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Islamic World News (18 Sep 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Saudi Prince in Exile Launches Opposition Movement, Calls For Constitutional Monarchy







Saudi Prince in Exile Launches Opposition Movement, Calls For Constitutional Monarchy

Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi Urges Followers to Continue Attacks, Storm Prisons in Purported New Recording Released by the Group’s Al-Furqan Media Wing

Ayodhya Case: Muslim Parties' Lawyer, Arguing Before SC Bench, Says Images of Lions, Birds, Flowers on Structure Do Not Make It ‘Unquranic’

Had Dara Shikoh Ruled India in place of Aurangzeb, Islam Would Have Flourished In the Country: RSS Joint Secratary

Pakistan Temple Attack: Muslim Locals Offer Support to Hindus

Taliban Attacks Kill 48, Close Shave for Afghan Prez as Bomber Targets Rally

Saudi, Allies Must Pay the Price For Spilling Yemenis' Blood: Ansarullah

Ban On Malaysian Muslims and Non-Muslims Praying Together Will 'Polarise' Nation

Governor-General David Hurley Defends Role of Islam, Champions Importance of Faith in People’s Lives

US Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Leaves For Emergency Visit of Leading Islamic Country

A Coalition of Human Rights and Muslim Organizations Ask Gates Foundation to Rescind Honor to Indian Prime Minister

 

Arab World

Saudi Prince in Exile Launches Opposition Movement, Calls For Constitutional Monarchy

Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi Urges Followers to Continue Attacks, Storm Prisons in Purported New Recording Released by the Group’s Al-Furqan Media Wing

Saudi Islam Minister Orders Preachers to Rail against 'Iran' Oil Attacks During Friday Sermons

Chaldean priest: Mosul focused on work and reconstruction, not al-Baghdadi’s messages

Saudi Arabia 'secretly' sells Istanbul consulate where Khashoggi was murdered

Isolated Among Extremists: Conditions Deteriorate for Children of Islamic State

Iraqi troops destroy four Islamic State terrorist hotbeds in Diyala

Abdul Mahdi to NATO Chief: Iraq Seeks Balanced Foreign Policy

Arab Parliament Calls for Protecting Yemeni MPs from Houthi Violations

Yemeni Source Warns of Expanding Attacks to UAE Oil Facilities

Senior MP: Saudi Allegations against Iraq Aimed at Pressuring Hashd Al-Shaabi

Air strikes kill 10 pro-Iran fighters in east Syria: Monitor

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India

Ayodhya Case: Muslim Parties' Lawyer, Arguing Before SC Bench, Says Images of Lions, Birds, Flowers on Structure Do Not Make It ‘Unquranic’

Had Dara Shikoh Ruled India in place of Aurangzeb, Islam Would Have Flourished In the Country: RSS Joint Secratary

Indo-Pak tension defused to great extent: Trump

Historians’ report on Babri mosque mere ‘opinion’: SC

Attack on Saudi facilities sets oil on fire in India

India rebuts Mahathir Mohamad's claim on Zakir Naik extradition

Supreme Court seeks date for end of Ayodhya arguments

Kashmir may not be ‘major topic’ during Modi-Xi meet: Chinese foreign ministry

Release detained leaders, stop creating space for terrorists in J&K: Rahul to Centre

J&K: Pakistan violates ceasefire along IB in Samba

I am not a foreigner, Farooq Abdullah is not a terrorist: CPI(M) leader Tarigami on detention

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Pakistan

Pakistan Temple Attack: Muslim Locals Offer Support to Hindus

Space Diplomacy Route to Indo-Pak Peace: Pak Astronaut

There have been human rights violations in Balochistan: Pakistani journalist

Nawaz-Shahbaz long meeting fuels speculations

PTI govt incompetent, illegal, says Fazl

Parliaments across globe now discussing Kashmir: FM

PM Imran offers full support to Saudi Arabia after attack on oil facilities

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South Asia

Taliban Attacks Kill 48, Close Shave for Afghan Prez as Bomber Targets Rally

Taliban Kill At Least 26 in Blast Near Afghan Presidential Rally

Airstrikes kill more than 20 Taliban and ISIS militants in 4 provinces

Taliban supplies al Qaeda with explosives for attacks in major Afghan cities

UN adopts Afghan resolution without China's 'Belt and Road'

Bangladesh, growing tired of hosting Rohingya refugees, puts new squeeze on the teeming camps

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Mideast

Saudi, Allies Must Pay the Price For Spilling Yemenis' Blood: Ansarullah

Netanyahu Refuses to Concede as Gantz Leads in Israel’s General Election

Turkey says three million could return to safe zone in Syria

Top Houthi rebel commander killed in southern Yemen

Netanyahu, rightist allies appear to fall short of majority in Israel polls

Iran’s leader Khamenei says US policy of maximum pressure will fail

Saudi Arabia joins US naval mission in Middle East amid tensions with Iran

10 pro-Iranian militiamen killed in eastern Syria

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Southeast Asia

Ban On Malaysian Muslims and Non-Muslims Praying Together Will 'Polarise' Nation

Sarawak Gifts Non-Muslim Religious Institutions RM16.4m

PAS Leader Warns DAP Against Pursuing 'Christianisation Agenda'

Manila calls for collective efforts to combat terrorism

Thai PM defends police monitoring of Muslim students

Non-Muslims no problem with our alliance with PAS, says Sabah Umno

China condemns attacks on Saudi oil facilities

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Europe

Governor-General David Hurley Defends Role of Islam, Champions Importance of Faith in People’s Lives

Russia to discuss selling new anti-drone weapons to Middle East partners

Britain, Germany agree on need for international response to Saudi attacks

Britain continues to aid Saudi war effort in Yemen

Dutch court starts hearing in war crime case against Israel’s Gantz

Return to JCPOA only way to de-escalate tensions in Middle East: Merkel

2,800 Turks applied for Swiss asylum since coup bid

UK urges collective response to Saudi Aramco attacks

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North America

US Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Leaves For Emergency Visit of Leading Islamic Country

A Coalition of Human Rights and Muslim Organizations Ask Gates Foundation to Rescind Honor to Indian Prime Minister

Prosecutors Disclose Taped Confession in 9/11 Case

Brad Pitt Calls International Space Station: ‘Did You Spot Indian Moon Lander?’

10K anti-Muslim incidents in US since 2014: report

Pompeo condemns Taliban attacks in Afghanistan that kill nearly 50 people

Donald Trump, shifting tone, plays down talk of war with Iran

US eyes UN action over Saudi Aramco blasts

Trump lacks power to use US military for S Arabia's interests: Gabbard

US lawmakers seek de-escalation in Kashmir row

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Africa

Jordan Says 153,000 Syrians Returned Home Since Last October

Jordan King Says Israeli Annexation Would Be A Disaster

US airstrike in Somalia kills 2 al-Shabaab militants

Two insurgents killed in US strike on al-Shabaab in Somalia

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/saudi-prince-in-exile-launches-opposition-movement,-calls-for-constitutional-monarchy/d/119775

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Saudi prince in exile launches opposition movement, calls for constitutional monarchy

Sep 17, 2019

A Saudi prince living in exile in Germany has launched an opposition movement in a bid to change the ruling regime, establish a constitutional monarchy and cease human rights abuses in the repressive country.

“Over the past three years, the Saudi monarch (King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud) has turned into a sacred cow, who commands obedience,” Prince Khaled bin Farhan Al Saud, who escaped Saudi Arabia himself over a decade ago, said in a video posted on YouTube on Monday evening as he announced the formation of the opposition group, dubbed “the Freedom Movement of the Sons of the Arabian Peninsula,” Arabic-language al-Khaleej Online news website reported.

“The regime of King Salman hastened to work on the collapse of the kingdom when it...appointed Mohammed bin Salman as the crown Prince,” the 41-year-old dissident Saudi prince added.

He highlighted that the Saudi monarch and his son have seriously damaged the country’s prestige and reputation at international, Muslim and Arab levels, arguing that they both have sought “to change the status quo of the Two Holy Mosques for worse and to the benefit of others.”

Prince Khaled went on to say that Saudi Arabia, during the reign of King Salman and his crown prince, has become a vassal state to Zionist dwarfs, arguing that the Saudi ruler is “wasting state resources uncontrollably, and in a provocative way.”

 He then pointed to the “increasing dictatorship of the Saudi political system,” stating that the ruling Riyadh regime has “tortured dissidents by all the means that are prohibited by the international law.”

“Bin Salman assaulted his cousins, put them behind bars, discredited them and prevented members of the ruling family – the House of Saud – from traveling. Mohammed bin Salman attacked leading businessmen in the kingdom, prompting the flight of capital,” Prince Khaled said.

He added that the Saudi crown prince was behind the increase of arms purchases by the kingdom over the past three years, equal to more than 112% or about one third of the country’s general budget, noting that “serious military failures in the era of Mohammed bin Salman are not commensurate with the volume of military expenditures.”

Defeat in Yemen

Elsewhere in his remarks, Prince Khaled pointed to Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against its impoverished southern neighbor, saying, “The main reason for the defeat in Yemen is because the military doctrine of the army does not accept the legitimacy of this war.”

He said the Saudi crown prince has “placed the kingdom under a real and serious security threat by invading Yemen unjustly.”

The exiled Saudi prince concluded that his movement will strive to “establish a constitutional monarchy in Saudi Arabia, organize elections to appoint a prime minister and a government, dislodge current officials and fight against human rights violations and injustice in the country.”

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/17/606447/Saudi-prince-in-exile-launches-opposition-movement-calls-for-constitutional-monarchy

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Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi Urges Followers to Continue Attacks, Storm Prisons in Purported New Recording Released by the Group’s Al-Furqan Media Wing

By Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim

September 17, 2019

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State released an audio recording Monday that purportedly features its fugitive leader exhorting followers to carry out attacks where they can, striking security forces and storming prisons and camps where the militant group’s adherents now languish.

In the half-hour recording, released by the group’s al-Furqan media wing, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi praised what he described as “daily operations” across “different fronts” spanning the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The provenance of the recording is not known, though its authenticity was not immediately questioned.

Since losing control of its self-proclaimed caliphate, which spanned parts of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State has slipped back to its guerrilla roots: Sleeper cells lie low and strike when they can. Crude bombs target security forces. Places of worship are singled out for mass-casualty attacks.

Baghdadi is one of the world’s most wanted men, having eluded a global coalition of states for more than five years and inspiring attacks around the globe. The United States is offering $25 million for credible information about his whereabouts.

In the audio recording, Baghdadi urged supporters to “teach” Muslims about the Islamic State’s struggle and not to forget the followers who held out until the caliphate’s final weeks, before U.S.-backed forces trucked them to detention facilities and displacement camps.

“As for the worst and most important matter — the prisons, the prisons, oh soldiers of the caliphate,” Baghdadi said. “Your brothers and sisters, do your utmost to free them and tear down the walls restricting them.”

Tens of thousands of foreigners traveled to Iraq and Syria at the caliphate’s height, featuring prominently in the group’s propaganda as international fighters rolled into its territory. Thousands of the men are now in the custody of Iraqi authorities or U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria.

Tens of thousands more Syrian, Iraqi and third-country nationals are also penned into Syria’s sprawling northeastern displacement camp of al-Hol.

“Do not hesitate to pay ransom if you cannot free them by force, and attack their butchers,” Baghdadi said.

That focus on captives was consistent with the Islamic State’s long-standing attempts to cast itself as a protector of oppressed Sunni Muslims, experts said.

“Releasing prisoners has always been a focus of ISIS throughout its history, for two reasons,” said Hassan Hassan, an expert on the group at the Washington-based Center for Global Policy. “One is that these are loyal and die-hard fighters. Another is to emphasize how the group will care about its members even when they’re captured, and that it won’t abandon them.”

In Iraq, prison conditions are deteriorating after facilities were flooded by more than 17,000 men and women charged with terrorism offenses, according to judicial records.

Hundreds have been sentenced to death.

Camps such as al-Hol in Syria have also become a cauldron of anger and frustration. Aid workers and security officials say that the camp’s most radical elements are policing the behavior of others there, punishing women who break the group’s strict social code and attacking security guards on patrol.

On Monday, the International Rescue Committee described child mortality rates there as “staggering,” saying that at least 339 children had died there since December. Many are under 5 and had known no life outside the Islamic State.

Speeches by Baghdadi have been rare for most of the Islamic State’s five-year existence. A video released in April provided the first visual proof in years that the group’s “caliph” was alive, after repeated rumors that he had been wounded or killed by U.S. airstrikes.

