certifired_img

Books and Documents

Islamic World News (06 Aug 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



India to Allow Hindu Settlers to Buy Property in Muslim-Majority Kashmir for First Time, Sparking Massive Protests







India to Allow Hindu Settlers to Buy Property in Muslim-Majority Kashmir for First Time, Sparking Massive Protests

Jamiat-e-Ulama Issues Press Release Advising Muslims to Avoid Cow Sacrifice This Baqar Eid

India Informed US about Intentions to Abrogate Article 370, Article35A: Report

Top Indian Religious Muslim Leader Welcomes Move On Kashmir

Kashmir Move against UNSC Resolution: Pakistan President

Article 370: US Urges All Stakeholders to Maintain Peace, Stability Along LoC

Closely Following Events in Jammu and Kashmir, Says US

UN Urges India, Pakistan to Exercise Restraint As Tensions Mount

Germany Urges India to Hold Talks With Kashmiris

Sabah Passes Bill To Outlaw Islamic Deviancy

Khamenei: Iran Needs A Population Increase To Have More ‘Righteous Individuals’

IHRC Welcomes Court Order Permitting Release of Sheikh Zakzaky

 

India

India to Allow Hindu Settlers to Buy Property in Muslim-Majority Kashmir for First Time, Sparking Massive Protests

Jamiat-e-Ulama Issues Press Release Advising Muslims to Avoid Cow Sacrifice This Baqar Eid

India Informed US about Intentions To Abrogate Article 370, Article35A: Report

Top Indian Religious Muslim Leader Welcomes Move On Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir Bifurcation: India Briefs UNSC Members, Islamabad Summons Delhi Envoy

Article 370 abrogated: Indian security forces ready to deal with 'plausible repercussions' in Kashmir valley

Ayodhya dispute: No Muslims were allowed to enter the structure since 1934, says Nirmohi Akhara

J&K now Union Territory: India's North Pole shifts to Centre

Afghanistan government urge India to not do one hundred percent checking of Afghan goods

J&K leaders continue to be under detention, Mehbooba taken to guest house

Using Article 370 to scrap Article 370? The legal debate ahead

Former J&K CMs Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah arrested

--------

Pakistan

Kashmir Move against UNSC Resolution: Pakistan President

Thousands Flee Disputed Kashmir Region after Alert; India Says It Killed Militants

Revoking Article 370 to 'Further Deteriorate' Relations between N-Capable Neighbours: Imran Khan

India's decision to scrap Article 370 'unacceptable', says Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shehbaz Sharif

Maryam Nawaz draws public ire by politicising Kashmir situation

COAS Gen Bajwa to chair Corps Commanders Conference today

Pakistan to use ‘all possible options’ to counter India’s illegal steps

--------

North America

Article 370: US Urges All Stakeholders To Maintain Peace, Stability Along LoC

Closely Following Events in Jammu and Kashmir, Says US

US-Based Muslim Body to Protest Scrapping Of Article 370

Trump Often Blames Mass Shootings on Mental Health, When The Perpetrator Is Muslim, He Blames Islam

Taliban say differences resolved on US troop withdrawal

With 9/11 Victims Compensated, We Must Now Prevent Future Terror Attacks

9/11 Mastermind — Life in Exchange for Testimony against Saudis?

Trump warns U.S. allies to take back captured ISIS fighters

Hezbollah allies intensify hunt for main critic of Syrian regime

--------

Europe

UN Urges India, Pakistan to Exercise Restraint As Tensions Mount

Germany Urges India to Hold Talks With Kashmiris

Rabat to Host “Treasures of Islam in Africa, from Timbuktu to Zanzibar” Exhibition

'Almost All Masjids, Graveyards Of Kos Island Ruined'

Warning Over Terrorist Attacks Using Drones Given By EU Security Chief

List of UK groups linked to Qatari-owned bank involved in terror financing

UN chief: ISIS has as much as $300 million to fight

--------

Southeast Asia

Sabah Passes Bill To Outlaw Islamic Deviancy

Kelantan Exco Vows To Defend Dr Zakir Naik; PAS Invites Kit Siang To Face Televangelist

Indonesia's Growing Engagement With The Afghan Taliban

Khat, Jawi, Chinese calligraphy: nothing religious or racial about learning them

PAS leader challenges DAP ministers to quit over khat, Zakir Naik

--------

Mideast

Khamenei: Iran Needs A Population Increase To Have More ‘Righteous Individuals’

Iran's Zarif Says Tehran Will Leave Nuclear Deal If Necessary

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Is the Tip of Tehran’s Spear

Iran Says It Has Seized Another Oil Tanker in Persian Gulf

Yemeni officials: Forces pursue al-Qaida militants, 8 dead

Rouhani: War with Iran is the mother of all wars

Iran says it will further breach nuclear deal unless Europeans act

Arab Coalition: Houthi militia drones target Saudi airports

Rouhani says Iran favors talks but US must lift sanctions

Houthis continue to breach international peace agreement as they send troops to Hodeidah

--------

Africa

IHRC Welcomes Court Order Permitting Release of Sheikh Zakzaky

Multinational Force Denies Boko Haram Attack Killing 40 Troops In Nigeria

Airstrike by Haftar forces kills 45 in Libya

Haftar's airstrike in southern Libya kills 43, injures dozens

--------

South Asia

As US-Taliban Talks Continue, 15-Member Afghan Team Set To Meet Terror Group

Violence in Afghanistan takes high toll on civilians despite the promise of peace talks

At least two killed in Afghan TV bus bombing in Kabul

US Military Calls ISIS in Afghanistan a Threat to the West

Afghan forces kill 7 Taliban militants in Uruzgan: 205th Atal Corps

Special Forces kill, detain more than 20 Taliban militants in 3 provinces

Afghan forces repulse major Taliban attack on Shamalzo district

AAF Airstrike targets Taliban vehicles in Farah leaving at least 10 dead

Special Forces kill, detain 13 Taliban militants during the operations in Wardak

Afghan forces repulse major Taliban attack on Shamalzo district

--------

Arab World

Hajj Symposium Calls For Coexistence and Tolerance

ISIS, Eyeing Europe, Could Launch Attacks This Year, U.N. Warns

Blast Kills 31 Regime Fighters at Syria Airbase: Monitor

6 IS militants killed in airstrike in northern Iraq

Kuwait extradites accused Muslim Brotherhood cell to Egypt

Several Chinese, Belgian Terrorists Killed by Unknown Gunmen in Northern Syria

Syria Kurds warn of Turkish attack despite US mediation

Cairo explosion with 20 dead involved a car bomb

Doha regime condemned over Qatari bank’s funding of Islamists

Syria army to resume military operations in Idlib

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/india-to-allow-hindu-settlers-to-buy-property-in-muslim-majority-kashmir-for-first-time,-sparking-massive-protests/d/119401

--------

 

India to allow Hindu settlers to buy property in Muslim-majority Kashmir for first time, sparking massive protests

Adam Withnal

Aug 6, 2019

India has revoked the special constitutional protections that have maintained Kashmir’s status as the country’s only Muslim-majority state, a move which is expected to prompt widespread unrest.

Thousands of extra soldiers have been deployed in the past week to what is already the most highly-militarised region in the world, as the government pre-empted an angry reaction to Monday’s move. Protests have already taken place across Pakistan, while in Delhi, demonstrators marched shouting slogans such as, “We will not tolerate murder of democracy” and holding signs that read, “We stand with Kashmir”.

Announced in parliament by India’s home minister Amit Shah and then rubber-stamped by the president, the revocation of Article 370 of the country’s constitution is the biggest shake-up of the fragile situation in Kashmir for 70 years.

It will allow people from outside the state to buy property in the Kashmir valley, remove Kashmir’s autonomy over its laws and end policies which set aside most government jobs and higher education spots for local Kashmiris.

Supporters of India’s Hindu nationalist government say the move will improve integration of the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir, of which the Kashmir valley is a part, into the rest of the country.

But it will be deeply unpopular among Kashmiris themselves, who fear what they see as a government plan to fill the Muslim-majority valley with Hindu settlers and engineer permanent demographic change.

Despite a blackout on internet services and communication services imposed by India, Jammu and Kashmir’s former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted that the government’s decision was “illegal” and “unconstitutional”.

“Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy,” she said.

The move has also been condemned by Pakistan, which claims Kashmir is part of its territory and has fought several wars over the province with India.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the country’s foreign minister, said his government would immediately launch a diplomatic campaign to prevent the revocation of Article 370 coming into force, which he claimed violated UN resolutions on Kashmir. He said he would raise the issue with Washington.

The US embassy in Delhi issued a security alert, urging Americans to leave the region immediately, citing the “potential for terrorist incidents, as well as violent public unrest”.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it would “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” taken by India. There was no statement from Pakistan’s powerful military by Monday evening.

Sardar Masood Khan, who runs the Pakistan-administered portion of Kashmir, has gone further and said India can “go to war” with Pakistan over the attempt to undermine the region’s Muslim majority status.

In Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir around 30 miles from the contested border, dozens of protesters held black flags and burnt car tyres, chanting “Down with India”.

“The abolition of the special status of Kashmir will not serve its purpose,” said Zahid Iqbal, 35, a migrant from Indian-administered Kashmir. “We will fight, and we will fight with more vigour.”

There were also protests in Islamabad, the capital, and Pakistan’s commercial hub of Karachi.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has urged India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, with spokesperson Stephane Dujarric saying that UN peacekeepers observing a ceasefire in the state of Jammu and Kashmir “has observed and reported an increase in military activity along the line of control”.

Two of the three wars fought between Pakistan and India have been over the restive Himalayan province.

Tensions in the heavily-militarised region most recently spilled over earlier this year when sporadic shelling and shooting across the border killed dozens of civilians and soldiers.

Pakistan had earlier shot down an Indian fighter jet and briefly detained its pilot while India conducted airstrikes in Pakistani territory against what it claimed was a terrorist training camp.

The latest outbreak of conflict was sparked by a car bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir which killed 44 police officers.

A Pakistani Islamist militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed responsibility for the atrocity.

Although the standoff over Kashmir has now rumbled on for more than 70 years, last month Donald Trump said he could help mediate an end to the simmering conflict.

India’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), promised in its 2019 election manifesto to revoke Kashmir’s special status.

Since the BJP, a historically a Hindu nationalist force, first came to power in 2014, India has seen a rise in sectarian attacks on the country’s Muslim minority.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/kashmir-protests-india-leaders-hindu-property-buy-muslim-latest-a9039376.html

--------

 

Jamiat-e-Ulama issues press release advising Muslims to avoid cow sacrifice this Baqar Eid

New Age Islam News Bureau

Aug 6, 2019

In view of the incidents of violence over cow slaughter, the Jamiat-e-Ulama Hind has issued an appeal to Muslims to avoid cow sacrifice on Baqar Eid. In a press release published in Urdu newspapers today, the president of Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, Maulana Arshad Madani has advised Muslims to abstain from sacrificing "white animal" and sacrifice "black animal" instead as there was no restriction on sacrifice of black animal by Shariah. Maulana Arshad Madani further says that if people object to the sacrifice of even black animal, Muslims should take the help of the administration. If in a locality qurbani is not possible, Muslims should conduct sacrifice in a locality where it can be done without any obstacle, the release says. Maulana Madani says that the sacrifice of bakra would be safe option

--------

 

India informed US about intentions to abrogate Article 370, Article35A: report

August 06, 2019

Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had briefed his American counterpart, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, about Narendra Modi’s intentions to abrogate Article 370 and Article 35A for Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), ThePrint reported on Monday. According to the report, this was not the first time that the US was briefed on the issue as just two days after the Pulwama attack in February, Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had phoned his American counterpart John Bolton and told him about the Modi government’s plans to do away with the ‘special status’ for IOK. However, the decision to bifurcate the state came much later, the report added.

Indian Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday announced the move to scrap Article 370, which provides a special status to the disputed territory, and proposed the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories through a fresh Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019. The bill proposes making IOK a Union Territory with a legislature and Ladakh a separate Union Territory without an assembly.

Reportedly, Jaishankar’s meeting with Pompeo came on the sidelines of the ninth East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bangkok on 1 August and at their meeting, Jaishankar had also reiterated to Pompeo that the US does not need to mediate in the Kashmir dispute and that any discussion on this issue, “if at all warranted”, will only be with Pakistan unilaterally.

The Modi government did not want to take a chance when it came to the US, and so all necessary safeguards were taken to apprise the Trump administration of the move, the report added.

According to the report, Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Monday briefed envoys of the P-5 nations: The US, the UK, China, France and Russia. It had also briefed envoys of all 15 members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), saying that the proposals that are currently under consideration of the Parliament of India are internal to India, the report added.

Last month, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said that it was time to “move on” from Trump’s statement on US’ interest in mediating the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India. Trump, however, reiterated his offer during a media briefing in Washington last week.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/05/india-informed-us-about-intentions-to-abrogate-article-370-article35a-report/

--------

 

Top Indian Religious Muslim Leader Welcomes Move On Kashmir

August 5, 2019

He also congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah for taking this bold move.

The diwan of the Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti dargah in Ajmer, Saiyad Jainul Obedin, on Monday welcomed the government's move to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, terming it as a historic day for the country.

He also congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah for taking this bold move.

IANS Tweets

@ians_india

Take a look: How the state of #JammuandKashmir will cease to exist#JammuKashmir #Article370 #Article35A

View image on Twitter

12

8:27 PM - Aug 5, 2019

Twitter Ads info and privacy

See IANS Tweets's other Tweets

In a big triumph for the government, the Rajya Sabha on Monday passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019 and adopted the resolution to abrogate the Constitution's Article 370. The Bill would now be tabled in the Lok Sabha for consideration and passing.

Addressing a press conference, Obedin said, "The Kashmir chapter is closed."

"The Kashmir issue was awaiting its solution since the last 70 years. Article 370 was introduced in Kashmir in 1949. From then till now, the move to scrap it was discussed many times as it was a temporary installation."

He said the present government has fulfilled its political commitment, making Monday a historic day by removing all hurdles to resolve the Kashmir issue. "We welcome this move and congratulate the government for the same," Obedin added.

The scrapping of Article 370 would help the residents of Kashmir and Ladakh regions enjoy all the facilities that people of the other states enjoy. Hence, they should join the mainstream and work shoulder to shoulder for the country's development, the diwan added.

Urging the Kashmiri people to stay away from getting lured by anyone, Obedin said they should now think of progress and development of the state and their respective families.

They should never think that they have been separated from the rest of their brethren as everybody wants to take them along on the path of development and progress, Obedin said.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/international/india/top-indian-religious-muslim-leader-welcomes-move-on-kashmir

--------

 

Kashmir move against UNSC resolution: Pakistan President

Aug 5, 2019

ISLAMABAD: In the first official reaction coming in from Islamabad, Pakistan President Arif Alvi said on Monday that the Indian government's decision to repeal Article 370, which gives special status to J&K, was against the resolution of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

"India's attempt to further change status of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir is against the resolutions of UNSC and against wishes of the Kashmiri people," the official Twitter handle of the President said.

India's attempt to further change status of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir is against the resolutions of UNSC & against wishes of the Kashmiri people. Pakistan supports & insists on a peaceful resolution based on wishes of Kashmiri people & stands with them in their hour of need

2,118

1:36 PM - Aug 5, 2019

Twitter Ads info and privacy

848 people are talking about this

"Pakistan supports and insists on a peaceful resolution based on wishes of Kashmiri people and stands with them in their hour of need," he said in another tweet.

Alvi's comments came soon after Union home minister Amit Shah proposed to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir and said the state will be split into two Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh without one.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif also condemned India's move, declaring it "unacceptable" and an "act of treason" against the United Nations.

Calling for an emergency meeting of the parliamentary leaders, Shehbaz Sharif said, "This is a matter of Pakistan's national interest and the entire nation is united on this front."

Condemning India's move on Kashmir, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted: "Atrocities in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) unabated. Extremist Indian govt's intentions clear. President must immediately summon Joint session of Parliament in wake of Indian aggression in IoK."

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/pakistan/kashmir-move-against-unsc-resolution-pakistan-president/articleshow/70534141.cms

--------

 

Article 370: US urges all stakeholders to maintain peace, stability along LoC

Aug 6, 2019

WASHINGTON: The US has said it is "closely" observing the events in Jammu and Kashmir following the Indian government scrapping the constitutional provision that accorded special status to the state and urged all stakeholders to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control (LoC).

The Indian government on Monday revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Rajya Sabha approved the resolution abrogating Article 370 and a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, with home minister Amit Shah saying the controversial provisions were responsible for poverty and lack of development in the state.

Without naming Pakistan, state department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus on Monday told PTI, "We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control."

Pakistan has condemned and rejected the Indian government's move and vowed to exercise "all possible options" to counter, which it called, India's "illegal" and "unilateral" step.

"We are closely following the events in Jammu and Kashmir. We take note of India's announcement revising the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir and India's plan to split the state into two union territories," Ortagus said when asked to comment on India's decision to revoke special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier in the day, ministry of external affairs briefed the envoys of the P5 nations - the US, the UK, China, France and Russia - about Indian government's decision to scrap Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two union territories.

Ortagus noted that India has described the actions in Jammu and Kashmir as "strictly an internal matter".

She, however, expressed concern about alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

"We are concerned about reports of detentions and urge respect for individual rights and discussion with the affected communities," Ortagus said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/article-370-us-urges-all-stakeholders-to-maintain-peace-stability-along-loc/articleshow/70547218.cms

--------

 

Closely following events in Jammu and Kashmir, says US

AUG 06, 2019

WASHINGTON: The US said that it has taken note of India's move to change the status of Jammu and Kashmir and that New Delhi has described it as "strictly and internal matter".

In a cautious statement, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus voiced concern over reports of the detention of some Kashmiri leaders, and urged "respect for individual rights" and talks with those affected.

The US also urged for peace and stability along the Line of Control (LoC).

The statement read: "We are closely following the events in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. We take note of India's announcement revising the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir and India's plan to split the state into two union territories."

"We note that the Indian government has described these actions as strictly an internal matter."  "We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the LoC."

On Monday, the Central government scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir and converted the state into a Union Territory with a legislature.

It also split the state by hiving off Ladakh region and making it into a Union Territory without a legislature.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/closely-following-events-in-jammu-and-kashmir-says-us/articleshow/70549114.cms?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NewsDigest1&utm_content=&utm_term=1&ncode=e84c262205b9444ed1d973cc0afc4dba

--------

 

UN urges India, Pakistan to exercise restraint as tensions mount

AUGUST 6, 2019

“The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) observed and reported an increase in military activity at the Line of Control in recent days,” the UN secretary general’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement e-mailed in response to a question.

“The United Nations appeals to both sides to exercise maximum restraint to ensure that the situation does not further deteriorate,” the statement said.

The UNMOGIP was deployed in January 1949 to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan in the disputed region. While Pakistan allows UN observers to monitor the LoC, India does not.

The group, based in Rawalpindi, comprises 44 military observers, supported by 25 international civilian personnel and 47 local civilian staff.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/443696/un-urges-india-pakistan-to-exercise-restraint-as-tensions-mount/

--------

 

Germany urges India to hold talks with Kashmiris

Ayhan Şimşek

05.08.2019

BERLIN

Germany urged the Indian government on Monday to hold dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and comply with the Constitution, as tensions rose over a move to scrap the special status of the region.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr said Germany was closely following developments in the region.

“We believe that all further steps of the government must comply with India’s Constitution,” she said, and urged the government to respect civil rights secured by the law.

“We are calling on the Indian government to hold dialogue with the population concerned about its plans, its intentions,” Adebahr added.

India on Monday scrapped the special status granted to the country’s only Muslim-majority state which allowed it autonomy in exchange of joining the Indian union after independence in 1947.

The provision allowed Jammu and Kashmir to enact its own laws and disallowed outsiders to settle and own land in the territory.

The Himalayan region is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.

Since they were partitioned, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/germany-urges-india-to-hold-talks-with-kashmiris/1550072

--------

 

Sabah passes Bill to outlaw Islamic deviancy

06 August 2019

BY JULIA CHAN

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 6 — The Sabah assembly passed an amendment today to its Shariah laws that will outlaw Islamic teachings other than the Sunni denomination.

