trip to thank
Andrew and a fellow demonstrator who had recently arrived, who gave his name as
hailed Andrew and Mr Solomon as “friends for the Muslim community”.
Adnan, originally from Iraq, said: “You see, it’s raining, and he comes out. He
has a family, a business — he leaves everything and he’s stopped here doing
this. He is a friend for the Muslim community.
am very happy. I am very happy — it’s amazing. I don’t know what to say. Humans
are humans. And you see it here — he is Jewish. I want to tell Arabic people:
these are the Jewish people.
is important — very important.”
Solomon, a 55-year-old non-observant Jew from East Dulwich, in South London,
added: “I want to see more people from the community saying that we cannot be
bystanders… people were bystanders when we were sent to concentration camps.”
Chinese Embassy in London said claims of surveillance, arbitrary arrest and
detention of Uyghur Muslims were “completely groundless and does not tally with
spokesman for the Embassy instead claimed there were “counter-terrorism and
de-radicalisation measures” in place against the people of Xinjiang, in
response to local “extremist and separatist forces”.
also said the measures were “lawful and effective”, saying: “The rights of the
students in the vocational education and training centres are protected by law…
LUMPUR, July 27 — Like father, like son. This saying is a fitting description
of Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustaffa Billah Shah and his late father
Sultan Ahmad Shah Al Musta’in Billah.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong takes after his father in terms of his caring attitude,
humble nature and desire to be with the people, especially when they are hit by
disasters. For the people of Pahang, this is nothing new as the Pahang royalty
has for years been known for the compassion they extend to the people.
a video of Sultan Abdullah helping an accident victim in Putrajaya while on his
way to attend a pre-Cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
went viral on social media.
to that, Sultan Abdullah was seen queuing at a fast-food restaurant in Pahang,
proving that he is willing to put protocol aside just to be with the people.
a special interview with the media at Istana Negara recently, held in
conjunction with the installation of Sultan Abdullah as the 16th Yang
di-Pertuan Agong on Tuesday, the King — reflecting on the social media posts
that went viral — said he did not do it for publicity and that he was like that
by nature and often interacted with the public when he was in Pahang.
did not do it to win praises, claps or credit... let me say with all sincerity
that I will continue to do such things,” he told the journalists.
King said he did not just take after his father but also his grandfather.
it (helping nature) is in our blood. I feel more comfortable when I am with the
rakyat,” he said.
his first day in Istana Negara, His Majesty informed the prime minister that
the palace was too big for him and that he was not used to staying in such a
(Dr Mahathir) merely smiled,” said Sultan Abdullah, adding that even though he
was now based in Kuala Lumpur he would still try to get close to the people.
the recent incident where His Majesty extended a helping hand to an accident
victim, a smiling Sultan Abdullah said he had a couple of reasons for stopping
at the accident site. One was to check if the victim needed to be sent to the
hospital and the other, to prevent traffic congestion.
traffic always builds up whenever an accident occurs. So I thought if I could
get the vehicle moved to the side (of the road) and call the police, the ‘jam’
can be cleared quickly. That was one of the reasons, besides my sincere wish to
help (the victim) so now you know,” explained Sultan Abdullah.
a lighter note, he shared the story of an individual who called His Majesty to
ask when he would be heading to Melaka as he (the individual) wanted to stage
an accident to give himself an opportunity to be helped by the King himself.
royalty closer to the people
on July 30, 1959, at Istana Mangga Tunggal in Pekan, Pahang, Sultan Abdullah
has never really been able to run away from protocol.
saying ‘Raja dan rakyat berpisah tiada’ (The ruler and his people cannot be
parted), which was oft-quoted by his father Sultan Ahmad Shah, is something
Sultan Abdullah holds dear.
always regarded myself as one of the rakyat. I don’t regard myself as royalty...
protocol exists but I don’t want to be too rigid. At times, I will
spontaneously do what I can to get closer to the people.
difficult for me to say that I can’t do this or do that... if I can get closer
to the rakyat, if I can greet the rakyat, if I can speak to the rakyat, I will
do all these,” said Sultan Abdullah.
King said as head of Islam in the four states ruled by the Yang di-Pertua
Negeri, three federal territories and Pahang, he tries to make time to attend
Friday prayers at one of the mosques there on a rotation basis, as well as at
the mosque at Istana Negara.
as Yang di-Pertuan Agong
on his proclamation as Pahang sultan and election as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan
Agong, Sultan Abdullah said he never expected the two important events to occur
within such a short space of time.
circumstances had led to His Majesty ascending the state throne and accepting
his election as Yang di-Pertuan Agong but with mixed feelings.
really didn’t expect to be proclaimed as Sultan of Pahang and immediately after
that elected as Agong because, in January, my father was still alive and well.
Conference of Rulers announced the change (in the office of the Yang di-Pertuan
Agong in January) due to reasons all of us already know. The question of me
becoming the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had never occurred to me. I didn’t even
think I was going to become the sultan. The current Yang di-Pertuan Agong then
had another three years in office. It is hard for me to say what would happen in
two or three years’ time because no one can predict that. But when it happened
(becoming the sultan and Yang di-Pertuan Agong) I accepted it but it was tinged
Abdullah is, nevertheless, grateful to God and prepared to undertake the
responsibilities entrusted with him for which, he added, he would need all the
necessary encouragement, support and views that would be beneficial for the
Majesty’s installation as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Tuesday is also set to
create history as it coincides with Sultan Abdullah’s 60th birthday.
so happens that the installation day falls on my 60th birthday. Of course, it
will be a very meaningful day. Very significant. Normally, when people turn 60
they will think of retiring but I’m going to start work.
hope it will be a very memorable day for the two of us. I hope the people will
pray for all of us to live in a peaceful and congenial environment,” said
King acknowledged that his appointment as Crown Prince of Pahang at age 15 and
Regent of Pahang for a period of five years at age 20 gave him early exposure
to royal duties, adding that it has helped him a lot in discharging his duties
since assuming the office of Yang di-Pertuan Agong in January.
father, the late Sultan Ahmad Shah, had often entrusted His Majesty with the
task of resolving state-level problems and representing him at the Conference
of Rulers meetings. The experience gained by His Majesty has enabled him to
have a mature approach when carrying out his duties.
father had set high expectations for me since I was young. He gave me a lot of
exposure and opportunities through my positions as Crown Prince and Regent of
experience has helped me a lot. I am so indebted (to my father) and I hope I
can deliver,” added Sultan Abdullah.
Azizah and Istana Abdulaziz
Abdullah, who enjoys listening to the melodious numbers by renowned singer
Lionel Richie, confessed that he missed his “home” — Istana Abdulaziz — in
Kuantan so much so that His Majesty would set aside some time to return home.
was in that very palace His Majesty and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah
Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah raised their children.
Abdulaziz is our home. So obviously we treasure our good times there and,
indeed, I miss my bed over there, I miss my gym,” said His Majesty, adding that
he found the staff at Istana Negara very professional.
Abdullah, who is getting accustomed to life at Istana Negara, said he begins
the day by checking his phone and work schedule before heading to the
gymnasium. After that, he is ready to receive any minister or government
officer who has sought an audience with His Majesty.
Tunku Azizah, Sultan Abdullah said she is a meticulous, romantic and resolute
Indonesia (AP) — The Latest on an AP interview with Indonesia's President Joko
Widodo (all times local):
President Joko Widodo, leader of the world's most populous Muslim nation, says
he would invite President Donald Trump to visit his country "with
spoke in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, during a tour of the
capital of Jakarta. He was asked about what is widely perceived as anti-Muslim
rhetoric and policies by Trump, including sweeping travel restrictions on
citizens of several Muslim-majority countries.
says it will be "the government's pleasure to invite Trump to visit
Indonesia." He says he believes the Indonesian people would also welcome
has nearly 270 million people and nearly 90% are Muslims. Widodo was re-elected
in April and promises sweeping reforms to attract more foreign investment.
President Joko Widodo tells The Associated Press it's "entirely
possible" he could ban the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front during his
final five-year term.
group wants Shariah law to apply to Indonesia's 230 million Muslims. It was a
key player in organizing massive street protests in 2016 and 2017 against the
governor of Jakarta, a Widodo ally, who was subsequently imprisoned for
said in an interview Friday a ban of the group was possible, "if the
government review from a security and ideological standpoint shows that they
are not in line with the nation."
front was once on the political fringes in the world's most populous Muslim
nation, but has gained significant influence through humanitarian and charity
in 2017 banned Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a group that campaigned for a global
President Joko Widodo says he is freed from political constraints in his final
term and vows to push sweeping economic reforms.
told The Associated Press on Friday, "In the next five years I have no
political burden so in making a decision, especially important decisions for
the country, in my opinion it will be easier."
victory in the April election was confirmed last month after the country's top
court rejected a legal challenge from his rival.
says cumbersome bureaucracy will be simplified. He says labor laws will be
overhauled in what will be a politically challenging decision to attract more
investment and create more jobs.
Saudi cleric faces death sentence for his peaceful activism, Amnesty warns
International has warned the Saudi regime against executing prominent Muslim
cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, calling on Riyadh to drop the
politically-motivated charges leveled against the dissident and release him
Maalouf, the Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, said on
Friday that the London-based human rights organization has serious concerns
that the 61-year-old clergyman could be sentenced to death and executed, when
he stands trial at the so-called Specialized Criminal Court in the capital
Riyadh on July 28.
are gravely concerned that Sheikh Salman al-Awdah could be sentenced to death
and executed. Since his arrest almost two years ago, Sheikh al-Awdah has gone
through a terrible ordeal, including prolonged pre-trial detention, months of
solitary confinement, incommunicado detention, and other ill-treatment – all
flagrant violations to his right to a fair trial,” Maalouf said.
further highlighted that Sheikh al-Awdah’s forthcoming trial as well as those
of other activists, including the 37 men who were executed last April, are
politically-motivated and meant to silence independent voices in Saudi Arabia.
al-Awdah has been calling for a more inclusive society that would end the
marginalization of Saudi Shia citizens. For this, he is being punished. In the
same way, women and advocates of women’s rights, who have called for greater
rights, are similarly being punished. What gains are the authorities hoping to
achieve by treating their own citizens this way? Instead of moving ahead with
this sham trial, they must immediately and unconditionally release Sheikh
al-Awdah and drop all charges against him,” Maalouf pointed out.
Arabic-language Saudi newspaper Okaz reported on September 4, 2018 that Saudi
public prosecutors had leveled 37 counts against Awdah, and even demanded his
is the assistant secretary general of the International Union of Muslim
Scholars (IUMS), which the Riyadh regime has listed as a terrorist
authorities detained the prominent Muslim scholar on September 7 last year, and
have been holding him in solitary confinement without charge or trial ever
since. Officials have imposed travel bans on members of his family as well.
family member told Human Rights Watch that the distinguished cleric was being
held over his refusal to comply with an order by Saudi authorities to tweet a
specific text to support the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.
instead, posted a tweet, saying, “May God harmonize between their hearts for
the good of their people,” - an apparent call for reconciliation between the
Persian Gulf littoral states, the US-based rights group said in a statement.
Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties
with Qatar on June 5 last year, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring
said the move was unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.