Although the group no longer has the revenue or power that came with a sweeping self-declared state, it now counts on dozens of smaller franchises to continue its legacy. On Monday’s recording, Baghdadi listed them: “From [Afghanistan] to Iraq to Yemen, to Somalia to western and central Africa, eastern Asia, northern Africa,” he said. “Sacrifice your lives if you have to.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/baghdadi-urges-followers-to-continue-attacks-storm-prisons-in-purported-new-recording/2019/09/16/85bdc69a-d8ab-11e9-adff-79254db7f766_story.html?noredirect=on

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Ayodhya case: Muslim parties' lawyer, arguing before SC bench, says images of lions, birds, flowers on structure do not make it ‘unquranic’

Sep 17, 2019

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday posed certain searching queries to the Muslim parties about the images of lions, birds and flowers found on the now-demolished structure at the disputed Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri masjid site, seeking to know whether such pictures are found in mosques.

The Muslim parties said there were no images of God found in any mosque but just because "some flowers and some pictures" have been found, it cannot be said that the site was 'unquranic' and against the Islamic beliefs.

They told the five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, that a few pictures of lions, a bird on the 'Singhdwar' (gate) and some flowery images found on 'kasauti pillars' of the structure do not help the Hindu side in establishing that there was a temple instead of a mosque.

"This (the picture of two lions and one bird taken in 1950) is on the 'singhdwar'. It has two lions and one 'garuda', the bench said, adding that it wanted to see a "better picture".

"There cannot be images of flowers, animals in a mosque. Mr Dhavan, can you make a small note and give us the images of mosques," said the bench, also comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, on the 25th day of hearing in the case.

Dhavan, who was arguing on eighth day on behalf of Sunni Waqf Board and others including original litigant M Siddiq, told the bench that the reliance on these pictures by Hindu parties "does not prove anything". "Moreover, we were not called upon to answer this question in the High Court and the point was that there was "no direct evidence of any image of a god there", he said.

Nothing had come out of it (pictures of lions and a bird) as some Muslim witnesses had said it was "emblem of Nawab", while some Hindus said that they indicated towards the existence of temple. On the lotus symbol, found on the kasauti pillars, the senior lawyer said that they did not make the structure a temple or part of a temple and moreover, such flowery images were also part of Islamic art the world over.

Dhavan questioned the submissions of Hindu parties on 14 'kasauti' pillars and various images found on them and said, "Some (witnesses) said that these pillars were lying there, some said that they came from Nepal and some said they came from nearby mining area and few others said that they came from Sri Lanka.

"On kasauti pillars, there was no direct evidence of any image of God or Goddess on them. This is what I have argued. They (Hindus) will have to show some images of God on them...there was a suggestion that as there were images of lotus, so it was a temple."

Referring to the High Court verdict, he said that there was no such findings in the judgement and referred to Qutab Minar and said that there are temple inscriptions on it. "The question is that whether such images are there in any mosque," Justice Bobde asked. "If a 'Sultan' or 'Nabab' or a King gave an "un-Islamic" or "Unquranic" edict, the structure does not become "un-Islamic", Dhavan said, adding that there were no images on the west wall of structure and Muslims pray with their face towards west.

Justice Chandrachud said the presence of such images on the site could be because of the "cultural assimilation" and the religions, which came from outside, adopted some features of Indic faiths also.

Dhavan agreed with the observations and said the purpose of showing these images by Hindus was to prove that this mosque was not a mosque at all. Justice Bobde then asked, "Has any witness said that this (pictures) was because of any cultural assimilation". Dhavan replied in negative.

He assailed the HC verdict saying that it did not consider a report of four famous historians, including Irfan Habib, on the existence of Ram temple at Ayodhya on the site of Babri mosque.

The report had stated that the site where Babri Masjid stood could not have been the birthplace of Lord Ram, he said, adding that it was not considered because one of the historians, D N Jha, did not sign it. "Who asked them to give the report," the bench asked, adding, "at the highest", the report could be considered as an opinion.

Dhavan said that according to the report the belief that temple was destroyed gained ground for the first time in 19th century. This report was filed in response to the version given by the 'Vishwa Hindu Parishad', the bench said, adding that "this is not the opinion of the historians based on the archeological excavations and the report".

Moreover, it said the historians were not cross-examined during the hearing.

At the outset, Dhavan referred to the u-turn made by the Shia Wakf Board and referred to the earlier statement made by one Prince Anjum Khadar in which he had said that the land belonged to 'Allah" and there was a mosque in existence.

He said here Shias have said they have no objection if the land is given to Hindus for constructing temple. He also referred to the testimonies of Hindu witnesses including one TP Verma to buttress the case.

The advancing of arguments remained will resume on Wednesday.

The Allahabad High Court, in its judgment of 2010 on four civil lawsuits, had partitioned the 2.77-acre disputed land equally among Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. Fourteen appeals have been filed in the Supreme Court against the verdict.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/ayodhya-case-muslim-parties-lawyer-arguing-before-sc-bench-says-images-of-lions-birds-flowers-on-structure-do-not-make-it-unquranic-7357941.html

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Had Dara Shikoh Ruled India in place of Aurangzeb, Islam Would Have Flourished In the Country: RSS Joint Secratary

Sep 12, 2019

New Delhi: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) joint general secretary Dr Krishna Gopal has said that if Dara Shikoh had ruled India in place of Aurangzeb then Islam would have flourished in the country and Hindus would have also understood Islam better.

Calling Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, an epitome of Indianness, the senior RSS functionary said that he was a 'real Hindustani' who never compromised with Islam and always tried to unite the society.

Gopal gave this statement while speaking at a symposium on 'Dara Shikoh: A hero of the Indian syncretist traditions'.

He further urged the Muslim community to follow Dara Shikoh's legacy rather complaining that there was an atmosphere of fear in the country.

"Dara was a prince, who translated Upnishads into Persian. He discussed and debated it with intellectuals. He knew the God was only one and there were different faiths to find him. Dara was never divisive. He understood the assimilative power of society and tried to establish compatibility while remaining a true Muslim," news agency ANI quoted Gopal as saying.

Gopal further said Shah Jahan knew about Shikoh’s capability and prepared ground for his succession. However, his only mistake was that he translated Upanishads to Persian, which was unacceptable to the fundamentalists.

Gopal also said that Dara Shikoh was a man of the Indian syncretist tradition who posed a direct threat to Aurangzeb who saw him as a threat to Islam.

Rejecting the statement that Muslims in India are living in an atmosphere of fear, the senior RSS functionary said that there are around 50,000 Parsis, some 45 lakh Jains and some 80 lakh followers of Buddhism who never said they are in fear then why do Muslims, who are around 16-17 crore, say they are living in an atmosphere of fear.

“They are in fear despite ruling the country for 600 years. Why don't you come out from this fear?” he said.

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who was also present at the event hailed Dara Shikoh as an identity of nationalism adding that he was a victim of the brutality of fanatics who were directly influenced by Aurangzeb's thinking.

Shah Jahan had designated Dara with the title Padshahzada-i-Buzurg Martaba (Prince of High Rank) and wanted to anoint him as his successor. However, in the war of succession which started after Shah Jahan's illness, Dara was defeated by his younger brother Aurangzeb and was executed in 1659 after being declared a threat to the public peace apart from being called a “heretic”.

https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/if-dara-shikoh-had-ruled-india-then-islam-would-have-flourished-in-the-country-rss-leader-krishna-gopal/487244

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Pakistan temple attack: Muslim locals offer support to Hindus

September 17, 2019

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad: A show of interfaith harmony was seen in Ghotki on Tuesday when hundreds of locals, mostly Muslims, took to the streets to express solidarity with the Hindu community.

The rally was organised after a mob vandalised a temple and a school run by a Hindu principal, who was accused of committing blasphemy and is in police custody.

The Muslim population of the town, mostly youths, spent Sunday night inside the temple to thwart any further attacks on the Hindu community taking refuge there.

They are still protecting the place of worship from extremists, who in the name of blasphemy are bent on damaging Hindu property.

The rare show of solidarity has also prompted many Pakistani celebrities and members of civil society to share pictures of the Muslims serving and standing with the Hindus inside the temple and expressing solidarity with them.

Abdullah Dayo, Secretary General of Pakistan Youth Forum and a Sindhi peace activist, posted pictures of the rally on Twitter, saying, “Ghotki will never let us down. Today, hundreds of citizens from different walks of life marched in the streets to show their solidarity with the Hindu community by holding white flags. They condemned the acts of harming the holy places of Hindus and demanded their arrest.”

Noted human rights activist of Sindh, Kapil Dev, has also termed the Muslim population’s show of solidarity with the Hindus a ray of hope in the prevailing darkness. This is what Sindh is all about, peace, love and respect for humanity, he said while talking to Gulf News here Tuesday referring to Ghotki Muslims’ gesture of humanity and love for their Hindu brothers and sisters.

“People of Ghokti are giving a hope to their Hindu fellows of the town that they are with them in this time of bigotry and hate. They are peace marchers standing with original inhabitants of Sindh. Kudos,” he said.

Posting two pictures side by side on his Twitter account, Kapil said in a picture 100 of mobsters could be seen vandalising a temple while in the other picture 100 of ‘peace activists’ could be seen guarding the temple.

What happened in Ghotki?

Members of the Muslim community of Ghotki on Saturday protested after a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against a principal — who is from the Hindu community — of the Sindh Public School.

The complainant Abdul Aziz Rajput, father of a student, had claimed that the principal had committed blasphemy. The FIR was lodged under Article 295(c) — that pertains to “derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)” — of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Residents of the area in fury over the alleged blasphemy ran amok and using sticks, stones, batons and clubs vandalised a Hindu temple and damaged sacred items and pictures there. They also vandalised the school where the alleged incident took place.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is also the head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, in a statement assured the local community that the case has been handed over to Hyderabad Deputy Inspector General Naeem Shaikh who will further investigate the matter.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/pakistan-temple-attack-muslim-locals-offer-support-to-hindus-1.66479477

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Taliban attacks kill 48, close shave for Afghan prez as bomber targets rally

Sep 18, 2019

KABUL: Taliban suicide bombers killed 48 people in two separate attacks in Afghanistan on Tuesday, the deadliest taking place near an election rally by President Ashraf Ghani, though he was unhurt. The attacks happened 11 days before Afghanistan's presidential election, which Taliban commanders have vowed to violently disrupt, and follow collapsed peace talks between the United States and the insurgent group.

Ghani, who is seeking a second five-year term in voting on September 28, was due to address a rally in Charikar, the capital of central Parwan province, when a suicide bomber attacked the gathering. The blast killed 26 people and wounded 42, said Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the interior ministry. “When the people were entering the police camp, an old man riding a motorcycle arrived on the highway and detonated his explosives, causing casualties,” said Parwan province’s police chief Mohammad Mahfooz Walizada.

In the wake of the attack, bodies littered the dusty ground as smoke rose from the site of the explosion, a giant blue billboard bearing the face of Ghani’s running mate Amrullah Saleh looming over the scene. With sirens wailing, rescuers rushed to lift the wounded into the backs of pick-up trucks for evacuation. “Women and children are among them and most of the victims seem to be the civilians,” said Abdul Qasim Sangin, head of Parwan’s provincial hospital.

The president was nearby but unharmed, and later took to Twitter to condemn the bombing at the rally.

“Taliban tried to break this unity by targeting innocent civilians,” he wrote. “They shamelessly accepted responsibility at a time when they’re cloaking acts of terror as efforts for peace. In a separate incident, a man on foot blew himself up in the centre of Kabul, sending ambulances and Afghan forces rushing to the blast site. “I was waiting at the entrance of the recruitment centre,” said Mustafa Ghiasi, lying on a hospital bed after being wounded in the explosion. “I was behind two men in line when suddenly the blast struck.”

Twenty-two people were killed, and 38 were wounded, said Rahimi, the interior ministry spokesman. Most of the dead were civilians, including women and children, though six were security force members.

The Taliban said it carried out the two attacks, and a statement issued by a spokesman for the insurgents said they were aimed at security forces. “People were given warning,” the statement said. “Do not take part in the puppet administration’s election rallies, because all such gatherings are our military target,” said the statement. “If, despite the warning, someone get hurt, they themselves are to blame.”

Addressing the Kabul attack, Afghanistan’s president lashed out at the Taliban as the “coward enemy” for targeting civilians. “I offer my heartfelt condolences to victims of today’s tragedies in Kabul and Parwan and pray for speedy recovery of those who were wounded,” Ghani wrote on his official Twitter account. “We stand united in this hour of grief.”