The Bill proposed by Laws and Native Affairs minister Datuk Aidi Mokhtar adds the official definition to the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment 1995, effectively restricting other denominations.

A new Section 52A will be added to make the propagation of deviant teachings punishable by up to two years’ in prison and a maximum fine of RM3,000.

“The Bill and its amendment are to prevent the spreading of deviant teachings that is too extreme in nature to prevent confusion and security threats among the people in Sabah,” Aidi said in his speech.

Aidi said that the amendment was to preserve the purity of Islam in the state and to prevent the spread of deviancy that may threaten harmony.

Membakut assemblyman Datuk Ariffin Arif, the former minister in charge of religious affairs before the change of government last year, lauded the move and said it would help prevent the spread of deviancy.

“But we are not at a worrying stage yet. This is just a preventative move, to keep things peaceful,” he said.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/08/06/sabah-passes-bill-to-outlaw-islamic-deviancy/1778101

--------

 

Khamenei: Iran needs a population increase to have more ‘righteous individuals’

5 August 2019

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called for an increase in Iran’s population on Sunday.

Khamenei’s official website, Khamenei.ir, reported that the Supreme Leader emphasized on the importance of a population increase in the country in a meeting with a group of young Iranian couples.

In a Muslim nation, a sizeable population provides potential for growth and excellence, according to Khamenei. “When the population is large, the number of righteous individuals and the potential in the population is certainly larger,” he said.

“You see, in some Western countries, for example in America, a family has 15 to 20 children … they are even encouraged, and no one blames them. But when it is our turn, the opposite is encouraged,” said Khamenei.

Khamenei gave China and India as examples of countries that have benefitted from having large populations, claiming that the advantages have outweighed the disadvantages.

He said the Iranian people and top government officials advocate his view.

This is not the first time Khamenei has addressed the topic of Iran’s population. On numerous occasions in recent years, he has expressed a desire for a larger population and criticized the country’s population control policies. In 2013, when Iran’s population, according to the World Bank, was around 76.5 million, he had said that it should be “at least” 150 million.

The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects report for 2019 forecasted a 4.5 negative percent growth for Iran, making it the worst ranked economy only ahead of Nicaragua. In 2018, Iran’s GDP per capita was $5,037, less than half of the global average based on World Bank statistics.

According CEIC data, Iran’s unemployment rate stands at 12.10 percent, while the official youth unemployment rate is 27 percent.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/05/Khamenei-Iran-needs-a-population-increase-to-have-more-righteous-individuals-.html

--------

 

IHRC Welcomes Court Order Permitting Release of Sheikh Zakzaky

Aug 05, 2019

While the decision does not exonerate the pair, it is nevertheless an important first step in taking them out of the country where they have been persecuted for over three years, according to a statement by the IHRC on its website.

If and when they are released the couple will board a flight to India where specialist medical facilities are available to treat the sheikh’s extreme levels of lead poisoning, it read.

“This is a long overdue decision and we hope that the Nigerian executive expedites matters to make their departure smooth and unproblematic. We look forward to their prompt release without forgetting that there are still approximately 150 members and supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria still in detention,” IHRC Chair Massoud Shadjareh stated.

The lead poisoning was sustained after Sheikh Zakzaky received four gunshot injuries during the 2015 massacre of Islamic Movement of Nigeria members and supporters by the country’s armed forces. The toxicity is believed to be a direct result of the shrapnel from bullets left in his body. The sheikh has also lost sight in one eye and the use of one arm and suffered a minor stroke earlier this month. Doctors say his health is deteriorating daily and that he is at risk of death if left untreated.

Nigerian authorities had earlier this month promised to issue international passports to the sheikh and his wife so they could leave the country in order to receive medical attention. However, they later backtracked on their assurances leading the pair’s lawyers to seek their release through the courts.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980514000972

--------

 

India

 

Jammu and Kashmir bifurcation: India briefs UNSC members, Islamabad summons Delhi envoy

by Shubhajit Roy

August 6, 2019

As foreign ambassadors reached out to the government for clarity on the move to scrap the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories, New Delhi moved quickly to brief foreign envoys, especially the members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Sources said that the briefing was led by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and other secretaries, who briefed the ambassadors of the US, UK, France, China and Russia, among others. Some other major countries, including Germany, Canada, Japan and ASEAN countries, were also briefed.

The UNSC members were chosen for the first batch of briefing since Pakistan is expected to take up the issue there. Pakistan summoned Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria to the Foreign Office on Monday and conveyed a “strong demarche on the announcements made and actions taken” by the government over Jammu and Kashmir.

Incidentally, none of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries have been briefed by the government so far, according to sources. Delhi also wants to minimise the briefing on what it considers an “internal” matter, and not allow “external players” to intervene or make statements. More countries may be briefed in the next few days.

A source explained, “This is not a Balakot-type situation. We were briefing the envoys since we wanted to explain the developments in the correct perspective.” Sources explained that ambassadors have been briefed earlier by the government on various issues, including issues like Kumbh mela etc.

In the briefings, it was conveyed that the “decisions were internal to India” and they are aimed at “providing good governance, promoting social justice and ensuring economic development in Jammu and Kashmir”, sources said.

In the light of interest expressed by members of the diplomatic community, senior MEA officials briefed the envoys of several countries, the sources said.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Bisaria was summoned by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood. “The Foreign Secretary conveyed Pakistan’s unequivocal rejection of these illegal actions as they are in breach of international law and several UN Security Council resolutions,” the statement said.

Pakistan’s “resolute condemnation of the unlawful actions aimed at further consolidating the illegal occupation” of Jammu and Kashmir was underscored, it added.

Meanwhile, a PTI report from Islamabad said Pakistan President Arif Alvi has summoned a joint session of the Parliament on Tuesday to discuss the matter.

The joint sitting will review the tense situation in Jammu and Kashmir and along the Line of Control.

UN urges India, Pakistan to exercise restraint

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is following with concern the tense situation in the India-Pakistan region and urges all parties to exercise restraint, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said here on Monday.

“We are following with concern the tense situation in the region… We urge all parties to exercise restraint,” Dujarric said at the daily press briefing, adding that the UN is also aware of reports of restrictions in Kashmir.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-briefs-unsc-members-islamabad-summons-delhi-envoy-5881022/

--------

 

Article 370: US urges all stakeholders to maintain peace, stability along LoC

AUG 06, 2019

WASHINGTON: The US has said it is "closely" observing the events in Jammu and Kashmir following the Indian government scrapping the constitutional provision that accorded special status to the state and urged all stakeholders to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control (LoC).

The Indian government on Monday revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Rajya Sabha approved the resolution abrogating Article 370 and a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, with Home Minister Amit Shah saying the controversial provisions were responsible for poverty and lack of development in the state.

Without naming Pakistan, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus on Monday told PTI, "We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control."

Pakistan has condemned and rejected the Indian government's move and vowed to exercise "all possible options" to counter, which it called, India's "illegal" and "unilateral"  step.

"We are closely following the events in Jammu and Kashmir. We take note of India's announcement revising the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir and India's plan to split the state into two union territories," Ortagus said when asked to comment on India's decision to revoke special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier in the day, Ministry of External Affairs briefed the envoys of the P5 nations -- the US, the UK, China, France and Russia – about Indian government's decision to scrap Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two union territories.

Ortagus noted that India has described the actions in J&K as "strictly an internal matter".

She, however, expressed concern about alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Full report at:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/article-370-us-urges-all-stakeholders-to-maintain-peace-stability-along-loc/articleshow/70547299.cms?utm

--------

 

Ayodhya dispute: No Muslims were allowed to enter the structure since 1934, says Nirmohi Akhara

Aug 6, 2019

NEW DELHI: Nirmohi Akhara, one of the parties in the politically sensitive case of the Ayodhya land dispute, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that no Muslims were allowed to enter the structure since 1934 and it has been in exclusive possession of the Akhara.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, was told by senior advocate Sushil Jain, appearing for Nirmohi Akhara, that it was seeking management and possession of the area.

The Akhara counsel told the court that its suit was basically for belongings, possession and management rights.

"I am a registered body. My suit is basically for belongings, possession and management rights," said the Akhara counsel.

He also told the court that the Akhara was in possession of the inner courtyard and Ram Janmasthan for hundreds of years.

"We were in possession of inner courtyard and Ram Janmasthan for hundreds of years. Outer courtyard having 'Sita Rasoi', 'Chabutra', 'Bhandar Grah' were in our possession and it was never a part of dispute in any case," the senior counsel told the bench.

At the outset, the apex court had rejected the plea of former RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya seeking live streaming or recording of the case proceedings.

The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer is conducting day-to-day hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya after the efforts to arrive at an amicable settlement through mediation have failed.

It had on August 2 taken note of the report of the three-member mediation panel, headed by former apex court judge FMI Kalifulla, that the mediation proceedings, which went on for about four months, have not resulted in any final settlement.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ayodhya-dispute-no-muslims-were-allowed-to-enter-the-structure-since-1934-says-nirmohi-akhara/articleshow/70548933.cms

--------

 

J&K now Union Territory: India's north pole shifts to Centre

Aug 6, 2019

WHAT’S HAPPENED

➤ Special status of J&K revoked. President Kovind issues presidential order, exercising his power under Clause 1 of Article 370, to make all provisions of the Constitution effectively applicable to J&K. Rather than abrogating or repealing Article 370, government has essentially read down its provisions. Article 35A scrapped.

➤ Union home minister Amit Shah introduces a Bill to abolish J&K as a state of the Indian Union and replace it with two separate Union Territories

— the UT of Jammu & Kashmir with a legislature, and the UT of Ladakh.

➤ The constituent assembly referred to in Article 370, whose sanction is essential for any constitutional changes regarding the state, has been

replaced by the “legislative assembly” of the state. In the absence of the assembly, the governor’s consent is considered to fulfil the requirement.

WHAT IT MEANS

➤ J&K will now have no separate flag or Constitution. Tenure of assembly will be for 5 years, not 6. Indian Penal Code will replace Ranbir Penal Code.

➤ People from other states are now eligible to purchase land and properties. Non-permanent residents can permanently settle in state.

➤ Outsiders can now be employed in state government and companies and be eligible for scholarships in state-run educational institutions.

➤ RTI Act will be applicable in J&K.

IDEA BOLSTERED BY JAGMOHAN’S BOOK

➤ BJP and Sangh parivar had never subscribed to the belief that Article 370 was immutable. In his book, ‘My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir’, former J&K governor Jagmohan had advocated Article 370’s effective dilution through extension of provisions of the Constitution. This reinforced the belief of decision-makers.

➤ The core group of PM Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Union home secy Rajiv Gauba, Army chief

General Bipin Rawat, J&K chief secy BVR Subrahmanyam, and chiefs of intel agencies conceptualised the plan and paved the way for its implementation.

➤ The vote on triple talaq bill showed that political-ideological barriers in Rajya Sabha had been breached; non-NDA, non-UPA parties could support government.

FIRST TIME A STATE HAS BECOME A UT

➤ There have been earlier instances of a category C state (as former chief commissioners’ territories were classified at the time of adoption of the

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-now-union-territory-indias-north-pole-shifts-to-centre/articleshow/70546374.cms

--------

 

Afghanistan government urge India to not do one hundred percent checking of Afghan goods

Aug 5, 2019

AMRITSAR : Afghanistan government has objected on one hundred percent checking of Afghan goods arriving at Integrated Check Post (ICP), Attari after recovery of narcotics from dry fruit packs and heroin laced jute bags arriving from Afghanistan at ICP and in Mumbai.

A letter written by Embassy of the Republic of Afghanistan to the ministry of external affairs with a copy to Amritsar Customs commissionerate says “Since two weeks, Afghan traders are facing homogenous difficulty in clearing their export commodities through Attari customs”.

Notably, the custom officials had since July 15 started checking of one hundred percent packets of goods arriving from Afghanistan after recovery of heroin from raisin packings and dry heroin powder laced jute bags filled with spices from Mumbai. Earlier only random checking were being carried out at ICP.

The letter further reads that the packing of goods were opened but was not repacked in a proper way which causes the Afghan traders a huge losses.

“In most cases, the goods ceases to remain unmarketable in Indian markets due to alternations made by customs” reads the letter.

The Afghan government has urged the ministry of external affairs to take up the matter with concerned authorities for an amicable resolution .

Sources, informed that this was probably for the first time that Afghanistan government had made a direct request to Indian government to not check one hundred percent of the goods arriving from Afghanistan via Pakistan at ICP.

While agreeing that Afghanistan embassy had written a letter objecting on one hundred percent checking of Afghan goods from ICP, Amritsar Customs commissioner Deepak Kumar Gupta said they had begun one hundred percent checking after recovery of narcotics from goods imported from Afghanistan .

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/afghanistan-government-urge-india-to-not-do-one-hundred-percent-checking-of-afghan-goods/articleshow/70543547.cms

--------

 

J&K leaders continue to be under detention, Mehbooba taken to guest house

Aug 5, 2019

SRINAGAR: PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah, who were put under house arrest around midnight on Sunday, continued to be under preventive detention on Monday and were taken to different locations.

While Mehbooba was taken to the Hari Niwas Guest House here, the location of Omar was not known.

The order for detaining Mehbooba was signed by the executive magistrate first class of Srinagar. He said in the order that Mehbooba’s activities “are likely to cause breach of peace keeping into consideration your recent activities that may likely lead to serious law and order situation and breach of peace and tranquility in Kashmir”.

The executive magistrate apprehended that Mehbooba and workers of her party could meet and proceed in a procession in public which could result in the law and order situation deteriorating.

Given the present situation in valley “and strong apprehensions of breach of peace and tranquility, it has become imperative to take such necessary measures,” the order said.

The Chashmashahi Suite on the ground floor of the guest house has been “declared as subsidiary jail” as per the order.

Mehbooba and Omar were put under house arrest around Sunday midnight along with People's Conference leader Sajad Lone.

No untoward incident was reported on Monday from the valley as authorities imposed strict restrictions in view of the Centre's move in Parliament on Jammu and Kashmir. Officials said schools and colleges in the state remained closed on Monday.

“The situation is under control. There are massive restrictions in place in Srinagar district...there was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere,” deputy commissioner of Srinagar Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-leaders-continue-to-be-under-detention-mehbooba-taken-to-guest-house/articleshow/70543364.cms

--------

 

Using Article 370 to scrap Article 370? The legal debate ahead

by Apurva Vishwanath

August 6, 2019

While political disagreement on the Centre’s decision to strip the preferential status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state has taken centrestage, experts have raised questions on the legality of the move. The government sought to dilute the special status to Jammu and Kashmir guaranteed under Article 370 of the Constitution without scrapping the provision. It did so without bringing a Constitutional amendment that would require two-thirds majority in the Parliament.

By changing the interpretation of certain terms that find mention in Article 370, Monday’s Presidential order, through Article 367, alters the interpretation of the special provision. However, the President draws the power to issue such a notification from Article 370 itself. Article 370 sub clause 1(d) empowers the President to extend provisions of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir.

“Using Article 370 to virtually scrap Article 370 is a bit like using the Constitution to wipe itself out. The provision cannot be used to dilute the provision,” said Alok Prasanna Kumar, senior Resident Fellow and Team Lead, Vidhi Karnataka.

The Presidential order adds a sub-clause to Article 367, replacing the terms “Constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir” to mean “legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir” and “government of Jammu and Kashmir” to mean “governor of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the aid and advice of the council of ministers”. The Presidential order also requires the concurrence of the government of the state. However, since Jammu and Kashmir is currently under Governor’s rule, Governor Satya Pal Malik’s concurrence is deemed to be the government’s concurrence.

Advocate Aman Hingorani, an expert in Kashmir constitutionalism, said that since the Governor is appointed by the President, this concurrence could be held invalid.

“In my understanding, Parliament cannot replace the state legislature with the Governor or the Constituent assembly with the state legislature. In a roundabout way, this is the Centre seeking its own concurrence,” Hingorani said.

The change in interpretation is significant because Article 370(3), the provision that talks about abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, says that the President would require the recommendation of the constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir to make such a change.

“Even if the words can be replaced, it breaches the spirit of the provision. The Constituent assembly’s recommendation is essentially to include the key stakeholder’s voice while making substantial changes to Article 370. The Centre cannot do so unilaterally,” said senior advocate Raju Ramachandran.

However, former Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran and Harish Salve defended the government’s move. “The President exercising the power under Article 370 itself to remove special privileges to Jammu and Kashmir and clarify the terms of abrogation in fact strengthens the provision,” Parasaran said. “The special privileges are not permanent and were always meant to be temporary. Privileges do not confer rights,” he added.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kashmir-special-status-using-art-370-to-scrap-art-370-the-legal-debate-ahead5881061/

--------

 

Former J&K CMs Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah arrested

August 5, 2019

Former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah were arrested on Monday, hours after the government scrapped the special status granted to the state of Jammu and Kashmir by modifying Article 370 of the Constitution, reported PTI quoting officials. Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference leaders Sajjad Lone and Imran Ansari have also been arrested.

The development comes after the Rajya Sabha passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Bill, 2019 that divides the state into two union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. Revoking the special status has been a longstanding demand of the BJP that has made it an election promise.

Mainstream parties in Kashmir have been opposed to any changes in Article 370 that provides special status to the state. “Today the people of Jammu & Kashmir who reposed their faith in institutions of India like parliament & Supreme Court feel defeated & betrayed. By dismembering the state & fraudulently taking away what is rightfully & legally ours, they have further complicated the Kashmir dispute,” Mufti had earlier tweeted.

Following a week of uncertainty with heavy troop deployment and the suspension of the Amarnath Yatra, Mufti, Abdullah and Lone were put under house arrest Sunday evening. The J&K administration has also imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC in Srinagar district with effect from August 5 midnight. The restrictions remain in force until further orders

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-kashmir-former-cms-mehbooba-omar-arrested-article-370-5880625/

--------

 

Pakistan

 

Thousands flee disputed Kashmir region after alert; India says it killed militants

AUGUST 3, 2019

SRINAGAR/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Thousands of Indian tourists, pilgrims and workers began leaving the disputed region of Kashmir after a local government alert over possible militant attacks, and India said it killed at least five militants who were trying to attack its forces.

Indian security officials said on Friday they had found evidence of attacks planned by what they said were Pakistani military-backed militants on a major Hindu pilgrimage in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

A local government order effectively called off the pilgrimage, asking the pilgrims and tourists to return home.

Srinagar-based Indian defense spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said on Saturday that there had been a number of attempts by Pakistan-based militants to disturb peace in the Kashmir region and target the pilgrims.

Around five to seven militants were killed when they tried to attack Indian troops near an area known as the Keran sector, Kalia said, adding that arms and ammunition were recovered in the operation.

“Security forces will continue to respond to all nefarious activities,” Kalia said.

A Pakistani defense spokesperson dismissed India’s assertions as “mere propaganda”, calling them “blatant lies”.

A senior local government official in Kashmir said the local government advisory had caused panic and led to the departure of “thousands” of tourists, pilgrims and laborers.

The official did not give a specific number, but he said most of the 20,000 Hindu pilgrims and Indian tourists and the more than 200,000 laborers were leaving the region.

Kashmir, claimed by both India and mostly Muslim Pakistan, has long been a flashpoint between the two countries. Tensions flared after a vehicle laden with explosives rammed into an Indian police convoy on Feb. 14, killing 40 paramilitary policemen, and leading to aerial clashes between the two nations.

India accuses Pakistan of funding armed militants, as well as separatist groups in India’s portion of the region. Islamabad denies the Indian accusation, saying it provides only diplomatic and moral support to the separatist movement.

In a statement late on Saturday, the Pakistani government said it was concerned about the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir, adding it rejects India’s assertions of “intelligence inputs” about some imminent attack.

The Pakistani Foreign Minister has voiced concern in letters to the United Nations Secretary General and the presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly, it said.

TOURISTS FLEE

The Indian advisory was issued after the local government in Kashmir said a mine with Pakistani ordinance markings was among caches of ammunition retrieved following intelligence reports of likely attacks on routes used by devout Hindus who trek to the region’s holy Amarnath cave every year.

“The advisory has led to panic among people and the visitors here. Kashmir has seen worst times but we as government officials don’t know what is happening?,” said a second local government official in Kashmir.