Arabia has lately stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and
conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.
officials have also intensified security measures in the Shia-populated and
oil-rich Eastern Province.
the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target
January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqir
al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the policies of the Riyadh regime. Nimr
had been arrested in Qatif in 2012.
crimes committed by the Saudis in Eastern Yemen is no less than what the
Emiratis do in Aden, the Arabic-language Doha-based a-Rayeh newspaper quoted
Deputy Governor General of al-Mohreh Province Badr Kalshat al-Mohri as saying.
noted that the Saudi forces arrived in provinces where the clashes between
Mansour Hadi and Ansarullah forces are underway, and set up 26 military bases
noted that the Saudi force as still looking for increasing their illegal
presence in the region, and said that the number of Saudi troops who are under
al-Mohreh Governor General Rajeh Bakrit stands at around 5,000.
also pointed to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to build oil pipelines in the province
after taking full control over it, and said that Saudi Arabia has set up
clandestine prisons in al-Mohreh region in the wake of the presence of Emirati
intelligence officers in the region.
a relevant development in late July 2018, the Associated Press (AP) revealed in
a report that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tortured Yemeni prisoners across
18 prisons in Yemen.
of Yemeni prisoners were subject to sexual abuse in Southern Yemen, where the
UAE focuses its foreign policy in Yemen. Fifteen UAE officers ordered Yemeni
prisoners to undress and lie down for anal cavity checks, claiming they were
looking for contraband mobile phones. The Yemeni prisoners who resisted were
beaten until they bled, and threatened with barking dogs.
of other detainees suffered similar sexual abuse on 10 March at Beir Ahmed
prison in Southern Yemen, Aden, according to seven witnesses who spoke to the
countless human rights reports detailing abuse in Yemen, Marine Major Adrian
Rankine-Galloway, Pentagon Spokesperson, announced that “US forces are required
to report credible allegations of detainee abuse. We have received no credible
allegations that would substantiate the allegations put forth in your line of
officials have acknowledged that American forces receive intelligence from UAE
partners and have participated in interrogations in Yemen.
told The Associated Press that Yemeni guards working under the direction of UAE
officers used various methods of sexual torture and humiliation. Detainees were
raped while other guards recorded the abuse on their mobile phones. Detainees
had their genitals electrocuted and rocks hung from their testicles, and others
were abused with wooden and steel poles.
strip you naked, then tie your hands to a steel pole from the right and the
left so you are spread open in front of them. Then the sodomizing starts,” one
father of four stated.
detainees smuggled letters and drawings to the AP describing the sexual abuse.
the five prisons, AP located, four of them are in Aden, Southern Yemen.
is at the Buriqa base – the headquarters for the Emirati forces. A second is at
the house of Shallal Shaye, the Aden security chief closely allied with the
UAE, and a third is at a nightclub-turned-prison called Wadah. The fourth is at
Beir Ahmed, where the March atrocities occurred”, the AP investigation read.
personnel have been seen at the Buriqa base, along with Colombian mercenaries,
according to two prisoners and two security officials.
detainees could not say whether the Americans, some of whom wear military
uniforms, are members of the US government or mercenaries.
Saudi officials have put pressures on families of the renowned opposition
forces who are abroad, Moataqali al-Rai Twitter account disclosed on Thursday.
Twitter account which deals with the status of political prisoners in Saudi
Arabia reiterated that the Riyadh government has threatened families of three
Saudi dissidents, whose names have not been disclosed, to increase pressures on
them if they do not desert their dissident family members.
a relevant development in mid-July, The Financial Times reported that Saudi
Arabia's efforts to muzzle dissidents living abroad is ongoing despite the
ferocious international criticism it faced following the murder of Jamal
that dissidents “are tarnishing the reputation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad
bin Salman (MbS) and his much-publicized reform program, two unnamed sources
told the FT that the kingdom is offering them incentives and promises they will
be unharmed to encourage them to return.
crackdown on dissenting Saudi voices has been in the spotlight ever since
Khashoggi was assassinated by a Saudi hit squad in the kingdom's Istanbul
consulate in early October.
Middle East Eye reported that the FBI approached several Saudi and Arab
dissidents living in the United States in the weeks following Khashoggi's
death, warning them that they too could be at threat.
told the FT that the Saudi government has commissioned a report on the topic,
amid a growing sense of unease about the prominence of critical members of
big part of their concern is that this group abroad is engaged in lobbying at
the UN, EU and Congress in the US,” a Saudi activist based in Europe told the
have played a central role in the backlash against Saudi Arabia in recent
months because they have been working in an unprecedented way. If they remained
silent the international community would have forgotten and moved on,” the
report, which is unlikely to be released upon completion, recommends the
government take a softer approach to lure citizens home and estimates that the
number of Saudi political asylum-seekers could reach 50,000 by 2030.
are said to be offering dissidents a range of assurances about their safety,
with some who sought refuge in the 1990s in Western capitals such as London and
Washington said to have already returned after cutting such deals.
close to the leadership or another mediator would typically contact you and say:
‘I have a personal message from the crown prince’, promising that there would
be no harm or jail time if you decide to take up the offer,” a Saudi exile who
had been approached told the FT.
MbS rose to power in 2017, the Saudi government has begun a program of sweeping
reforms while cracking down on any opinions that diverge from the official
repression, which has included jailing and torturing women rights activists as
the kingdom has eased certain restrictions on Saudi women the activists had
called to be abolished, has driven several Saudis to seek a new life abroad.
to the United Nations' refugee agency, at least 815 Saudis applied for asylum
in 2017, up from 195 in 2012.
based in the West, these Saudis have caused a headache for Riyadh by becoming
vocal critics as the government attempts to portray a modernizing and reformist
2016, the Shura council - the king's advisory committee - warned that some one
million Saudis were living abroad and called on the government to “investigate
this phenomenon and its causes before it becomes a security threat or a social
dilemma”, according to local media reports.
Arabia's softer touch in its attempts to rein in its dissidents comes as MbS
faces renewed criticism for his likely role in Khashoggi's murder.
month, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions released a report
which stated there was “credible evidence” that the crown prince and other
senior officials were responsible for the murder.
says Syria air strikes killed at least 100 civilians in past 10 days
(Reuters) - Air strikes by the Syrian government and its allies on schools,
hospitals, markets and bakeries have killed at least 103 civilians in the past
10 days, including 26 children, U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said
in a statement on Friday.
are civilian objects, and it seems highly unlikely, given the persistent
pattern of such attacks, that they are all being hit by accident,” Bachelet
said, adding that the rising toll had been met with “apparent international
government began its offensive against the rebel enclave in northwest Syria,
the last area of active insurgent opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, at
the end of April, saying it was responding to violations of a truce.
and surrounding areas of the northwest were included in a “de-escalation” deal
last year between Assad’s main ally Russia and Turkey, which backs some rebel
groups, to reduce warfare and bombardment.
the past three months, the offensive has driven hundreds of thousands of people
from their homes or temporary shelters to seek refuge near the border with
Turkey and has killed hundreds of civilians, according to war monitoring
detained in a camp for Isis families in Syria have raised thousands of pounds
through an online crowdfunding campaign.
fundraising effort, named “Justice for Sisters”, was launched last month with
the help of an intermediary in Germany, and appears to be aimed at soliciting
donations from sympathisers in Europe.
campaign comes amid growing concerns over radicalisation at al-Hol camp, which is
holding thousands of suspected female Isis members and their children, many of
whom are still loyal to the terror group.
services in the UK and around the world are concerned that citizens detained in
Syria who still hold extremist views will eventually find their way back home.
The British government believes that women can pose as significant a risk to
national security as returning male fighters.
Justice for Sisters campaign is one of two known fundraising efforts for women
in al-Hol, the other of which is a campaign explicitly aimed at raising funds
to pay smugglers to help them escape.
have warned that deteriorating conditions at the camp could potentially lead to
more women seeking to smuggle themselves out, and potentially more fundraising
campaigns to help them.
latest effort began last month, when videos and letters written in German,
Arabic and English from women claiming to be detained in the camp were posted
to an Isis-affiliated channel on the Telegram messaging service.
women, at least some of whom appear to be European citizens, complained of poor
conditions in the camp. One message, written in English, says that “life in the
hands of the kuffar [non-believers] is not easy”.
of all, we need water, electricity and financial help. Many children and women
are malnourished and need fruit, vegetables and milk. Everything is there but
many sisters cannot afford it,” read one message.
group shared handwritten letters and photographs purporting to be from inside
the camp. In one picture, four women hold signs made out of cardboard to
demonstrate the authenticity of the campaign. One sign reads: “Free Prisoners.
Your sisters in Al Hol”. On another is written: “Germany”.
group shared handwritten letters and photographs purporting to be from inside
the camp. In one picture, four women hold signs made out of cardboard, designed
to demonstrate the authenticity of the campaign. One sign reads: “Free
Prisoners. Your sisters in Al Hol”. On another is written simply:
shared links to several PayPal MoneyPool accounts, which collectively raised
more than €3,000 (£2,600). They may not be the only accounts associated with
the campaign, however, and the total amount raised is likely to be higher.
an apparent effort to avoid being taken down by PayPal, they used coded
messages to disguise the aim of the fundraising. One was labelled “Honeymoon in
Vienna”, while another claimed the funds were to be used for a boxing event.
a message posted on the encrypted Telegram channel, a member of the group
reminded potential donors: “Please don’t use Islamic terms in the donation,
there’s danger of the Account being closed by PayPal.”
campaign was promoted by a man believed to be an administrator for a number of
Isis Telegram channels, who also tweeted that the fundraising effort was
genuine. The Telegram channel was eventually closed. It is unknown whether the
campaign is still ongoing.
campaign was revealed by the Rojava Information Centre – a collection of
international media activists based in northern Syria. The Independent reviewed
chat logs and screenshots from the Telegram channels and four PayPal campaigns
shared by the group.
the group’s creators told donors that the funds were for women and children in
the camp to buy food, the amount raised could be used to pay smugglers to help
fundraising campaigns have claimed to have had success in freeing women from
al-Hol camp in recent months. One such effort, set up with the explicit aim of
freeing women, was launched by al-Qaeda supporters based in Idlib, northern
Syria, in January.
“Free the Female Prisoners” campaign said this week that it had succeeded in
freeing its fourth woman from the camp.
a Telegram post, the campaign announced, “Glad tidings! Your brothers in this
campaign have managed – with Allah’s help and the collaboration of various
parties and money from altruists – to secure the release of an immigrant sister
from al-Hol refugee camp and ensure she reached liberated areas”, in a
reference to rebel-held areas in northern Syria.
previously released a poster detailing what donors were paying for. It said
“$8,000 secures the full release of a sister and the Golden share $4,000 covers
half the cost.”
it is unclear exactly how many women have managed to escape the camp,
researchers working on the ground in Syria have heard anecdotal evidence that
it is occurring.
incredibly expensive and costs thousands of dollars, and therefore very few can
afford to leave. But some women have been able to smuggle themselves out of the
camp,” said Elizabeth Tsurkov, a research fellow at the Forum for Regional
Thinking, who recently visited the camp.
are desperate to get out. Conditions in the camp are terrible,” she added. “For
foreign women, it is also a way to escape justice since they may be prosecuted
in their home countries.”
campaigns come amid reports of worsening conditions in al-Hol, and warnings
from camp authorities that they are in danger of becoming overwhelmed. The camp
is currently home to some 70,000 women and children who were detained while
leaving the last Isis stronghold in Syria earlier this year.
of them were local residents who became trapped within Isis areas by the
battle, but the majority were the wives and family members of fighters who
showed little sign of abandoning the group.
and a number of smaller facilities, are controlled by the Syrian Democratic
Forces (SDF), a Kurdish and Arab militia backed by the US. Al-Hol is the
largest of those camps, and is comprised mostly of women and children from
Syria and Iraq, together with around 11,000 foreign citizens.
deputy commander of the US-led coalition to defeat Isis told The Independent
that the potential for radicalisation in the camps was “the biggest long-term
strategic risk” in ensuring its total defeat.
recent weeks, there have been a number of incidents in the camp which have
caused alarm. In a video purportedly released by camp residents, the black flag
of Isis was hoisted in the camp while women and children can be seen chanting
Isis slogans. Guards are frequently attacked by extremists inside the camp.
at al-Hol were heavily criticised in a Human Rights Watch report released on
Tuesday. During three visits to the area reserved for foreign women and
children last month, the group “found overflowing latrines, sewage trickling
into tattered tents, and residents drinking wash water from tanks containing
report added: “Young children with skin rashes, emaciated limbs, and swollen
bellies sifted through mounds of stinking garbage under a scorching sun or lay
limp on tent floors, their bodies dusted with dirt and flies. Children are
dying from acute diarrhoea and flu-like infections.”
governments – including the UK – have shown little willingness to take back
their citizens from the camps over fears they will pose a significant security
risk. There are thought to be at least 19 British women currently at al-Hol and
other camps in the area, together with at least 30 of their children.
plight of British children stuck in Syria made the headlines earlier this year
when the infant child of Shamima Begum, named Jarrah, died in the al-Hol camp.
The British teenager fled her home in Bethnal Green, London, to join Isis in
Syria in 2015.
access to al-Hol is extremely restricted, the ability of its residents to
receive funds sent from abroad presents a new challenge to camp authorities.
Money transfer facilities are present in the main part of the camp, and foreign
detainees could in theory receive money with the help of a Syrian living in the
use of anonymous messaging apps and online money transfer platforms have been
utilised by extremist groups in recent years to avoid detection. The last few
years has seen an attempt by these platforms to seek out and remove any
fundraising by extremists.
are clearly alert to the risk, and PayPal has acquired some heavy hitting
people from the security world in the last year or so,” according to Tom
Keatinge, director of the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at
the Royal United Services Institute, a think-tank focused on international
defence and security.
crowdfunding websites do close out access to extremist actors, but it’s very
challenging. The bad actors know these places are on the lookout for them, they
will do everything they can to cover their tracks,” he added.