Pakistan, which denies accusations that it shelters the Taliban, also condemned the attack. “We offer our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families,” it said in a statement. Security at rallies across the country has been tight following threats by the Taliban to attack meetings and polling stations. The group has vowed to intensify clashes with Afghan and foreign forces to dissuade people from voting in the upcoming elections.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/taliban-attacks-kill-48-close-shave-for-afghan-prez-as-bomber-targets-rally/articleshow/71177098.cms

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Saudi, allies must pay the price for spilling Yemenis' blood: Ansarullah

Sep 17, 2019

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has censured support for the Saudi-led coalition of aggressors in the wake of Yemeni retaliatory drone attacks on Aramco oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia, stressing that those who have no reservations at all about the bloodletting in the war-ravaged country must bear the consequences of their actions.

“Peace in the region can be restored only through dialogue and understanding, and away from the clatter of weapons. Yemeni people hope to see security and peace prevail across the Arabian Peninsula. They will never surrender to oppression and others’ domination,” Mohammed Abdul-Salam, spokesman for the Houthi movement, said in a string of tweets on Tuesday.

He added, “Those condemning the September 14 operation have indeed denounced themselves as they have exposed their blatant bias in favor of the aggressor. In fact, their condemnation would embolden the criminal regime to continue its criminal acts against our people.”

The senior Houthi official noted that “Saudi oil is not more precious than Yemeni blood,” emphasizing that those who have no respect whatsoever for the Yemeni people's lives must embrace all consequences of their actions.

He pointed out that those who wish stability in international crude oil markets, must compel the Saudi-led military alliance to stop its aggression and blockade on Yemen.

“Yemeni people will spare no effort to relentlessly confront aggression and siege by all legitimate means. The next defensive operations will be harsher and more painful if aggression and siege continue,” Abdul-Salam said.

He underlined that members of the coalition of aggression, Saudi Arabia in particular, must realize that their bet on the United States for protection is a losing one, adding that Yemenis will not remain silent in the face of injustice.

Yemeni army forces and allied fighters from Popular Committees deployed as many as 10 drones to bomb Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities run by the Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco before dawn Saturday.

The unprecedented attack knocked out more than half of Saudi crude output, or 5% of global supply, prompting Saudi and US officials to claim without any evidence that it probably originated from Iraq or Iran.

Two sources briefed on Aramco's operations told Reuters it might take months for Saudi oil production to return to normal. Earlier estimates had suggested it could take weeks.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000  lives over the past four and a half years.

The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/17/606430/Those-disregarding-Yemenis-blood-must-bear-consequences-Ansarullah

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Ban on Malaysian Muslims and non-Muslims praying together will 'polarise' nation

16 Sep 2019

The Archbishop of Soth East Asia, Ng Moon Hing, has criticised a new directive in Malaysia banning Muslims and non-Muslims from praying together.

He said the ban, issued last week by Malaysia's Department of Islamic Development (Jakim), was "ridiculous and confusing", and risked polarising the nation.

The directive prevents Muslim and non-Muslim prayers from being said alongside each other at the same event, and orders that they must instead be "replaced with an activity where a message of unity is shared".

Responding to the order, the Archbishop said: "I think the Malaysian government has contradicted themselves."

He said that on the one hand the Malaysian king and Prime Minister had made public statements emphasising good interfaith and cultural relations, while on the other issuing a ban on Muslims and non-Muslims praying together that is "ridiculous and confusing".

The Archbishop warned that the directive risked damaging social harmony.

"For the past century, Malaysians and during pre-Malaysia days, there were no problems at all, even at government functions," he said, according to ACNS.

"I believe this directive is going against the very harmonious spirit of the nation and will polarise the nation further.

"I don't understand how praying together could create discrimination and disrespect, instead the opposite, respect and appreciation will result."

Malaysia ranks 42nd on the Open Doors World Watch List of the top 50 countries where it is the most difficult to be a Christian.

Ethnic Malay are automatically identified as Muslim on their ID cards, while under the country's constitution, Muslims are forbidden from converting to other religions.

Last November, four Finnish tourists were arrested in northern Langkawi island after police received complaints that they were handing out Christian materials in public places.

They were freed soon after but deported and banned from re-entering the country.

Persecution in Malaysia has remained in the spotlight over the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh, who has been missing since February 2017.

Earlier this year, Malaysia's human rights commission, Suhakam, blamed religious authorities and the Special Branch of the Malaysian police for the pastor's disappearance.

https://christiantoday.com/article/ban-on-malaysian-muslims-and-non-muslims-praying-together-will-polarise-nation/133229.htm

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Governor-General David Hurley defends role of Islam, champions importance of faith in people’s lives

SEPTEMBER 18, 2019

Governor-General David Hurley has defended the role of Islam in Australian society and champ­ioned the importance of “faith in people’s lives” amid a national debat­e on religious freedom protections.

The former defence force chief, sworn in as Governor-General on July 1, told Islamic leaders at the Perth mosque that he held “enormous respect for Islam” and its contribution to the nation.

Mr Hurley, a devout Christian, delivered the speech on the weekend in front of an audience including Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Rateb Jneid, federal Labor MP Anne Aly and former Labor MP Gary Gray.

In addition to speaking of his faith, he revealed details of time spent as the “only white Christian male” in a Malaysian village and how he was “no stranger to Islam”.

“I have a faith and I am a firm believer in faith in people’s lives. And to be visiting a mosque that has represented your faith for well over 100 years is very important for me,” Mr Hurley said.

The mosque visit came as federal Attorney-General Christian Porter tries to win backing from faith-based groups in support of the government’s draft religious discrimination bill.

Mr Porter, who has met relig­ious leaders, equality groups and legal experts in the past two weeks, has come under pressure from faith-based institutions over concerns­ that the draft legislation was too vague and could be tested by state jurisdictions.

Dr Jneid, who took part in private meetings with Mr Hurley and other community leaders on the weekend, praised the Governor-General’s comments “about the importance of faith in our society” and his “respect for our religion”.

“The Governor-General has a rich personal connection with Islam, and we look forward to building our relationship based on mutual respect and a desire to improv­e our society,” he said.

Dr Jneid said the visit was “historic” and the Islam­ic community was committed to strengthening “social harmony and build bridges across our society”.

Mr Hurley, who toured the mosque, said he would return to visit the local Islamic school, and spoke of his respect for Islam after living in Malaysia for a year in 1989.

“I learnt a lot about Islam, its people, its tenets, its way of life, in that 12 months. I even was invited to the prayer-calling competition, not to judge, but to learn,” he said.

“And from that time on, I’ve had enormous respect for Islam and its people.” Mr Hurley said it was important for all Australians to “celebrate our history” and discuss the desires for the next generations in creating a vision for ­“Australia’s future”.

The Morrison government is working towards having a religious­ discrimination act — a key election pledge — in place by the end of the year.

Since the May 18 election, Labor MPs — including those represe­nting large ethnic communities — have told The Aust­ralian that religious freedom was a factor in the campaign and that they needed to ensure adequate protections were put in place for people of faith.

In recent weeks, Labor senator Kristina Keneally has brought Scott Morrison’s faith into the ­debate over border protection, urging him to show Christian leadership in relation to the case of a Tamil asylum-seeker family deemed by the courts not to be genuine refugees.

Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher told The Australian on Monday that the future of faith-based education was at risk unless religious schools were provided protections in order to teach students their spiritual ethos on marriage and family.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/governorgeneral-david-hurleys-bid-to-bolster-islamic-ties/news-story/2a249a8c85e3ce931c6e279b6ed11bfd

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US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo leaves for emergency visit of leading Islamic country

18 Sep, 2019

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departed for Saudi Arabia Tuesday to discuss possible retaliation after Washington said it had proof that attacks on Saudi oil installations originated in Iran.

Vice President Mike Pence announced that Pompeo was on his way to the kingdom to “discuss our response.”

“As the president said, we don´t want war with anybody but the United States is prepared,” Pence said in a speech in Washington.

“We´re locked and loaded and we´re ready to defend our interests and allies in the region, make no mistake about it,” he said, echoing President Donald Trump´s words on Monday.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the Trump administration has concluded that last weekend´s attack involved cruise missiles from Iran and that evidence would be presented at the UN General Assembly next week.

The apparent hardening of the US position came as Iran´s supreme leader ruled out negotiations with Washington “at any level.”

This appeared to nix remaining hopes for a dramatic meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations next week.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One over California, Trump said he too had cooled on what had always seemed to be a diplomatic longshot.

“I never rule anything out, but I prefer not meeting him,” Trump said. -APP/AFP

https://timesofislamabad.com/18-Sep-2019/us-secretary-of-state-mike-pompeo-leaves-for-emergency-visit-of-leading-islamic-country?utm_source=push-notification&utm_medium=direct

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A Coalition of Human Rights and Muslim Organizations Ask Gates Foundation to Rescind Honor to Indian Prime Minister

BY ZACK BUDRYK

09/17/19

A coalition of Muslim and human rights organizations called on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to cancel its plans to award Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi its Global Goalkeeper Award, citing Modi’s controversial revocation of the Kashmir region’s special status.

In a presidential order in August, Modi announced plans to partition the region in half and revoke the constitutional article giving Kashmir autonomy, which his critics call an illegal attempt to dilute the Muslim majority’s political power in the region. The letter also cites Modi’s associations with Hindu nationalists and the revocation of 1.9 million Bengali-speaking Muslims’ citizenship in the state of Assam, as well as his government’s backing of a citizenship bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for Hindu, Buddhist and Christian migrants from neighboring countries but not Muslims.

“Leaders of Modi’s political party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have been credibly accused of emboldening ‘communal violence’ and failing to forcefully condemn or put a stop to recent mobs of violent Hindu nationalists lynching, murdering, and brutally beating minorities, especially Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and members of lower castes within India’s society,” the letter states.

“Since Mr. Modi was elected as Prime Minister in 2014, there has been a 400% increase in hate crime violence against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Dalits,” it adds.

The letter’s signatories include the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross USA Province and the Yemeni American Merchants Association.

In a statement to The Hill, the foundation said "We have received the letter and respect the views of those who have signed it."

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi is receiving an award at the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the progress India is making in improving sanitation, as part of its drive toward achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Sanitation is a key factor in improving the health and well-being of millions of people, especially women and children," the foundation added.

https://thehill.com/policy/international/india/461806-muslim-groups-ask-gates-foundation-to-rescind-honor-to-indian

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Arab World

 

Saudi Islam minister orders preachers to rail against 'Iran' oil attacks during Friday sermons

17 September, 2019

The Saudi minister of Islamic affairs issued a directive to all Saudi preachers on Tuesday, telling them to address the attacks on oil processing plants in next week's Friday sermon.

According to Saudi Press Agency, Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh's directive emphasised certain themes, such as the blessing of security and stability, the need to rally around wise leadership and calling on God to protect Saudi Arabia.

The directive was issued within the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance framework, the SPA report read, which aims to raise "the awareness of society about the dangers facing our country at home and abroad".

Details of the Saturday strikes on Abqaiq - the world's largest oil processing facility - and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia remained unclear, but left crude oil output by the world's top exporter slashed in half.

The US readied its response Monday to the "unprecedented" attack on Saudi oil facilities as President Donald Trump said Iran was likely to blame, fanning new fears of conflict in the Gulf region.

Trump said he was ready to help key ally Saudi Arabia after the weekend drone attacks but would await a "definitive" determination on who was responsible.

The Iran-supported Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, which likely involved, according to reports, both drones and cruise missiles that struck their targets with surprising accuracy.

In Riyadh, officials said the attack involved "Iranian weapons", but likewise fell short of directly accusing their regional arch-rival.

"The kingdom condemns this egregious crime, which threatens international peace and security, and affirms that the primary target of this attack are global energy supplies, as this attack is in line with the previous attacks against Saudi Aramco pumping stations using Iranian weapons," the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement.

At a press conference in Ankara, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the attacks were an act of self-defence by the Houthis due to the Saudi-led coalition's air campaign in Yemen, which erupted in 2015.

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2019/9/17/saudi-islam-minister-orders-preachers-to-address-oil-attacks

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Chaldean priest: Mosul focused on work and reconstruction, not al-Baghdadi’s messages

09/17/2019

Mosul (AsiaNews) – The new message by "caliph" Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi, posted yesterday online by the Islamic State (IS) has not yet had "a vast echo" in the territories the group once controlled, this according to Fr Paul Thabit Mekko.