In a mood of anxiety, people sought to stock up on essentials and there were long queues outside petrol pumps, ATMs and medical shops in Srinagar city, the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir state.

More than 6,000 passengers left Srinagar by air on Saturday, the Airports Authority of India said in a statement.

Still, around 60 international tourists arrived in Kashmir on Saturday, one of the local government officials said.

The Indian advisory had cautioned tourists in general, but did not give any specific advice to foreign nationals.

Britain and Germany issued advisories on Saturday to their citizens discouraging them from traveling to Jammu & Kashmir.

‘PARADISE ON EARTH’

On Saturday, Pakistan also accused India of using illegal cluster bombs in the Kashmir region during shelling along the contested border. India denied those accusations.

The Indian advisory was a disappointment for pilgrims and tourists.

Kashmir touts itself as a “Paradise on Earth”. Dal Lake - a favorite destination centuries ago for Mughal emperors escaping the summer heat of India’s plains - and its famous houseboats, mountains and glaciers are major attractions.

Prabakar Iyer, 45, had traveled to Srinagar from the southern Indian city of Bengaluru on Thursday with his family for a 10-day holiday, but they left on Friday night.

“I was staying in a houseboat on Dal Lake when the advisory was issued. I fail to understand why we are being asked to leave. Everything is normal here,” he said.

Laborer Manjit Singh, a carpenter from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh who has been working in Kashmir for the last nine years, also left.

“I am not afraid but the government advisory has created panic and my family wants me back ... I will return if the situation improves,” he said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-kashmir/thousands-flee-disputed-kashmir-region-after-alert-india-says-it-killed-militants-idUSKCN1UT08K

--------

 

Revoking Article 370 to 'further deteriorate' relations between N-capable neighbours: Imran Khan

Aug 5, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday termed India's move to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir as "illegal" and said it will "further deteriorate" relations between the nuclear-capable neighbours.

The Indian government on Monday ended special status of Jammu and Kashmir and proposed that the state be bifurcated into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Prime minister Khan made the remarks while speaking with his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad on the situation in Kashmir, Geo News quoted a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Monday.

During their conversation, Khan said changing the status of Kashmir was "illegal and a violation of UN resolutions".

"India's move will further deteriorate relations between nuclear-capable neighbours," Khan was quoted as telling the Malaysian prime minister.

On his part, Prime Minister Mahathir said that Malaysia was closely monitoring the situation in Kashmir and would remain in contact with Pakistan, the channel reported.

Mahathir also said that he was looking forward to the UN General Assembly session next month and a meeting with Khan on the sidelines in New York.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/pakistan/revoking-article-370-to-further-deteriorate-relations-between-n-capable-neighbours-imran-khan/articleshow/70539709.cms

--------

 

India's decision to scrap Article 370 'unacceptable', says Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shehbaz Sharif

Aug 05, 2019

Islamabad: Calling India's decision to scrap Article 370 as "unacceptable", Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif on Monday called for an emergency meeting of the parliamentary leaders to discuss the ongoing situation.

"This is a matter of Pakistan's national interest and the entire nation is united on this front," Geo News quoted Sharif as saying.

He claimed that the action by India is an "act of treason" against the United Nations.

The Indian government on Monday scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bars the people from rest of India from buying land in the state.

Shortly after Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the resolution to this effect in the Rajya Sabha, President Ram Nath Kovind came out with a notification.

Full report at:

https://www.firstpost.com/india/indias-decision-to-scrap-article-370-unacceptable-says-pakistan-muslim-league-nawaz-president-shehbaz-sharif-7112321.html

--------

 

Maryam Nawaz draws public ire by politicising Kashmir situation

Aug 6, 2019

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Monday drew the public’s ire by saying that “no support from the opposition should be offered to a government that is not only non-representative but has brought Pak to its knees in every possible way. Any support lent to this govt will lead to more disasters & graver ones. All this govt can do is to surrender & capitulate” in connection with the upcoming Indian launched genocide in Indian occupied Kashmir.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif

@MaryamNSharif

No support from the opposition should be offered to a government that is not only non-representative but has brought Pak to its knees in every possible way. Any support lent to this govt will lead to more disasters & graver ones. All this govt can do is to surrender & capitulate.

5,246

15:23 - 5 Aug 2019

Twitter Ads information and privacy

4,862 people are talking about this

She said that the ruling government is responsible for plunging Pak into crisis and that things won’t end here.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif

@MaryamNSharif

This govt is badly & desperately looking for support to cover up the blunders that it has committed which have had serious implications on Pakistan. Do not give them a bail out. They are the ones responsible for plunging Pak into this crisis. Won’t end here. Opposition, beware. https://twitter.com/maryamnsharif/status/1158315002551554048 …

Maryam Nawaz Sharif

@MaryamNSharif

No support from the opposition should be offered to a government that is not only non-representative but has brought Pak to its knees in every possible way. Any support lent to this govt will lead to more disasters & graver ones. All this govt can do is to surrender & capitulate.

2,616

15:28 - 5 Aug 2019

Twitter Ads information and privacy

2,029 people are talking about this

The PML-N leader also raised questions at Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s competency saying that he did not see this crisis coming. \

Maryam Nawaz Sharif

@MaryamNSharif

And as evident from your track record, you are again nowhere to be seen in times of crisis. It doesn’t end here, your foreign minister at this critical juncture has gone for Hajj where he must be praying for Kashmiris. Kaafi hai! https://twitter.com/maryamnsharif/status/1158312579657113600 …

Maryam Nawaz Sharif

@MaryamNSharif

You Mr. Khan failed to anticipate what was coming & were either completely oblivious to the preparations that Indian government was undertaking or were a part of that. Tell us the truth.

2,546

15:17 - 5 Aug 2019

Twitter Ads information and privacy

1,686 people are talking about this

The Twitterati was quick to respond to the PML-N leader’s opinions.

“If shame had a face, I think it would kind of look like Begum Safdar,” said one user.

HK

@Jaali_danishwar

 If shame had a face

I think it would kind of look like Begum Safdar👇#StandwithKashmir #Article370

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

311

16:03 - 5 Aug 2019

Twitter Ads information and privacy

170 people are talking about this

Another user, Asfandar Bhittai criticised Maryam for the timing of her statements. “Of all the days, she chose today to declare war on Government of Pakistan, because Imran Khan wouldn’t cut a deal with her corrupt, thieving father. Good luck erasing this betrayal from the public & institutional memory. #StandwithKashmir,” he wrote.

Asfandyar Bhittani

@BhittaniKhannnn

Of all the days, she chose today to declare a war on Government of Pakistan, because Imran Khan wouldn't cut a deal with her corrupt, theiving father. Good luck erasing this betrayal from the public & institutional memory. #StandwithKashmir https://twitter.com/MaryamNSharif/status/1158315002551554048 …

Maryam Nawaz Sharif

@MaryamNSharif

No support from the opposition should be offered to a government that is not only non-representative but has brought Pak to its knees in every possible way. Any support lent to this govt will lead to more disasters & graver ones. All this govt can do is to surrender & capitulate.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/05/maryam-nawaz-draws-public-ire-by-politicising-kashmir-situation/

--------

 

COAS Gen Bajwa to chair Corps Commanders Conference today

August 06, 2019

RAWALPINDI: In a follow up to Indian government’s decision to strip held Kashmir of its special status through a rushed presidential decree a day earlier, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has called a Corps Commanders Conference today to discuss the aftermath of what Pakistan has dubbed as an “illegitimate move”.

The top military brass will meet at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi to discuss the Indian move to revoke Article 370 and its impact in occupied Kashmir as well as the situation along the Line of Control (LoC).

A day earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had telephonic conversations with the heads of two of Pakistan’s ally nations – Malaysia and Turkey – wherein he termed the move as “illegal” and “one that would destroy regional peace and security”.

“India’s move will further deteriorate relations between nuclear-capable neighbors,” the PM was quoted as telling the Malaysian prime minister.

The latter, in response, said Malaysia was closely evaluating the situation in occupied Kashmir and would remain in contact with Pakistan.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/06/coas-gen-bajwa-to-chair-corps-commanders-conference-today/

--------

 

Pakistan to use ‘all possible options’ to counter India’s illegal steps

August 06, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday said that it would “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” taken by India regarding Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK).

The comments came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government introduced plans to weaken the special rights of residents in occupied Kashmir, amid heavy deployment of security forces and suspension of phone and internet services in the valley.

In a press release, the Foreign Office (FO) strongly condemned and rejected the move by the Indian government, stressing that IoK was internationally recognised as a disputed territory.

“No unilateral step by the Government of India can change this disputed status, as enshrined in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions,” read the statement. “The decision will never be acceptable to the people of IoK and Pakistan.”

“As the party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps,” the statement read while reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to the Kashmiri cause.

‘INDIA PLAYING A DANGEROUS GAME’:

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that if the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of India felt that their policies were effective, they would not have imposed governor’s rule or conducted politics through presidential orders.

“If they have turned IoK and Ladhak into union territories, it is evident that they have lost hope […] Kashmiris that used to support them earlier are also in jail or under house arrest.

“Today, India has once again revived and internationalised the Kashmir issue. This will not solve the problem, rather it will escalate it,” he warned.

“They will never be able to repress the issue.

“Time will show what a dangerous game has been played.”

Qureshi said that the entire international community needed to condemn the Indian move.

JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SESSION:

Opposition leaders on Monday called for a joint session of parliament to be scheduled in light of the developments.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the Indian government’s “attempt to revoke Article 370” as he called for a joint session of parliament. He said that after reviewing the situation, a comprehensive strategy should be formulated.

The PML-N president added that Pakistan should also immediately call for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

“This is a matter of Pakistan’s national interest, all of Pakistan is united. The time has come for Pakistan’s political and military leadership to take collective decisions — Pakistan is united for the Kashmiri cause,” he said.

At a press conference in Lahore, he said “butcher” Modi had carried out the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujrat state in 2002, and so it was “childish” to expect him to resolve the Kashmir conflict after being elected.

“Today is a test case for the international community,” he said, adding that Pakistan expected the world to support the Kashmiris to have their special status restored.

The opposition leader said the situation was also a test for US President Donald Trump to prove that his offer for mediation in Kashmir was not on account of some “personal agenda” but that he was serious about it.

“Otherwise we will be forced to believe that this was President Trump’s gimmick to pull American troops out of Afghanistan,” he said.

In a post shared on Twitter, Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said: “Atrocities in IoK unabated. Extremist Indian government’s intentions clear. President must immediately summon joint session of parliament in wake of Indian aggression in IoK.”

COAS CALLS CORPS COMMANDERS CONFERENCE:

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/05/pakistan-to-use-all-possible-options-to-counter-indias-illegal-steps/

--------

 

North America

 

Trump Often Blames Mass Shootings on Mental Health, When The Perpetrator Is Muslim, He Blames Islam

By Aaron Blake

August 5, 2019

President Trump invoked “racism, bigotry and white supremacism” in his speech Monday about the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. That’s a step he has resisted taking in the past when perpetrators of violence have demonstrated those characteristics, so it was notable.

But the bulk of his comments suggested the hateful ideology described in the El Paso shooter’s alleged online screed was merely a byproduct of other things — with mental illness being chief among them. “If you look at both of these cases, this is mental illness,” he said Sunday. “These are really people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.”

This is part of a demonstrated pattern for Trump, but it’s one that often gets ahead of the evidence. And there is one conspicuous instance in which the pattern doesn’t hold: when the perpetrator of such atrocities is Muslim.

After at least nine high-profile or mass shootings, Trump has quickly pointed the finger at mental health. Here’s a recap of seven others, besides El Paso and Dayton:

New Zealand (March): “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet.”

Thousand Oaks, Calif. (November): “He was a very, very mentally ill person. He’s a very sick — well, it’s a mental health problem. He is a very sick puppy. He was a very, very sick guy."

Parkland, Fla. (February 2018): “This person that did this horrible act — he was mentally deranged and everyone knew it for a long period of time. I guess they had 38 red flags, 39 red flags.”

Sutherland Springs, Tex. (November 2017): “I think that mental health is your problem here. This was a very — based on preliminary reports — very deranged individual."

Oregon (October 2015): “It sounds like another mental health problem. So many of these people, they’re coming out of the woodwork. We have to really get to the bottom of it.”

Roanoke (August 2015): “In this case, it was pure mental health . . . Every place he worked he had problems. And very severe problems. And yet nobody comes out and reports him.”

In some of these cases, obvious red flags did emerge shortly after the gunman was identified. In others, Trump appeared to be speculating, at best.

The link between mental illness and mass shootings isn’t as firm and frequent as Trump indicates. One study from a psychiatrist at Columbia University found 22 percent of mass shooters across 235 incidents had mental illnesses. That’s a significant number, certainly, but it doesn’t account for the vast majority of mass shootings. And the link between mental illness and gun violence broadly is even more tenuous.

The American Psychological Association weighed in on Monday in a statement: “Routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing . . . The rates of mental illness are roughly the same around the world, yet other countries are not experiencing these traumatic events as often as we face them."

To Trump’s critics, talking about mental illness is a way for him to avoid thornier issues. Those include gun control and the potential radicalization associated with his own rhetoric, which includes his recent racist tweets urging four nonwhite congresswomen to “go back” to their countries.

And there is some evidence that this is precisely what Trump is doing. That’s because, while Trump makes a point of invoking mental illness when it comes to large-scale tragedies, there is one instance in which he has never done it. And that’s when he’s talking about tragedies perpetrated by Muslims. In those cases, a hateful ideology isn’t a byproduct of existing mental issues; the ideology is the cause, full stop.

Trump has not made the kind of comments you see above when it comes to Sri Lanka, Paris, Manchester, Brussels or any other international tragedy perpetrated by Muslims. Nor has he done so when the attacks were domestic, such as in New York City, Orlando, San Bernardino, Calif., Boston and Fort Hood, Tex. About the only time he has alluded to mental issues with Muslim terrorists was in May, when he called the Islamic State “stone-cold crazy” and “nuts” and urged people to be on the lookout for its adherents.

A case in point is his big terrorism speech in August 2016. During it, he mentioned the Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hassan.

“The Fort Hood shooter delivered a presentation to a room full of mental health experts before the attacks in which he threw out one red flag after another,” Trump said, referring to a slide show Hassan delivered to fellow Army physicians in 2007. “He even proclaimed that, ‘We love death more than you love life.’ Not good. These warning signs were ignored because political correctness has replaced common sense in our society.”

But were these “warning signs” like the mental-health “red flags” above? Nope. Even after talking about Hassan speaking to “mental health experts,” Trump never flagged Hassan as having some kind of illness. He argued that these “warning signs” pertained to Hassan’s ideology rather than his mental state. And he proposed a commission to study Islamic radicalization, not mental health.

By the end of that speech, Trump did allude to one person’s mental health. It was Hillary Clinton, who Trump said “lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS,” referring to the Islamic State by another name.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/08/05/trump-often-blames-mass-shootings-mental-health-when-perpetrator-is-muslim-he-blames-islam/

--------

 

Taliban say differences resolved on US troop withdrawal

6 August 2019

The United States and the Taliban have resolved differences in peace talks over US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as over insurgent guarantees on cutting ties with other extremist groups, a Taliban official said Tuesday.

The development came during US-Taliban talks over the past two days in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.

The US side did not immediately confirm or provide details of what was resolved but the US envoy reported “excellent progress” in the talks. The Taliban official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the negotiations.

Technical teams from the two sides were continuing discussions on Tuesday in Doha.

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been tasked with finding a peaceful resolution to the nearly 18-year war, America’s longest conflict, has made intra-Afghan talks and a permanent cease-fire among his priorities in the negotiations.

Khalilizad, who later traveled to New Delhi, said in a Twitter post overnight that “we have made excellent progress” in the discussions.

However, the talks in Qatar have sidelined the government in Kabul. The Taliban refuse to talk directly with government representatives, accusing President Ashraf Ghani’s government of being a puppet of the US.

The Taliban have kept up a near-daily rate of deadly attacks, despite holding several rounds of peace talks with Khalilizad since his appointment as peace envoy almost a year ago. The Taliban now control roughly half of Afghanistan and are at their strongest since 2001, when the US-led invasion toppled their government that had harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The US and the Taliban now appear to be closing in on an agreement under which US forces would withdraw in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not become a haven for other terrorist groups.

Khalilzad has said he is hoping for a final agreement by Sept. 1, which would allow the withdrawal of US and NATO troops. Over 20,000 US and NATO troops are in Afghanistan, including some 14,000 US forces.

The US and NATO formally concluded their combat mission in 2014, but the American and allied troops continue to train and build the Afghan military. Separately, US forces also assist the Afghan troops in airstrikes and raids on the Taliban and against ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/08/06/Taliban-say-differences-resolved-on-US-troop-withdrawal-1691.html

--------

 

With 9/11 Victims Compensated, We Must Now Prevent Future Terror Attacks

By Michael Cutler

05 August 2019

On July 29, 2019, the Justice Department issued a press release that announced that President Trump had signed into law, H.R. 1327, “The Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) (VCF Permanent Authorization Act).”

Clearly the 9/11 victims who have died, are suffering, and are dying and their families must be compensated for their sacrifices.

But while the rallying cry of “Never Forget” for the victims the 9/11 terror attacks demands we not forget the victims or their families, we must also never forget how our nation was vulnerable to those savage attacks in the first place.

The “all clear” most certainly has not sounded. Furthermore in the years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, more deadly terror attacks have been carried out on U.S. soil by international terrorists.

The best place to begin our quest to make certain that our nation does its best to prevent future terror attacks is to review the 9/11 Commission Report and the companion report, The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel.

The 9/11 Commission was convened to discover how international terrorists were able to enter the U.S. and carry out deadly attacks, the same way that airplane crashes are painstakingly investigated to prevent future disasters.

Every candidate for the U.S. Presidency should be asked, pointedly, if they have read those two reports, in their entirety.

While much has been made about the military backing up the beleaguered and overwhelmed Border Patrol, in reality, the Border Patrol and ICE agents back up the military. The prime mission of all five branches of our military is to keep America’s enemies as far from our shores as possible. Up close, however, that vital mission falls to the Border Patrol and ICE.

The preface of The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel began with this paragraph:

"It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one."

Page 61 contained this passage:

"Exploring the Link between Human Smugglers and Terrorists"

"In July 2001, the CIA warned of a possible link between human smugglers and terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that since 1999 human smugglers have facilitated the travel of terrorists associated with more than a dozen extremist groups. With their global reach and connections to fraudulent document vendors and corrupt government officials, human smugglers clearly have the 'credentials' necessary to aid terrorist travel."

This paragraph is found on page 98 under the title “Immigration Benefits:”

“Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.”

Consequently, all candidates for the Presidency or other high office must explain how their strategies for dealing with the immigration crisis are consistent with the warnings and findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Duplicitous candidates who call for dismantling ICE, decriminalizing immigration law violations, or providing lawful status to unknown millions of illegal aliens who evaded the inspections process by running our borders flies in the face of the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission must be challenged.

Candidates who refuse to accept that America’s borders and immigration laws are our first and last lines of defense must be rejected by all American voters — our survival is “on the line.”

Full report at:

https://www.newsmax.com/michaelwcutler/september-eleventh-victims-border-immigration/2019/08/05/id/927326/

--------

 

9/11 Mastermind — Life in Exchange for Testimony Against Saudis?

August 4, 2019

The 9/11 mastermind has offered to help families of victims who are suing Saudi Arabia for its role in the terror attack in exchange for his life.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, believed to be the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, may have inside information that could help the cases of the families suing Saudi Arabia for billions of dollars in damages.

Until now, Mohammed refused to be deposed in the cases. However, he recently indicated that if the government would refrain from seeking his execution, he would be willing to talk.

Mohammed, now 55, has been held for almost 13 years at the U.S. government’s military base in Guantanamo, Cuba with four other accused 9/11 terrorists. Close to 3,000 people died in the attacks.

The accused are charged with hijacking four planes and attacking the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon. A fourth plane which was headed toward Washington, D.C. crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers fought with the hijackers.

Although the Saudi government has long since denied involvement in the attacks, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

The Saudis have fought the lawsuits, claiming they deserve sovereign immunity and arguing for the dismissal of the cases.