British government spokesperson told The Independent: “It is an offence to
provide financial assistance to someone where they know or suspect it could be
used for terrorist purposes and we work closely with the financial sector who
are required to disclose any suspicions they have concerning terrorist
added that “anyone returning from engaging in the conflict in Syria and Iraq
will be investigated by the police to determine if they have committed crimes
or pose a threat to our national security”.
(Kurdistan 24) – An Iraqi provincial police department on Thursday announced
the arrest of an alleged terrorist it said had taken part in six deadly
bombings across multiple provinces. The most severe of these resulted in the
deaths of over 80 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State.
Province's police directorate said in a statement that a tactical unit that
under the authority of the Interior Ministry had managed to “capture the
terrorist Badr Fares Mutlak al-Zakroutti."
statement charged that Zakroutti had played a role in the planning of six bombing
attacks that had occurred the southern provinces of Karbala, Babil, and a
particularly deadly one in Dhi Qar that killed 84 and injured 93 others. The
incident occurred in September of 2017 at a restaurant in the city of Nasiriyah
that was popular with groups of Shia Muslim pilgrims on their way to visit holy
police added that Zakroutti had also aided in the logistics of transporting
suicide bombers to Najaf in the past few years and that he had been operating
within the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed “South Wilayat” and “Anbar Wilayat”
regions, in southern and western Iraq.
statement did not say precisely where Zarkouti was arrested.
Iraq declaring a “final victory” against the Islamic State in December 2017, it
continues to carry out sporadic attacks which include bombings, assassinations,
and kidnappings in previously liberated areas throughout parts of the country
the extremist group previously controlled and also in areas it never controlled
such as Baghdad.
this month, the Interior Ministry announced the arrest of a man wearing a
disguise of women's clothing who is alleged to have sentenced multiple Iraqis
to death while previously acting as a criminal judge for the Islamic State.
Iraqi forces captured the man in a village in Nineveh province.
Kurdish-language Bas News website quoted informed sources as saying that the
US-led coalition forces have set up observation posts near the town of
al-Darbasieh close to the border with Turkey in Hasaka province.
sources noted that this measure has taken place after Turkey’s mortar attacks
on Ra’as al-Ain region preempt possible military operations against Kurdish
forces, and said the US-led coalition and the Kurdish militia have also
dispatched new military equipment to al-Darbasieh town and villages of Ra’as
al-Ain and maintained a state of alert.
with intensified differences between the US and Turkey as NATO members in
creating a safe zone in Syria, Ankara has threatened to conduct military
operations against Kurdish militia in Eastern Euphrates.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) also announced that Turkey and its
allied militants have prepared for conducting an upcoming military operation
against the US-backed forces in Northeastern Syria.
a relevant development on Monday, the US Army forwarded tens of trucks
containing logistical aid and military equipment to Hasaka province as Turkey
is preparing for massive military operation against Washington-backed Kurdish
militias in Northeastern Syria.
pro-militant Smart news website reported that a new US military convoy had
crossed into Syria's Hasaka province from Iraq via Simalka crossing.
noted that the US convoy, comprising 100 trucks carrying military vehicles and
fuel as well as a number of covered trucks, had arrived at the US military base
in Tal Bidar region in Hasaka province.
sources, meantime, reported that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has sent
massive military equipment, including heavy weaponry to areas under their
control from Ain al-Arab (Kobani) to Ain Issa and the border city of Tal Abyaz
in Raqqa province.
a relevant development late last month, the SOHR reported that hundreds of
trucks loaded with logistics and military support had arrived in areas under
control of the SDF in Hasaka province in Northeastern Syria from the US bases
in Northern Iraq.
authorities have released a US citizen and he has been handed back to his
family, thanks to the mediation of Lebanon, a Lebanese security official said
security official did not reveal the name of the released American, but said it
was not Austin Tice, a journalist who disappeared in Syria in 2012.
official said that Lebanon’s security chief Abbas Ibrahim had conducted the
has worked on mediating through General Abbas Ibrahim to release an American
and he was handed over to his family already. The American is not Tice because
it is not known where he is,” the security official said.
US citizens have been held in Syria since the war began there in 2011,
including people held by militant groups such as the ISIS.
United States has declined to say who it believes is holding Tice, but has said
it believes he is alive and has sought the help of the Syrian government’s
close ally Russia to free him.
year the family of another American, Majd Kamalmaz, told the New York Times
that he had disappeared at a government checkpoint in Damascus in 2017.
executed early on Saturday three people convicted in two separate cases, one a
case of "terrorism" and killing a police officer, and the second
related to the killing of a mosque imam, the public prosecution said.
Prosecutor Ahmed al-Hammadi said two of the individuals in the terrorism case
were also charged with possession of explosives and firearms for the purpose of
convicts were put to death along with a third death row prisoner found guilty
terrorism case was based on investigations, which uncovered a terrorist
organization joined by a dozen members from abroad in Iran, Iraq, and Germany,
and 40 members in Bahrain. The organization was preparing to commit a number of
terrorist crimes inside Bahrain “for the purpose of disturbing the public
order, endangering the safety and security of the Kingdom, harming national
unity and obstructing the public authorities from carrying out their duties,”
Bahrain News Agency reported.
planned armed attacks included the storming of the kingdom's Jaw prison in
January 2017 that killed a guard and led to the escape of 10 detainees, the
attack was followed by two separate fatal attacks on police officers later the
same month, the prosecutor added.
prosecutor said that the suspects in Iran and Iraq communicated with the
organization’s members in Bahrain, and set out to recruit more members, as well
as provide them with arms that they planned to smuggle into the country.
stated that, in coordination with the organization’s leader in Germany, they
arranged for the travel of a number of recruits to Iran and Iraq to train on
how to use explosives and firearms in IRGC camps.
secretary general of Hezbollah has roundly dismissed claims that the Lebanese
resistance movement is exerting control over the Beirut government, emphasizing
that such lies are aimed at inciting public opinion and plunging Lebanon into
Lebanon, some people try to portray Hezbollah as the leader of the country and
in control of all state institutions. I tell you this is the biggest lie in the
history of Lebanon,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stated in a televised speech
broadcast live from the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Friday evening.
warned that those making such unsubstantiated claims are actually giving the
Saudi and Israeli regimes, among other enemies, the chance to hatch and advance
their plots against Lebanon.
“They know they are lying and their aim is to
hold Hezbollah accountable for the current economic situation,” Nasrallah
has never sought to create parliamentary obstruction…Hezbollah has never hid
behind anyone or any media outlet. It has long stood up against cowards,” he
Hezbollah chief then expressed regret over the Lebanese government’s recent
crackdown on businesses hiring Palestinian workers without permits, arguing
that the issue has been “politicized.”
“Concerning the employment of foreign citizens
in Lebanon, we have always stated that Palestinians are different from foreign
workers as the latter have home countries to return to, but Palestinians don’t.
Palestine is under occupation (of the Israeli regime) indeed,” Nasrallah said.
Hezbollah secretary-general then called on Lebanese political factions to look
at the issue of Palestinian refugees working in the country from a humanitarian
also condemned the recent demolition of a cluster of Palestinian homes on the
edge of occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, which has sparked international
CITY (Reuters) - Somewhere on its journey from the waters off Iran, around
Africa’s southern tip and into the Mediterranean, the Grace 1 oil tanker lost
the flag under which it sailed and ceased to be registered to Panama. Iran
later claimed it as its own.
ship carrying 2 million barrels of Iranian crude was seized by British Royal
Marines off Gibraltar, raising tensions in the Gulf where Iran detained a
UK-flagged ship in retaliation.
1 remains impounded, not because of its flag but because it was suspected of
taking oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, an allegation that Iran denies.
Panama’s move on May 29 to strike it from its register mid-voyage was part of a
global squeeze on Iranian shipping.
that register vessels under so-called “flags of convenience” allowing them to sail
legally have de-listed dozens of tankers owned by Iran in recent months,
tightening the economic noose around it.
the biggest cull, Panama, the world’s most important flag state, removed 59
tankers linked to Iran and Syria earlier this year, a decision welcomed by the
United States which wants to cut off Tehran’s vital oil exports.
and some other key flag states are looking more closely at the thousands of
ships on their registers to ensure they comply with U.S. sanctions that were
re-imposed against Iran last year and tightened further since.
Reuters analysis of shipping registry data shows that Panama has de-listed
around 55 Iranian tankers since January, Togo has de-listed at least three and
Sierra Leone one.
represents the majority of its operational fleet of tankers, the lifeblood of
the oil-dominated economy, although Iran may have re-registered some ships
under new flag states.
a vessel loses its flag, it typically loses insurance cover if it does not
immediately find an alternative, and may be barred from calling at ports. Flags
of convenience also provide a layer of cover for a vessel’s ultimate owner.
registries charge fees to ship owners to use their flags and offer tax
incentives to attract business.
said it still had plenty of options.
are so many shipping companies that we can use. In spite of U.S. pressure, many
friendly countries are happy to help us and have offered to help us regarding
this issue,” said an Iranian shipping official, when asked about tankers being
nations have expressed caution, however. The world’s third biggest shipping
registry, Liberia, said its database automatically identified vessels with
Iranian ownership or other connections to the country.
any potential request to register a vessel with Iranian connection triggers an
alert and gets carefully vetted by the Registry’s compliance and management
personnel,” the registry said.
said it was working closely with U.S. authorities to prevent what it called
“malign activity” in maritime trade.
many cases Iran has re-listed ships under its own flag, complicating efforts to
move oil and other goods to and from the dwindling number of countries willing
to do business with it.
shipping specialists said the Iranian flag was problematic because individuals
working for the registry in Iran could be designated under U.S. sanctions, and
so present a risk for anyone dealing with vessels listed by them.
insurance companies or banks will not be able to deal with the Iranian flag as
it is in effect dealing with the Iranian state,” said Mike Salthouse, deputy
global director with ship insurer the North of England P&I.
officials may also sit up and take notice.
of the problems with an Iranian-flagged ship is that there is a 50 percent
chance that a customs officer will undertake a search, which means the cargo
will be delayed,” said a U.N. sanctions investigator, who declined to be named.
“These all add to the costs.”
former U.S. diplomat said Washington was often in contact with Panama and other
flag states to keep vessel registries “clean”.
are continuing to disrupt the Qods Force’s illicit shipments of oil, which
benefit terrorist groups like Hezbollah as well as the Assad regime (in
Syria),” said a spokesman at the U.S. State Department.
Force refers to an elite unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that
is in charge of the Guards’ overseas operations, and Hezbollah is an
Iran-backed, heavily armed Shi’ite Muslim group that forms part of Lebanon’s
80 tankers involved in sanctionable activity have been denied the flags they
need to sail,” the spokesman added.
Iranian ships is just one way the international community can squeeze Iran.
sanctions on oil exports aim to reduce Iran’s sales to zero. Iran has vowed to
the first three weeks of June Iran exported around 300,000 barrels per day
(bpd), a fraction of the 2.5 million bpd that Iran shipped before President
Donald Trump’s exit in May last year from the 2015 nuclear deal with major
could also complicate life for Tehran if it denies passage to tankers heading
to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. The alternative route around
Africa, taken by Grace 1 before its seizure, is far longer.
shipping data showed the Masal, an Iranian-flagged oil tanker, anchored in the
Suez Canal’s waiting zone on July 6. It stayed there until July 12, when it
began to sail south. It exited the Red Sea on July 17 and docked at Larak
Island, Iran on July 23.
Egyptian intelligence sources told Reuters that the tanker was halted in the
Red Sea in July by authorities “without anyone knowing the reason”.
second senior Iranian government official involved in shipping declined to
comment when asked about the Masal.
Suez Canal Authority’s spokesman said Egypt did not bar vessels from crossing
the canal except in times of war, in accordance with the Constantinople
Convention. He declined to comment further.
tightened the screw when it seized the Grace 1 supertanker on July 4, accusing
it of violating sanctions against Syria.
Iranian-flagged ships have been stranded for weeks at Brazilian ports due to a
lack of fuel, which state-run oil firm Petrobras refuses to sell them due to
U.S. sanctions. Two more Iranian ships in Brazil could also be left without
enough fuel to sail home.
recent incident off Pakistan’s coast last month points to the lengths Iran has
gone to in order to keep trading.
Iranian cargo carrier Hayan left from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on June
3 and set sail for Karachi on Pakistan’s coast, according to ship tracking data
from maritime risk analysts Windward.