The Chaldean priest in Karamles, Nineveh Plain (northern Iraq), spoke to AsiaNews about the 30-minute audio in which the Jihadi leader calls on his most loyal supporters to “to redouble efforts: preaching, media, military, security."

For now, this has not yet caused any alarm among the people of Mosul and the Plain, still engaged in the slow and painstaking work of reconstruction.

After months of silence, al-Baghdadi’s last message was in late April, the self-styled caliph urges his loyalists to fight on despite the group’s latest military defeats.

Titled "Do deeds!" the audio is a real call to arms, urging fighters not to give up, to help those who are in prison and their families in shelters for displaced persons (IDP).

After a rapid rise in the second half of 2014 and in 2105 in Syria and Iraq, seizing half of their territories, IS ruled by committing serious crimes against humanity, and progressively lost ground.

At present, it controls a small area on the border between the two countries; however, their ideology remains alive and military defeat has not eliminated the threat the group represents.

Al-Baghdadi is wanted man with US$ 25 million bounty. On several occasions he was given for dead or wounded.

"Do your utmost to rescue your brothers and sisters and break down the walls that imprison them," says al-Baghdadi in an audio tape on the Search International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group. Experts deem the audio credible.

"How can a Muslim continue to live while Muslim women languish in dispersion camps and in a humiliating imprisonment” in Iraq, Syria and “the four corners of the world”.

"Baghdadi’s speech is heavy on religious content and comments on the second 'Battle of Attrition',” said Rita Katz, referring to 152 attacks IS claimed in 10 provinces between 2 and 11 August, indicating that it was recorded recently.

However, for Fr Paul, the message did not find a wide echo in the media and among Iraqis at least so far.

"This morning I was at the Mosul general market and the situation was very normal. The city still bears the marks of destruction, especially in the western part, but people want to rebuild and resume activities," said the clergyman.

“Life here,” he went on to say, "is normal even if there are attacks from time to time and the presence of sleeper cells or lone wolves cannot be excluded".

IS as an "organised movement". For now, it seems a past thing even though "sometimes these groups seek to make their presence felt".

Even in the Nineveh Plain, where tensions are high because of the presence of Shia armed groups, "there is hope of returning to normal" and that security will be entrusted "to Iraq’s official police".

Full report at:

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Chaldean-priest:-Mosul-focused-on-work-and-reconstruction,-not-al-Baghdadis-messages-48027.html

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Saudi Arabia 'secretly' sells Istanbul consulate where Khashoggi was murdered

Sep 17, 2019

The Saudi consulate building in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul, where prominent dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered by a hit team last October, has reportedly been sold recently and the mission will soon be moving to a new location.

Turkey’s pro-administration English-language daily Daily Sabah, citing a report published by Turkish-language Habertürk television news network, reported on Tuesday that the four-story building, which is located in the upscale neighborhood of Levent, was hastily sold to an undeclared buyer 45 days ago for nearly one-third of the market price so that the consulate could exit as soon as possible.

Habertürk

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The report added that the consulate will accordingly be moving to a location near the US consulate building in Istinye neighborhood in Sariyer district.

A Turkish foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told London-based online news outlet Middle East Eye that they didn't have any information confirming the sale.

The Saudi Arabian government would have needed to seek permission from the foreign ministry for the sale and the reason would be security, Habertürk's report said.

“The Saudi security team who visited Turkey immediately after the Khashoggi murder had prepared a technical report that said they couldn’t discover all the bugs in the consulate and therefore a new building was needed,” the report said.

“The Saudis are also trying to sell the consul general’s official residence, which is located very close to the consulate. But they couldn’t find any buyer yet,” it added.

According to Turkish legal experts, the consulate building is still considered a crime scene and the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office might seal off the building until their investigation is concluded.

The report comes just two weeks ahead of the first anniversary of Khashoggi's killing, which is widely believed to have been ordered by the Saudi crown prince and de-facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who later became a critic of bin Salman, was killed and his body was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi was a columnist, reported in November last year that the CIA had concluded that the Saudi crown prince personally ordered the killing. Riyadh strongly denies the allegation.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/17/606456/Saudi-Arabia-secretly-sells-Istanbul-consulate-where-Khashoggi-was-murdered

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Isolated Among Extremists: Conditions Deteriorate for Children of Islamic State

By Heather Murdock

September 16, 2019

AL-HOL CAMP, SYRIA - Small children usually flock to photographers as they snap pictures in refugee camps.  They make silly faces, flash victory signs and jostle to be in the front of the shot.

But nothing is usual about the children of Islamic State militants in Syria.  At the Ain Issa camp, some children of foreign IS fighters shun the camera while others flash their middle fingers or pretend-shoot the cameraman as if their hands were guns.

They are among the more than 50,000 children of militants now stuck in camps after the last IS stronghold in Syria fell in March.  Most are with their mothers, the wives and other female relatives of the fighters of the so-called “Caliphate.” Their fathers are almost all dead or in jail.

The international media have called these camps “incubators” for an IS resurgence.  But aid organizations say that despite their exposure to violence and extremism, children in these camps can be rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated into the outside world.  However, action must be taken soon to be effective, they add, as the trauma deepens day by day.

The children are mostly under 12-years-old, according to UNICEF, and were born in IS-controlled areas or brought in by parents.  Some were coerced or forced into supporting the group.  Little boys were told they will grow up to be militants, and little girls wear veils for modesty, even when they are under 10 years old.

“All are victims of deeply tragic circumstances and egregious violations of their rights,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a statement.  “They must be treated and cared for as children.”

Isolation

The camps in Syria that house families of IS fighters look like other refugee camps in the region.  Tents stand in rows on isolated patches of land in the desert.  They are surrounded by fences and guarded by local security forces.

But unlike many camps that have housed millions of other displaced Syrian people, these camps are locked. The residents are considered a threat, and they are not allowed to leave for their own safety and for the safety of the surrounding communities, according intelligence officers stationed at the camps.

Inside one camp last month, four security guards were attacked, six tents were burnt to the ground and two female residents were killed, presumably for violating “rules” enforced by women in the camps who have set up their own IS-styled morality police.

These groups, known as “Hisbah” force women to wear full face veils and forbid consorting with “infidels” such as local security forces.

The children have few or no memories outside of war zones populated with extremists.    

As dust storm turns the air brown in the Ain Issa camp, children and adults cover their faces and duck behind tents or water tanks.  When the storm passes, the children resume playing with the cameraman.

They don’t make “bang, bang” sounds as they pretend to shoot him.  They hiss lightly like the sound of a bullet as it sails by your ear and imitate the mechanical cracking of automatic weapons.  These are sounds of real war.

Safety

The psychological damage from growing up around extreme violence can be devastating, according to doctors, but at the camps, providing mental health care—or even an education—for children is a distant dream.

“First we need to make them safe,” says a security guard as he drives through the al-Hol camp, a sprawling sea of tents housing more than 70,000 people including the families of some of IS’s most devoted fighters.  “Then we can start educating the children.”

Supplying safety is especially difficult as winter approaches, he says.  Al-Hol camp is desperately short of medical supplies and hundreds of children have died here, or on their way here, this year.  Food and clean water are scarce, and and the funding available is not nearly enough.

“Of course it's harder to get funding for these camps,” the man explains. “Every one knows they are the families of IS.”

Solutions?

Finding a permanent solution for the families has become an urgent security issue, according to Mustafa Bali, the spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces securing northeastern Syria.

“We are tightening security,” he tells us in an interview in Kobane. “But this is a political problem for 50 countries, not ours alone.”

The majority of the families are Syrian or Iraqi and authorities say they are trying to negotiate with their local communities to return them to their homes.  But since the final battles with IS, the camps’ populations have not reduced significantly.

Thousands of the families are from outside the region and local authorities have repeatedly called on the international community to take back their citizens.  Inside the camps, many women say they are eager to go back to their countries, even if it means going to jail.

“The military here told me I can go to Germany,” says Elina Frizler, a German national living in Ain Issa camp with her two children, both born in IS-controlled Syria.  “But how can I go if Germany won’t take us?  How can we live here?”

Repatriation?

Some countries have repatriated some of their nationals, particularly orphans.

Repatriating all the children, however, would require also repatriating their mothers, according to Syrian authorities.  Some of the women are still vocal IS devotees, but others have renounced the group or claim to have been tricked into joining in the first place.

“It is not like we [could] speak out against [IS] or else we would be killed,” says one woman with a deep red veil over her face.  She is British, but her citizenship has been revoked, she says.  She is also of Sudanese origin, she adds, and hopes to be sent out of the camp and to Sudan.

But many countries are reluctant to take back adults — fighters or mothers that are here considered non-combatants — citing security concerns and the difficulty of prosecuting alleged crimes that took place in foreign lands then occupied by IS.  Kurdish authorities say they lack the capacity to hold trials and care for all the foreign fighters and their families.

The woman in the red veil says, on one hand, joining IS was a mistake.  She was lead to believe she was moving to a truly Muslim land operating under Islamic Law.   What she found in Syria could be more accurately described as a militant group, she says.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/isolated-among-extremists-conditions-deteriorate-children-islamic-state

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Iraqi troops destroy four Islamic State terrorist hotbeds in Diyala

by Mohammed Ebraheem

Sep 16, 2019

Diyala (IraqiNews.com) – Iraqi security forces have destroyed four terrorist hotbeds of the Islamic State group in the eastern province of Diyala, a police spokesman said.

“A security operation was launched in Mandali town, 90 km east of Baqubah, where troops of the Iraqi army and police destroyed four Islamic State terrorist hotbeds and seized a large cache of ammunition and four locally-made explosive charges,” the Iraqi Baghdad Today news website quoted Diyala police spokesman Col. Ghaleb al-Attia as saying in a press statement Monday.

The operation was conducted by a joint force of Diyala emergency and SWAT directorates, the spokesman added.

Also, troops of the Iraqi army and Diyala intelligence took part in the operation.

In January 2015, Iraqi forces announced liberation of Diyala province from Islamic State extremist militants who proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Full report at:

https://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/iraqi-troops-destroy-four-islamic-state-terrorist-hotbeds-in-diyala/

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Abdul Mahdi to NATO Chief: Iraq Seeks Balanced Foreign Policy

17 September, 2019

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday that Baghdad seeks a balanced foreign policy which serves stability in the region.

The Prime Minister also said that Iraq cannot possibly cause harm to any of its neighbors.

A statement issued by his office, said Abdul Mahdi made the remarks during a meeting in Baghdad with Stoltenberg, who is on a two-day visit to Iraq.

Abdul Mahdi was apparently referring to an attack on Saudi Aramco oil facilities that Washington has blamed on Tehran.

US officials earlier suggested the attack may have originated in Iran or Iraq, a claim denied by the Iraqi government.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later said Washington has information that supports the Iraqi government's denial.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1906546/abdul-mahdi-nato-chief-iraq-seeks-balanced-foreign-policy

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Arab Parliament Calls for Protecting Yemeni MPs from Houthi Violations

17 September, 2019

Arab Parliament Speaker, Dr. Mishaal al-Salami, has rejected the farcical trials and the unconstitutional and illegal measures adopted by the Houthi terrorist militias against the Yemeni parliament speaker and MPs, who have rejected the coup.

Salami condemned the Iranian-backed militias for withholding and seizing the money and property of the speaker and 34 MPs, who had taken part in the parliamentary session held in Seiyun city in April.

“What the militias have done is a flagrant violation of laws, charters, international norms, UN resolutions and international treaties and a clear violation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s system,” Salami stressed in a press statement.

He urged the United Nations, represented by its Secretary-General and special envoy to Yemen, to take immediate and urgent action and force the Houthis to stop these illegal measures against elected members, who have parliamentary immunity.

Salami also stressed the need to take necessary measures to provide legal protection to the speaker and members of parliament.

Authorities subject to the Houthis in Sanaa have proceeded in prosecuting 35 deputies after charging them with treason and collaborating with foreign countries. They have issued orders to seize their properties.

The militias had forced its deputies in Sanaa to lift immunity off 35 deputies loyal to the legitimate government following the Seiyun parliament meeting that assigned a new presidential body. Leading General People's Congress member MP Sultan al-Burkani was elected speaker.

Since taking over Sanaa, the militias have sought to terrorize their opponents through various means possible, including looting their money and homes and holding unlawful trials to convict them.