Last week, President Trump signed into law a bill which replenished the government fund for victims and families of the 9/11 attacks. The bill provides over $10 billion for the fund over the next decade for first responders and other victims of the attacks.

Funding for the new bill is guaranteed through 2092, and allows applicants to reapply in 2090.

Meanwhile, recent reports that Hamza bin Laden , son of Osama bin Laden, was killed in sometime in the last two years have yet to be confirmed. Osama bin Laden was the leader of al-Qaeda and the force behind the 9/11 attacks. Osama was killed by American forces in May 2011.

Hamza, believed to be about 30 years old and heir apparent to the leadership of al-Qaeda, was last heard from in March 2018.

“What are the facts?” Ran Meir, Clarion’s Arab affairs analyst and Shillman Fellow, asked.

“Three U.S. officials confirmed they had information of Hamza bin Laden’s death, but they gave no details or the day that it happened. While it’s true that we haven’t heard from him since March 2018, we cannot be absolutely sure he’s dead based on this announcement.

“We also had similar reports in the past about [ISIS leader] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi until he resurfaced in April 2019. We had similar reports about Hamza’s father Osama bin Laden a few times until they really killed him. And we even had similar assumptions recently regarding [Hezbollah head Hassan] Nasrallah’s health that proved to be wrong.

Full report at:

https://clarionproject.org/9-11-mastermind-life-exchange-testimony/

--------

 

Trump warns U.S. allies to take back captured ISIS fighters

Aug. 3, 2019

By Mo Abbas

President Donald Trump has warned that Islamic State fighters held by U.S.-backed forces could be released to Europe if their home countries fail to take them back.

His comments raise the pressure on European powers who have been reluctant to repatriate nationals accused of fighting for ISIS due to security concerns and the difficulty of obtaining sufficient evidence for prosecution.

"We have thousands of ISIS fighters that we want Europe to take, and let's see if they take them. If they don't take them, we'll probably have to release them to Europe," Trump told reporters on Thursday.

It is unclear how many ISIS fighters of European origin are in detention and how Trump would release them to Europe.

Experts estimate U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces hold some 800 European ISIS fighters in makeshift prisons, but the mostly Kurdish militia group is struggling to maintain them more than four months after ISIS lost the last significant part of its so-called caliphate.

The SDF is also involved in caring for thousands of the fighters’ family members stuck in desert camps in Syria, prompting calls for a long term solution and stoking tension between Washington and its European allies.

Thousands of foreign nationals were lured to the Middle East to join ISIS when it emerged in 2014 and took control of vast swathes of territory stretching across both Syria and Iraq.

U.S.-backed fighters in Syria declared victory over the group in March.

Trump had previously called on European capitals to take their fighters back and put them on trial.

Britain’s former envoy to Washington reportedly wrote last year that the U.S. feels “we are dumping on them a problem for which we should take responsibility,” according to leaked diplomatic cables.

Kim Darroch’s comments were in relation to the prosecution of two British ISIS members — nicknamed the Beatles — accused of gruesome murders in Syria.

This week Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that there was enough evidence to prosecute the pair in the U.K. after concerns that a U.S. trial could result in the death penalty, which Britain opposes.

Britain has also been accused of “human fly-tipping” — a British term for dumping trash — after it stripped Shamima Begum, the wife of an ISIS fighter, of British citizenship, leaving her stranded in a Syrian refugee camp while pregnant. Her baby died soon after birth.

“You have dishonourably left it to the Kurdish people to bear the financial and security burden of Shamima’s safety and upkeep,” her lawyer Mohammed Akunjee said in a statement in May.

“Your cynical decision amounts to human fly-tipping.”

Full report at:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/trump-warns-u-s-allies-take-back-captured-isis-fighters-n1038736

--------

 

Hezbollah allies intensify hunt for main critic of Syrian regime

Khaled Yacoub Oweis

Aug 5, 2019

Hezbollah’s Lebanese allies have escalated a violence-laced political campaign against Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, accusing him this week of liaising with foreign powers in connection with a shootout that deepened the country’s fissures.

The charges against Mr Jumblatt, one of the most well-connected politicians in Lebanon, echo tactics by Iran and the Damascus regime of using the international standing of prominent dissidents to brand them traitors and make their persecution more appealing to jingoistic constituencies at home.

Lebanon has been in a political crisis that had prevented its divided cabinet from convening since two bodyguards of a junior Druze minister allied with Hezbollah were killed in a shootout in June this year in the Chouf Mountains, the heartland of the Druze sect. The shootout became known as the Basateen incident.

Mr Jumblatt, an outspoken opponent of Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, is the most prominent Druze figure. The country’s Druze community accounts for 5.2 per cent of Lebanon’s’ estimated population of 6.1 million.

Many in the community view Druze survival as tied to the hereditary leadership of the Jumblatt dynasty and the subtle management Mr Jumblatt and his late father Kamal Jumblatt exercised on the community for decades.

Since a Hezbollah ally, Michel Aoun, became Lebanon’s president in 2016, he has sought to undermine Mr Jumblatt by diluting his Druze followers in state organisations and remaining silent as Hezbollah backed incursions by Druze factions allied with Hezbollah into Chouf areas traditionally supportive of the Jumblatt family.

The Basateen incident was the second deadly such incursion. A Jumblatt supporter was killed in a similar incident last year by a pro-Hezbollah Druze gunman, who fled to Syria.

In a failed bid to calm the latest tensions, Mr Jumblatt played a major role in handing two of his supporters, suspected of involvement in the Basateen shooting, to the authorities, and demanded that the other side do the same.

The prime minister, Saad Hariri, has refused to put the Basateen shooting on the cabinet agenda because Hezbollah allies had hinted that Mr Jumblatt is culpable and wanted the case to go to a special tribunal, called the Judicial Council, where they would control the proceeding. Having failed, they have been trying to have the case go to a military tribunal, also under their control.

As a result, the cabinet has not convened since the Basateen incident on June 30.

Mr Hariri is battling time to bring in foreign funding to shore up public finances, especially after Moody’s in January further downgraded Lebanese bonds further into the lower ends of junk status. No significant amount of $11 billion (Dh40.4bn) pledged at a donor conference in Paris last year reached Lebanon because the government failed to comply with extensive reform demands that cut across the breadth of state organisations.

Mr Hariri’s father was assassinated in a massive car bomb that killed 21 others in Beirut in 2005. Hezbollah has refused to hand four of its operatives suspected of involvement in the assassination to an international tribunal in The Hague, saying the group had been framed. The assassination triggered a withdrawal of Syrian regime forces from Lebanon after a 29-year presence.

Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper quoted on Monday ministerial sources close to Mr Aoun as saying that Mr Jumblatt, who usually meets foreign dignitaries, had met European ambassadors and asked for “protection”.

Mr Jumblatt, the sources said, prodded the ambassadors “to interfere in a purely internal affair that is being handled by relevant judicial and security institutions”, adding triumphantly that the “era of weakness and submission” to Mr Jumblatt is over.

There was no immediate comment from Mr Jumblatt, who said on Twitter last week that the judiciary has been turning into a system resembling martial law. A former foe in the civil war came to his defence last week, saying Hezbollah is trying to “break” Mr Jumblatt.

Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces Party, told Lebanon’s private-owned MTV broadcaster that finishing off Mr Jumblatt would please Christians still bitter at their defeat at the hands of Mr Jumblatt in the 1975-1990 civil war and bring votes to pro-Hezbollah candidates. Mr Geagea was alluding to the presidential ambitions of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, a Hezbollah ally and son-in-law of the current president.

Among Lebanon’s civil war figures, Mr Geagea had spent 11 years in jail for political assassinations during the war, after a 1994 show trial, convened when the Damascus regime had 35,000 troops in Lebanon.

A source in Lebanon’s Druze community close to Mr Jumblatt said: “I think we have been seeing rallying around Jumblatt because if he is brought down none of the anti-Hezbollah camp will be safe.”

While Lebanon has not turned into a mere proxy of Tehran or the Damascus regime to the degree the country was once, the Beirut government has intensified this year a crackdown on journalists and activists critical of Hezbollah, Iran, or Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

They have not been veteran figures or of the stature of Mr Jumblatt, but the deepening influence of Hezbollah and its allies on state institutions has made the position of independent politicians like Mr Jumblatt precarious.

“We might not see the Geagea trial repeated but Hezbollah’s end game is to blackmail Jumblatt to submission,” the Druze source said.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/hezbollah-allies-intensify-hunt-for-main-critic-of-syrian-regime-1.894764

--------

 

Europe

 

Rabat to Host “Treasures of Islam in Africa, from Timbuktu to Zanzibar” Exhibition

Aug 5, 2019

Rabat – The Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Arab World Institute (IMA), the Ministry of Culture, and the National Museums Foundation will jointly organize an art exhibition titled “Treasures of Islam in Africa, from Timbuktu to Zanzibar.”

This exhibition will showcase 13 centuries of history through nearly 250 pieces of heritage and contemporary art, from public and private collections from Morocco, Africa, and Europe. The exhibition will display art, archeology, architecture, and works of ethnography.

The event is due to take place in the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Bab El Kebir Gallery, and Bab Rouah Gallery.

The exhibition aims first to explore the different methods with which African countries were first introduced to Islam. Islam reached Southern Saharan countries in the 8th century, first through trade networks in the east and west, then through the major pilgrimage routes.

Second, it intends to highlight the wealth of religious practices across the African continent. Sufi brotherhoods were prevalent in the 18th-19th centuries, influencing African Islam today.

Finally, the exhibition invites visitors to a sensory experience highlighting the spread of know-how across the continent. It will unveil the stylistic and technical peculiarities that contributed to the influence of Southern Saharan populations.

A previous version of the exhibition was held in May 2017 in Paris. King Mohammed VI and François Hollande, the then French President, visited the exhibition held at the Institute of the Arab World (IMA) in Paris.

https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2019/08/279737/rabat-treasures-islam-africa-timbuktu-zanzibar-exhibition/

--------

 

'Almost all masjids, graveyards of Kos island ruined'

Fatih Hafiz Mehmet  

05.08.2019

A Turkish cultural association said on Monday that almost all mosques and graveyards on Greece's Kos (Istankoy) island were "ruined" and closed to worship.

The Rhodes, Kos and the Dodecanese Turks Culture and Solidarity Association urged Greece to respect the freedom of religion of the Kos Turkish community prior to the Eid-al Adha (Muslim feast of sacrifice) festival.

The organization's president, Mustafa Kaymakci, said in a written statement that the Algerian Gazi Hasan Pasha (Lonca) Mosque has yet to be repaired following a 2017 earthquake that damaged the structure.

Founded by Turks who migrated from Rhodes and Kos to Turkey, the association is based in the western province of Izmir on the Turkish Aegean coast.

Kaymakci said that shops under the mosque -- which were owned by the Kos Muslim Foundation Properties Management -- were also damaged.

He underlined that another mosque in Germe (Platini) village on the island was damaged due to the earthquake. However, the restoration of the mosque was not permitted with local Muslims forced to use its courtyard for their daily prayers.

"Masjids, tombs and graveyards of Kos are neglected and almost all are ruined," he stressed.

Kaymakci said that places for worship and other pious endowments on Kos are normally run by the Kos Muslim Foundation Properties Management.

"However, Greece makes the foundations bankrupt," he said, adding that Athens forced the foundations sell their properties despite international agreements.

Muslim pious endowments in the Western Thrace region of Greece as well as Rhodes and Kos are part of the heritage of the Ottoman era, and are today administered by people appointed by Athens.

Kaymakci said that 34 acres of land on Kos belonging to a Muslim foundation were recently sold to a tourism company well below its real price.

Similarly, more than 70 parcels -- also Muslim foundation properties -- had previously been sold to municipalities, he said.

Kaymakci added that the properties of Muslim foundation in Rhodes island were also sold in the same way.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/almost-all-masjids-graveyards-of-kos-island-ruined/1549942

--------

 

Warning Over Terrorist Attacks Using Drones Given By EU Security Chief

Zak Doffman

August 06, 2019

"Drones are becoming more and more powerful and smarter," EU Security Commissioner Julian King warned this weekend, "which makes them more and more attractive for legitimate use, but also for hostile acts."

This is not new news—the threat from a drone attack on a crowded space in the West has been focusing security minds for some time now. And the real fear from a drone attack is that a chemical or biological payload could be delivered into the midst of a crowded space with relative ease. The challenge with such attacks has always been delivery. A drone takes that challenge away.

According to Germany's de Welt—which published King's comments—in December last year, France's Anti-Terrorism Unit (UCLAT) issued a "secret report" for the country's Special Committee on Terrorism. The report warned of "a possible terrorist attack on a football stadium by means of an unmanned drone that could be equipped with biological warfare agents."

I have reported before on terrorist use of drones in the Middle East to mount attacks—countless Islamic State raids on the Iraqi frontline, recent Houthi attacks on Saudi targets and the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad sharing video online of an attempted drone attack on Israeli tanks on the Gaza border. I said at the time, that security agencies will overlook the specifics of such attacks, and will focus instead on the implied threat that a larger or more ominous payload would represent to targets in the West.

That terrorist threat has now become more front of mind, with the vulnerability of aircraft and crowded spaces to such devices highlighted as particular causes for concern. With this in mind, King said that he will "support EU member states to build networks for sharing information, increase engagement at the international level, and provide funding for projects that address the threat of drones—both for the threat as it appears today and how it will look in the future."

Last year, at a closed meeting with one of the U.K.’s leading soccer clubs, the stadium's security director told the room “there are two things that terrify us: a large vehicle driven at speed at thousands of fans as they head home after a match, and, of course, drones.” The meeting room overlooked a stadium where 50,000 plus people gather 25 plus times a year, the threat from drones did not require elaboration.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate Homeland Security Committee last year that the terrorist threat from drones is escalating—such devices "will be used to facilitate an attack in the U.S. against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering," he warned. A year earlier Wray had told senators that "we do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones. We’ve seen that overseas already… the expectation is that it’s coming here. They are relatively easy to acquire, relatively easy to operate, and quite difficult to disrupt and to monitor.”

Islamic State propaganda posters have already depicted a drone attack on the Eiffel Tower in Paris and New York City, and former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen has warned that the threat from drones “is outpacing our ability to respond… terrorist groups such as the Islamic State aspire to use armed drones against our homeland and US interests overseas… We have already worked with our partners to stop terrorist plots that could have involved drone technology.”

Remember, IS operatives have extensive drone experience from the Middle East. As U.K. police counter-terror lead Neil Basu pointed out, drones "have been used on the battlefield and what's used on the battlefield will eventually be adapted to be used on domestic soil.”

The relative ease of availability and execution to mount a drone attack terrifies security agencies worldwide, and the context is that payload risk. The amount of explosive that can be carried by a commercial drone remains somewhat limited. A targeted attack on a high-profile location or an aeroplane in-flight would be possible but challenging to execute. In a crowded space it would generate headlines but limited damage. But a rudimentary attack using a non-explosive payload into an unprotected public space...

Full report at:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2019/08/04/europes-security-chief-issues-dire-warning-on-terrorist-threat-from-drones/#63e4d0647ae4

--------

 

List of UK groups linked to Qatari-owned bank involved in terror financing

5 August 2019

The UK-based Qatari-owned Al Rayan Bank has clients including designated terrorist organizations and controversial Islamic groups linked to Hamas, according to The Times.

Al Rayan Bank is a commercial bank that claims to operate entirely within Islamic principles. According to The Times, Al Rayan is 70 percent owned by Masraf Al Rayan, which is Qatar’s second-largest bank and has close ties to the Qatari state.

Using publicly available records, The Times drafted the following list of controversial organizations that have an Al Rayan bank account.

Interpal

Interpal, a Palestinian aid charity that has been designated as a terrorist entity by the US Treasury due to alleged funding links to Hamas. The British government identified Interpal as part of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood’s British infrastructure in 2015, and its banking facilities were previously withdrawn by Natwest in 2007 and Lloyds TSB in 2008.

The Nectar Trust

The Nectar Trust, previously known as Qatar Charity UK, has received more than £37 million from Doha-based Qatar Charity and is partners in Sheffield with the Emaan Trust, a group whose leaders have close links to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to The Times. The Nectar Trust has been accused of founding pro-Muslim Brotherhood mosques in Europe.

The Islamic Research Foundation International

The Islamic Research Foundation International is led by Indian televangelist Zakir Naik, who was banned from the UK in 2010 following a history of controversial comments. Naik claims that 9/11 was an inside job and has praised Osama bin Laden, saying that “every Muslim should be a terrorist” if it meant fighting the US. Naik’s satellite channel Peace TV has promoted hardliner views including four programs which breached broadcasting rules on hate speech, abuse, offense, and incitement to crime, according to an investigation by the UK regulator Ofcom.

Finsbury Mosque

The Finsbury Park Mosque, where hate preacher Abu Hamza was based in the 1990s. Abu Hamza was the imam of Finsbury Park Mosque in London, where he preached extremism. He is currently serving a life sentence in prison in the United States, after being found guilty of eleven terrorism charges in May 2014.

Ummah Welfare Trust

The Ummah Welfare Trust, a UK-based international relief and development charity, has had its accounts with Barclays and HSBC banks closed due to its activities. The charity has worked with Interpal, a Palestinian aid charity which has been designated as a terrorist entity by the US Treasury, in the past.

HHUGS Charity

Helping Households Under Great Stress aims to support the families of Muslims accused of terrorism-related offenses. The charity’s accounts with HSBC and Lloyds TSB banks were closed.

Islamic Forum Trust

The Islamic Forum Trust, which is the charitable arm of the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) and is based at the East London Mosque complex. According to a Telegraph report in 2010, which viewed internal documents from the Trust, IFE stated its main mission was to change “the very infrastructure of [western] society, its institutions, its culture and its creed … from ignorance to Islam”. The IFE once raised a complaint with Ofcom after Channel 4 described the trust as “extremist and fundamentalist” in a film. The UK's communications regulator rejected the complaint, saying that the descriptions stood as it “supported by recorded clips or actual quotes.”

East London mosque

The East London mosque and its associate the London Muslim Centre have been accused of being linked to radical Islamic thought through their relations with the Islamic Forum of Europe. Both institutions have hosted controversial preachers, including Haitham al-Haddad, a Salafist scholar. Sara Khan, Britain’s counter-extremism commissioner, has condemned Al-Haddad for his previous speeches deemed racist, misogynistic and homophobic. The mosque has also hosted Jamaican-born Canadian Bilal Philips, an Islamic scholar who lives in Qatar and named by the US as a co-conspirator in a 1993 plot to bomb the World Trade Centre in New York.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2019/08/05/List-of-UK-groups-linked-to-Qatari-owned-bank-involved-in-terror-financing.html

--------

 

UN chief: ISIS has as much as $300 million to fight

6 August 2019

The ISIS extremist group has been left with as much as $300 million following the loss of its so-called “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, “with none of the financial demands of controlling territory and population,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report released Monday.

The report to the Security Council on the threat posed by ISIS warns that the lull in attacks directed by the militant group “may be temporary.”

Last week, UN experts said in another report to the council that ISIS leaders are aiming to consolidate and create conditions for an “eventual resurgence in its Iraqi and Syrian heartlands.”

It said the current lull in attacks “may not last long, possibly not even until the end of 2019.”

Guterres said in the new report that while the loss of territory ended ISIS group’s ability to generate revenue from oil fields and local people, ISIS is believed to be capable of directing funds to support “terrorist acts” within Iraq and Syria and abroad. It said informal money transfer businesses known as “hawaladars” are the most common method.

He said looted antiquities from Iraq may be another source of revenue for ISIS and returnees from the conflict said there was a special unit responsible for selling such objects.

“Details of antiquities traded and the current location of any stored antiquities are assessed to be known only to ISIS leaders,” he said.

But the secretary-general said ISIS is also encouraging increased financial self-sufficiency throughout its network of supporters and affiliates elsewhere in the Mideast, Africa and Asia.

Guterres said the evolution of a covert ISIS network in Iraq at the provincial level since 2017 is being mirrored in Syria, with attacks increasing in government-controlled areas.

ISIS personnel, including some senior figures, “are also reported to have taken refuge in governorates where hostilities are ongoing,” the UN report said.

ISIS insurgency activity in Iraq, including the burning of crops, “is designed to prevent normalization and reconstruction, in the hope that the local population will ultimately blame the Iraqi authorities,” Guterres said. “A similar approach is anticipated in the Syrian Arab Republic.”