June 7, it changed its name to Mehri II and its flag to that of Samoa, the data
showed, as it made its way toward Karachi port.
days later, the vessel conducted a ship-to-ship transfer of its unknown cargo
further up Pakistan’s coast.
ship then returned home, changing its flag back to Iran and its name back to
Ul Haq, spokesman for the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency, said they had no
information, when asked about the Iranian ship’s activity.
has frequently used ship-to-ship transfers to move oil and oil products since
U.S. sanctions were reimposed.
data also show that a separate Iranian-owned cargo ship, the Ya Haydar, has
been sailing around the Gulf and reporting its flag as that of Samoa.
denies allowing Iran to register any ships under its flag.
said vessels Hayan or Ya Haydar are not, and have never been listed, nor
registered on the Samoa’s registry of vessels,” said Anastacia Amoa-Stowers of
the Maritime department at Samoa’s Ministry of Works, Transport &
there are currently no Iranian ships listed on Samoa’s registry, there is no
action to de-list a vessel. Additionally, there has never been any Iranian
ships listed on Samoa’s vessel registry – previously and at present.”
said Samoa was a closed registry, meaning that any foreign vessel flying its
flag was doing so illegally.
second senior Iranian government official involved in shipping declined to
comment when asked about the two vessels.
spokeswoman with the International Maritime Organization said the UN’s shipping
agency had received information from Samoa which has been circulated to member
top Justice Department official made it clear Thursday that combating Hezbollah
is a top priority for the department, a move that puts pressure on the
terrorist organization's sponsor, Iran.
Deputy Attorney General John Cronan, who leads the department's team that
investigates Hezbollah financing and narcoterrorism, laid out the government’s
efforts and plans for dismantling and neutralizing the Iranian-backed terrorist
group during a conference commemorating the victims of the Hezbollah bombing of
a Jewish cultural center in Argentina 25 years ago.
deadly bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina Jewish cultural
center on July 18, 1994 killed 85 people and injured hundreds more, making it
the deadliest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history. Argentina designated
Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist group to coincide with last week's
anniversary, something that the State Department did back in 1997.
Hezbollah’s support networks and neutralizing the Hezbollah threat is a top
priority for this Department of Justice and will continue to be,” Cronan said,
though full details of the operations can't be shared.
may be covert, charges may be sealed, defendants may be cooperating, and
Hezbollah supporters may be facing non-terrorism crimes as we work to build
terrorism charges,” he said.
department is both combating Hezbollah’s terrorist acts and drying up its
is Iran’s top paramilitary force and is among the crown jewels of its foreign
influence efforts, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from
the Iranian regime. Hezbollah, though based in Lebanon, operates across the
Middle East and has made inroads around the world as well on behalf of its
comments from the come amid rising tensions with Iran and as the United States
increases pressure on the ayatollahs. Iran seized and blew up allied ships and
tankers in the Straits of Hormuz off the coast of Iran and shot down a U.S.
drone over international waters in recent weeks.
U.S., which pulled out of the controversial Iran nuclear deal in 2018, has been
ratcheting up pressure on Iran ever since through increased sanctions and
through designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group
earlier this year, and it brought down Iranian drones in recent days too.
as the U.S. has tried to limit Iran’s global operations and has called for Iran
to cease its funding of terrorist groups, the department made it clear that it
will be playing a major role in neutralizing Iran’s Hezbollah proxies.
General Jeff Sessions created Cronan's team in early 2018 as a coordinated and
aggressive response to the “ongoing, sophisticated, and global threat posed by
Hezbollah to the United States.” Department prosecutors and investigators will
pursuing both non-terrorism and terrorism charges whenever possible, working
with a host of federal agencies, and seeking help from foreign allies as well,
as they pursue people who provide help to Hezbollah, whether through financial
support or the provision of manpower or weaponry, for example.
El Debek and Ali Khourani, for example, were arrested in June 2017 on charges
of providing material support to Hezbollah, for which Khourani was found guilty
earlier this year. The two were trained by the terrorist organization and then
released into the U.S. as sleeper operatives waiting for assignments. Kourani,
a years-long Hezbollah operative, trained for possible attacks and conducted
surveillance of locations in New York City, such as an FBI federal office
building and an Army National Guard facility.
said that cutting off Hezbollah’s financial support is key, because “money is
the lifeblood of any terrorist organization.” He pointed to the recent
conviction of multi-billion commodities tycoon Kassim Tajideen, who was
sanctioned by the Treasury Department for financing Hezbollah and who pleaded
guilty in December to a money laundering scheme in evasion of U.S. sanctions on
Iran, agreeing to forfeit $50 million to the U.S. government.
Department, he said, has wide efforts to dismantle Hezbollah's financial
networks, including sanctioning more than 50 Hezbollah-related people and
entities since 2017. Among those dozens of now-sanctioned Hezbollah financiers
were top Hezbollah figures with deep ties to Iran.
said the U.S. is working with its international allies to root out Hezbollah
operatives and funders elsewhere in the world, an effort he put to the
any incoming world leader, Boris Johnson has received plenty of congratulatory
messages from fellow politicians around the world since becoming British prime
minister this week. But the one he got from Iran’s top diplomat — at a moment
of unparalleled tension between Tehran and London — must have been unexpected.
news of Johnson’s victory, the Islamic republic’s opportunistic foreign
minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tweeted: “The May govt’s seizure of Iranian oil
at behest of US is piracy, pure & simple. I congratulate my former
counterpart, @BorisJohnson on becoming UK PM.”
May govt's seizure of Iranian oil at behest of US is piracy, pure & simple.
congratulate my former counterpart, @BorisJohnson on becoming UK PM.
does not seek confrontation. But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf
coastline.These are our waters & we will protect them
Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 23, 2019
message suggests that Tehran sees Britain as its next best chance for
relaunching its deteriorating relationship with the West. But why? Strangely
enough, Johnson’s own back story with Iran, and the political baggage it
created for him, could provide the best shot at decreasing tensions and averting
another war in the Middle East.
Johnson handles Iran in his opening days at No. 10 Downing Street could also
determine his subsequent term in office — not to mention the fate of one
inherits a tense standoff with Tehran, since both countries have seized vessels
belonging to the other over the past month. On July 4, the British Royal
Marines took custody in Gibraltar of an Iranian tanker that was believed to be
delivering oil to Syria. It did so, Iran says, at the behest of the United
blatant retaliation, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps boarded a British-flagged
tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19. Iranian state television broadcast
dramatic footage of the raid along with members of the ship’s crew. They’ve now
become Iran’s latest foreign hostages.
President Hassan Rouhani made clear on Wednesday that a deal to release the
captured ships is on the table: “If they are committed to international
frameworks and abandon some actions, including what they did in Gibraltar, they
will receive a proper response from Iran,” Rouhani told his cabinet. What
remains unclear, though, is whether Johnson has the political will and acumen
to pull off real negotiations with Tehran.
Johnson does have in his favor is experience, albeit not exactly positive.
his stint as foreign secretary (2016-2018), Johnson traveled to Iran to
negotiate the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British aid worker and
young mother unjustly imprisoned by the Iranian authorities when she returned
to her homeland to visit her family in 2016.
Johnson’s efforts to win Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s freedom backfired — not least
because it was the then-foreign secretary’s own thoughtless remark that gave
the Iranian regime an excuse to double down on the British aid worker’s
I look at what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing, she was simply teaching
people journalism, as I understand it,” Johnson said in London in November of
2017 — apparently failing to understand that the notion of a Briton “teaching
journalism” played directly to the worst instincts of paranoid Iranian
assertion — which was, by the way, untrue — gave the authorities a ready-made
excuse for imposing an even harsher sentence on Zaghari-Ratcliffe. They even
cited Johnson’s words as proof of the allegations against her.
public outcry in Britain was immediate, prompting Johnson’s trip to Tehran the
following month. At first, there was great hope that he had brokered her
release, but that proved premature. Nearly two years later, she remains in
Tehran’s Evin prison.
widely regarded as Johnson’s biggest screw-up, and on this week, 231 members of
Parliament signed a letter calling on him to make her freedom, and that of
other British nationals held abroad, one of his first priorities in his new
MPs have written to both men who could be the next Prime Minister. Our message
is simple. We ask that they do all in their power to bring Nazanin home.
Tulip Siddiq (@TulipSiddiq) July 23, 2019
the impasse over Zaghari-Ratcliffe — not to mention the ships — could give
Johnson good reason to open communications with the Iranians, who have ruled
out any talks with the United States under current conditions. If the British
prime minister can make progress, that could pave the way for a fresh start
between Tehran and the West. His 2017 trip makes him the highest-level Western
leader to have had direct dealings inside Iran in years.
the uncertainties ahead for the U.K., this is an opportunity for Johnson to
demonstrate leadership domestically and abroad by de-escalating tensions with
Iran and demonstrating the effectiveness of dialogue,” Dina Esfandiary, a
fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, told
me. “In addition, he could use his relationship with Trump to further encourage
de-escalation between the U.S. and Iran.”
fact that Johnson enjoys a good relationship with the Trump administration is
something few of his European counterparts can claim. President Trump could
hardly fault Johnson for freeing a compatriot from captivity. (The U.S.
president brags about all the hostages he has managed to free during his term.)
the prime minister can use that opening to get the West and Iran talking again,
the resulting momentum could boost his term in office, restore Britain’s waning
credibility as an international player — and just possibly help to avoid a war.
(Reuters) - Turkey is determined to destroy the “terror corridor” east of the
Euphrates river in Syria regardless of how talks conclude with the United
States on a planned safe zone in the country’s north, President Tayyip Erdogan
said on Friday.
has ramped up its warnings of a possible incursion into northern Syria in
recent days, saying it had run “out of patience” with Washington over the safe
zone talks and adding that it would launch its operation if an agreement was
who put their trust in foreign powers in the region will be put under ground,”
Erdogan told members of his ruling AK Party. “We will find a lasting solution
been a hot summer in the Golan. And it’s not only the weather.
past week alone saw two deadly attacks against Iranian proxies in southern
Syria attributed to Israel. Earlier this week an explosion killed Hezbollah
operative Mashour Zidan in southern Syria and a few days later a rocket struck
the strategic Tel Haraa site not far from where Zidan was killed.
has remained mum on the attacks, but the Jewish State has made it clear that it
won’t accept Hezbollah’s growing presence in the Syrian Golan.
Assad, along with Iranian backed troops, retook the Golan last summer, so
to Phillip Smyth, the Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East
Policy, the buildup of local forces by Iran and Hezbollah is a major aspect
that has been overlooked.
doesn’t want to have to execute an entire war on its own in southern Syria.
It’s much easier to apply plausible deniability and harder to bust a Hezbollah
cell if they are locals,” he told The Jerusalem Post, adding that they have
taken a slightly different approach and being very pragmatic in terms of who
a Druze resident from the village of Hadar, is believed to have been a senior
Hezbollah operative responsible for recruiting volunteers from villages near
the border with Israel as part of Hezbollah’s Golan File.
intelligence officers in the IDF’s Northern Command said that Hezbollah’s Golan
Project began last summer following the reconquering of the Syrian Golan by
regime troops. Operatives involved in the clandestine file have weaponry
available from the civil war and if needed, will receive additional weaponry
from Lebanon or existing arsenals kept by Hezbollah and Iran.
knows that Israel is watching, so they are being much more covert than in the
past,” Smyth said, adding that they are using more local forces rather than
sending brigades of Lebanese fighters to the area.
success in Syria has also allowed Hezbollah to redeploy senior operatives and
troops to the area as well as southern Lebanon. The group’s leader Hassan
Nasrallah has said as much himself in a speech in mid-July.
are present in every area that we used to be. We are still there, but we don’t
need to be there in large numbers as long as there is no practical need,” he
said, adding that “if there was a need to return, all those who were there
would go back.”
to David Daoud, a research analyst on Hezbollah and Lebanon at United Against
Nuclear Iran, the uptick in Israeli strikes in the area is because “there has
been increased Hezbollah presence.”
mid-March US President Donald Trump announced the formal recognition of the
Golan as sovereign Israeli territory, handing Hezbollah a present for their
recruitment in the area.
of the Golan creates common ground for different factions to agree upon - the
same applies to the embassy move, and the ‘deal of the century,” Daoud said,
adding that “Different regional groups or axes that might not otherwise agree
now have something in common.”
told The Post that while “Trump’s statement has sent some signals to Iran,”
Tehran has “upped the ante because of the situation on the ground, not because
of Trump’s statement. They know that their goals will outlast the Trump
administration. But if it rallies the troops, they will use it. They are very
the “Iranians have been following the same program in southern Syria for years,
now they're trying to secure and resecure their gains,” Smyth said. “There’s a
lot more opportunity, it’s a net gain no matter how you look at it.”
attack on Tel Haara on Wednesday was not the first.
site has been used by the Syrian army for years to observe Israeli movement,
and since the Assad regime re-took the area from rebels last summer, there have
been several strikes on the site blamed on Israel.
the base, which has electronic surveillance capabilities, was supposed to be
manned solely by regime troops, pro-Iranian militias including Hezbollah are
known to be stationed in it.
to Smyth, Hezbollah and Iran “have been at the forefront of using electronic
means to counter their foes, its existed for decades and it wouldn’t shock me
if they were testing the waters there.”
opportunity was there for the taking.
retaking of the Syrian Golan by Assad also forced Israel to end Operation Good
Neighbor, where Israel provided humanitarian and, according to foreign reports,
military aid to rebels in the Syrian Golan.
also treated thousands of Syrians who arrived at the border,both combatants and
civilians. According to officials some 70% of the wounded treated by Israel
were men of fighting age while the other 30% were women and children.