The majority of Yemeni deputies have been able to leave Sanaa in recent years and join the legitimate government.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1906371/arab-parliament-calls-protecting-yemeni-mps-houthi-violations

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Yemeni Source Warns of Expanding Attacks to UAE Oil Facilities

Sep 17, 2019

The military official who called for anonymity told the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel on Tuesday that targeting the Saudi oil wells in the depth of the kingdom's territories had also a strong message to the UAE.

"Their oil companies and glass-made cities are among our future targets," he said, warning the UAE government.

The official called on Abu Dhabi to officially leave Yemen and stop crimes against the Yemeni people, adding that the UAE's superficial withdrawal from certain fronts in Yemen would not prevent attacks against the Persian Gulf Arab country's oil firms.

Yemen’s Ansarullah movement announced on Saturday that its drones had successfully attacked two oil plants in the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, stressing that the attacks were a firm response to Riyadh’s relentless bombardment of Yemen.

Abqaiq, 60 km (37 miles) Southwest of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, contains the world’s largest oil processing plant. Khurais, 190 km further Southwest, contains the country’s second largest oilfield.

Saudi stocks fell sharply on Sunday, after attacks on two plants at the heart of the kingdom’s oil industry on Saturday knocked out more than half of the crude output.

Spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces Brigadier General Yahya Saree said on Monday that his country was ready for another attack on Saudi facilities, urging foreign companies and workers to immediately leave their working sites in the kingdom for their safety.

Speaking to Arabic-language al-Masireh news channel, Brigadier General Saree said the Yemeni forces used ordinary and jet engines in their drones which hit Saudi oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais during Operation Equation Deterrence II.

He then warned that another attack may be soon launched on Saudi facilities, and urged foreign companies and operators working at energy, power and other facilities to immediately leave the sites to avoid being hurt in the attacks.

The Yemeni commander then addressed Saudi officials, and underlined that the Yemeni Army is capable of hitting any target in Saudi Arabia at any time it wishes.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980626000760

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Senior MP: Saudi Allegations against Iraq Aimed at Pressuring Hashd Al-Shaabi

Sep 17, 2019

"The drones which targeted the depth of Saudi Arabia flew from the Yemeni territories and the Saudi government's allegations that Iraq's soil has been used for these attacks are not true," Karim al-Mahmadawi told the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website on Tuesday.

He dismissed any involvement of the Iraqi government in the Yemenis' offensives against Saudi Arabia, and stressed that Baghdad seeks to resolve the Yemen crisis through political means.

"Saudi Arabia is attempting to introduce Hashd al-Shaabi as an armed group affiliated to Iran and use it as a pretext to target Hashd al-Shaabi's positions inside Iraq in collaboration with Washington," al-Mahmadawi said.

Yemen’s Ansarullah movement announced on Saturday that its drones had successfully attacked two oil plants in the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, stressing that the attacks were a firm response to Riyadh’s relentless bombardment of Yemen.

Abqaiq, 60 km (37 miles) Southwest of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, contains the world’s largest oil processing plant. Khurais, 190 km further Southwest, contains the country’s second largest oilfield.

Saudi stocks fell sharply on Sunday, after attacks on two plants at the heart of the kingdom’s oil industry on Saturday knocked out more than half of the crude output.

Spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces Brigadier General Yahya Saree said on Monday that his country was ready for another attack on Saudi facilities, urging foreign companies and workers to immediately leave their working sites in the kingdom for their safety.

Speaking to Arabic-language al-Masireh news channel, Brigadier General Saree said the Yemeni forces used ordinary and jet engines in their drones which hit Saudi oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais during Operation Equation Deterrence II.

He then warned that another attack may be soon launched on Saudi facilities, and urged foreign companies and operators working at energy, power and other facilities to immediately leave the sites to avoid being hurt in the attacks.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980626000880

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Air strikes kill 10 pro-Iran fighters in east Syria: Monitor

17 September 2019

Overnight air strikes killed 10 pro-Iranian Iraqi militiamen in eastern Syria, a war monitor said Tuesday, without specifying who carried them out.

The strikes targeted “three positions of the (Iranian) Revolutionary Guards and allied (Iraqi) militias” in Albu Kamal, in the Euphrates Valley just across the border from Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

This strike is the second of its kind to target Iranian and pro-Iran militias in Albu Kamal this month.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/17/Air-strikes-kill-10-pro-Iran-fighters-in-east-Syria-Monitor.html

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India

 

Indo-Pak tension defused to great extent: Trump

Sep 18, 2019

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has said that he will soon meet the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, even as he insisted that a “lot of progress” has been made in reducing tension between the countries.

While Trump along with PM Narendra Modi will address over 50,000 Indian-Americans at the “Howdy Modi!” mega event in Houston on September 22, the American president did not say when or where will he be meeting Pakistan premier Imran Khan. “I’ll see PM Modi and I will — we’ll — be meeting with (prime ministers of) India and Pakistan,” Trump told reporters in response to a question at the White House on Monday.

Without mentioning Kashmir or the tensed ties between the two South Asian neighbors after India revoked the special status of J&K, Trump said, “I think a lot of progress has been made there. A lot of progress.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/indo-pak-tension-defused-to-great-extent-trump/articleshow/71176904.cms

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Historians’ report on Babri mosque mere ‘opinion’: SC

Sep 18, 2019

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to give credence to a report cited by the Sunni Waqf Board by four historians, who in 1991 had opined that the disputed Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya was neither believed to be Lord Ram’s birthplace before 1850 nor was there any proof of a temple being destroyed to construct the mosque in 1528.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer peppered senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan with questions on the evidential value of the historians’ report and said, “At the highest, this report can be taken as an opinion.”

The bench added, “The report appears to be a counter blast to VHP campaigns and claims in 1991. Neither the views of VHP nor that of these four historians can be treated as evidence. We have to decide this case on the basis of evidence on record. The Allahabad HC had refused to rely on this report as evidence.”

The report, in the shape of a letter, was written on May 13, 1991, bearing the names of R S Sharma, retired professor of Delhi University and first chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research; M Athar Ali, retired professor of history of Aligarh Muslim University and former president of Indian History Congress; D N Jha, former professor of history of DU; and Suraj Bhan, professor of archaeology in Kurukshetra University. Jha did not sign the report and only Bhan was examined as an expert witness for Sunni Waqf Board before the HC.

Referring to the study titled ‘Babri Mosque or Ram’s Birthplace? Historians Report to the Indian Nation’, the bench asked whether it was commissioned by the government or it was given voluntarily by the historians. In the cross-examination before the HC, Bhan admitted that only he and Sharma had gone to Ayodhya prior to the study. He admitted having no knowledge of Puranas and said, “We were given only six weeks time for the entire study. Pressure was being repeatedly exerted; so, we submitted our report without going through the record of the excavation work by B B Lal.”

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/historians-report-on-babri-mosque-mere-opinion-sc/articleshow/71176583.cms

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Attack on Saudi facilities sets oil on fire in India

Sep 18, 2019

NEW DELHI: Pump prices recorded their sharpest rise since July 5 on Tuesday as tremors from Saturday’s drone attack at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry and the resultant explosion in crude prices hit India, even though domestic refiners continue to get Saudi crude.

As oil, financial and stock markets remained jittery, fuel retailers raised the price of petrol by 14 paise to Rs 72.17 a litre and diesel by 15 paise to Rs 65.58 in the Delhi market, the national benchmark. The quantum of increase was higher in states due to the incremental increase in local taxes.

Times View

The upward trend in oil prices globally has raised the threat of pump prices of petrol and diesel rising in India too, particularly since it comes on the back of a weakening rupee. If the government wants to, it can to a considerable extent reduce the impact on the consumer. It can cut taxes on petroleum products, which account for close to 40% of the retail price of diesel and about 50% of the petrol selling price. Considering that taxes were raised to shore up revenues when global oil prices were low, this would be only fair.

This is the single-largest hike since the full Budget presented on July 5, which raised taxes to push up fuel prices by about Rs 2.5 a litre, as a result of the single-highest spike in global oil prices on Monday. The global marker, Brent, had shot up nearly 20% and the US marker, WTI, some 16%. The prices later closed 15% up from their previous close.

Oil minister Dhramendra Pradhan tried to calm nerves over supply disruptions, saying that Indian refiners were lifting shipments from Saudi Arabia, loading cargo both on Monday and Tuesday, but volatility was definitely a concern. “Certainly, when there is a spike in prices, it creates anxiety,” he told reporters here. “The events since Saturday are a matter of concern... We’ve lifted more than half of the contracted quantity for September. We lifted oil (from Saudi Arabia) yesterday (September 16) and even today (September 17),” he said on the sidelines of an event to award a contract for building a coal gassification unit for Talcher Fertiliser Ltd.

On Tuesday, global crude prices slid 5% on anticipation of early restoration of lost supplies, but the market remained wary as reports suggested that Saudi Aramco has warned four large consumers, including PetroChina, of shipment delays. Goldman Sachs has said oil prices could hit $75 if the Saudi outage drags for more than six weeks.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/attack-on-saudi-facilities-sets-oil-on-fire-in-india/articleshow/71176264.cms

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India rebuts Mahathir Mohamad's claim on Zakir Naik extradition

Sep 18, 2019

NEW DELHI: Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad has denied that PM Narendra Modi had asked him, during their recent Vladivostok meeting, for extradition of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. This invited a quick rebuttal from foreign minister S Jaishankar and other Indian officials who said India had indeed raised the issue of Naik’s extradition during the meeting.

Jaishankar also said India will continue to work for Naik’s extradition.

“Not many countries want him (Naik). India has not insisted. When I met PM Narendra Modi, he did not ask me that he wants this man back. This man could be troublesome for India,” Mahathir was quoted as saying in an interview to a Malaysian radio station.

In a press conference, Jaishankar said Naik’s extradition issue had indeed come up during Modi’s meeting with Mahathir in Vladivostok. He said India had placed a request with Malaysia for Naik’s extradition in January.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-rebuts-mahathir-mohamads-claim-on-zakir-naik-extradition/articleshow/71176165.cms

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Supreme Court seeks date for end of Ayodhya arguments

Sep 18, 2019

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Hindu and Muslim parties to submit an estimate of time they would take to conclude their arguments in the Ayodhya land dispute case so as to allow the court to estimate how much time it will have to write the judgment.

The court’s remarks during the hearing on the 70-year-old claims on the ownership of the 2.77 acre disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land reinforce the impression that the SC is keen to deliver a ruling before Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi demits office on November 17.

On the 25th day of arguments, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Muslim parties, sought a day off on Friday.

To this, a five-judge constitution bench, which is headed by CJI Gogoi, said, “All parties must indicate when they will conclude their arguments. Depending on that we can decide the off days for argument.”

SC may deliver verdict on or before November 17

When the parties indicate the tentative schedule for completion of their submissions and arguments, we (judges) will know how much time we have in hand to write the judgment. Talk to your (the leading advocates) associates and give us a rough estimate,” the bench said. The inquiry by the bench is significant because the SC may deliver its verdict on or before November 17 when the CJI retires.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/supreme-court-seeks-date-for-end-of-ayodhya-arguments/articleshow/71176099.cms

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Kashmir may not be ‘major topic’ during Modi-Xi meet: Chinese foreign ministry

by Sowmiya Ashok

September 18, 2019

Kashmir may not be a “major topic” during the informal talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping likely to be held next month in India, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Tuesday. Instead, border issues between India and China and issues that encompass more “strategic thinking” may be part of the talks, she said. Last week, a face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh was diffused after senior Army officers on both sides held discussions on the same day.

In response to a question from The Indian Express on whether Kashmir is likely to be discussed, Hua said: “I am not sure. For this kind of informal summit, I think it is better to leave the leaders much time to discuss whatever they would like to discuss. Those issues of strategic thinking of broad sense of the picture. I think for those things like Kashmir, I don’t think it will be a major topic occupying the talks, that is my understanding. But for the leaders, they will be free to talk about whatever they like, that is my understanding.”

Though reports have said that the second informal summit between Modi and Xi is likely to take place between October 10-12 near Chennai, Hua said during an interaction with journalists at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs here that she was not in a position to confirm details.

Hua was responding to questions about the tensions between India and Pakistan which spiked after New Delhi on August 5 scrapped the special status accorded to Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories. India has strictly maintained that the Kashmir issue was its “internal matter.”

Hua said that China’s “official position” was to maintain that Kashmir was an issue between India and Pakistan and “we don’t want to see war.”