The report also highlights the continuing concerns posed by returning ISIS fighters and their families.

It cited estimates by several unnamed countries that an average of 25 percent of foreign fighters were killed and 15 percent are unaccounted for.

“Set against an approximate initial figure of 40,000 who joined the ‘caliphate,’ these percentages would suggest that between 24,000 and 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters are alive,” the report said.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in late June that more than 55,000 suspected ISIS fighters and their families have been detained in Iraq and Syria. Most are in the custody of the Iraqi government and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, and the alleged fighters come from over 50 countries. More than 11,000 relatives of the fighters are being held at the Al Hol camp in northeastern Syria alone, she said.

The secretary-general warned that “the threats posed in the short-term by adult detainees and in the medium to long-term by minors who are often traumatized and may become increasingly radicalized have the potential to grow more serious, with consequences for social integration and the potential risk of violence, including possible terrorist attacks in the future.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/08/06/UN-chief-ISIS-has-as-much-as-300-million-to-fight.html

--------

 

Southeast Asia

 

Kelantan exco vows to defend Dr Zakir Naik; PAS invites Kit Siang to face televangelist

06 August 2019

BY ZURAIRI AR

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — Kelantan state executive councillor (exco) Datuk Mohamed Fadzli Hassan has urged local Muslims to defend fugitive preacher Dr Zakir Naik who will embark on a visit there this week.

The PAS law and human rights bureau chief claimed Muslims must not let the televangelist be extradited to India as the latter would inevitably be found guilty of money laundering and inspiring terrorism in his country of origin.

“We all know what would happen afterwards and we have expected it. That is why we must defend for him to stay in this country,” Fadzli was quoted saying by party organ HarakahDaily yesterday.

This comes as Kelantan PAS Youth invited DAP MP Lim Kit Siang and other party leaders to attend Dr Zakir’s programmed in Kota Baru.

“The attendance of DAP leaders will prove that they are not anti-Islam, and follows the party’s principles as democratic, free to speak, and can accept criticism,” wing chief Mohd Ariff Abdullah told HarakahDaily.

“We take the responsibility to send an invitation letter, as proof of support towards the state government’s programme and our solidarity with Dr Zakir Naik.”

The wing said it submitted the invitation to the Kelantan DAP headquarters yesterday but nobody was present.

Last week, Lim said he would never abscond and become an international fugitive unlike Dr Zakir, after PAS lawmaker Ahmad Fadhli Shaari told Lim to leave the country following his criticisms of the preacher.

Iskandar Puteri MP previously expressed support for moderation advocate and author Anas Zubedy’s open letter to Dr Zakir on why he should leave the country voluntarily.

Dr Zakir arrives in Kelantan tomorrow for a lecture with tertiary students in the Kelantan Trade Centre, followed by a sermon with state public servants on Thursday morning.

He will then join popular preacher Azhar Idrus at a grand event in Sultan Muhammad IV on Friday evening.

Last month, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad admitted that Malaysia is not keen for Dr Zakir Naik to be here, but is hard-pressed to deport him elsewhere as “many countries” will not accept the controversial Islamic preacher either.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/08/06/kelantan-exco-vows-to-defend-dr-zakir-naik-pas-invites-kit-siang-to-face-te/1778022

--------

 

Indonesia's Growing Engagement With The Afghan Taliban

By Tufail Ahmad

August 5, 2019

Introduction

For more than a year, Indonesia, which is the largest Islamic country and is often overlooked due to the West's focus on the Arab world, has sought an international role, notably through mediation efforts involving the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban organization that ruled Kabul from 1996 to 2001. This paper examines the recent trajectory of the relationship between Indonesia and the Afghan Taliban, not between Indonesia and Afghanistan.

On July 26, 2019, Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, announced that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund, the deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban, was leading an eight-member delegation from their Qatar-based Political Office for a meeting with Indonesian leaders.[1] The spokesman said that the trip's focus was "on building good political relations" between Afghanistan and Indonesia and to achieve "peace and cooperation for future Afghanistan."[2]

Countries that have been active regarding the Taliban in recent years include: the U.S., Qatar, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Germany, Norway, China, Uzbekistan, Japan, and Indonesia. The terror group acquired diplomatic legitimacy mainly due to its direct talks with the U.S. in Doha, Qatar. The legitimacy accorded by the U.S.-Taliban talks has helped these countries, including Indonesia, to stop viewing the Islamic Emirate as a jihadi terror organization.

Mullah Baradar Akhund, the deputy leader of the Islamic Emirate and head of its Political Office in Doha who headed the delegation to Indonesia, had been detained in a joint U.S.-Pakistani intelligence operation near Karachi in February 2010, allegedly for engaging in talks with the Afghan government without Pakistan's nod.[3] He was technically released in September 2013 and placed in a safe house in Pakistan.[4]

In October 2018, he was released from Pakistani detention and moved to Doha to facilitate the U.S.-Taliban talks.[5] Though the Taliban denied any deal for his release, it is believed that there was some quid pro quo that favored Pakistan. In January 2019, Mullah Baradar Akhund was appointed as the head of the Doha-based Political Office, replacing Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, who until then had led the Taliban's talks with U.S. and other nations.[6]

The Taliban's Reluctant Engagement With Indonesia

Indonesia's involvement with the Taliban began in 2018. Initially, the Taliban, suspicious of the U.S.-backed conferences of Islamic scholars on the Afghan issue, criticized Indonesia's role on Afghanistan. On May 11, 2018, Indonesia organized a meeting of Islamic scholars from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia in Bogor city where Pakistani clerics represented the Taliban symbolically.

On March 10, two months before the Bogor conference, the Islamic Emirate warned the ulama ("Islamic scholars") against attending the meeting or issuing a fatwa ("Islamic decree") against the Afghan jihad. It reminded them that after 9/11 the "historical Western enemy of Islam formed a coalition under the leadership of America and declared their enmity with the Islamic Emirate" and "launched a military invasion on our independent Islamic homeland."[7] A fatwa was issued by 1,500 Islamic scholars for the jihad against America that has been underway in Afghanistan since 2001, it said, and asked those set to meet in Bogor to refrain from "legitimizing the stooge Kabul regime... by passing preposterous fatwas."[8]

Ultimately, the conference did not issue a fatwa against the Afghan jihad. However, Points Six, Seven, and 11 of a declaration issued at the Bogor conference stressed the role of the ulama in resolving the Afghan issue, stating that the Ulama are "Warasatul Anbiya [inheritors of prophets]," who "can play an active role in promoting peace and solidarity in the Muslim world, especially in Afghanistan," and "support the important role of Ulama of Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Pakistan in promoting peace, harmony, and brotherhood among the Ummah in the light of Islamic teachings based on Koran and Sunnah [traditions of Prophet Muhammad]."[9]

On May 17, 2018, just days after the conference at which an anti-jihad fatwa was not issued, the Islamic Emirate issued a statement, titled "What did the Indonesia conference prove?"[10] It noted: "Even though the conference was convened at the request and expense of the United States and her political backers, but the scholars still refused to pass a fatwa against the ongoing jihad. From this one can clearly deduct that the ongoing jihad against the American occupation is a reality which no sane person will ever dare deem illegitimate."[11]

The failure of the Bogor conference to issue a fatwa against jihad may have convinced the Taliban to engage with Indonesia, and a meeting followed. A delegation led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, then head of the Political Office in Doha, visited Indonesia on August 12-15, 2018.[12] It held meetings "about achieving peace in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of foreign forces" with Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, and Indonesia's Special Representative for Afghanistan Hamid Awaludin.[13]

Mullah Baradar Akhund's Visit To Indonesia

The president of Indonesia and the president of Afghanistan have paid reciprocal visits in recent years. However, by engaging with Indonesia and other nations directly, the Taliban now act as if they are the government of Afghanistan. Their trips to foreign nations offer them a diplomatic legitimacy they did not have even during 1996-2001, when they were in power in Kabul but were recognized diplomatically by only three countries: Pakistan, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

On April 30, 2019, Mullah Baradar Akhund, the new head of the Political Office, held a meeting with Retno Marsudi, the visiting Indonesian Minister for Foreign Affairs, in Doha, Qatar.[14] In meeting with the Taliban, the Indonesian government treated the Taliban as if they were on a par with the Afghan government. The Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid noted in a statement that both the sides exchanged views "about peaceful resolution to the Afghan issue" and the U.S.-Taliban talks.[15] According to the statement, the Indonesian minister "assured assistance" and promised to play "a positive role in resolving the Afghan issue if needed."[16]

Indonesia's engagements with the Taliban have come a long way since the Bogor conference. Having secured assurances of a positive role from Indonesian government leaders, Mullah Baradar Akhund led an eight-member delegation to Indonesia, having left from Qatar on July 26, 2019. Mullah Baradar Akhund's discussions began with a meeting with Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla at his official residence in Jakarta on July 27.[17] On the same day, the Taliban delegation visited the Sunda Kelapa Mosque in Jakarta for evening prayers and later held another round of dinner meetings with Kalla and Retno Marsudi.[18]

On July 27, Mullah Baradar Akhund also visited the Jakarta-based headquarters of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization of Indonesia with 60 million members. Abdul Manan Ghani, the chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, told reporters: "We conveyed our views that they should prioritize dialogue among the factions in Afghanistan and should not let other countries to meddle and compromise an already fragile situation there."[19]

According to a Taliban website, the Mullah Baradar Akhund-led delegation attended a conference in the afternoon of July 30, 2019, with scholars and experts at the headquarters of the government-backed Majlis-e-Ulama of Indonesia in Jakarta.[20] The Taliban delegation "highlighted the current situation of Afghanistan, policy, and achievements of the Islamic Emirate," while the Indonesian Islamic scholars "appreciated the sacrifices of the Islamic Emirate and the Afghan mujahideen, offered their views and suggestions and also prayed for further success."[21]

Muhyiddin Junaidi, the head of the international relations department of the Majlis-e-Ulama of Indonesia, was quoted as saying: "We would like to help create peace in Afghanistan in accordance with our capacity as an organization and to complement the government's diplomatic efforts."[22] Junaidi also said: "We shared ideas on how to respond to various social, economic, and cultural problems that Muslims face."[23] Majlis-e-Ulama of Indonesia also offered scholarships for Afghan students to study in Indonesia's Islamic boarding schools and universities.[24]

Indonesia's Search For Influence In The Islamic World

A key achievement for Indonesia is that the Taliban, who were reluctant to engage with Islamic scholars from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia at the Bogor conference of May 2018, are now expected to officially attend the next iteration of this trilateral conference in the next few months. Yunahar Ilyas, vice-chair of the Majlis-e-Ulama of Indonesia, confirmed that the Taliban will attend, but a location and exact date was yet to be finalized.[25] "This time, they will officially attend. We hope that peace in Afghanistan can be realized," Ilyas added.[26]

At the center of Indonesia's engagement with the Islamic Emirate is Vice President Jusuf Kalla. Although the Indonesian government has not been releasing details about its engagement with the Taliban, some information does emerge in the media. Zaitun Rasmin, the deputy secretary-general of Majlis-e-Ulama of Indonesia, said: "This Taliban attendance cannot be separated from the role of Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who has been persistent (in inviting the Taliban)."[27]

Rasmin added: "The vice president (of Indonesia) always said that there could be no peace without the Taliban's maximal involvement and power-sharing with Kabul."[28] However, it was also a belief of the Indonesian government that the Taliban could not be involved in peace process without an effective role played by Indonesian Islamic scholars. "Now they [the Taliban] are convinced by the Indonesian government and clerics," Rasmin noted.[29]

Praising Indonesia's engagement with the Taliban, the editorial board of The Jakarta Post said: "The nation is bound, as stipulated in the opening of the 1945 Constitution, to 'participate toward the establishment of a world order based on freedom, perpetual peace, and social justice...' This has been the evergreen mantra for Indonesia's diplomatic corps, especially with regard to its undying support of Palestinian statehood and a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis."[30]

Full report at:

https://www.memri.org/reports/indonesias-growing-engagement-afghan-taliban

--------

 

Khat, Jawi, Chinese calligraphy: nothing religious or racial about learning them

Moaz Nair

August 6, 2019

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”

It is beneficial if one is willing to acquire another language, whether in written or spoken form.

As for learning khat, Jawi or Chinese calligraphy in school, there is nothing religious or racial about it. Unfortunately, in Malaysia’s polarised society, matters of this nature can easily be politicised.

There’s obviously a difference between khat and Jawi. It’s quite strange that khat has to be introduced in the Malay language syllabus for primary schools and not as a component in the art syllabus.

In the Malaysian context, and from the academic perspective, introducing easy-to-learn Jawi in Bahasa lessons is more relevant than making students learn khat.

Khat has a more aesthetic value to it. Not all students will have the aptitude for an artistic task of this nature.

In contrast, Jawi is more of a culturally and linguistically accepted genre in the Malay archipelago.

Khat or Islamic calligraphy is an artistic practice of handwriting and calligraphy, based on the alphabets in countries sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage.

However, Islamic calligraphy is not strictly limited to religious themes. Like all Islamic art, it embraces an assorted range of works created in an eclectic context. This form of writing has played a significant iconographic role in Islamic art.

Exposing students of all races to these artistic expressions and values, if they wish to learn them, is a non-issue.

Jawi, on the other hand, is more localised though it has its roots in the Arabic language. It has been used for written communication in the Malay archipelago and was practised long before and during the colonial days. It has also become an intrinsic part of the Malay language and culture.

The Malay language, unlike Mandarin or Tamil, has no original alphabet of its own. The Jawi version of writing is derived from Arabic influence and, in the local context, is much older than the Romanised version. The Romanised version of writing is due to a colonial influence, when the colonialists administrated the Malay archipelago.

The Malay language of today is generally written using the Latin script (Rumi) and the Arabic script called Jawi. Rumi, for that matter, is official in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Jawi, on the other hand, is widely used in religious schools and also for official and informal purposes. Students even have the option of answering questions using Jawi in Malay language examinations in Malaysia.

The use of Jawi script was a key factor in the advent of Malay as the lingua franca of this region. Jawi was used not only by the ruling class, but by the commoners as well. Palace correspondence, decrees, local laws and manuscripts were written in Jawi at one time.

It was widely understood by traders as the main means of communication. It was also the medium of expression of the nobility and scholars of literature and religion. In fact, it is the traditional symbol of Malay culture and civilisation.

Jawi was even the official script for the Unfederated Malay States when they were British protectorates.

Starting from the 17th century, under Dutch and British rule, Jawi was gradually replaced by the Rumi script. Nevertheless, Jawi is an integral part of the Malay language and many of the old Malay manuscripts available in libraries overseas and locally are written in Jawi.

The Orientalists took the trouble to master Jawi to understand the culture of the Malays. If one were to claim to be a scholar of the Malay language, he would have to have an in-depth knowledge of this script.

No doubt, Arabic is the language of the Quran but the language is spoken and understood by almost all non-Muslim Arabs and Jews living in regions where Arabic and its variations have become the lingua franca.

In fact, Jawi is not difficult to learn as compared to Arabic. Jawi is read in Malay whereas Arabic is read in Arabic. Many Arabic characters are never used in Jawi as they are not pronounced in the Malay language.

Learning khat or Jawi or, for that matter, Arabic as a language will not be a threat to non-Muslims. Many local non-Muslim academics and even ordinary folk in Kelantan and Terengganu know how to read and write Jawi.

Internationally, many reputed non-Muslim academics speak and write in Arabic. Thus, the perception that introducing khat or Jawi in school is going to proselytise the non-Muslims into Muslims is not justified.

For certain, a Malay learning how to write and speak Mandarin will not make him a lesser Malay. A Chinese learning khat or Jawi will not make him a lesser Chinese.

Acquiring these subjects is not going to dilute one’s faith or race, what more when there are no religious undertones whatsoever, as in this context.

If there is enough interest, schools can introduce Jawi in the Bahasa syllabus or as an extracurricular activity.

As for khat, let it be part of the art lesson that can involve Chinese calligraphy as well.

Whatever else is said, educationists have no doubt recommended the practice of not over-stretching young students with too many subjects in schools so that they can cherish school life.

The quality of education in the country leaves much to be desired, as there are many other more important issues that have to be prioritised.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2019/08/06/khat-jawi-chinese-calligraphy-nothing-religious-or-racial-about-learning-them/

--------

 

PAS leader challenges DAP ministers to quit over khat, Zakir Naik

06 August 2019

BY JOHN BUNYAN

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 ― DAP ministers who disagreed with the teaching of  khat in schools and the non-extradition of Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik should resign, Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said today.

The PAS deputy president accused the DAP ministers of being “selfish” by trying to distance their party from the government decisions that triggered controversy and reminded them that they were collectively responsible with the federal Cabinet.

“The extradition of Dr Zakir Naik has been explained well and clearly by the Home Ministry. However, the DAP keeps pressing on this issue. Likewise the implementation of khat,” he said in a statement.

The Kubang Kerian MP claimed the DAP ministers were even going against decisions “finalised” by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, which he said was evidence of disunity within Pakatan Harapan.

“I also have said previously that many government agenda will be sabotaged by their own party components as they don’t have a collective responsibility among them,” he claimed without elaboration.

He also urged the prime minister to quickly end the matter to prevent it from disrupting his administration.

Malaysia needed a strong and united Cabinet to convince foreign investors of the country’s stability, he added.

DAP convened a meeting of its lawmakers yesterday to gather their feedback on the proposed introduction of Khat, a traditional form of Malay-Arabic calligraphy, in vernacular schools.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/08/06/pas-leader-challenges-dap-ministers-to-quit-over-khat-zakir-naik/1778078

--------

 

Mideast

 

Iran's Zarif says Tehran will leave nuclear deal if necessary

AUGUST 5, 2019

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran will leave its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday, if Tehran’s interests were not protected by other parties to the pact.

“Iran will leave its 2015 nuclear deal with powers if necessary,” Zarif told a news conference broadcast live on state TV, “calling on Europeans to accelerate their efforts to shield Iran’s economy from U.S. sanctions.”

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-iran-zarif-deal-idUKKCN1UV0P1

--------

 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Is the Tip of Tehran’s Spear

James A. Warren

08.05.19

In the short run, at least, President Donald Trump’s beef with Iran has more to do with its aggressive, destabilizing foreign policy in the Middle East than with its nuclear program, which, experts agree, is years away from producing even a single nuclear device.

The chief institution responsible for implementing the political warfare and military aspects of that foreign policy is the Pasdaran—better known in the West as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The IRGC was forged on the anvil of the Islamic Revolution of 1979. It has grown steadily in power and influence over the Republic’s turbulent 40-year history. Today the Guard is a unique, and uniquely powerful, politico-military organization within Iran. It has no exact counterpart in any Western nation.

The Pasdaran functions as both the sword and shield of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Shiite theocracy over which he presides, and it remains outside the chain of command of Iran’s conventional armed forces. The Supreme Leader commands the IRGC, and his imprimatur, in the eyes of the soldiers of the Guard, legitimizes every act of violence it perpetrates.

The Guard’s primary missions are to defend religious orthodoxy at home and to spread Iran’s anti-Western, pro-Islamic ideology throughout the Muslim World. The IRGC’s senior leadership sees its primary enemies as the United States, Israel, and their allies in the Middle East. At home, it wages a constant struggle against secularism, liberal reformers, moral laxity, atheism, and anyone that challenges the righteous path of True Belief.

The organization’s view of the world comes through very clearly in this excerpt from an early, official IRGC publication:

“Imperialism and global Zionism, with the help of governments and their henchmen, are everyday involved in plots against the spread and penetration of the Islamic revolution among the hearts of the people of Iran and the world… Therefore we can and must… shoulder the global message of Islam. We have no recourse except the mobilization of all the faithful forces of the Islamic revolution and must, with the mobilization of forces in every region, strike fear into the hearts of our enemies so that the idea of invasion and destruction of our Islamic revolution will exit their minds. If our revolution does not have an internationalist and aggressive approach, the enemies of Islam will again enslave us culturally and politically.”

The organization’s extraordinary success in exporting the revolutionary ethos by any means necessary explains in large part why it’s the only foreign government entity labeled a terrorist organization by Washington. President Donald Trump made that determination this past April, but the IRGC has been at the epicenter of what historian David Crist calls the “twilight war” between America and Iran for almost 40 years.