Gazan Health Ministry says 56 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces
during anti-occupation protests near the fence separating the Gaza Strip and
the occupied territories.
al-Qedra, the spokesman for the ministry, said that 24 of those wounded on
Friday were shot with live bullets.
added that 22 children and three women were among the injured.
rallies have been held every week since March 30 last year. The Palestinians
demand the right to return of those driven out of their homeland by Israeli
troops have killed at least 305 Palestinians since the beginning of the rallies
and wounded nearly 18,000 others, according to the Gazan Health Ministry.
March, a United Nations (UN) fact-finding mission found that Israeli forces
committed rights violations during their crackdown against the Palestinian
protesters in Gaza that may amount to war crimes.
has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in
Ansarullah movement says the US is not just arming the Saudi-led coalition, but
is actively participating in its brutal war against the innocent Yemenis.
gravity of the American role doesn’t come from the arms sales, but the
participation in the aggression against Yemen, and also in trying to legitimize
that aggression,” said Mohammed al-Bukhtaiti, a senior member of the Political
Bureau of the Ansarullah movement.
comments come as American troops are coming back 16 years after they left Saudi
Arabia, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud announced last week. According to
media reports hundreds of American troops are deploying to Prince Sultan Air
Base outside Riyadh.
on Wednesday, Ansarullah spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam told Al-Masirah TV that
the deployment of US troops is aimed at providing security support and boosting
the morale of Saudi Arabia against the ballistic missiles and drone attacks of
their latest retaliatory attack on Saudi targets, the Yemeni army’s UAVs once
again hit a Saudi airport in Asir province on Thursday night. The army said the
pinpoint attack on the airport and nearby military sites in the city of Abha
was conducted by Qasef K-2 drones.
Saudi-led coalition claimed the drone was intercepted and that no airports or
military sites had been hit.
forces have stepped up their retaliatory strikes against Saudi Arabia to force
the regime to stop its military campaign against the Yemeni people.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed three congressional resolutions
barring billions of dollars in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United
Arab Emirates, which have been committing war crimes in Yemen for over four
to the decision, Ansarullah’s Bukhaiti said, “If the US Congress manages to
block the US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, it will be the end for the economic
benefits for America, and this may lead to a change in the US policy regarding
its participation in the aggression, and its efforts to legitimize it.”
veto messages to Congress released by the White House on Wednesday, Trump
argued that the bills would “weaken America’s global competitiveness and damage
the important relationships we share with our allies and partners.”
of Yemenis, mostly civilians, have been killed by the Saudi aggression and the
ensuing famine since 2015.
yanked off Middle East-bound plane at JFK airport after feds learn of his
desire to join terror squad: sources
authorities yanked a 33-year-old Bronx man off an airplane bound for Thailand
Friday after learning the suspected terrorist sympathizer was going to join the
Taliban, officials said.
he got onto a Qatar Airways plane at JFK Airport Delowar Hossain had a very
clear idea what he was going to do: Bangkok, Thailand would be the first leg of
his trip on his way to Pakistan, where he would slip into Afghanistan and join
the terror group, officials said in court papers.
ongoing conversations with an undercover agent working with the FBI that began
in the fall of 2018, Hossain said that he felt better attacking U.S. military
targets in the Middle East rather than civilians at home.
the U.S. Army, attacking stuff like that is legitimate because the world is
against the American government, not its people,” Hossain told the undercover
operative, according to court records. “But you see to attack an army base you
need a lot more power than four, five people.”
wanted to join the Taliban because, he said, the group has “a legitimate
not even question us as to if we did right or wrong because (the Taliban) has a
legitimate reason for jihad,” he said, according to court papers.
was pulled off a Qatar Airways plane at JFK Airport just before it was about to
lift off. Federal investigators and Port Authority police made the grab, the
planned to travel overseas and join the Taliban in order to kill American
soldiers,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said. “The threat of
terrorism at home and abroad remains.”
was charged with attempting to provide material support for terrorism. If
convicted, he faces 15 years in prison.
Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger
— Iran fired a Shahab-3 medium-range missile on Wednesday, a United States
military official said, playing it down by saying that it did not pose a threat
to American or other Western shipping or military bases in the region.
missile was launched from the southern coast of Iran and landed east of Tehran,
the official said on Thursday, adding that it flew about 1,100 kilometers, or
about 680 miles, and stayed inside Iran for the entire flight.
official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence
analyses, said that American officials had been closely monitoring the test
site as Iran prepared the missile for launch.
the Pentagon’s effort to minimize the strategic importance of the launch on
Wednesday, it appears to be a political statement by Iran, acting both as a
carefully calibrated effort at escalation — and as a message to Europe.
launches are not forbidden under the 2015 nuclear accord reached between
Washington and Tehran, which is one of President Trump’s complaints about the
agreement he abandoned last year. But a United Nations Security Council
resolution, passed just as the agreement was reached, says that “Iran is called
upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be
capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile
of State Mike Pompeo has demanded that Iran cease all missile launches and
testing and give up its arsenal of the weapons. Iran says it is under no
obligation to do so, and notes that because it has no interest in nuclear weapons,
it is not violating the wording of the United Nations prohibition.
week in New York, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said that if
the United States wanted to discuss missile limitations, it should begin by not
supplying Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states with
missiles that threaten Iran. The test on Wednesday seemed meant to drive home
the point that Iran had no intention on giving up on its own missile fleet.
Shahab-3 is hardly a new weapon — it has been in the Iranian arsenal for two
decades. Based on a North Korean design, called the No-Dong, it can fly about
1,000 kilometers. Variants can range farther, capable of striking the edge of
more important, Israel and a number of Western experts say a nuclear weapon can
be fashioned to fit in the missile’s nose cone. The test launch may also be
meant to demonstrate that American efforts to sabotage the Iranian missile
program, chiefly with bad parts, are not impeding its development.
missile launch in Iran came within hours of North Korea’s launching of two
short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Thursday. The South Korean
government said that the North was expanding its ability to deliver nuclear
warheads as Mr. Trump’s efforts resume talks on ending the country’s nuclear
weapons program remain stalled.
Jul 26, 2019
headline on an earlier version of this article incorrectly described the
missile that Iran fired. It was a medium-range missile, not a short-range missile.
Sang-Hun contributed reporting from Seoul, South Korea.
— Quebec’s Superior Court recently rejected civil rights advocates’ legal
request to suspend the Canadian province’s controversial new ban on religious
symbols for state workers.
activists in Canada and around the world say the fight is not yet over.
will not tolerate politicians interfering in the religious practices of
individuals,” said Mussab Ali, a New Jersey-based education policy maker. “We
are standing up for all religious communities in our stance against Bill 21. We
urge the Quebec government to repeal this bill.”
last month, Bill 21 bans public school teachers, police officers, judges and
other public sector employees from donning any religious symbols, in order to
protect Quebec’s principle of “laicity,” or the religious neutrality of the state.
rights advocates say the law, which would also require citizens receiving
public services to uncover their faces for identification or security reasons,
will disproportionately impact Muslims who wear the hijab or niqab, Jews who
wear the kippah and Sikhs who wear turbans.
education minister recently made headlines after he posed for a picture with
Nobel Peace Prize-winning Malala Yousafzai, then later tweeted that the Muslim
education advocate would only be welcome to teach in Quebec schools if she
removed her hijab.
international campaign called “Hands Off My Hijab” created after that tweet has
collected about 33,000 signatures this month from critics of the bill in the
hopes of urging the Superior Court to reject it.
who helped overturn a local school policy last year that punished some Muslim
students for wearing their hijabs, organized the campaign along with Malak
Shalabi, a University of Washington law student, and Jülide Saniye, a law
graduate in Germany.
campaign also focuses on the global nature of bans on religious garb,
particularly “the unfortunate growing trend” of bans on the hijab, niqab, burka
and burkinis in Europe.
want to put social pressure on Canadian lawmakers,” Shalabi said. “But we also
want to look at the interconnectedness of this issue. Colonial states are
imposing their values on women they say need to be ‘liberated,’ while
simultaneously depriving them of the same autonomy and freedom they’re claiming
to push out.”
study of Muslim girls and women before and after France’s 2014 law banning
headscarves in public schools found that the gap in secondary school attainment
between Muslim and non-Muslim girls more than doubled after the ban. The gaps
in employment and labor force participation also widened significantly.
women are being deprived of their right to choose,” Shalabi said.
day after Bill 21 passed, the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the
Canadian Civil Liberties Association challenged its constitutionality, arguing
that the law encroaches on federal jurisdiction, is impermissibly vague and
excludes citizens from public institutions based on personal characteristics.
process of hearing that full court challenge could take months.
date has yet been set for a hearing on the challenge.
week, the Superior Court denied a request for a temporary suspension of certain
provisions of the law in the meantime, ruling that the groups had failed to
prove that the ban was already causing immediate and irreparable harm to religious
minorities like plaintiff Ichrak Nourel Hak.
law has stripped me of my dream and sends me a clear message that I am not a
valued part of Quebec society,” Hak, who wears the hijab and is studying
education at Université de Montréal, said. “All my years of studying, all my
efforts to be among the best teachers in Quebec went up in smoke in a snap …
this law has just cut off my wings.”
NCCM and CCLA filed an appeal to that decision on Tuesday, arguing that damage
is not “hypothetical” as the judge claimed.
promised Quebecers and Canadians that we would stand up for their rights and we
intend to do exactly that,” Mustafa Farooq, the NCCM’s executive director,
said. “We believe, as we always have, that this piece of legislation has no
place being on the books in 2019.”
broader legal challenge still stands. And the Superior Court judge’s ruling
noted that there were serious questions of constitutionality surrounding the
said the law would “upend people’s lives and livelihoods, pushing many Muslims,
Jews and Sikhs to the margins of society,” amounting to “state-sanctioned
second class citizenship.”
faith-based organizations — including B’nai Brith Canada and the World Sikh
Organization, whose Quebec representative, Amrit Kaur, told media she has had
to pivot her search for teaching jobs outside the province — also condemned the
N.H. — An inn manager accused of shoving a couple she thought were Muslim will
pay a fine under an agreement reached with the New Hampshire attorney general’s
agreement resolves allegations that Priscilla Protasowicki (prah-tah-SWIK’-ee)
used force to remove the couple based on her belief they shouldn’t be there
because of their religion and perceived national origin.
confrontation came after a dispute over a refund at the Covered Bridge
Riverview Lodge in Jackson.
the agreement, Protasowicki may have no further contact with the couple and
was fined $10,000. If she goes a year without contacting them, the fine will be
reduced to $2,500.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order Friday laying the groundwork
for sanctions against those who have exacerbated the “deteriorating situation
in Mali,” the White House said.
decree will freeze assets and suspend travel for “individuals or entities that
seek to undermine the peace, security or stability of Mali,” Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
is struggling to quell unrest that began in 2012 in the north and spread to
other parts of the country, despite aid from French and UN forces.
groups are exploiting ethnic tensions and expanding their networks well outside
Mali’s borders,” Pompeo added, without specifying who might be targeted by the
US senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said
that anyone sanctioned “can no longer access the United States financial
week Washington imposed sanctions on an Al-Qaeda-linked group in Mali that
carried out deadly attacks on the country’s armed forces.
2015 a peace agreement was signed with some armed factions, but parts of Mali
remain beyond the control of the government and the armed forces.
UN mission to Mali, known as MINUSMA, “has faced more violence and danger than
any other peacekeeping mission in UN history,” Pompeo said.