“I hope since both India and Pakistan are good neighbours of China, they could be in peaceful terms with each other and mostly India and Pakistan can try their best, make their best efforts to resolve issues peacefully through negotiations. We don’t want to see any war. As you mentioned, the US relations with Iran, we hope the Indian relations with Pakistan could be much better than the US and Iran. Because they are neighbours, there is no reason why they cannot get along with each other very well. We hope the issue can be resolved in a peaceful way and not through war,” she said.

Regarding border issues between India and China, Hua said: “I understand we have established quite a good mechanism, and the two sides have very fruitful and smooth channels for communication. One thing is China has always kept our word and we never wanted to do anything that could harm the mutual trust between China and India and we hope to see the same goodwill from the Indian side.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-china-modi-jinping-meeting-kashmir-border-issue-pakistan-6003902/

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Release detained leaders, stop creating space for terrorists in J&K: Rahul to Centre

September 17, 2019

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Tuesday lashed out at the Centre saying it should stop creating space for terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s political space and release of all the “nationalist” leaders like Farooq Abdullah at the earliest.

Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said, “The Government should stop creating space for terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir and release all nationalist leaders ASAP.”

Accusing Centre of trying to create a political vacuum by removing leaders like Farooq Abdullah from Jammu and Kashmir’s political space, he said, “It’s obvious that the Government is trying to remove nationalist leaders like Farooq Abdullah Ji to create a political vacuum in Jammu & Kashmir that will be filled by terrorists.”

Rahul Gandhi

@RahulGandhi

• 16h

It’s obvious that the Government is trying to remove nationalist 🇮🇳 leaders like Farooq Abdullah Ji to create a political vacuum in Jammu & Kashmir that will be filled by terrorists.

Kashmir can then permanently be used as a political instrument to polarise the rest of India.

Rahul Gandhi

@RahulGandhi

The Government should stop creating space for terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir and release all nationalist leaders ASAP.

10.5K

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He alleged that by doing this Kashmir will be permanently used as a “political instrument” to polarise the rest of the country.

The J&K administration on Monday slapped Public Safety Act (PSA) on detained former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, describing him as a “threat to public order” as the lockdown in the Valley entered its 40th day. Under this law, Abdullah may remain under detention up to a year, if not more, at his Srinagar home which has now been designated a subsidiary jail.

Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is also the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, condemned the move saying it is the country’s “misfortune” that leaders who fought for its unity and integrity have been put behind bars.

“I strongly condemn it. It is most unfortunate that a (former) chief minister of one of the oldest political parties in Kashmir (has been detained). Each chief minister, and each political party be it Congress, NC and PDP in Jammu and Kashmir have tried their best to fight militancy. If there is no militancy today, it is because of these political parties and not the BJP,” he told reporters.

Senior NC leader Mohammad Akbar Lone said that the party would take a legal course to challenge Farooq Abdullah’s detention under PSA. “They have no justification to do that, but if they have booked him under the PSA, then what can we do? We can only approach the courts. We will take constitutional and legal recourse,” Lone said in Srinagar.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/stop-creating-space-for-terrorists-in-jk-rahul-gandhi-demands-release-of-farooq-abdullah-6004199/

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J&K: Pakistan violates ceasefire along IB in Samba

September 17, 2019

Pakistan Rangers on Tuesday resorted to unprovoked small arms fire along the International Border in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.

The BSF retaliated and the cross border fire stopped after some time. However, there was no damage or casualty on the Indian side, sources said.

The sudden ceasefire violation by Pakistani Rangers came after a long time along the IB in the area as the border with Pakistan in the plains of Jammu had been peaceful for quite some time.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-kashmir-samba-ceasefire-pakistan-rangers-bsf-international-border-article-370-6004255/

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I am not a foreigner, Farooq Abdullah is not a terrorist: CPI(M) leader Tarigami on detention

September 17, 2019

Expressing concern at the government’s decision to invoke the Public Safety Act (PSA) against former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah, CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, who is in Delhi for treatment, on Tuesday said the NC chief is not a terrorist and condemned the move.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Tarigami, who was put under house arrest for a month when the Centre scrapped special status to Jammu and Kashmir, said, “I am not a foreigner nor Farooq Abdullah and other leaders are terrorists. The situation in Kashmir is bad not because of the people of Kashmir but because of all of us politicians and politics.”

Tarigami is the first leader to conduct a press conference after facing detention in Kashmir.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami would approach the Supreme court on behalf of the party challenging the dilution of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir.

Tarigami further said the unity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir had been disrupted due to the decision of the government. “I feel shocked by the situation of Kashmir and how one decision has changed what the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir had negotiated with the founders of the Constitution.”

“The bond that was created by the hard work of the leaders and the people of Jammu and Kashmir has been assaulted today. The people of Kashmir want nothing but a chance to march together with the people, a chance to debate and discuss,” Tarigami further said.

On September 5, the Supreme Court ordered authorities to shift the ailing CPI(M) leader from Srinagar to AIIMS in New Delhi. The SC ruling came on a habeas corpus petition filed by Yechury, who was allowed to travel to Srinagar to visit the ailing leader last month. Yechury had filed a report, as directed by the Court, on his visit to the state.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/i-am-not-a-foreigner-farooq-abdullah-is-not-a-terrorist-cpim-leader-tarigami-on-kashmir-detention-6003394/

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Pakistan

 

Space diplomacy route to Indo-Pak peace: Pak astronaut

Sep 17, 2019

DUBAI: Pakistan's first female astronaut Namira Salim, who made headlines last week for congratulating India on the Chandrayaan-2 mission, has said the South Asia region could benefit from innovative space diplomacy.

"It is from space that we can rise above politics and from where all borders and boundaries dissolve," she said.

“In our new age of space exploration, my message to the leaders of India and Pakistan is to make space for peace and trust between the two countries to find peaceful solutions for pressing issues in the region,” she said, amid fresh Indo-Pak tension after New Delhi scrapped Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Namira, who is the founder and executive chairperson of Space Trust, a non-profit initiative, said as a thought leader in the global space industry and as a future astronaut with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, she supports commercialisation of space which opens space to all sectors, and accordingly, she believes space is now open to world leaders and politicians.

“I engage statesmen to utilise space diplomacy as a sustainable tool for peacemaking on Earth via Space Trust," she said on her non-profit initiative, which was established in 2015 on the founding principle of "making space the new frontier for peace on Earth."

To date, Space Trust has engaged nine governments and five former and sitting heads of state on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Week in New York, who have endorsed the idea of utilizing space for peace? on Earth, she said.

Space Trust's maiden mission to Space next year, the CubeSat Mission – called 0G Peace Mission 2020 – will be a capacity-building mission between a US university and one in a developing country.

"The mission, which will play peace messages in orbit in the voices of world leaders, eminent personalities, peacemakers, civil society and youth to inspire peace beyond borders, is envisioned in cooperation with the UN to build bridges and to inspire Space for Peace and Trust on Earth worldwide and particularly in the South Asian region," she said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/space-diplomacy-route-to-indo-pak-peace-pak-astronaut/articleshow/71170387.cms

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There have been human rights violations in Balochistan: Pakistani journalist

September 18, 2019

Pakistani senior journalist Mona Alam said that there have been human rights violation under dictatorial regimes in the Pakistan province of Balochistan.

However, Mona Alam in an exclusive interview to India Today said that "Pakistan in its constitution gives full safety to minorities".

"It will be totally wrong to say that our government has turned a blind eye to the human rights of minorities in Pakistan. Around 50 people have been booked for in different human rights violations cases. Pakistan in its constitution gives full safety to minorities.

"Balochistan situation is a little more complex. There indeed have been some human rights violation. I agree that there have been some serious human rights violations in Balochistan during some dictatorial regimes," Mona Alam said.

India Today

@IndiaToday

I agree that there has been some serious human rights violations in Balochistan during some dictatorial regimes, says @MonaAlamm, Journalist, Pakistan

Watch #IndiaFirst live: http://bit.ly/IT_LiveTV

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In Balochistan and Sindh provinces of Pakistan, Right activists have sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's help in raising Pakistan's human rights violations at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Several activists exposed Pakistan Army's atrocities seeking India's counsel in raising their voices globally. Balochistan activists protested against Pakistan Army's atrocities. "Murdabad, murdabad, Pakistan murdabad," protestors in Geneva, Swtizerland chanted the slogan in front of UN.

In the province of Balochistan, the clamour against the Pakistan atrocities is rising as people are up in arms.

Head of Human Rights Council of Balochistan in Geneva, Switzerland said, "International human rights bodies and the United Nations should visit Balochistan and investigate the situation. They should stop Pakistan armed forces from committing such war crimes against humanity."

Baloch activist Qambar Malik said, "The Islamic radicalisation in Balochistan is being used by the Pakistani authorities."

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/balochistan-pakistan-minorities-human-rights-violations-un-modi-1600229-2019-09-18

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Nawaz-Shahbaz long meeting fuels speculations

Munawar Hasan

September 17, 2019

LAHORE: An unscheduled long meeting took place between Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif-led delegation of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) at the Kot Lakhpat Jail Monday.

Top PML-N leaders say the party president briefed Nawaz Sharif about Sunday’s consultations with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief about launching a protest movement against the PTI government. The party leadership had been given green signal by Nawaz Sharif for fully supporting the lockdown, announced by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, against the PTI government. Nawaz Sharif directed Shahbaz Sharif to fully support and participate in the opposition’s protest, being dubbed as ‘Azadi March’ against the government, the party leaders added. A task has been given to Ahsan Iqbal to also persuade Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to join the opposition show, said the party leaders.

Nawaz Sharif also discussed several issues with the party president. Besides Ahsan Iqbal, Khwaja Asif, Azam Nazir Tarar, Amjad Pervaiz and Khwaja Haris also attended the meeting.

As the Sharif family members and the PML-N leaders usually meet Nawaz Sharif on Thursdays only, Monday’s unscheduled meeting between the top party leaders and the PML-N supremo set the rumour mill churning out speculations. According to sources, the meeting was allowed at the eleventh hour by the Ministry of Interior, which continued for several hours. Mian Nawaz Sharif’s legal team was also part of the PML-N delegation, and later on remained there for over an hour. Nawaz met his party leaders for over three hours.

However, senior party leaders dispelled the impression of any settlement with the ruling party regarding release of Nawaz Sharif. It is still interesting to note that PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal did not directly comment on the rumours about a possible deal, while sharing his views at the social media site.

However, he hastened to add that legal team of Nawaz Sharif also joined the visiting delegation for reviewing various aspects of an appeal in Islamabad High Court, which is due to be heard on Sept 18. He was responding to a post in which astonishment was expressed over the fact that how the government permitted such a large gathering of the party leaders at the jail when even the family doctor was not permitted to meet the ailing former premier. The fact that the opposition parties are also preparing to launch a full-fledged protest campaign against the government in about a month’s time is also contrary to the permission granted for the meeting.

In another post, Ahsan categorically said that his party would not compromise (on principles) and pardon the incumbent government. He said Imran Khan would have to be answerable for, what he called, negatively impacting the whole economy.

Sources said Shahbaz apparently was not fully convinced to go ahead with the demonstration plans to oust the government in near future. He reportedly asked his elder brother to reconsider launching of a campaign against the ruling party, saying this would be a decisive action by the opposition.

However, Nawaz Sharif insisted that full-scale drive must be launched against the regime, added the sources. According to the party leaders, the PML-N president floated the idea of rescheduling the sit-in, keeping in view prevalent situation of the country.

Full report at:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/527621-nawaz-shahbaz-long-meeting-fuels-speculations

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PTI govt incompetent, illegal, says Fazl

September 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema e Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is incompetent and illegal.

Addressing a Workers’ Convention, Rehman said that no one can teach us democratic values as “we are the ones who introduced them and worked for them”.

“This government is incompetent and can’t execute even simplest of tasks and we all know how it was brought in illegally by hijacking the elections,” he said.

He also said that freedom of speech is basic right of everyone and no one should be stripped of it.

“We don’t have to fear anyone. We are on the right path and must keep on moving. If we want to see Pakistan on track of prosperity then we have to work for it by putting aside all personal reservations,” he concluded.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) decided to support Jamiat-Ulema-Islam (JUI-F) in principle in its Azadi March as the latter plans to lock down Islamabad in a bid to topple Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/17/this-govt-is-incompetent-and-illegal-says-fazlur-rehman/

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Parliaments across globe now discussing Kashmir: FM

September 18, 2019

LAHORE: The Kashmir issue now stands verifiably internationalised because of Pakistan’s spirited diplomacy for the cause and the snowball effect, which started with rescinding of Article 370 by the Indian government, said Foreign Minis­ter Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday.