The Corps today consists of about 125,000 men, but its influence is much greater than that number would indicate. Experts estimate the organization controls as much as one third of the Iranian economy, with an especially strong presence in construction, energy, and telecommunications. The Guard has its own television news channel. Many of the country’s leading politicians are former Guardsmen, and the organization is regularly called upon to thwart the efforts of groups like the Mujahedin-e Khalq that seek to liberalize Iran’s hardline political institutions and diminish the power of the Supreme Leader.

To quash dissent or mobilize Iranian society behind a particular cause or project, the IRGC leadership deploys the Basij—a vast paramilitary organization of some 10 million people with chapters in many schools, businesses, government offices, and mosques. The Basij is a cross between a cultural organization and a militia that provides basic religious and military instruction. Recruits are all volunteers noted for their religious zeal.

Western powers, especially the United States, are most concerned with the activities of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite special forces, the Quds Force; its navy, which is a distinct from the country’s regular naval force; and its ballistic missile force, which is rapidly expanding in capability and would bear responsibility for managing nuclear weapons if Iran somehow found a way to develop them.

The Quds Force consists of about 5,000 men. It’s a kind of hybrid of the CIA’s Special Operations Group and the Green Berets. According to New Yorker journalist Dexter Filkins, its members are "divided between combatants and those who train and oversee foreign assets." The force has branches focusing on intelligence, finance, politics, sabotage, and unconventional warfare. 

From Washington’s point of view, the Quds Force’s most troubling activity has been its role as a “force multiplier.” Quds operatives have trained, funded, and armed a vast network of proxy forces throughout the greater Middle East, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, a handful of Shiite militia groups in Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen, and Shiite military units in Saudi Arabia, to name but a few. According to Iran expert Ray Takeyh of the Rand Corporation, this proxy force network today consists of 200,000 fighters.

Iran’s proxies have been deployed against the United States or its allies in the Lebanese Civil War of the ’80s; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; the U.S.-led coalition in the civil war in Syria, and the Saudi-Houthi struggle in Yemen, among other places. Interestingly, Iranian-supported Shiite forces fought with the American coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Major General Qassem Soleimani, the charismatic commander of the Quds, is a national hero in Iran. Dexter Filkins describes him as "the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today" and the principal military strategist and tactician in Iran's effort to combat Western influence throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Many experts believe he has been one of the leading strategists for the Assad regime in the ongoing Syrian Civil War for the last several years.

The IRGC’s “mosquito navy” of 20,000 men may be small, but it remains a significant concern for the U.S. Navy in the current crisis because of its highly developed asymmetric warfare capabilities. It has more than a thousand small attack boats, a formidable array of anti-ship missiles and naval mines, and it is highly skilled in hit-and-run and swarming tactics.

The IRGC’s ballistic missile program is the most robust in the Middle East, and it continues to progress. The program’s Revolutionary Guard commanders are determined to transition from liquid to solid propelled systems, which are more sustainable. They are also striving to improve accuracy, which still leaves much to be desired.

According to one of the leading experts on the Pasdaran, Afshon Ostovar, the Guard is at once “a champion of Iran’s revolutionary ethos and a pragmatic organization with an approach to strategic affairs that comes closer to realpolitik than Islamism… the organization’s history is in many ways a microcosm of the Islamic Republic, from the struggle to carve and independent path to its controversial rise into a regional power.”

Some knowledgeable observers of Iranian politics believe the Guard has a significant voice in the making of Iran’s foreign policy as well as its implementation. Given its symbiotic relationship with Khamenei, and deep roots in the country’s political life, this seems entirely plausible.

Cobbled together by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini from a wide array of Shiite militia and armed gangs during the revolution, it served as a counterforce to the regular army and police force, which were regarded as untrustworthy because of their close association with the Shah of Iran. The Guards spent most of 1980 and 1981 conducting assassinations and marginalizing non-clerical elements of the revolution, including liberals and Marxists.

When the regular army performed lethargically in the face of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in 1980, the IRGC stepped into the breach, activating the Basij, and employing hundreds of thousands of partially trained warriors—including young teenagers—in massive human wave assaults against the invaders. Often they defeated the Iraqis, but incurred horrendous casualties in the process.

After it appeared that Iran might defeat Iraq and come to dominate the region, the United States, France, and the Arab Sheikdoms threw their support behind Iraq. According to Ostovar, the Iran-Iraq War contributed significantly to the IRGC’s “paranoid view of the outside world.” The war, of course, ended in stalemate in 1988, but not before the IRGC orchestrated a campaign to halt the flow of oil to and from Iraq through the Straits of Hormuz.

Protecting the free flow of oil through the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz has been a mission of the U.S. Navy since 1949. When an Iranian mine badly damaged the U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts, a guided missile cruiser, the U.S. Navy launched Operation Praying Mantis, one of the largest naval surface actions since World War II. American ships and aircraft destroyed roughly half of Iran’s naval forces in one day—April 18, 1988.

It was during the early years of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) that Revolutionary Guard covert agents cobbled together diverse Shiite militia groups in Lebanon into an umbrella organization the world soon came to know as Hezbollah. The IRGC was intimately involved in the training, funding, and arming of the Hezbollah terrorist cells that bombed the American embassy in Beirut in April 1983, and the much more costly suicide truck bombing that destroyed the barracks of a battalion of U.S. Marines in that city, killing 241 men.

After much dithering, President Ronald Reagan decided to withdraw the Marines without retaliating against Iran.

Nonetheless, IRGC-trained proxies continued to make life a misery for Americans in Beirut, capturing, torturing, and killing CIA station chief William Buckley, and partially blowing up the U.S. embassy annex on September 20, 1984, killing 24 people.

In the ’90s, says Ostovar, the Guard “became the standard-bearer for hardline politics in Iran,” and was amply rewarded for its work with hundreds of contracts for reconstruction projects. Its network of proxies expanded. The Quds Force played a pivotal role in planning the suicide bombing of an Argentine Jewish Community Center in 1994 that killed 80, and the destruction of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, where U.S. Air Force personnel flying missions over Iraq’s no-fly zones were housed. Nineteen servicemen were killed, and almost 500 civilians wounded.

The 9/11 attacks on the United States greatly enhanced the profile and standing of foreign policy neoconservatives in Washington who wanted to use American military power to reconfigure the Middle East along pro-Western, democratic lines. The abject failure of this project is due at least in part to the IRGC’s dexterity in spreading its pro-clerical, anti-Western message throughout the region.

Ironically, the Bush administration’s early successes in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) in Afghanistan and Iraq had the effect of strengthening the IRGC at home and abroad. The GWOT seemed to confirm suspicions that the Americans were conducting covert operations inside Iran with a view to overthrowing the Ayatollah’s hardline regime and replacing it with reformers receptive to democratic ideas and institutions. According to Ostovar, the GWOT “not only failed to contain the IRCG, it was a boon to the organization, and both directly and indirectly encouraged its political involvement, domestic expansion, and entry” into the Iraq War against the Americans and their allies.

The Quds Force in Iraq went into high gear, expanding its training, arming, and funding efforts, as well as providing strategic and operational advice to combatant groups. It did the same thing on a lesser scale in Afghanistan. The Bush administration was so concerned about Iran’s support for Shiite insurgents in Iraq that in 2005 in began to make detailed plans for attacking Iran directly.

According to the Trump administration, the Quds Force was directly involved in operations in Iraq that killed 600 American service members.

Today, Iran wields a great deal of political influence in Iraq through its allies, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution and the Badr Corps. Members of both groups hold important positions in the Iraqi government.

In 2012, Quds force operatives attempted to orchestrate the assassination of the Saudi ambassador to the United States in a swanky Georgetown restaurant. The plot fell apart when one of the operatives tried to hire the assassin through an intermediary who turned out to be a DEA informant. Not for nothing has the Trump administration called Quds “Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorism.”

The current crisis between Washington and Tehran has made Gen. Soleimani even busier than usual, as his naval forces retain responsibility for defending Iran’s interests in the Persian Gulf, and have been directly involved in attacking tankers, shooting down a U.S. drone, and seizing the British tanker Stena Impero on July 19. 

Full report at:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/irans-revolutionary-guard-is-the-tip-of-tehrans-spear

--------

 

Iran Says It Has Seized Another Oil Tanker in Persian Gulf

By Vivian Yee, Yonette Joseph and Iliana Magra

Aug 4, 2019

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Iran seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, state television reported on Sunday, the third time Tehran has reported detaining a tanker in the last month as the United States applies its campaign of “maximum pressure,” sanctions and diplomatic isolation against the country.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps detained the tanker on Wednesday along with the seven members of the ship’s foreign crew, according to official Iranian news agencies, which cited a naval commander. Iran said the tanker was “smuggling” fuel to some Arab states, without offering evidence.

The oil tanker was an Iraqi ship, the official IRNA news agency reported, quoting the Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The Trump administration has tried to force Iran into submission by choking off its oil sales, the cornerstone of the country’s economy. Iran has responded by lashing out at the West through provocations small and large — including the recent tanker seizures — raising fears that any miscalculation and tit-for-tat responses would escalate into war.

The Trump administration’s stated goal is to extract a nuclear deal from Iran that is more favorable to American interests than the 2015 agreement that President Trump abandoned last year. Critics say, however, the administration has only undermined any path to diplomacy by making demands that Iran cannot accept.

The Iranians, in turn, have taken steps to renege on their commitments under the 2015 deal and have threatened to violate the agreement further unless European countries that co-signed the deal offer some relief from the sanctions. The Europeans have made clear that they hope to preserve the deal, but they have not been able to give a meaningful boost to Iran’s economy, which is reeling under the weight of the sanctions.

That has led to a split between Europe and the United States despite their common interest in making sure crucial oil shipping routes in the Persian Gulf are protected against Iranian and other threats. The Trump administration has sought to rally a maritime force to escort ships through the Gulf, but European nations have distanced themselves from the effort, and Germany has outright said no.

The latest foreign vessel Iran said it had seized received fuel from other ships and had been transporting it to Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, the commander of Iran’s Second Marine Corps said to Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency. The ship was detained in coordination with judicial authorities, he said.

The commander said the ship had been carrying about 700,000 liters of fuel, about 185,000 United States standard gallons. Fars said on Twitter that seven foreign nationals had been detained. The Mehr news agency reported that the ship had been seized near Farsi Island, a tiny, barren Iranian territory northwest of the Strait of Hormuz.

The Iraqi oil ministry denied any relationship with the tanker detained by Iran, said Asim Jihad, the ministry’s spokesman. Iraq and Iran are allies, raising questions among some in Iraqi intelligence about whether the seizure might have been a mistake.

The Revolutionary Guards said the ship had been seized to the south of the Iranian island of Larak in the northern part of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway that is a vital conduit for maritime petroleum traffic in and out of the Persian Gulf.

Defying U.S. Sanctions, China and Others Take Oil From 12 Iranian Tankers

The U.S. has been unable to halt Iranian oil exports.

The oil tanker was then transferred to Bushehr Province and its cargo delivered to the department of the National Iranian Oil Product Distribution Company in the same province, Mehr reported.

The state-run Iranian television outlet Press TV later released video footage of what it said was the seized ship, showing a smaller boat approaching the vessel and images of oil in the hull. No identifying marks on the larger tanker were visible.

In July, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps detained a foreign oil tanker said to have been smuggling fuel, state news media reported.

The latest seizure was reported days after the United States imposed sanctions on the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, an American-educated diplomat who was a key negotiator for the 2015 nuclear deal between Western powers and Tehran. American officials have said that the foreign minister is part of a “propaganda arm” for Iran.

But experts said the sanctions would make it more difficult to engage in any new diplomacy. Iranian officials called the move petty and provocative.

Iran and the West have been embroiled in a dispute over shipping near the Strait of Hormuz as European countries scramble to save the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran after Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of the accord last year.

Britain seized an Iranian tanker, the Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar in July, saying it suspected the ship had been headed to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. Iran called the seizure an act of piracy, and accused Britain of acting on behalf of Washington.

Later that month, Revolutionary Guards troops also detained a British-flagged tanker, the Stena Impero, near the Strait of Hormuz, accusing it of violating three international naval regulations.

Iran appeared to link the British seizure of its tanker and the ailing nuclear deal.

“Since Iran is entitled to export its oil according to the J.C.P.O.A., any impediment in the way of Iran’s export of oil is actually against the J.C.P.O.A.,” Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, said after emergency talks in Vienna a week ago.

That day, a second British Royal Navy warship, the Duncan, arrived in the Persian Gulf to escort ships flying the British flag through the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has warned other countries against sending vessels to act as escorts, with a government spokesman in Tehran, Ali Rabiei, saying that such a move would carry “a hostile message, is provocative and will increase tensions.”

On May 2, the Trump administration’s oil sanctions against Iran came into full effect. It is not illegal under international law to buy and haul Iranian oil or related products, but foreign companies that ignore the sanctions risk being punished by the United States.

An examination of the movements of more than 70 Iranian tankers since May 2 found that 12 had loaded oil after that date and had delivered it to China or the eastern Mediterranean, where the buyers might have included Syria or Turkey. Only some of the 12 tankers were previously known to have recently delivered Iranian oil.

The continued flow of oil highlights the difficulty that the Trump administration has had in using sanctions to bring Iranian oil exports to zero.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/04/world/middleeast/iran-oil-tanker-persian-gulf.html

--------

 

Yemeni officials: Forces pursue al-Qaida militants, 8 dead

By Ahmed Al-Haj

August 3, 2019

SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni officials and tribal leaders said security forces were pursuing al-Qaida militants Saturday in the southern Abyan province, leaving at least seven extremists and one soldier dead.

The fighting came a day after al-Qaida attacked and overran a military camp in the same province, killing at least 20 soldiers.

The troops chasing the militants through the mountainous areas of al-Mahfad district are part of a force trained by the United Arab Emirates, a member of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels since 2015.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not allowed to talk to reporters. The tribal leaders asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/yemeni-officials-forces-pursue-al-qaida-militants-8-dead/2019/08/03/71473742-b61d-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1ca6fcdaf508

--------

 

Rouhani: War with Iran is the mother of all wars

6 August 2019

Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday in a speech broadcast live on state TV.

If the United States wants to have negotiations with Iran then it must lift all sanctions, Rouhani said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/06/Rouhani-War-with-Iran-is-the-mother-of-all-wars-.html

--------

 

Iran says it will further breach nuclear deal unless Europeans act

6 August 2019

Iran told European powers on Monday it would further reduce compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal in about a month-time if they were still failing to protect it from crippling US sanctions, re-imposed after Washington exited the deal.

European signatories to the deal have so far been helpless to prevent US President Donald Trump trying to force Iran to accept stricter limits to its nuclear activity and regional behavior by strangling its vital oil trade.

Iran has threatened to block all energy exports out of the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of global oil traffic passes, if it is unable to sell oil as promised by the 2015 deal in exchange for curbing its uranium enrichment program.

“With the continuation of the inaction of the Europeans in carrying out their commitments (to the nuclear deal) ... Iran will take a third step (in reducing commitments) in approximately one month,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

Iran had increased its stockpile of heavy water above 130 tons and its reserve of enriched uranium above 300 kilograms, Kamalvandi told IRIB news agency.

The deal - designed to forestall Iran making high-enriched uranium suitable for nuclear bombs in short order - permitted a maximum reserve of 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium. It also set a cap of 130 tons of heavy water, which in large quantities can yield plutonium, an alternative atom bomb fuel.

“What is certain is that by putting aside or suspending our commitments we will increase the speed of our nuclear activities,” said Kamalvandi.

He did not specify what Iran’s next step would be, but Tehran warned last month it could reactivate centrifuge machines and ramp up enrichment of uranium to 20% fissile purity.

The deal set an enrichment ceiling of 3.67%, the level deemed as appropriate for electricity generation and far below the 90% of weapons grade, though 20% would mark a big advance significantly reducing the time needed to yield bomb material.

It has long denied seeking a nuclear bomb but appears to be cranking up enrichment levels gradually as leverage to push the nuclear deal’s remaining parties to do more to save it.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/06/Iran-says-it-will-further-breach-nuclear-deal-unless-Europeans-act-.html

--------

 

Arab Coalition: Houthi militia drones target Saudi airports

5 August 2019

Saudi air defenses intercepted Iran-backed Houthi militia’s drones targeting civilian airports on Monday, the Arab Coalition said, as the Houthis ramp up cross-border attacks.

The coalition, in a statement published on Saudi state media, said the strikes were “simultaneous” but did not specify the targets or number of drones intercepted.

The Iran-aligned Houthis’ Al-Masirah television earlier said their drones targeted civilian airports in the southern cities of Abha and Najran as well as King Khaled airbase in Khamis Mushait.

The strikes come just days after the militia carried out a deadly attack on a security training camp near Yemen’s government-held second city Aden.

The militia said they launched a drone and a ballistic missile at the camp.

The Houthis have stepped up missile and drone attacks across the border in recent weeks.

Nine civilians were wounded in a July 3 Houthi attack on Abha airport, the coalition said.

A June 12 missile attack on the same airport wounded 26 civilians, drawing warnings of “stern action” from the coalition.

And on June 23, a militia attack on Abha airport killed a Syrian and wounded 21 other civilians, the coalition said.

The raids come amid heightened regional tensions as key Saudi ally the United States presses a “maximum pressure” campaign against its arch-rival Iran after withdrawing from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Tehran.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/08/05/Arab-Coalition-Houthi-militia-drones-target-Saudi-airports-.html

--------

 

Rouhani says Iran favors talks but US must lift sanctions

August 06, 2019

TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Tehran favors talks with Washington but the United States must first lift sanctions it imposed on the Islamic republic.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran favors talks and negotiations and, if the US really wants to talk, before anything else it should lift all sanctions,” Rouhani said in remarks aired live on state television.

Rouhani, speaking at the foreign ministry after meeting with his top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Iran was ready for talks regardless of whether or not the US was party to a landmark nuclear deal.

“Whether they want to come into the JCPOA or not, it’s up to them,” said Rouhani, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

However, the Iranian president also warned: “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” presumably hinting that shipping might not be safe in the Strait of Hormuz, where recent oil tanker seizures were reported, and where approximately one-fifth of the world's oil passes through.

In July, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized British tanker Stena Impero near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations, two weeks after British forces captured an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar accused of violating sanctions on Syria.

“A strait for a strait. It can't be that the Strait of Hormuz is free for you and the Strait of Gibraltar is not free for us,” Rouhani said.

Tensions between Iran and its arch-foe the United States have soared since Trump announced last year that the US was withdrawing from the deal and began reimposing sanctions against the Islamic republic.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1536236/middle-east

--------

 

Houthis continue to breach international peace agreement as they send troops to Hodeidah

August 06, 2019

DUBAI: The Houthi militia has breached international peace agreements by escalating fighting in Hodeidah province, west of Yemen, Saudi national news agency SPA reported on Monday.

The militants sent reinforcements to Hais district in Hodeidah as they attacked Yemeni army posts and residential areas, the militia also attacked other areas in the province.

The Hodeidah agreement, which was reached in December 2018, included a cease-fire and the redeployment of national and militant troops.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1536241/middle-east

--------

 

Africa

 

Multinational force denies Boko Haram attack killing 40 troops in Nigeria

2019-08-03

ABUJA, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- The multinational force fighting Boko Haram along the Lake Chad region on Saturday debunked claims that militants attacked a military base and killed up to 40 in Baga, a town in Nigeria's northeast region.

The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) described the media reports which as "false", saying it was a desperate attempt by certain individuals to promote propaganda by the terror group.

Col. Timothy Antigha, a Nigerian army officer who is also the spokesman for the MNJTF, said in a statement reaching Xinhua in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, that the very last engagement between the multinational force and Boko Haram militants was on July 29.

About 30 Boko Haram militants had infested the Baga locality with the aim of carrying out an audacious assault on troops at a military base, Antigha said. Four suicide bombers were also identified among them.

In that attack, he said, 10 Boko Haram militants were killed as the multinational force thwarted the onslaught. One soldier was also killed in a gunfight which ensued between the militants and the troops.