Trump administration has signaled its disinterest in such missions by cutting
its financial contribution to UN peacekeeping and pushing for major cuts in
blue helmet operations worldwide.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday he would “happily” go to Tehran to
address tensions between the two countries over US sanctions on the nation.
explained in an interview with Bloomberg he would willingly appear on Iranian
television to explain US reasoning behind the sanctions.
would welcome the chance to speak directly to the Iranian people... about what
it is their leadership has done and how it has harmed Iran,” he said.
between Washington and Tehran have soared since President Donald Trump pulled
the US out of a deal with Iran last year that was aimed at curbing its nuclear
program, and imposed punishing sanctions.
US has said it brought down one and possibly two Iranian drones last week, and
has blamed Iran for a series of mysterious attacks on tanker ships in strategic
shot down an unmanned US aircraft in June, after which Trump announced that he
had called off retaliatory air strikes at the last minute because the resulting
death toll would have been too high.
top diplomat renewed accusations during a visit to the United Nations last week
that the US was using the sanctions to wage “economic terrorism.”
are “subjected to the most brutal form of ‘economic terrorism’ -- deliberately
targeting innocent civilians to achieve illegitimate political objectives,”
said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
brushed the accusations aside Thursday, saying Zarif was no more in charge of
the Iranian government than “the man in the moon.”
the end of the day, this is driven by the ayatollah,” said Pompeo.
said the US goal is to “create as much stability in the Middle East as we
we broke out of the deal, we stopped giving them money, we put pressure on the
Iranian regime, and we’re forcing them to make tough decisions about how
they’re going to behave,” Pompeo said.
Pakistan militaries set for joint war games in October
and Pakistan have agreed to hold a joint military exercise — using Russian
military equipment— in southern Russia in October.
Forces from Pakistan and Russia—two cold war enemies—will be participating in
the war games, dubbed ‘Friendship-2019’.
drill is slated to be held at the Molkino practice range, near the city of
Krasnodar, in early October, according to the press office of Russia’s Southern
50 Russian forces will be taking part in the drill, which is aimed at
exchanging experience between servicemen, developing and strengthening
bilateral military and military-technical cooperation.
report did not mention the number of participants from the Pakistani side.
said mixed special-purpose groups, consisting of forces from both sides, will
perform combat training tasks using Russian military hardware.
the traditional US ally in the region, which had been receiving military
assistance from Washington, has suspended military and intelligence cooperation
with the US following a similar move by President Donald Trump.
has prompted Islamabad to seek closer ties with Moscow in recent years.
media reported earlier this month that Prime Minister Imran Khan will be
attending the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Russia which is to be held in
thaw in relations between Islamabad and Moscow came in 2014, when Russia
officially lifted an arms embargo against Pakistan, which had been in place
since the Soviet-Afghan War.
growing interest in Russian technology became even more apparent when reports
pointed to Islamabad’s willingness to purchase Russian S-400 missile defense
systems, among other items.
Pakistan’s arch rival, had also approved a plan to purchase five S-400 Triumph
defense systems, despite earlier warnings from the US against any military
transaction with Russia.
Delhi had earlier received warnings from Washington about buying Russian arms.
Under its current sanctions against Moscow, Washington could impose sanctions
on other countries should they do any business with the Russian defense or
however, will deliver the first missile system by the end of 2020.
addition, India plans to seal a new 10-year framework deal with Russia to
manufacture and upgrade at least a dozen types of Russian armament systems used
in the country, including fighter jets, artillery guns and rocket launcher
has also begun delivering the 2nd batch of its advanced S-400 missile defense
systems to China as part of a 2014 contract.
delivery of the entire S-400 regiment set to China envisages "involving no
less than three vessels" that will take to the sea one by one "within
short time intervals," Russia’s Tass News Agency quoted an unnamed
military source as saying on Wednesday. In 2014, China ordered four to six
Russian-made S-400 regimental units for an estimated price of around $3
United States has competitively sold, and continues to sell, its rival Patriot
missile systems to regional countries to counter Russia’s expanding influence
within the region.
2,500 European terrorists unaccounted for: EU Commission
European Commission has announced that more than 2500 persons, who had once
left various European countries to join the Daesh terrorist group in Iraq or
Syria, are currently unaccounted for.
from across Europe joined Daesh in droves in 2014, when the Takfiri terror
group launched its campaign of death and destruction in Iraq and Syria.
to the commission, at least 5,500 foreign terrorist fighters left the continent
to travel to Iraq and Syria, said Julian King, the European Commission for
those two-thirds were men, and a quarter women.
think at least 1,400 were killed, died," King said, adding that around
1,600 have since returned.
leaves 2,500 unaccounted for, we don't know where they are," he added.
warned that those returning home will be a security challenge for years to
include half of the estimated 850 people who left the UK to join Daesh and also
400 of the 3,417 militants from Russia; 760 of the 3,244 from Saudi Arabia; 800
of the 2,926 from Tunisia; and 271 of the 1,910 from France.
in January, France said it was considering the repatriation of 130 men and
women to be tried under the French judicial system.
Germany, a woman was charged with war crimes late last year for allegedly
letting a five-year-old girl die of thirst while serving as a member of Daesh
prosecutors charged the 27-year-old woman, only identified as Jennifer W, with
war crimes, murder and weapons offenses earlier this month at a Munich court.
said that the woman had first left Germany in August 2014 and traveled via
Turkey and Syria to Iraq where she joined the terrorist group the following
January 2016, she allegedly visited the German embassy in the Turkish capital,
Ankara, and applied for new identity documents. She was arrested by Turkish
security services after leaving the embassy and deported to Germany a few days
UK court has ruled in London’s favor in a long-standing financial dispute with
Iran that has wider political ramifications for Britain’s increasingly strained
relationship with the Islamic republic.
case revolves a payment of £650 million made by Iran in the 1970s to buy 1,500
Chieftain tanks from Britain and repair 250 more.
deal was blocked after the 1979 Islamic Revolution deposed the Western-backed
Shah. Britain kept the paid portion of the contract.
under £400 million ($500 million, 450 million euros) are now being kept in a
frozen British bank account.
the money to Tehran is further complicated by EU and US sanctions linked to
Iran’s nuclear programme.
judge with the UK High Court ruled on Wednesday that Britain did not owe Iran
interest payments of more than £20 million that had accumulated on the sum over
Stephen Phillips cited a precedent case that found claims made by any “Iranian
person, entity or body, including the Iranian government” were invalid in commercial
disputes because of the Western sanctions.
US President Donald Trump discussed current tensions with Iran with UK Prime
Minister Boris Johnson, in a call on Friday.
seized the British-flagged Stena Impero a week ago, prompting strong
condemnation from the UK and allies.
Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was willing to go to Iran
for talks amid tensions between Tehran and Washington, but also called on
Japan, Britain and other nations to join a maritime force to guard oil tankers
sailing through the Strait of Hormuz.
between Iran and the US have ratcheted up since last year, when Trump withdrew
the US from the Iranian nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive
Plan of Action, saying it was not strong enough. Washington also reimposed
sanctions on Tehran.
and Iranian leaders have both publicly said talks were possible, but the
prospect for dialogue appeared to recede on Wednesday when the top military
adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran would not negotiate
with Washington under any circumstances.
congratulated Johnson on becoming British prime minister, succeeding Theresa
May who had failed to win over Parliament on her Brexit plan.
said their two governments were already working on a free trade agreement seen
as crucial to help Britain once a Brexit deal takes place.
agreed that Brexit offers an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen the
economic partnership between the UK and United States," said a British
consent of the Turkish Cypriots was not sought while the UN Security Council
adopted extension of the mandate of the Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)
for a period of six months, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Friday.
most important deficiency of the extension of the mandate of UNFICYP with this
Resolution is that the consent of the TRNC [the Turkish Republic of Northern
Cyprus] is not sought, in contrast to the UN’s established practices,” the
ministry said in a press release.
the Resolution, the fact that the wording regarding the settlement of Cyprus
issue was drafted in a way to straitjacket all parties to discuss different
alternatives for a negotiated settlement, contradicts the need for new ideas as
called for by the Secretary-General in the past,” the ministry added.
ministry said the real cause of the Cyprus issue is the Greek Cypriot side’s
“unwillingness to share the power and wealth with the Turkish Cypriots”,
stressing that “a common ground and a joint vision based on political equality”
will be a real and result-oriented negotiation process between the two sides.
the co-owner and political equal of the Island, the Turkish Cypriots will never
accept a minority status,” the ministry said.
ministry also stressed that the resolution does not refer to the July 13
cooperation proposal of the TRNC, while it calls for a reduction of tensions in
the Eastern Mediterranean.
TRNC authorities have made constructive proposals to the Greek Cypriot side in
2011, 2012 and most recently on 13 July 2019,” it said.
proposals of the Turkish Cypriot side, all supported by Turkey, prove that it
is the Turkish side who is making determined efforts, whilst these efforts are
not reciprocated by the Greek Cypriot side,'' the ministry added.
has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral
drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights
to the resources in the area.
this spring, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels -- the Fatih and the Yavuz --
to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the
resources of the region.
first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, bought from Norway in 2013,
has been conducting exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to
intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
July 29, the Kaduna High Court is expected to rule on whether Nigerian Shia
leader, Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, will be allowed to leave Nigeria to receive medical
treatment (Leadership, July 18). In 2015, al-Zakzaky was severely injured
during a crackdown by the Nigerian security forces on his movement, called the
Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), which led to the deaths of a reported 300
IMN members (hrw.org, December 22, 2015). That crackdown was purportedly
precipitated by al-Zakzaky’s followers’ blocking roads and preventing Nigerian
army officials from passing through areas in Zaria, Kaduna State, where
al-Zakzaky’s headquarters is based. Since 2015, al-Zakzaky has been receiving
inadequate medical care for his injuries while in the custody of the Nigerian
2015 crackdown came amid the rise of Sunni-Shia tensions globally. In Nigeria,
2014, al-Zakzaky was accused of “dividing Muslims.” Al-Zakzaky, however,
accused his accuser, prominent Saudi-based Nigerian cleric Ahmad Gumi, of
“working for Israel” and plotting al-Zakzaky’s assassination with U.S. and
Israeli backing (Vanguard, December 11, 2014). One year prior to the major 2015
crackdown, in July 2014, three of al-Zakzaky’s sons and nine other followers were
also killed during a “Quds [Jerusalem] procession” in Zaria (Vanguard, July 26,
2014). Thus, the 2015 crackdown was not without precedent.
confrontations with the security forces resurfaced in October 2018 when several
dozen of the group’s members were reported killed in Abuja while protesting and
demanding al-Zakzaky’s release from his seemingly indefinite detention. The New
York Times subsequently released exclusive footage showing unarmed al-Zakzaky
supporters being killed in those protests by Nigeria’s elite Presidential Guard
Brigade (Punch, December 18, 2018). This year, in early July, protests
recommenced as al-Zakzaky’s supporters have become concerned that he may die in
detention (Vanguard, July 12). Again, the security forces responded to agitation
with lethal force on several protesters, who themselves were accused of killing
a security officer. The latest confrontation was on July 22 when several
al-Zakzaky supporters were killed in another protest in Abuja (Vanguard, July
series of events has led international and Nigerian media to suggest there may
be a Shia rebellion or “new Boko Haram” in Nigeria if al-Zakzaky is not
released or if pressure continues to mount on his Shia followers (Al-Jazeera,
April 22). Nigerian officials meanwhile label the IMN an “insurgent group”
(Vanguard, December 6, 2016). However, the IMN is not like Iranian proxies or
other Shia militias in the Middle East, and it does not resemble Boko Haram
during the period when it prepared for jihad in the aftermath of a similar
government crackdown that killed at least 200 of its members 10 years ago in
July 2009 (dni.gov, January 19, 2017). This article argues al-Zakzaky’s Shias
followers will continue to protest and be further suppressed but will not
engage in a large-scale violent uprising. Contrarily, they will become more
“useful” to Iran as a symbol of global Shia victimhood.
An Imperfect Iranian Ally
al-Zakzaky became best known during his student years in the 1970s as a Muslim
Brotherhood-influenced student leader demanding sharia law replace the Nigerian
Constitution. After the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979, however, he was
among the many northern Nigerian Muslims becoming interested in Iran as a model
for the change Nigeria needed and even visited Iran to witness the Islamic
Republic.  Many other Nigerian Muslims who initially sought to emulate the
Iranian Islamic Revolution in Nigeria drifted away from Tehran’s ideological
influence either because they received Saudi or Kuwaiti funding and remained in
the Sunni-Salafi fold, or they became disillusioned by Iran because of its
foreign policy—including supporting Hafez al-Assad during his violent
suppression of a 1982 Muslim Brotherhood revolt in Hama, Syria. However,
al-Zakzaky remained committed to Iran throughout the 1980s and emerged as its
most prominent supporter by the turn of the 1990s.