Addressing a multiparty Kash­mir conference, he said the Kash­mir cause was now gathering pace by the day, adding that Indian failure to defend its position is also evident. No country around the globe believes in Indian mantra of “integral part and internal issue” any more, he said.

“The world parliaments are now discussing the Kashmir issue. The Euro­pean Union is debating it today [Tuesday]. The Iranian Majlis has already done it and so is Turkish parliament. Some 27 Congress­men have written to the US government to take note of the Kashmir situation. Around 50 members of the [British] House of Commons have taken it up. What additional proof India now wants to realise that their point of view stands defeated around the world,” Mr Qureshi wondered.

“The United Nations, despite Indian resistance, took up the matter after 54 years of neglect. Although some of the OIC members decorated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Islamic body, as an organisation, stood by the Kashmiris and supported their cause. All human rights bodies in the world have come up with one report after another, highlighting abuses in the valley and told the Indians to correct their behaviour. All these factors lead to one conclusion: the Kashmir issue is now resounding all over the globe,’’ he said.

Underlining the role of Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora, he said when the government decided to mobilise the non-resident Pakistanis and Kashmiris, it turned out to be a tremendous success because of their determined participation.

Thanking Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, who was sharing the stage with him at the conference, for his role in the mobilisation, he said: “London, Brussels, Paris, Washington and New York have witnessed unprecedented demonstrations in favour of Pakis­tan’s stance on Kashmir. For the first time Aug 14 was celebrated as Kashmir day and Aug 15 as black day around the world.”

Not only the world bodies but the Indian Supreme Court has also ordered restoration of normal life in held Kashmir. “The SC told the government to lift curfew, return communication network to Kashmiris and ensure normality in the valley. It also allowed Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the opposition Congress party, who was earlier arrested and returned when he tried to visit valley, to go there,’’ Mr Qureshi said.

The conference adopted an 11-point resolution at the end, which condemned the Indian step of rescinding Article 370 and pledged to stand by the Kashmiris in their struggle.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1505852/parliaments-across-globe-now-discussing-kashmir-fm

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PM Imran offers full support to Saudi Arabia after attack on oil facilities

September 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan telephoned Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz and discussed bilateral and regional matters with special focus on drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities last week.

During the telephone conversation, the premier offered Pakistan’s full support and capabilities to the kingdom following the attack.

Prices of petroleum products are likely to go up by up to Rs12 in coming days owing to an increase in the international market following an attack on Saudi Arabia’s energy giant Aramco last week, slashing the Arab kingdom’s oil production by half.

The attack that shut five per cent of global crude output has triggered the biggest surge in oil prices since 1991.

Europe’s benchmark Brent crude surged by 20 per cent and US counterpart WTI by 15 per cent as commodities trading got underway and after President Donald Trump warned that the US was “locked and loaded” to respond to the attacks that Washington blamed on Iran.

Tehran rejected the claim but Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition was bogged down in a five-year war, claimed Saturday’s strikes on two plants owned by Aramco.

Meanwhile, the United States reiterated it was studying all available options in how it would confront an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/17/pm-imran-offers-full-support-to-saudi-arabia-after-attack-on-oil-facilities/

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South Asia

 

Taliban kill at least 26 in blast near Afghan presidential rally

Sep 17, 2019

KABUL: A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least 26 people and wounded dozens near a campaign rally for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday, with the insurgents warning of more violence ahead of elections.

About an hour after the attack, another blast also claimed by the Taliban rocked central Kabul near the US embassy.

It was not immediately clear if the second blast claimed any lives, but an AFP journalist at nearby Wazir Akbar Khan hospital saw around a dozen wounded victims, and a witness told AFP he had seen bodies in the street.

The explosions came after US President Donald Trump abruptly ended talks with the Taliban on September 10 over a deal that would have allowed the US to begin withdrawing troops from its longest war.

In a statement sent to media claiming responsibility for both blasts, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attack near Ghani's rally was deliberately aimed at disrupting the September 28 elections.

"We already warned people not to attend election rallies, if they suffer any losses that is their own responsibility," the statement said.

The bomber near Ghani's rally -- in Parwan province, about an hour's drive north of Kabul -- had been on a motorbike and had detonated his device at a checkpoint leading to the event, according to interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.

An AFP image from the scene showed the remains of a burnt motorcycle, with a body on top covered by a blanket, next to a badly damaged police car.

Women and children were among the causalities, Parwan hospital director Abdul Qasim Sangin told AFP, adding 42 people were injured as well as the 26 dead.

The president, who was speaking to his supporters at the time of the blast, was unhurt but later condemned the attack, saying the incident proved the Taliban had no real interest in reconciliation.

"As the Taliban continue their crimes, they once again prove that they are not interested in peace and stability in Afghanistan," said Ghani in a statement.

The UN offices in Afghanistan also slammed the Taliban, accusing the insurgents of showing "despicable disregard for civilian life & fundamental human right to participate in democratic process".

Sixty kilometres (40 miles) away in Kabul, a shopkeeper, Rahimullah, said he had been sitting inside his shop when the second blast came.

"The wave broke all the windows," he said.

"I rushed outside and saw several bodies just across the street. This is the second time in less than a month that a blast has broken our windows. I just fixed them a week ago." The elections will see Ghani face off against his own Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, and more than a dozen other candidates, including former warlords, ex-spies, and onetime members of the country's former communist regime.

For weeks, the election had been sidelined by the US-Taliban talks, with many Afghans and observers expecting the vote to be cancelled if a deal was agreed. Even candidates did little in the way of campaigning.

But with the deal off, Ghani and his rivals have begun the race.

Ghani is seeking a clear mandate they can use to negotiate with the insurgents on a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Trump's declaration that the US-Taliban talks were "dead" spurred the insurgents to declare last week that the only other option was more fighting.

"We had two ways to end occupation in Afghanistan, one was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and negotiations," Mujahid told AFP last week.

"If Trump wants to stop talks, we will take the first way and they will soon regret it." Observers had warned the Taliban, who hope to weaken the future president, will do anything they can to upend the election.

On the first day of campaigning in July, suicide attackers and gunmen targeted the Kabul office of Ghani's running mate, Amrullah Saleh. At least 20 people died in those attacks.

Turnout in the elections is set to be low, with experts citing fear of violence and a loss of hope among voters following widespread fraud allegations during the 2014 election.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/blast-near-afghan-presidential-rally-kills-at-least-24/articleshow/71167726.cms

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Airstrikes kill more than 20 Taliban and ISIS militants in 4 provinces

17 Sep 2019

The security forces conducted airstrikes in four provinces in the past 24 hours, killing more than 20 Taliban and ISIS militants.

The military officials said Tuesday that the security forces conducted airstrikes in Qarah Bagh and Ghazni districts of Ghazni province which killed 4 Taliban militants.

The officials further added that the airstrikes also destroyed two car bombs.

Furthermore, an airstrike killed 7 Taliban militants in Chak-e Wardak district of Wardak province.

The officials also added that airstrikes in Warduj district of Badakhshan province killed 9 Taliban militants.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/airstrikes-kill-more-than-20-taliban-and-isis-militants-in-4-provinces-04068/

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Taliban supplies al Qaeda with explosives for attacks in major Afghan cities

BY BILL ROGGIO

September 16, 2019

The Taliban continues to work closely with al Qaeda’s branch in South Asia. Afghan Commandos and a unit from the National Directorate of Security raided a Taliban warehouse that was used to store explosives that would be used by Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) to conduct attacks in the Afghan capital and other “major cities.”

The news comes only one week after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that al Qaeda is “a shadow of its former self in Afghanistan” and the Taliban “would break from al Qaeda publicly and permanently” to sign a so-called peace deal, which was canceled by President Trump.

“Commandos and NDS special Unit 703 with support from the Air Force” attacked a Taliban “stronghold and warehouse of explosive materials” in Ghazni’s Muqur district, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported on Sept. 14. Muqur is a contested district, and Ghazni is a known haven for al Qaeda. Afghan forces attacked two bases, killed 26 “terrorists,” and destroyed 120 barrels of explosives and “2000 kilograms of primary explosive substances.”

The explosive materials “were transported to Ghazni from the neighboring country.” Although not named, that country is certainly Pakistan, which borders Ghazni province. The Taliban is supported by Pakistan’s military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, and maintains an extensive support network there.

Ministry of Defense, Afghanistan

@MoDAfghanistan

• Sep 14, 2019

Replying to @MoDAfghanistan

(4/6) During the operations, 2 of the terrorists’ bases were demolished along with 120 barrels full of explosive materials, around 2000 kilograms of primary explosive substances, 26 motorbikes and one Corolla vehicle.

Ministry of Defense, Afghanistan

@MoDAfghanistan

(5/6) The materials were transported to Ghazni from the neighboring country. Skilled explosive experts of the terrorist group of ‘Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’ were to use the materials to prepare explosives for attacks in the Capital and major cities across Afghanistan.

7

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The MoD also noted that “skilled explosive experts” from AQIS “were to use the materials to prepare explosives for attacks in the Capital and major cities across Afghanistan.”

The raid against the explosives warehouse in Ghazni highlights the enduring relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda. Al Qaeda operatives have provided key support for the Taliban, including explosives experts, military trainers and advisors, and they even fight alongside the Taliban on the front lines.

In exchange, the Taliban shelters and supports al Qaeda leaders and operative in areas they control or contest. General Austin Miller, the commander of Resolute Support Mission and U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, confirmed earlier this year that al Qaeda is operating “across the country” and not confirmed to one region. In late 2018, a Taliban commander confirmed that “thousands” of foreign fighters are currently embedded in the group in Afghanistan. In a report released by the United Nations in March 2019, the UN described al Qaeda’s relationship with the Taliban as “long-standing” and “strong,” finding that the international terrorist organization “continues to see Afghanistan as a safe haven for its leadership.”

However, this is not merely a transactional relationship. Al Qaeda’s leaders (first Osama bin Laden, then Ayman al Zawahiri) have sworn allegiance to the Taliban’s emirs, and view the Taliban’s supremo as the Amir al-Mu’minin or Leader of the Faithful. In turn, the Taliban has advertised its enduring relationship with al Qaeda and has feted some of its key leaders.

Al Qaeda in Ghazni

Ghazni has long been a strategic province for al Qaeda. In one of the letters seized during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the al Qaeda chief told his general manager, Atiyah Abd al Rahman, that Ghazni was one of four Afghan provinces where leaders and operatives could relocate to avoid the U.S. drone campaign in Paksitan’s tribal areas. [See LWJ report, Bin Laden advised relocation of some leaders to Afghanistan due to drone strikes in Waziristan.]

The United Nations, in 2018, identified Ghazni as one of four provinces where al Qaeda operates.

FDD’s Long War Journal can trace al Qaeda operations in Ghazni back to 2008. Aafia Siddiqui, who is better known as “Lady al Qaeda,” was among several leaders who operates captured and killed during raids that year. There have been multiple operations targeting al Qaeda in Ghazni since then. In Feb. 2017, Afghan troops killed Qari Saifullah Akhtar, a senior al Qaeda leader who also doubled as the emir for Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), a Pakistan-based terror group. Later that year, in Dec. 2017, the US killed Omar Khetab (a.k.a. Omar Mansour), the “second senior leader” in AQIS, al Qaeda’s regional branch. In March of this year, the Afghan military killed 31 AQIS fighters in the district of Giro.

The Afghan government said that al Qaeda played an important role in the Taliban’s Aug. 2018 assault on Ghazni City, the provincial capital. At the time, the Afghan Minister of Defense said that Pakistani, Chechen and Arab foreign fighters were fighting alongside the Taliban and some were killed.

Ghazni is merely one of 13 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces where FDD’s Long War Journal has detected an overt al Qaeda presence. However, based on past history, al Qaeda is likely to operate in a dozen more provinces.

Full report at:

https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2019/09/taliban-supplies-al-qaeda-with-explosives-for-attacks-in-major-afghan-cities.php

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UN adopts Afghan resolution without China's 'Belt and Road'

Sep 17, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a compromise resolution extending the UN political mission in Afghanistan.

It dropped a Chinese demand to include a reference to China's $ 1 trillion "belt and road" initiative but stressed the need for regional connectivity.