Several Boko Haram fighters escaped with gunshot wounds as blood-stained tracks were observed in the area as the MNJTF and national troops dealt a deadly blow to the terrorists, the official said.

Five soldiers were also injured during the gunfight, he confirmed.

The multinational force comprises troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin.

Last December, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his colleagues of the Lake Chad Basin Commission renewed their commitment to ending the Boko Haram insurgency, declaring "a fight to finish".

Boko Haram has been trying since 2009 to establish an Islamist state in northeastern Nigeria, extending its attacks to countries in the Lake Chad Basin.

The group posed enormous security, humanitarian and governance challenges in the basin, according to the United Nations.

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-08/03/c_138281473.htm

--------

 

Airstrike by Haftar forces kills 45 in Libya

05.08.2019

TRIPOLI

At least 45 people were killed and scores injured in an airstrike carried out by eastern Libyan forces led by commander Khalifa Haftar in the country’s southwest on Sunday, according to local media.

More than 55 people including women and children were injured in the airstrike, local media reported.

Al-Ahrar TV channel earlier put the death toll at 20, citing local lawmaker Rahma Adem.

The MP said that the attack took place in Murzuq town and all the victims were from Tebu tribe.

However, Murzuq's Municipal Councilor Mohammed Omar said there was no loss of life and property in the attack targeting Tebu tribe.

For its part, the Tripoli-based Libyan Presidential Council blamed Haftar’s forces for the attack, which reportedly targeted a wedding procession.

In a statement, the council called upon the UN mission and the international community to “shoulder their responsibilities, investigate the crimes committed by the Haftar forces and prosecute those responsible”.

It went on to call on Libyans to “pay attention to Haftar's attempt to ignite sedition between components of Libyan society”.

No statement was made by Haftar’s forces regarding the accusation.

The EU Commission called on Haftar’s forces to end "indiscriminate attacks" immediately.

"The air strike in Murzuq has claimed the lives of civilians in southern Libya, a region that is already paying a heavy price for the inability of the warring parties to end the crisis," it said in a statement.

"Indiscriminate attacks on densely populated residential areas may amount to war crimes and must cease immediately," it added.

The Commission also called on Libyans to support the UN special representative's attempts to relaunch political negotiations and implement a truce on the occasion of the Eid al-Adha.

Since early April, forces loyal to Haftar have been launching a campaign to capture the capital, Tripoli, from forces aligned with the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Clashes between the two sides since then have left more than 1,000 people dead and about 5,500 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

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 power.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/airstrike-by-haftar-forces-kills-45-in-libya/1550270

--------

 

Haftar's airstrike in southern Libya kills 43, injures dozens

Aug 5, 2019

Dozens of people have been killed in a drone strike carried out by forces loyal to Libyan renegade general Khalifa Haftar in the southwestern part of the African country, local officials say.

The internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) said on Monday that at least 43 people had lost their lives as a result of the drone attack on the southern town of Murzuq.

Mohamed Omar, a Murzuq municipal council member, told Reuters that "the air strike resulted in 43 killed and 51 wounded. This is only an initial toll of casualties."

Another council official put the number of fatalities at 42 and said more than 60 were injured, 30 of them critically.

Forces loyal to the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Haftar - who are based in eastern Libya - claimed responsibility for the attack on the town but denied targeting any civilians.

Condemning the attack by Haftar's forces on social media, the GNA called on the United Nations to "carry out an investigation into the crimes committed by Haftar's militias in Murzuq."

The attack is the second major one carried out by LNA forces after at least 44 migrants were killed last month in an air raid on a detention center on the outskirts of the capital, Tripoli.

Heading a group of militia, Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli on April 4 to wrest control of the capital, but his armed groups failed to breach the southern defenses of the city.

Since then, the fighting has left at least 1,000 people dead, more than 5,750 wounded, and over 100,000 people displaced, according to the United Nations World Health Organization.

Haftar’s offensive has upended UN-led plans to stabilize Libya after years of conflict that has left the oil-rich nation divided and caused living standards to plummet.

The renegade general has defied a truce call by the UN, ordering his militia not to relent in their offensive.

In his offensive, Haftar is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. France also offers him some political support.

Libya plunged into chaos in 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi and his execution by unruly fighters.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/05/602768/Libya-Khalifa-Haftar-drone-strike-Murzuq

--------

 

South Asia

 

As US-Taliban talks continue, 15-member Afghan team set to meet terror group

August 5, 2019

A new 15-member Afghan government-led team, consisting of politicians, civil rights activists and representatives of ethnic groups, will soon "meet face to face" with the Taliban, seeking to achieve lasting peace in the war-torn country, a senior Afghanistan diplomat said in New Delhi on Monday.

Afghanistan's Charge d'Affaires in India, Tahir Qadiry, said at an interaction at the Foreign Correspondent Club of South Asia, that the team will also have "women members".

"A 15-member Afghan team will soon meet face to face with Taliban to take the Afghan peace process forward, seeking to achieve lasting peace in the war-torn country," he said in response to a question on Afghan peace talks.

The date and exact place, as to where the talks will take place, is yet to be decided, he said.

"This will be an Afghan government-led team but it will be an inclusive team, with representation from across the country, so, it will include members from civil rights groups and ethnic groups, among others, besides, members from the government," Qadiry said.

His remarks come at a time, when talks between the US and the Taliban stretched into a third day on Monday, with no immediate indication that a historic deal between the longtime foes had been reached.

The two sides are meeting in Doha for an eighth round of talks to thrash out a deal that would slash the presence of American troops in Afghanistan.

"We are waiting and watching the US-Taliban talks, to see if this deal goes through," Qadiry said.

Former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, at the fourth edition of the Raisina Dialogue in Delhi in January, had said, "Taliban belongs to our country" and hence their involvement is crucial for the success of the peace talks, either initiated by the US or the Russians.

"Taliban is inevitable for bringing peace to the country," he had said.

Qadiry, a journalist-turned-diplomat, on the role of Taliban in taking the peace process forward, said, "The Taliban are important for the peace process. But, from our side, the stand is that they need to integrate into the Afghanistan that we are rebuilding".

On a question on the Indian government revoking Article 370 which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir and proposing that the state be bifurcated into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, the Afghanistan diplomat, said, "We are waiting and watching, how the situation unfolds".

Earlier he delivered a talk on 'A New Afghanistan' and said the new generation of Afghans, those belonging his generation, were, "well-educated, well-connected and know they have a say in the policy-making".

"They also know this Afghanistan that they seek to rebuild, taking it out of this tumultuous past, that had hit the country very hard," he said.

He also said there will be grand celebrations to mark 100 years of Afghanistan's Independence this year. The country got its independence on August 19, 1919.

"Celebrations will be held in Kabul and restored Darul Aman Palace will be inaugurated, among other programmes," Qadiry said.

The senior diplomat also said the country has planned to hold its elections on September 28.

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/as-us-taliban-talks-continue-15-member-afghan-team-set-to-meet-terror-group-1577614-2019-08-05

--------

 

Violence in Afghanistan takes high toll on civilians despite the promise of peace talks

By Pamela Constable

August 3, 2019

KABUL — The long-distance bus, traveling on a remote stretch of highway in western Afghanistan on Wednesday was crammed with families, students and workers. They were headed cross-country on a regularly scheduled 300-mile trip from Herat city to Kandahar city when a sudden, violent blast erupted beneath the bus.

A shock wave and shrapnel hurtled upward from a hidden mine, killing 34 passengers and leaving 17 more burned and bloody. The nearest hospital was many miles away in Herat. Hours later, news photos from there showed a small boy lying in bed, his face pocked with cuts, and a young man sitting up, both arms bandaged and his face badly swollen.

“It was a shameful incident,” said Sakina Hussaini, a member of the Herat provincial council and a volunteer for a group that helps civilian victims of violence. She said Friday that she had attended nine funerals in the past week, including services for six members of one family. The Taliban denied through a spokesman that it was responsible for Wednesday’s bus bombing, but Afghan officials said the insurgents had planted mines along the highway to target military convoys.

The Farah bus massacre was the worst attack during a week that left more than 200 civilians dead across the country as the Taliban and its pro-government adversaries fight to gain leverage in U.S.-Taliban peace talks that began in September.

Last Sunday, 20 were killed in Kabul in an assault on the political party headquarters of Amrullah Saleh, a vice presidential candidate in elections planned for Sept. 28. The attack also left 50 more people injured. No group has asserted responsibility for the Kabul assault, but Saleh accused the Taliban, which he relentlessly opposes.

Afghan boys look at damage caused in a July 28 attack in Kabul. (Mohammad Ismail/Reuters)

The heightened warfare on both sides has taken a significant toll on civilians, according to a report released by the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan. The report said that 3,812 civilians were killed or injured in conflict in the first half of 2019 — with more harmed by Afghan government forces or government-allied foreign forces than by the insurgents.

The overall number of civilian casualties in the first half of 2019 fell 27 percent over the same period in 2018 and was the lowest half-year casualty figure since 2012. But the report also noted a 27 percent increase in the number of civilian deaths from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2019.

The U.N. report said pro-government forces killed 717 Afghans and injured 680 in the first half of 2019, 30 percent more than in the first half of 2018, and that 363 civilians were killed and 156 injured in American or Afghan airstrikes. That casualty figure includes 89 children killed and 61 injured. The report said Taliban and Islamic State forces killed 531 Afghans and injured 1,437, including in targeted attacks on political, tribal and religious figures.

U.N. officials called this level of casualties “shocking and unacceptable” and called on all groups in the conflict to do more to protect civilians. They said that last year was the deadliest for civilians in the 18-year war, with 3,804 killed and 7,000 injured.

American officials expect to resume talks shortly with the Taliban and hope by September to reach an initial agreement that would include withdrawing several thousand U.S. troops in exchange for Taliban pledges to renounce al-Qaeda, honor a cease-fire and meet soon with Afghan officials to negotiate a future political system and power sharing.

Afghan security personnel inspect the aftermath of the July 28 attack in Kabul. (Rahmat Gul/AP)

But the violence continued unabated as peace talks inched along. Statistics compiled by the U.S. military showed that since it resumed its offensive in April, the Taliban has killed or injured 1,158 civilians. Incidents included a car bombing in Ghazni province July 7 that killed six people and injured 170 — many of them schoolchildren — while Afghan leaders were holding a first informal meeting with Taliban officials in Qatar.

“The Taliban’s commitment to reduce violence has proven empty,” said U.S. Army Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military mission here. “The Taliban has increased the number of suicide, roadside and car bombings that have left hundreds of innocent Afghans, including scores of women and children, dead and injured.”

On the other side, the high number of casualties caused by Afghan and Afghan-allied foreign forces drew strong expressions of concern from U.N. officials and human rights groups. Leggett rejected the U.N. findings, telling news agencies that U.S. collection of evidence was “more thorough” and accurate.

But Richard Bennett, a human rights official at the U.N. Afghan mission, said that though different “parties to the conflict” may explain casualty trends differently “to justify their own military tactics,” only a determined effort on all sides to reduce “the intensity of the fighting” will reduce civilian suffering. The United Nations called for a goal of “zero” civilian casualties.

Afghan military officials do not release figures on their military casualties, and the U.S. military also does not disclose them, but various Afghan civilian officials have issued broad estimates. President Ashraf Ghani said last year that 40,000 members of the Afghan forces had been killed since he took office in 2014, and his national security adviser said recently that about 50 troops were dying daily.

A quarterly report issued this week by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction provided a detailed look at certain aspects of the recent conflict. It found that the deadliest region of the country is Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold in the south, and that between January and May, most violent incidents including Taliban attacks took place in just five of the country’s 34 provinces: Helmand, Badghis, Faryab, Herat and Farah.

One member of the Farah provincial council, Dadullah Oane, recounted previous incidents in which buses were blown up, killing and injuring many passengers. He denounced the insurgents as trying to “spread terror and panic among the people.”

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/despite-the-promise-of-peace-talks-insurgent-violence-in-afghanistan-has-worsened/2019/08/02/cf158a2c-b302-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5ba724815ccd

--------

 

At least two killed in Afghan TV bus bombing in Kabul

AUGUST 4, 2019

KABUL (Reuters) - At least two people were killed and two injured when a private bus carrying employees of an Afghan television station was bombed in Kabul on Sunday, two government officials said.

A bomb attached by magnets to a bus used by Khurshid TV blew up during the evening rush hour. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, in which the driver and a passerby were killed, said Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the interior ministry.

Samiullah Aminy, the news director with Khurshid TV, confirmed the attack and said a cameraman and an audio presenter were injured in the blast.

The Taliban, which controls part of the country, had warned in June that it would target Afghan media organisations if they did not stop broadcasting anti-Taliban advertisements. The hardline Islamist group gave Afghan radio stations, TV channels, publications and others a week to cease airing anti-Taliban announcements paid for by the government.

“We don’t broadcast anti-Taliban advertisements but it is clear that freedom of expression is under constant threat in Afghanistan,” said Aminy.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned Sunday’s attack, saying in a Twitter post, “Deliberately targeting media and civilians is a war crime and those responsible will be held accountable”.

Afghanistan was the deadliest country in the world to be a journalist in 2018, with 13 deaths, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The International Federation of Journalists said 16 journalists were killed last year.

The international media presence in Afghanistan has been sharply reduced since the withdrawal of international troops in 2014. Domestic media outlets have filled the gap but their work has become increasingly difficult.

In 2016, a Taliban suicide bomber rammed his car into a bus carrying employees of Tolo TV, the country’s largest private broadcaster, killing seven journalists.

Full report at:

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-afghanistan-attack-media/at-least-two-killed-in-afghan-tv-bus-bombing-in-kabul-idUKKCN1UU0HR?il=0

--------

 

US Military Calls ISIS in Afghanistan a Threat to the West

4 August, 2019

Senior United States military and intelligence officials are sharply divided over how much of a threat ISIS in Afghanistan poses to the West, a critical point in the Trump administration’s debate over whether American troops stay or withdraw after nearly 18 years of war.

American military commanders in Afghanistan have described ISIS affiliate there as a growing problem that is capable of inspiring and directing attacks in Western countries, including the United States.

But intelligence officials in Washington disagree, arguing the group is mostly incapable of exporting terrorism worldwide. The officials believe that ISIS in Afghanistan, known as ISIS Khorasan, remains a regional problem and is more of a threat to the Taliban than to the West.

Differences between the American military and Washington’s intelligence community over Afghanistan are almost as enduring as the war itself. The Pentagon and spy agencies have long differed over the strength of the Taliban and the effectiveness of the military’s campaign in Afghanistan.

Whether to keep counterterrorism forces in Afghanistan is at the heart of the Trump administration’s internal debate over the future of the war.

Ten current and former American and European officials who are familiar with the military and intelligence assessments of the strength of the ISIS in Afghanistan provided details of the debate to The New York Times. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss the issue and confidential assessments of the terrorism threat.

A State Department envoy is leading negotiations for a peace deal that would give the Taliban political power in Afghanistan and withdraw international troops. For months, the Trump administration has been drafting plans to cut the 14,000 American forces who are currently there by half. On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Mr. Trump had ordered a reduction in the number of troops in Afghanistan before the 2020 presidential election, but he did not specify a number.

“That’s my directive from the president of the United States,” Mr. Pompeo told the Economic Club of Washington. “He’s been unambiguous: End the endless wars. Draw down. Reduce. It won’t just be us.”

Yet at the same time, current and former officials, including the retired Army generals Jack Keane and David H. Petraeus, are lobbying the Trump administration to maintain several thousand Special Operations forces in Afghanistan. Doing so, they argue, will keep terrorist groups from returning and help prevent the collapse of the Afghan government and its security forces.

“U.S. troops in Afghanistan have prevented another catastrophic attack on our homeland for 18 years,” General Keane said in an interview. “Expecting the Taliban to provide that guarantee in the future by withdrawing all U.S. troops makes no sense.”

In Afghanistan, the threat of the ISIS is not a point of debate.

Brig. Gen. Ahmad Aziz, the commander of an Afghan Special Police Unit, said that ISIS attacks in Kabul, the capital, are becoming more advanced and that the group is growing.

During a May tour of the communications ministry in Kabul, General Aziz pointed out a neat, circular hole cut at a weak point between two walls. A month earlier, he said, ISIS gunmen had slipped through the hole and into the building to kill at least seven people.

“Their breach points are evolving,” General Aziz said, “and they’re picking targets that are more difficult for us to get to.”

Military and intelligence officials do agree that the ISIS, unlike the Taliban or other terrorist groups in Afghanistan, has focused on so-called soft targets such as civilian centers in Kabul and the city of Jalalabad.

But on the key question — whether ISIS can reach beyond the borders of Afghanistan and strike the West — the American military in Afghanistan and intelligence agencies in Washington diverge.

One senior intelligence official said the ISIS-Afghanistan branch lacks the organizational sophistication of the core group in Syria and Iraq, which had a bureaucracy dedicated to planning attacks in Europe and cultivating operatives overseas.

Ambassador Nathan A. Sales, the State Department’s counterterror coordinator, called the ISIS Khorasan “a major problem in the region.” And, he added, it poses a threat to the United States.

“What we have to do is make sure that ISIS-Khorasan, which has committed a number of attacks in the region, is not able to engage in external operations,” Mr. Sales told reporters at the State Department on Thursday.

Some analysts said it was dangerous to suggest that ISIS in Afghanistan did not have the capability to threaten the West.

“I would never rule out any of these jihadis ever threatening the West, because their ideology is inherently anti-America,” said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.

But whether the American military should remain in Afghanistan, he said, should not hinge just on the threat from ISIS or other extremists. “The war has been stagnant and poorly managed for so long,” Mr. Joscelyn said, “that it is hard to argue for the status quo.”

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1843061/us-military-calls-isis-afghanistan-threat-west

--------

 

Afghan forces kill 7 Taliban militants in Uruzgan: 205th Atal Corps

05 Aug 2019

The Afghan forces killed Taliban militants during the operations which they conducted in Uruzgan province.

The 205th Atal Corps of the Afghan National Army in a statement said the security forces conducted operation in Surkhab and Kochkin areas of Tarinkot.

The statement further added that the security forces killed 7 Taliban militants during the operations.

Furthermore, the security forces destroyed 5 weapons of the militants and two motorcycles during the same operations.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-kill-7-taliban-militants-in-uruzgan-205th-atal-corps-03558/

--------

 

Special Forces kill, detain more than 20 Taliban militants in 3 provinces

04 Aug 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed or detained more than 20 Taliban militants during the operations in three provinces.

The informed military sources said Sunday that the Special Forces killed 6 Taliban militants during an operation in Nijrab district of Kapisa.

The sources further added that the Special Forces arrested a Taliban fighter and destroyed 4 IEDs and an IED making cache during a raid in Tagab district of Kapisa.

Furthermore, the Special Forces killed 5 Taliban militants and detained 2 others during an operation in Zanakhan district of Ghazni. The Special Forces also destroyed a small weapons cache during the same raid.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-kill-detain-more-than-20-taliban-militants-in-3-provinces-03547/

--------

 

Afghan forces repulse major Taliban attack on Shamalzo district

06 Aug 2019

The Afghan security forces repulsed a major Taliban offensive on Shamalzo district in southern Zabul province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement said the Taliban militants attacked Shamalzo district on Monday night.

The statement further added that the Afghan forces quickly responded to the attack and inflicted heavy casualties on Taliban militants.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Defense said a Humvee Armored Personnel Carrier packed with explosives also went off during the clashes.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-repulse-major-taliban-attack-on-shamalzo-district-03563/

--------

 

AAF Airstrike targets Taliban vehicles in Farah leaving at least 10 dead

06 Aug 2019

The Afghan Air Force conducted an airstrike targeting the vehicles of Taliban militants in western Farah province.

The Provincial Police Headquarters of Farah in a statement said the airstriek targeted two vehicles of Taliban militants in Bakwa district.

The statement further added that the airstrike hit the two vehicles in Jawzja Village, leaving at least ten Taliban militants.

Furthermore, the Farah Police Headquarters said the vehicles were carrying militants of Mullah Sardar Ashkun, the deputy shadow governor of Taliban for Farah.

The Farah Police also added that the airstrike destroyed the two vehicles and various types of weapons and explosives.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/aaf-airstrike-targets-taliban-vehicles-in-farah-leaving-at-least-10-dead-03567/

--------

 

Special Forces kill, detain 13 Taliban militants during the operations in Wardak

06 Aug 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed 9 Taliban militants during the operations in central Wardak province.