Iran could not become a global Islamic power if it relied on projecting a
“Shia” identity, in the 1980s Ayatollah Khomeini instead portrayed Iran as an
“Islamic” power. One prominent Nigerian cleric who visited Iran after the
Islamic Revolution, for example, recalled hearing the chant, “La Shia La
Sunni-ya, Thura, Thura Islamiya (No Shia, No Sunni, Revolution, Islamic
Revolution” (Youtube, May 21, 2016). In a religious landscape where few
Nigerian Muslims were Shia before 1979 (there are now around three-million
Nigerian Shias), al-Zakzaky, too, adopted a slogan avoiding a “Shia” identity
and instead promoted an identity of “Islam only”, which his movement continues
to endorse (ihrc.org.uk, December 21, 2015). However, when al-Zakzaky became
more pronounced about his Shiism in 1994, a number of his followers branched
off and refused to become Shia. One follower who split from al-Zakzaky at this
time was Muhammed Yusuf, who was then around 25-years-old and later co-founded
Boko Haram in 2002-2003, but under Salafi influence (aymennjawad.org, August 5,
that schism, al-Zakzaky also lost Iranian favor due to the rise of factions
among the Nigerian Shias themselves. One Shia group, for example, considered
itself more theologically learned than the “activist” al-Zakzaky, and claimed
greater support from Iranian ayatollahs than al-Zakzaky.  Moreover, another
Shia group under Iranian management avoided al-Zakzaky’s politically
antagonizing activism. This helped Iran maintain more amicable relations with
Nigeria than it would if it was seen as sponsoring al-Zakzaky’s
delegitimization of the Nigerian state. 
himself also eventually accepted there would be no such “Islamic Revolution” in
Nigeria and instead began advocating for “Islamic Evolution” and even accepted
his followers’ participation in the Nigerian civil service. Despite maintaining
a lightly armed “Hizbollah-like’ guard corps, a newspaper, and pro-Khomeini and
pro-Ayatollah Khomeini imagery on the IMN website and at demonstrations, the
IMN has more recently settled for highly public, and even ostentatious, Shia
rituals as its hallmark, as opposed to direct political agitation
(islamicmovement.org, July 11). However, this is a far cry from the violence
for which Boko Haram has become notorious.
Shia “Boko Haram”?
the Nigerian government cracked down on Boko Haram in July 2009, late
Muhammed Yusuf’s supporters then met
with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and received weapons, financing,
training, and advising (aymennjawad.org, September 15, 2018). Although Yusuf’s
successor, Abubakar Shekau, ignored AQIM’s advice, which ended up leading to
the end of AQIM’s support for Boko Haram, the relationship still helped Boko
Haram launch its insurgency in 2010. However, even if al-Zakzaky’s followers
wanted to wage an insurgency, Iran has few regional assets in West Africa to
support the IMN like AQIM had to support Boko Haram.
situation in Nigeria is much different than the Middle East, where Iran is
geographically proximate to Shia militias it supports, such as in Iraq, Syria,
Lebanon, and Yemen. Moreover, the record of Iranian and Hizbollah-backed terrorist
cells in countries outside of the Middle East, like Thailand, Kenya, Uganda,
and Nigeria itself suggests they are more inept when backing cells outside of
the Middle East (Vanguard, January 19, 2011; ; Kampalapost, July 23). This is
perhaps due to Iran and Hizbollah’s weaker cultural knowledge of those
countries, stronger Israeli counter-intelligence outside of the Middle East
compared to that region, and Iran’s placement of more elite operatives in
Middle Eastern countries than outside of the region.
the obvious fact that al-Zakzaky’s Shia political agitation bears little
resemblance to Boko Haram’s Jihadi-Salafism, al-Zakzaky has also not called for
violence in response to the clashes with the Nigerian state from his detention.
This does not mean all al-Zakzaky followers will abstain from violence.
However, there does not appear to be any organized insurgency in the works by
al-Zakzaky’s followers. Even if Iran wanted to back a proxy militia in Nigeria,
the geographic and cultural distance would hinder it. In addition, Iran is
overstretched in Middle Eastern conflicts and has less commitment to al-Zakzaky
than it may appear on the surface, especially given the other Nigerian Shia
possibility is rather than allowing al-Zakzaky to become a “martyr” and a
further stain on Nigeria’s human rights record if he dies in Nigerian custody,
Nigeria will allow him to travel abroad to receive medical treatment. Iran has
offered to provide care for him (Punch, July 26). However, there is a chance
Nigeria, which accuses al-Zakzaky and his wife of being accomplices to murder,
would presumably not allow him back into Nigeria (Punch, April 27, 2018).
Al-Zakzaky would therefore live in exile in Iran or other countries whose
governments and Muslim organizations have courted al-Zakzaky’s family members,
especially his daughters, such as Lebanon and Turkey (YouTube, June 2, 2018;
YouTube, March 11, 2018). By portraying Nigeria’s government as in league with
Wahhabis or takfiris in oppressing Shias like al-Zakzaky, Iran will also be
able to further its narrative of global Shia victimhood.
therefore, is a case where Iran might paradoxically benefit more from further
oppression of the IMN, rather than directly using proxy militias to obtain
political power as it does in Iraq, Lebanon or Yemen. The Nigerian government
also shows no sign of leniency towards the IMN beyond possibly sending
al-Zakzaky into exile. With Nigerian Sunni-Salafi clerics reticent to either
comment on the al-Zakzaky affair or assertively call for an end to the
violence, it appears there is no way out but for more IMN public protests and
more Nigerian government crackdowns on the IMN creating more “martyrs” from
among Nigeria’s Shias. However, Iran may be the ultimate “winner” from this
A rare female suicide bomber used in the deadly Al-Shabab attack in the office
of Mogadishu’s mayor was aiming for the American who is the new UN envoy to
Somalia and had left the office just minutes earlier, the extremist group and
death toll in Wednesday’s attack rose to seven and the seriously wounded Mayor
Abdirahman Omar Osman was in a coma Thursday. He and other officials were
expected to be airlifted to Qatar for treatment, said Mohamed Ahmed, a
government official at the Mogadishu hospital treating the mayor.
new UN envoy, James Swan, was the bomber’s intended target, Abdiaziz Abu Musab,
Al-Shabab’s military spokesman, told local media.
Mohamed Hussein, a senior police officer, said the female bomber walked into a
security meeting and blew herself up a few yards away from the mayor. It was
just the fourth time the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab had been known to use a
female suicide bomber.
had paid the Somali capital’s mayor a brief visit and left the compound less
than an hour before the bombing, an official at the mayor’s office told The
a statement, Swan condemned “this heinous attack, which not only demonstrates a
violent disregard for the sanctity of human life, but also targets Somalis
working to improve the lives of their fellow Somalis.” The US ambassador to
Somalia, Donald Yamamoto, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also
condemned the attack.
deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said that “any threats against any UN personnel
anywhere in the world are a matter of grave concern for the secretary-general”
and the UN reviews its security after such attacks.
want to make sure that all of our personnel everywhere are protected and able
to go about their work free of any hindrance and free of any threats,” Haq
said, adding that Guterres will be writing to Swan and the UN staff in Somalia
to express “solidarity with their work and our concern for their safety.”
was not clear how the bomber managed to enter the mayor’s office, as visitors
are required to pass through at least four metal detectors. Some security
officials said the attacker might have bribed corrupt officials.
often targets government buildings such as the presidential palace and other
high-profile parts of Mogadishu with bombings. The Somalia-based group was
chased out of Mogadishu years ago but still controls parts of the Horn of
Africa nation’s south and central regions and is a frequent target of US
Ismail Alfa Abdulrahim and Haruna Umar
Nigeria — Suicide bombings, mass kidnappings, tens of thousands of people
killed. A ghastly insurgency by the homegrown Islamic extremist group Boko
Haram marks 10 years this week in northeastern Nigeria, where many residents
say life has been set back by decades.
feels like 100 years, because everything seems to be moving slowly and not
getting any better for me and my family,” said Hassan Mamman, who fled to
Maiduguri, the region’s main city, after Boko Haram attacks on his rural home.
He is among millions of people displaced. “I miss my community and always crave
it but the merchants of death just won’t let us have that much-needed peace.”
marks a decade since Nigerian forces clashed with the extremists at Maiduguri’s
central mosque. More than 700 people were killed, including leader Mohammed
Yusuf, according to officials and rights groups.
that violence sprang the insurgency of Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language
means “Western education is taboo.” The extremists have sought to establish a
strict Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, carrying out attacks as far away as the
capital, Abuja. The violence has also spilled into neighboring Chad, Cameroon
and Niger. In recent years some fighters have pledged allegiance to the Islamic
State group, creating a new threat.
Haram seized the world’s attention with the mass kidnapping of nearly 300
schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014, sparking a #BringBackOurGirls campaign
supported by then-U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and others. While many
schoolgirls have since been freed, countless other people abducted over the
decade remain lost to their loved ones. They include aid workers; on Wednesday
a recently seized nurse pleaded in a video for Nigeria’s government to help,
saying they could be killed.
Nigerian officials have repeatedly claimed victory over Boko Haram, weary
residents say there is no end in sight to the attacks that have created one of
the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with more than 7 million people still
dependent on food aid.
interviews with The Associated Press, a range of people described how their
lives and culture have been torn apart. “Our age-long legendary values for
decency, where there is mutual respect and regard between men and women, have
been eroded in just 10 years,” said Hamsatu Allamin, who leads a peacebuilding
foundation. Women widowed by the fighting have become beggars or sex workers,
she said. Children no longer respect their elders.
have been plunged backward by many decades,” said Abba-Aji Kalli, who leads a
civilian self-defense force. Sometimes the damage appears irreversible, he
observers allege that certain Nigerian officials are profiting from the unrest
via corruption and have little interest in ending the bloodshed. Rights groups
have accused some Nigerian security forces of abuses in the fight against Boko
Haram including extra-judicial killings and mass arrests. Nigeria’s government
has angrily rejected such allegations.
will continue to pursue and strengthen all options for peace and will not
relent,” said Baba Sheikh Haruna, spokesman for the governor of Borno state
where Maiduguri is located. He said the government recently welcomed more than
150 Boko Haram members who surrendered and expressed hope that the 10-year
anniversary would cause other fighters to reflect and lay down their arms.
1.9 million displaced people are waiting for the chance to go home, said Hilde
Jorgensen with the Norwegian Refugee Council. “Many of them are in camps that
are overcrowded, without proper shelter or access to clean water.”
of those displaced people is Musa Jidda, who fled after Boko Haram attacked his
rural home in Marte.
I am, stripped of all that made me a man and a breadwinner,” Jidda said. “Every
day my heart bleeds in bitterness of seeing my family and I turned beggars. I cannot
feed my family. Even what they give us here to feed on is not enough. All I
want is for them to open this camp gate and let me go home.”
though Boko Haram has been in the public eye for 10 years, not much is still
known about the extremist group, said Matthew Page, associate fellow with the
London-based international affairs group Chatham House.
a very decentralized group, which contrasts with other jihadist groups that are
tightly organized,” Page said. “Boko Haram doesn’t have much in the way of
coherent strategy and focus, yet they have defied the odds and survived.”
said Nigeria’s government has been ineffective in combatting Boko Haram,
largely as a result of corruption. “So there is a kind of uneasy standoff. Boko
Haram could continue for 30 years.”
residents of Maiduguri, however, are not giving up hope that peace can return.
whose displaced family has sheltered in the city for five years, said he
imagined the extremists could be weary as well after a decade on the run.
Turkish nationals abducted last week in the central Nigerian state of Kwara
have been rescued, the police said on Friday.
Turkish were kidnapped at gunpoint by six armed men, the police statement said,
adding that no ransom was paid for their release.
for ransom is rife in Nigeria with foreigners and high-profile Nigerians
Red Crescent said Friday its rescue workers had recovered the bodies of 62
migrants a day after one of the deadliest shipwrecks this year in the
Red Crescent teams have pulled 62 migrants" from the water since Thursday
evening, the head of the unit Abdelmoneim Abu Sbeih said.
agencies on Thursday said more than 100 migrants were missing after an
overloaded boat sank off the Libyan coast east of the capital near the port
city of Khoms.
145 migrants were rescued by the Libyan coastguard, and fishermen said the
waters were full of floating bodies.
bodies are still floating onto the shore continuously, it's not possible to
give a total number," Abu Sbeih added.
authorities were gathering and storing the bodies until burial places could be
found, a municipal source in Khoms said.
migrants had apparently been headed out to sea on three boats lashed together,
according to the charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
had reported a total of almost 400 people on board, MSF mission chief Julien
Raickman told AFP.
head of the UN refugee agency Filippo Grandi called the wreck "the worst
Mediterranean tragedy of this year".
capsize came only a few weeks after some 68 migrants died when an Italy-bound
boat sank off Tunisia.
security forces have killed at least 20 members of the Islamic Movement of
Nigeria (IMN) during protests calling for the release of senior cleric Sheikh
Ibrahim Zakzaky, the movement’s leader, this week.
for the IMN said on Friday clashes that erupted between police forces and
protesters in the capital, Abuja, this week left at least 20 people dead.
spokesman said the death toll may be as high as 25.
members regularly take to the streets of the Nigerian capital to call for the
release of Sheikh Zakzaky, their leader, who has been in detention since 2015.
forces have used live ammunition against the protesters.
spokesmen said that most of the victims lost their lives after Nigerian troops
opened fire on protesters on Monday, adding that four others have since died in
police custody of their gunshot wounds.
might die in police custody, because there are at least 15 people who are in
the detention center with various degrees of bullet wounds, without
medication,” one spokesman said.
Zakzaky, who is in his mid-60s, lost his left eyesight in a 2015 raid by
security forces that left more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons
dead. His wife also sustained serious wounds.
cleric’s son, Mohammad, told Press TV on July 6 that his father was in dire
need of medical treatment, as “large and dangerous quantities of lead and
cadmium have been found in his blood.”
Nigeria: Maiduguri resident Ahmed Muhammed wanders through the rubble left
behind as he recalls the outbreak of fighting in his city a decade ago that
launched the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
heard shooting — badadadadadada — here, there, everywhere around us,” the
44-year-old railway worker told AFP.
thought the end of the universe had come.”
late July 2009, tensions between the hard-line Islamist sect and authorities in
northeast Nigeria boiled over as the group launched a wave of attacks and
security forces fought back ruthlessly.
epicenter of the violence was the compound of the group’s founder Muhammad
several days of fighting, Yusuf and hundreds of Boko Haram members were dead
and a conflict had been unleashed that would devastate the region.
mosque and the homes that once stood there are now just a pile of debris — an
unmarked monument to the suffering of the past 10 years.
the decade since the uprising began, some two million people have been uprooted
from their homes and 27,000 killed as the bloodshed has spilt into neighboring
Haram has turned vast swathes of territory into a no man’s land and forced its
way into international headlines by abducting hundreds of schoolgirls.
the Nigerian army has pushed the fighters from major towns, the jihadists have
splintered into factions and spawned an offshoot aligned to the Daesh group
that has unleashed its own campaign of violence.
of the conflict crashed over Hadiza Bukar’s village near Baga close to the
shores of Lake Chad in 2015 when Boko Haram fighters stormed through the area.
fled with her newborn twin sons, leaving behind her husband and two other
has not heard from them since.
remains of the family is now among the roughly quarter-of-a-million people
displaced and struggling to survive in and around Maiduguri, capital of Borno
across the city are government-approved camps and informal settlements of
corrugated iron, sticks and shreds of tarpaulin.
only place Bukar found to live is at the ground zero of the insurgency that
tore her life apart. Her makeshift home stands on the edge of the ruins of
Yusuf’s former compound.
the downpours come in the rainy season the place turns into a quagmire.
people told us stories about what happened here. They warned us there was a
history,” she said, of the bloodshed in 2009. “But we had no option. We have
nowhere to go. We decided to stay.”
town in another district Idrissa Isah, 45, scrapes by as best he can.
used to send cows to Nigeria’s economic hub Lagos, but now all he has is a
small patch of earth near his shack that a local landowner lets him till.
little he grows helps supplement sporadic handouts from international aid
groups and feed his family. He says he has had no government support.
is desperate to return to his village of Makulbe about 30 kilometers (20 miles)
from Maiduguri, but the risk is too high.
I could go back I would — I would have a big, big farm,” he said.
is no way I can.”
a way home for the displaced is seen as key to solving the humanitarian crisis
in northeast Nigeria.
forcing the extremists back to remote hideouts, the government insists the
security situation is stabilising.
attacks persist outside heavily fortified towns.
just a few days in July, five soldiers were killed and six aid workers
Thursday, a Boko Haram raid killed at least two people in a displaced camp near
far this year, 130,000 people have been displaced in northeast Nigeria, the
International Organization for Migration says.
Bukar, 48, is comparatively lucky.
local government accountant still receives his official salary of about $80 (75
euros) a month even though he has not worked in his hometown Bama, 65 km from
Maiduguri, since it was devastated by fighting more than four years ago.
the wage does not cover rent and he squats with his wife and four children in
the one-room servants’ quarters of an acquaintance’s house.
October, after more than four years away, he decided to go home.
was nothing,” he said.
food, no potable water, no health services, no teachers — don’t even talk of
the town, he said, you cannot travel safely for more than a kilometer. After
three months, Bukar gave up and headed back to Maiduguri.
displaced camps are still filling up.
sprawling site around the city’s main stadium opened in March and has already
reached its capacity with over 12,000 people.
Mohammed, 38, moved into a tarpaulin shelter three weeks ago with her husband
and two children.
arrived from an overcrowded camp not far away, having been displaced several
times since being forced from her village five years ago.
has no idea if, or when, she will see home again.
Deployed in one of the world’s most dangerous conflicts, Somali soldiers
risking their lives daily against Al-Shabab insurgents were growing weary of
being paid months late and shortchanged by their superiors.
never received the complete amount,” a captain told AFP on condition of
anonymity, grumbling about “middlemen” who syphon off troops’ meagre wages —
some as low as $100 a month — and plunder budgets meant for weapons, rations
in March, his pay arrived on time, in full and straight to his bank account, in
what officials say is the first step in a radical shake-up of its graft-ridden
government, under pressure from foreign backers, has started paying troops
directly, bypassing army commanders previously tasked with disbursing their pay
but diverting the money instead.
the new system, payments are linked to a biometric database containing
soldiers’ fingerprints, personal details and bank accounts, replacing patchy
records kept on Excel spreadsheets.
say about 10,000 “ghost soldiers” were expunged from the records — roughly one
in three troops according to government estimates, though analysts questioned
fictitious troops either did not exist at all or had long ago deserted.
taking control of salary payments, Mogadishu is seeking to cut out powerful
commanders who for decades ran the Somali National Army (SNA) “as private
fiefdoms,” Fiona Blyth from the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia wrote in an
shake-up was fiercely resisted in some quarters of the army, with several
soldiers deserting their barracks in March in protest.
the government is pressing ahead. In July it also began registering fighters
from an allied militia into its security forces, and identifying older or
injured soldiers for retirement.
says the reforms are a milestone in decade-long efforts to rebuild the army
into a force capable of taking over when the roughly 20,000 African Union
AMISOM peacekeepers leave.
are not there yet. A lot of things need to be done first... but ultimately I
think it will be a game changer,” a government adviser told AFP.
soldiers were deployed in 2007 to provide muscle until Somalia’s army could
stand on its own. AMISOM’s withdrawal is slated for 2021.
donors have long complained that there is little to show for the hundreds of
millions poured into rebuilding the SNA.
2017, after a decade of international money and support, an internal review
concluded the army was a “fragile force with extremely weak command and control
and military capabilities.”
units lacked weapons, basic medical supplies and even uniforms.
same year, the United States suspended aid for the SNA over fraud concerns.
recent efforts to boost accountability and professionalism in the military have
struck a chord with traditional allies.
United States announced this month it was resuming limited, non-lethal
assistance to an army unit in Lower Shabelle, where SNA and AMISOM troops
liberated key towns from Al-Shabab in April and May.
US notes several Somali-led steps toward security sector reform over the last
year, notably the biometric registration,” a State Department official told
Ali Hagaa, a cabinet minister and top defense official, told AFP this “clearly
demonstrates increased confidence in the security sector.”
say the reforms, though important, gloss over a sobering reality: the SNA is
nowhere near ready to secure a nation mired in civil war, clan violence and
jihadists still controlling swathes of countryside.
really an army in name only,” said Matt Bryden, director of Nairobi-based think
because an individual has been biometrically registered and is on some payroll
list, doesn’t mean that they are actually a trained soldier in a formed unit.”
SNA faces a formidable foe in Al-Shabab, which this month alone bombed the
Mogadishu mayor’s office, blew up a checkpoint near Somalia’s international
airport and stormed a hotel with gunmen, collectively killing 49 people.
January, heavily-armed jihadists overran a military camp on the outskirts of
Kismayo, killing at least eight soldiers in one of their frequent ambushes of
by Somalia’s international partners to ready the SNA for war have been
criticized as being uncoordinated and piecemeal.
are trained by the British, others by the EU or the Turkish. Until 2018, the
United Arab Emirates drilled its own troops in Somalia while the US, which
focuses on drone strikes and Somalia’s special forces, mentors another unit.
these myriad stakeholders — all with their own strategic ambitions in the Horn
of Africa nation — to work together has been difficult, say analysts.
this happens, the SNA would be “highly uneven in their effectiveness,” said
Paul D. Williams, associate professor at the Elliott School of International
Affairs at George Washington University.
UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) on Friday targeted Al-Jufra
airbase, controlled by forces based in the east of the troubled country.
forces announced in a statement that the airstrike resulted in destroying a
hangar used for drones and a cargo plane of forces led by commander Khalifa
June 2017, pro-Haftar forces took control of Al-Jufra airbase in central Libya.
has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi
was ousted and killed in a bloody NATO-backed uprising after four decades in
in one of the world's most dangerous conflicts, Somali soldiers risking their
lives daily against Al-Shabaab insurgents were growing weary of being paid
months late and shortchanged by their superiors.
never received the complete amount," a captain told AFP on condition of anonymity,
grumbling about "middlemen" who siphon off troops' meagre wages -
some as low as $100 a month - and plunder budgets meant for weapons, rations
the new system, payments are linked to a biometric database containing
soldiers' fingerprints, personal details and bank accounts, replacing patchy
records kept on Excel spreadsheets.
say about 10,000 "ghost soldiers" were expunged from the records -
roughly one in three troops according to government estimates, though analysts
questioned these figures.
taking control of salary payments, Mogadishu is seeking to cut out powerful
commanders who for decades ran the Somali National Army (SNA) "as private
fiefdoms," Fiona Blyth from the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia wrote in
an April report.
the government is pressing ahead. In July it also began registering fighters
from an allied militia into its security forces, and identifying older or injured
soldiers for retirement.
says the reforms are a milestone in decade-long efforts to rebuild the army
into a force capable of taking over when the roughly 20 000 African Union
AMISOM peacekeepers leave.
are not there yet. A lot of things need to be done first... but ultimately I
think it will be a game changer," a government adviser told AFP.
soldiers were deployed in 2007 to provide muscle until Somalia's army could
stand on its own. AMISOM's withdrawal is slated for 2021.
donors have long complained that there is little to show for the hundreds of
millions poured into rebuilding the SNA.
2017, after a decade of international money and support, an internal review
concluded the army was a "fragile force with extremely weak command and
control and military capabilities".
United States announced this month it was resuming limited, non-lethal
assistance to an army unit in Lower Shabelle, where SNA and AMISOM troops
liberated key towns from Al-Shabaab in April and May.
US notes several Somali-led steps towards security sector reform over the last
year, notably the biometric registration", a State Department official
Ali Hagaa, a cabinet minister and top defence official, told AFP this
"clearly demonstrates increased confidence in the security sector".
in name only
say the reforms, though important, gloss over a sobering reality: the SNA is
nowhere near ready to secure a nation mired in civil war, clan violence and jihadists
still controlling swathes of countryside.
really an army in name only," said Matt Bryden, director of Nairobi-based
think tank Sahan.
because an individual has been biometrically registered and is on some payroll
list, doesn't mean that they are actually a trained soldier in a formed
SNA faces a formidable foe in Al-Shabaab, which this month alone bombed the
Mogadishu mayor's office, blew up a checkpoint near Somalia's international
airport and stormed a hotel with gunmen, collectively killing 49 people.
by Somalia's international partners to ready the SNA for war have been
criticised as being uncoordinated and piecemeal.
are trained by the British, others by the EU or the Turkish. Until 2018, the
United Arab Emirates drilled its own troops in Somalia while the US, which
focuses on drone strikes and Somalia's special forces, mentors another unit.
these myriad stakeholders -- all with their own strategic ambitions in the Horn
of Africa nation -- to work together has been difficult, say analysts.
this happens, the SNA would be "highly uneven in their
effectiveness," said Paul D. Williams, associate professor at the Elliott
School of International Affairs at George Washington University.
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