The informed military sources said Tuesday that the Special Force killed or detained 13 Taliban militants during an operation in Nerkh district of Wardak.

The sources further added that the Special Forces also arrested 4 Taliban militants during the same operation.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-kill-detain-13-taliban-militants-during-the-operations-in-wardak-03566/

--------

 

Afghan forces repulse major Taliban attack on Shamalzo district

06 Aug 2019

The Afghan security forces repulsed a major Taliban offensive on Shamalzo district in southern Zabul province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement said the Taliban militants attacked Shamalzo district on Monday night.

The statement further added that the Afghan forces quickly responded to the attack and inflicted heavy casualties on Taliban militants.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Defense said a Humvee Armored Personnel Carrier packed with explosives also went off during the clashes.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-repulse-major-taliban-attack-on-shamalzo-district-03563/

--------

 

Arab World

 

Hajj symposium calls for coexistence and tolerance

MOHAMMED AL-KINANI

August 05, 2019

MAKKAH: The 44th annual Hajj Grand Symposium began on Monday in Makkah, with peaceful coexistence as its main theme.

Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Saleh Bentin opened the two-day gathering at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel. Welcoming the participants, who include Islamic thinkers and scholars from the Kingdom and across the Islamic world, he said that the title of this year’s event, “Islam: Coexistence and Tolerance,” reflects the desire of the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to promote a message of peace and harmony.

He highlighted the efforts made and services provided by his ministry to benefit Hajj pilgrims throughout their stay in the Kingdom. Bentin said that the king is following with great interest the experiences of pilgrims, along with the ongoing development projects in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites.

The minister noted that two million electronic visas were issued to pilgrims this year with no problems, and said the best is yet to come as improvements continue to the services and assistance offered to visitors. He added that the government is keen to do all it can to ensure the comfort and safety of pilgrims, so they can fully devote themselves to worship and Hajj rituals.

“Makkah is currently receiving a large number of pilgrims, equal to the city’s population,” Bentin said. “It is thanks to the excellent management and advanced organizational skills that we feel that they are part of the population of Makkah. More than 350,000 people came from all over the Kingdom to serve the pilgrims, and we in Saudi Arabia are proud to serve them.”

He added that with its scientific and Islamic science themes, the symposium provides a great service to Muslims, researchers and the wider world.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, adviser to the Royal Court and general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), presided over the first session of the symposium. He hailed the Kingdom’s leading humanitarian role in providing various forms of assistance to the needy in countries around the world.

“Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country whose benevolent contributions are deeply rooted in the memory of humanity. It has provided about $92.4 billion (SR347 billion) to support 84 countries in the world between 1996 and 2019,” he said.

During the second session, which was chaired by Shiekh Saad Al-Shithri, an adviser to the Royal Court, Sheikh Saleh bin Humaid, also an adviser to the Royal Court and a member of the Senior Ulema Council, and Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, discussed tolerance and coexistence from an Islamic perspective.

Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat, who is also general supervisor of the symposium, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is the land of humanity and has set an example for others to follow.

“We receive pilgrims from various nationalities and cultures, and we treat them equally,” he said “What we expect from them is that they focus on performing the Hajj rituals in a peaceful and secure environment.”

Mashat added that for Muslims to practice tolerance and coexistence fruitfully, they should start by showing acceptance for, and acting in accordance with, Islam’s moderate principles.

“The culture of tolerance begins within the person, who can then promote and spread that culture. Saudi Arabian leadership and citizens are an example that clearly and practically embodies this fact,” he added.

“We don’t only have scholars from all parts of the world (at the conference), but experts from various fields of science will also discuss coexistence and tolerance. People of the same profession, such as doctors, will discuss how a physician should be tolerant and how he coexists with others. Religious scholars also will discuss the same thing.” He added that all topics and workshops in the symposium will be based around the title theme.

On Tuesday, Mashat was scheduled to preside over a session titled “Humanity in the Digital Age.” The speakers were due to include: Dr. Noura bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi, the UAE’s minister of culture and knowledge development; Sultan Al-Rumaithi, head of the Muslim Council of Elders in the UAE; Arwa Arab, assistant professor at King Abdul Aziz University’s department of psychology; and Dr. Ahmed Al-Thenayan, the Saudi deputy minister for technology and digital capacities.

Dr. Abdul Aziz Wazzan, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Umrah Affairs and supervisor of the symposium’s executive committee, said: “The ministry aspires to achieve many goals through this Hajj symposium, including highlighting the cultural and civilizational role of the Kingdom, promoting scientific and cultural communication between Islamic scholars from around the world, focusing on the most important achievements and projects serving Muslims in the Two Holy Mosques and the holy sites, and contributing to strengthening the bonds and cooperation of the Islamic nation.”

The first Hajj Grand Symposium was held in 1977 under the title “Awareness on Hajj.” Each year it focuses on different topics related to the Hajj season and Islamic values, in a bid to promote awareness of Islam.

This year, the ministry has arranged special trips for guests to explore historic areas and exhibitions in Makkah and Madinah, as well as attending the symposium’s activities.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1536071/saudi-arabia

--------

 

ISIS, Eyeing Europe, Could Launch Attacks This Year, U.N. Warns

By Nick Cumming-Bruce

Aug 3, 2019

GENEVA — Less than five months after the military defeat of the Islamic State in Syria, a United Nations report is warning that the group’s leaders could launch international terrorist attacks before the end of the year, including those intended to “exacerbate existing dissent and unrest” in European nations.

In a bleak assessment of the global spread of jihadist movements, a report by United Nations analysts on the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee said that Islamic State leaders, despite their military defeat in Syria and Iraq, are “adapting, consolidating and creating conditions for an eventual resurgence” in those countries.

The group, though hobbled by a lack of financing, is also exploring ways to “reinvest in the capacity to direct and facilitate complex international attacks,” the July report said.

“The current abatement of such attacks, therefore, may not last long, possibly not even until the end of 2019,” the analysts added. Their report was based on the intelligence assessments of United Nations member states.

Islamic State leaders, the analysts found, were monitoring political developments in Western European nations and considering attacks that would inflame domestic divisions. Though its planning capabilities are limited now, the group has carried out reconnaissance of potential targets and has positioned explosives.

President Trump confidently predicted the group’s elimination when United States and allied forces took Baghuz, Syria, the last stronghold of the Islamic State’s caliphate, in late March. The report’s authors, though, say the group still has many fighters in Iraq and Syria who are able to move freely and carry out attacks.

Some 30,000 Islamic State foreign fighters and dependents may have survived the conflict and “will be of international concern for the foreseeable future,” the analysts said. “Some may join Al Qaeda or other terrorist brands that may emerge.”

European governments have estimated that around 5,000 to 6,000 of their citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join extremist movements, most of them signing up with the Islamic State. While many were killed or detained, up to 40 percent are unaccounted for.

The radicalization of people held inside Europe’s prisons “remains a critical concern,” the report said, noting the first wave of returnees who had been jailed were expected to be released in the coming year.

Central Asian states said returning fighters were a worry, but they also cited concerns over terrorist threats in Afghanistan. The Trump administration is pushing forward with negotiations with the Taliban and has seemed eager to withdraw thousands of American troops.

The Islamic State affiliate there has suffered military setbacks and has failed in its efforts to expand its influence across southeastern Afghanistan, the report said. Still, regional states estimated it had between 2,500 and 4,000 fighters and a “robust capability” to raise money.

Turning to Al Qaeda, the report said the movement “remains resilient” despite reports this past week of the death of Hamza bin Laden, who had been groomed by his father to take over its leadership. Its affiliates were stronger than those of the Islamic State across north-central and West Africa.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/03/world/middleeast/islamic-state-attacks-europe.html

--------

 

Blast Kills 31 Regime Fighters at Syria Airbase: Monitor

August 3, 2019

BEIRUT - A munitions blast killed 31 regime and allied fighters at a military airport in central Syria on Saturday, a war monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain and relies on a network of sources on the ground, said it was unclear what had caused the deadly explosion at the Shayrat airbase in Homs province.

But state news agency SANA reported that a "technical fault during the transport of expired ammunition" had killed an unspecified number of victims.

The Shayrat airbase is one of the regime's most significant installations in the centre of the country.

Iranian fighters – who support the regime in Syria's ongoing civil war – are based there, according to the Observatory.

In 2017, US air strikes hit the base in response to a suspected sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in northwest Syria that killed more than 80 people.

According to the Pentagon, US intelligence had established that the base was the launchpad for the alleged chemical attack.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/blast-kills-31-regime-fighters-syria-airbase-monitor

--------

 

6 IS militants killed in airstrike in northern Iraq

2019-08-05

BAGHDAD, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- A total of six Islamic State (IS) militants were killed on Sunday in an airstrike by U.S.-led coalition in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, the Iraqi military said.

Acting on intelligence reports provided by Nineveh's Operations Command, an Iraqi army force tracked a group of IS militants and surrounded them outside an abandoned village near the town of Makhmour, some 70 km southeast of Mosul, the media office of the Joint Operations Command said in a brief statement.

The troops coordinated with the international coalition aircraft and conducted an airstrike on the spot, leaving six militant killed, the statement said.

Afterwards, the troops searched the bombed site and found the six bodies with four assault rifles, the statement added.

The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-08/05/c_138283522.htm

--------

 

Kuwait extradites accused Muslim Brotherhood cell to Egypt

Ahmed Gomaa

August 4, 2019

CAIRO — Deputy Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah announced that Kuwait handed over to Egypt members of a Muslim Brotherhood cell who were arrested July 12.

Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported July 14 that Jarallah said, “In accordance with joint agreements between the two countries, the Egyptian authorities were handed over those wanted by the Egyptian judiciary.” He deplored their presence in the Kuwaiti territories.

On July 12, Kuwait's Interior Ministry had announced the arrest of a Brotherhood-linked cell and the sentencing of its members to up to 15 years of prison, saying that they “hid from the Egyptian security services by moving to Kuwait.”

The ministry’s statement went on, “After subjecting them to a preliminary investigation, they confessed to having carried out terrorist attacks and security breaches in Egyptian territory.” The ministry underscored its zero tolerance for collaboration or involvement with terror cells or other organizations that threaten Egypt's security.

Security sources revealed to Kuwait’s al-Rai newspaper July 14 that the Egyptian authorities shared with their Kuwaiti counterparts information about the presence of wanted individuals in Kuwaiti territory and requested their extradition. Kuwait’s National Security Bureau conducted surveillance before apprehending them.

Al-Rai reported July 14 that the members of the cell took part in acts of vandalism after the the Rabia al-Adawiya protests were dispersed, and were an important part of the funding sources for the Egyptian Brotherhood, which Egypt labels as terrorist group.

The security sources explained that the eight detainees had been residing in Kuwait, saying, “Their names were mentioned during the Egyptian authorities’ investigations into individuals involved in terrorist attacks years ago. They had admitted to having partners in [the Brotherhood] with whom they have political, organizational and financial ties.”

Speaking to Al-Monitor over the phone, Khaled Okasha, a member of the Supreme Council for Combating Terrorism and Extremism, called the extradition “good cooperation between Egypt and Kuwait and an effort to tighten control over those Brotherhood members who are involved in acts of violence and terrorism.”

Okasha noted, “It is a sign that the Brotherhood cells and organizations involved in terrorist acts will be prosecuted even when they take another country as a safe haven,” he added. “The Egyptian authorities are able to act with the utmost professionalism. They submitted a dossier full of evidence that the cell is involved in acts of violence, despite the claims voiced by political opposition.”

Human Rights Watch denounced the extradition July 15.

Kuwaiti diplomatic sources told the press July 17 that the cell’s members were deported because of a judicial ruling issued against them in Egypt and not because they oppose the Egyptian government.

Okasha explained, “The Kuwaiti authorities did not take this step with the goal of pleasing their Egyptian counterparts. They made it clear that the evidence was thoroughly examined and this cell was investigated in Kuwait. [The members] admitted and spoke in detail about their involvement in terrorist acts in Egypt. [Their confession] indicates that the security services in the two countries are being serious and professional.”

KUNA quoted Jarallah as saying, “There is much cooperation and coordination at the security level between Egypt and Kuwait and we are satisfied with it. Such cooperation with our brethren in Egypt will continue and we share the view that one country’s security is an integral part of the second country’s security.”

Kuwaiti-Egyptian relations have always been considered strong.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Sameh Eid, a researcher on Islamic movements, estimated the number of Brotherhood members that fled Egypt following the 2013 revolution at around 50,000. Some of them took up residence in the Arab Gulf countries, including Kuwait. He explained that although Kuwait is not among the countries that have labeled the Brotherhood as a terrorist group, there is security cooperation between Kuwait and Egypt.

Eid said, “Perhaps there is a change in the way Kuwait is dealing with the Brotherhood members present in its territories and this is a warning from the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry to the rest of these members against engaging in any activities there.”

The hashtag #minou al-kafeel, Arabic for "who is the sponsor," trended on Twitter in Kuwait July 17 as activists demanded that the authorities identify the individuals and entities that facilitated the Brotherhood cell’s entry into their country.

Asked about the Kuwaiti government possibly classifying the Brotherhood as a terrorist group, Jarallah said that Kuwait is not inclined to take such a step at present.

Kuwait’s al-Qabas reported July 14 that nearly 300 Egyptians affiliated with the Brotherhood have left Kuwait for Turkey, Australia, the United Kingdom and other Arab countries for fear of persecution in Egypt.

Full report at:

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/07/kuwait-deportation-wanted-brotherhood-by-egypt-judiciary.html

--------

 

Several Chinese, Belgian Terrorists Killed by Unknown Gunmen in Northern Syria

Aug 05, 2019

The Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik news agency quoted local sources in Idlib province as saying that the unidentified gunmen attacked the headquarters of Ansar al-Tawhid terrorist group on al-Moshirefeh road in Southern Idlib, killing 12 Belgian and Chinese special sources who were highly-skilled.

The sources also said that during the attack by unidentified assailants on a military position of Horaseddin terrorist group in Kharbeh al-Naqous town in Sahl al-Ghab region in Northwestern Hama two other foreign terrorists were killed.

They noted that the terrorists are in a state of panic and stood on alert ever since the incident.

In a relevant development in December 2018, a foreign terrorist commander was assassinated by unknown assailants in Northwestern Syria, marking the fourth case in the last ten days.

According to opposition activists in the Idlib province, Leader of Kataeb Ansar Al-Tawhid “Abu Bakr Al-Tunisi” was assassinated in the town of Iblin in Idlib province, massdar news reported.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980514000639

--------

 

Syria Kurds warn of Turkish attack despite US mediation

5 August 2019

A top Kurdish political official in northeast Syria warned on Monday neighboring Turkey would attack at the first chance it got, despite US efforts to prevent a cross-border incursion.

On Sunday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was running out of patience with floundering US efforts to set up a buffer zone along its southern border.

“Erdogan is serious and will embark on an attack at the first opportunity” against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria, Aldar Khalil told AFP.

“If Turkey is not deterred and a consensus is not reached for an international decision to prevent it, it will definitely be on the offensive,” the Kurdish official said.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have been a key US ally in the fight against ISIS extremist group in Syria’s northeast, where the Kurds maintain an autonomous administration.

But Ankara views them as a “terrorist” offshoot of the Kurdish PKK, which has fought a bloody separatist insurgency inside Turkey for the past 35 years.

As the fight against ISIS winds down in northeastern Syria, the prospect of a US military withdrawal has sparked Kurdish fears of a long threatened Turkish attack.

To alleviate these fears, Washington earlier this year proposed setting up a 30-kilometre (18-mile) “safe zone” on the Syrian side of the border.

The Turks have offered to implement such a buffer zone, but the Kurds have rejected any Turkish involvement.

Last-ditch talks between the US and Turkey on the issue are due to continue on Tuesday, after two days without reaching consensus.

On Monday, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the United States should end its partnership with the YPG altogether.

Khalil said the talks were dragging on because the Americans are trying “to strike a balance... and find a compromise formula.”

He said the Kurds were “flexible” on the issue and had agreed to a buffer zone of around five kilometers wide, but Turkey refused the proposal.

Washington could stop any “attack with a single word... but it seems they don’t want to pressure Turkey more than needed,” he alleged.

Turkish media has regularly shown images in recent weeks of military convoys heading for the border area, carrying equipment and fighting units.

Turkey has twice carried out unilateral offensives into northern Syria against ISIS group and the YPG, in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

Last year, Turkish troops and their Syrian proxies overran the northwestern enclave of Afrin after months of heavy bombardment.

But Khalil said he hoped any attack on Kurdish-held areas east of the Euphrates would not resemble the blitz on Afrin.

“Turkey would find difficulties in moving its planes around in the same airspace as American aircraft,” he said.

In March, YPG-led forces backed by air strikes by a US-led coalition expelled ISIS from its last scrap of territory in eastern Syria, but sleeper cells continue to claim deadly attacks across the country.

Nicholas Heras, an analyst for the Center for a New American Security, said the Americans were considering the possibility of joint patrols of any such “safe zone.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/06/Syria-Kurds-warn-of-Turkish-attack-despite-US-mediation.html

--------

 

Cairo explosion with 20 dead involved a car bomb

5 August 2019

Egypt’s Interior Ministry says the multiple-car crash on a Cairo street in front of the country’s main cancer hospital that killed at least 20 people involved a car bomb.

Monday’s statement by the ministry says a militant group, known as Hasm, with links with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, was driving the car with the bomb late on Sunday down the Corniche, intending to carry out a militant attack elsewhere in the country when the crash set off the bomb and the explosion took place.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called the explosion a “terrorist attack.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/05/Cairo-explosion-with-20-dead-involved-a-car-bomb.html

--------

 

Doha regime condemned over Qatari bank’s funding of Islamists

August 05, 2019

JEDDAH: The funding of Islamist groups in the UK by a Qatar-owned bank is further evidence of Doha’s  malign activities, analysts told Arab News on Monday.

Details emerged on Monday of the activities of Al Rayan Bank, which has its headquarters in Birmingham in central England. Among its account holders are organizations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, a charity banned in the US as a terrorist entity, groups that promote hard-line preachers, and a mosque whose trustee is a Hamas leader, the UK newspaper The Times reported.

Four of Al Rayan’s customers, a mosque and three charities, have had accounts closed by major banks including HSBC and Barclays because of their activities.

The Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a trade, travel and diplomatic boycott in June 2017, in response to Qatar’s support and funding of terrorism.

The exposure of the bank’s Islamist links are the latest blow to the credibility of Qatar’s denials that it supports terror. Last month a recording of a phone conversation between a Qatari businessman and the country’s ambassador to Somalia exposed Doha’s use of Al-Shabab militants to attack UAE assets in Somalia. Also in July, Italian police found a Qatar-made missile in a raid on the home of a neo-Nazi.

Al Rayan’s activities “confirm what political analysts and money-trail experts already knew,” Saudi political analyst Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“Qatar has always funded militias and rogue elements. This was one of the main reasons for the boycott of Doha.

“These militias wreaking havoc in the region are financed by Qatar. Yes, they get logistical and ideological support from Iran, but the money comes from Qatar.”

Sir John Jenkins, a former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia and an Arab News columnist, accused Qatar of “systematically promoting Islamist causes.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1535621/middle-east

--------

 

Syria army to resume military operations in Idlib

August 05, 2019

AMMAN: The Syrian army said Monday it was resuming military operations in a Russian-led campaign in northwest Syria that has uprooted tens of thousands and killed hundreds, blaming Turkey for not abiding by its commitments under a truce deal.

Syrian state media said Thursday the ceasefire would depend on militants fulfilling a Russian-Turkish deal that tried last year to create an Idlib buffer zone.

"The agreement to a truce was conditional. This did not happen. We resume our military operations against terrorist organisations," said the army statement.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1535896/middle-east

--------

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/india-to-allow-hindu-settlers-to-buy-property-in-muslim-majority-kashmir-for-first-time,-sparking-massive-protests/d/119401

 

New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism





TOTAL COMMENTS:-    


Compose Your Comments here:
Name
Email (Not to be published)
Comments
Fill the text
 
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the articles and comments are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of NewAgeIslam.com.

Content