China and Russia had clashed with the US and other Security Council members Monday over China's insistence on including its flagship global program in the resolution. After negotiations dragged into Monday night, a compromise was hammered out and adopted on Tuesday morning.

US Ambassador Kelly Craft said the resolution would have been stronger if not for the insistence of a member state — a clear reference to China — to highlight "national political priorities."

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/un-adopts-afghan-resolution-without-chinas-belt-and-road/articleshow/71172883.cms

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Bangladesh, growing tired of hosting Rohingya refugees, puts new squeeze on the teeming camps

By Jennifer Chowdhury

September 11, 2019

KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh — Bangladesh took in 750,000 Rohingya expelled from Myanmar in a military-led crackdown. Two years on, facing simmering conflict between natives and the recent arrivals, and after failed attempts to persuade some refugees to return, the host country is running out of patience for the Rohingya.

Authorities have blamed Rohingya militants for the killing of a ruling-party politician last month and accused refugees of smuggling drugs from Myanmar — a trade that activists say entices some for want of opportunities in refu­gee camps. Several Rohingya are reported to have been killed in recent shootouts with police.

Limits on Internet and cellphone service imposed this month, along with curbs on aid agencies, offer some of the clearest signs that Bangladesh is growing tired of the camps in its impoverished southeast and is looking for ways to nudge the Rohingya back to Myanmar without resorting to force. The mostly Muslim refugees have resisted two attempts to repatriate a handful of them to Myanmar, a Buddhist-majority nation that denies them many rights and whose army violently ejected them in 2017.

“The government’s actions are an easy solution to a bigger problem,” said Imtiaz Ahmed, director of the Center for Genocide Studies at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh, in relation to the communication restrictions and challenges of security and repatriation.

A year after the assault on the Rohingya, Myanmar’s generals are unapologetic

On Monday, Bangladesh’s telecom regulator ordered network operators to halt all cellphone service in an area covering the Rohingya camps near Cox’s Bazar, near the Myanmar border. The move followed a limited shutdown on cellphone service, between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m., imposed on Sept. 1.

It mirrored Myanmar’s decision in June to block mobile Internet services in its western regions that were formerly home to many Rohingya.

The regulator’s deputy director, Nahidul Hasan, cited state security and law and order as justification for the clampdown. Bangladesh had previously banned sales of SIM cards in the camps, but they were widely available and locals often sold them to refugees. The government says official identification, which Rohingya lack, is needed to buy a SIM card.

On a recent day here at the tail end of monsoon season, refugees congregating inside their homes and under storefront awnings voiced fears about the growing pressure.

“Don’t take your phone with you when you go outside,” Nasima Akhter, a refugee living in Kutupalong, the largest camp for displaced people, told her neighbor, Hamida Khatun. “The police are taking away our phones.”

“If I don’t have a phone, how can I reach out to anyone in case of an emergency?” Khatun asked. “How will you talk to us if you need to know what’s going on in the camps?”

Aid groups say Bangladesh has overreacted to the tensions and warn that the restrictions jeopardize safety in refu­gee camps.

“There is no proper communication system between the 34 camps. How can you restrict ­Internet and confiscate mobile phones?” said Abu Murshed Chowdhury, co-chairman of Cox’s Bazar CSO-NGO forum, a network of nonprofit and human rights groups.

The ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Rohingya

Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director, said in a statement that Bangladesh faced a challenge in dealing with the refu­gee crisis but had “made matters worse by imposing restrictions on refugee communications and freedom of movement.”

Activists say Bangladesh officials are penalizing the Rohingya after some refugees held a rally Aug. 25 to commemorate the two-year anniversary of their expulsion and to call on Myanmar to grant them a proper path to repatriation through citizenship. Since 1982, Rohingya have been unable to legally marry, gain access to education and many jobs, or move freely within Myanmar, also known as Burma.

“The protest was not meant to cause Bangladesh harm in any way,” Khatun said. “We are grateful to this country for giving us space, but we want to know about our future.”

Camp officials faced swift backlash from local politicians and government officials for permitting the demonstration. The head of the Office of Refugee Relief and Repatriation and the official in charge of the camp where the rally occurred were transferred out of their roles.

Bangladesh also banned two aid groups, including the U.S.-based Adventist Development and Relief Agency, from operating in the camps. Mohammad Ashraful Afsar, an official in Cox’s Bazar district, told the Dhaka Tribune that the organization had encouraged Rohingya to resist attempts to repatriate them and that it had financed the protest, including by giving them clothes.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters reporters freed from prison in Myanmar

The U.S. organization denies this. “For visibility, donors gave ­T-shirts to refugees in some of the camps. It wasn’t meant for the rally, it was meant for ongoing activities,” said Iqbal Hassan, a field monitoring officer. “We have had no role in repatriation efforts or even a role in counseling Rohingya for or against repatriation.”

Hassan said his organization employed almost 5,000 Rohingya laborers who helped to build pathways and bridges and repair monsoon damage. “They will lose their livelihood now,” he said.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed concerns about the role of nongovernmental organizations, suggesting they were fomenting opposition to efforts to return refugees to Myanmar. “Actually, these agencies never want them to go back,” Hasina said at a news conference in June. She also questioned Myanmar’s commitment to providing a safe space that would allow the Rohingya to go home. Myanmar says it is doing all it can but has not agreed to grant Rohingya full citizenship rights.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/bangladesh-growing-tired-of-hosting-rohingya-refugees-puts-new-squeeze-on-a-displaced-minority/2019/09/10/4488cfb4-cfd5-11e9-a620-0a91656d7db6_story.html

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Mideast

 

Netanyahu refuses to concede as Gantz leads in Israel’s general election

Sep 18, 2019

Exit polls released by Israeli television channels show that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to secure a ruling majority in the general election.

Three separate exit surveys released on Tuesday showed that Netanyahu's right-wing Likud is projected to garner between 31 and 32 parliament seats each out of 120, while his main challenger Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance is leading with 32 Knesset seats.

In all three polls, the Joint List of Arab parties is projected to have the third most seats, while far-right Yamina party, led by Ayelet Shaked, is projected to win 6-7 seats.

Former minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party is expected to receive between eight and nine seats, according to the polls.

With neither Netanyahu nor Gantz appear to have gained a 61-seat majority, the two are likely to head to deliberations with President Reuven Rivlin, who will determine which of them gets the mandate to try and form a governing coalition.

Speaking to a half-empty hall at the Likud campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu vowed to form a “strong and Zionist” administration, warning his supporters of a “dangerous and anti-Zionist” regime.

The Israeli prime minister added he already began negotiations with Likud’s potential coalition partners on the right wing. “They all committed to pursue our goals together. This election has been one of the toughest we’d known,” he said.

Gantz said Tuesday overnight he would work to establish a unity administration.

“We stuck to our mission and to our path,” Gantz said at his party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, hours after exit polls show his party has secured a lead over Likud.

Gantz went on to say that exit polls show Netanyahu failed in his reelection bid. “This is the start of the journey to mend the Israeli society,” he commented.

Lieberman, for his part, called for a unity administration with his party, Likud and Blue and White as he addressed supporters, saying Israel was facing an "emergency".

“There is only one option for us,” he said, adding the administration should exclude the country's ultra-Orthodox religious parties, which he accuses of having undue influence on politics

Hamas condemns Israel’s general election

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, has strongly slammed Israel’s snap polls, stating that the election guarantees further expropriation of occupied Palestinian lands.

The movement said those contesting in the vote have been encouraging the Israeli regime to intensify its attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip, and violate the rights of Palestinians.

It also described Israeli voters as alien settlers, who have stolen Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian resistance movement finally denounced Israel as a usurper entity which owes its existence to the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/18/606467/Netanyahu-refuses-to-concede-as-Gantz-leads-in-Israels-general-election

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Turkey says three million could return to safe zone in Syria

16 September 2019

Turkey's president has said that up to three million Syrian refugees could return to their country to live in a "safe zone" in the north.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the zone - which is already being set up in co-operation with the US - needed to be extended for the goal to be met.

US-backed Kurdish fighters earlier moved back from a strip of Syrian territory along the Turkish border.

Turkey regards the Kurdish forces as terrorists.

Mr Erdogan's comments came after talks in Ankara with the presidents of Russia and Iran, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani.

The Kurds have yet to respond to Mr Erdogan's plan, but they are almost certain to bitterly oppose it, the BBC's Alan Johnston reports.

Earlier this month, Turkey warned it might reopen the route for Syrian refugees to enter Europe if it did not get more international support for the "safe zone" in northern Syria.

Turkey is hosting more than 3.6 million Syrians who have fled the civil war that began in 2011.

Tens of thousands of civilians have already fled north from Idlib, a province held by rebel and jihadist forces, to the Turkish border.

Under a 2016 agreement with the EU, Turkey imposed stronger controls to curb the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe.

The deal involved an EU pledge to provide €6bn (£5.4bn; $6.6bn) in aid to Turkey to house Syrian refugees.

Full report at:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49719284

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Top Houthi rebel commander killed in southern Yemen

Ali Mahmood

Sep 16, 2019

A high-ranking Houthi commander and several other rebel fighters were killed in Yemen’s southern Dhalea province during two days of clashes.

Capt Majed Al Shouaibi, a spokesman for the pro-government forces, said the rebel commander was killed on Saturday.

“Maj Gen Adel Mokbel Abu Esba, commander of the 135th brigade of the Houthi militia, was killed in clashes with our forces in Al Reibi on the Hajer front with a number of his fighters,” Capt Al Shouaibi told The National.

The rebels reported the commander’s death on affiliated news websites and broadcast his funeral on their Al Masirah TV channel.

A coalition of militias known as the Southern Joint Forces repelled a Houthi attempt to seize Dhalea earlier this year and have pushed the rebels back to the northern edges of the province.

Fighting has flared up in northern Dhalea over the past week, Capt Al Shouaibi said.

Another six Houthi fighters were killed and 10 injured during fierce clashes on the Hajer front on Sunday night, a source in the Southern Joint Forces told The National.

“Houthi fighters launched an attack trying to advance towards sites controlled by our forces but our fighters repelled them and launched a counterattack, killing six of the Houthi fighters in the clashes in Habeel Al Madmag between the villages of Batar and Al Mashareeh,” the source said.

“The Houthis attacked from two directions – towards Wadi Al Mashareeh from the east and towards Wadi Al Gamri from the west – under the cover of heavy fire from 23-4 Shilka and other light and medium weapons,” the source said.

The Shilka is an armoured, self-propelled anti-aircraft gun.

Separately, the Houthis launched attacks on civilian areas of Hodeidah to the west, according to a source in the pro-government Al Amalikah forces fighting the rebels in the Red Sea coastal province.

Four civilians were injured and at least five homes damaged when the rebels fired mortar shells at residential areas in Duraihimi district in eastern Hodeidah.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/top-houthi-rebel-commander-killed-in-southern-yemen-1.910984

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Netanyahu, rightist allies appear to fall short of majority in Israel polls

September 18, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fell short of securing a parliamentary majority with his natural religious and nationalist allies in yesterday's national elections, partial results indicated on Wednesday, setting the stage for a period of coalition negotiations that could threaten his political future and even clear the way for him to be tried on corruption charges.

Initial partial results showed challenger Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party tied with Netanyahu's Likud.

While the results do not guarantee that Gantz will be the next prime minister, they signalled that Netanyahu, who has led the country for over 10 years, could have trouble holding on to the job.

Addressing his supporters early on Wednesday, Netanyahu refused to concede defeat and vowed to work to form a new government that excludes Arab parties. His campaign focused heavily on attacking and questioning the loyalty of the country's Arab minority a strategy that drew accusations of racism and incitement from Arab leaders.

“In the coming days we will convene negotiations to assemble a strong Zionist government and to prevent a dangerous anti-Zionist government,” he said. He claimed that Arab parties “negate the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” and “glorify bloodthirsty murderers".

The partial results released on Wednesday by the Central Election Commission were based on 35 per cent of the vote counted. The three Israeli TV channels reported the same outcome, based on more than 90pc of the vote counted, but did not explain the discrepancy with the commission's percentage.

Final results are expected on Wednesday and could still swing in Netanyahu's favour.

According to the partial results, the parties of Gantz and Netanyahu received 32 seats each in the 120-member parliament. Likud with its natural allies of religious and ultra-nationalist parties mustered 56 seats or five short of the needed majority.

This means both Likud and Blue and White will have difficulty setting up a governing coalition without the support of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party. That put Lieberman, a former protege of Netanyahu's who has become one of the prime minister's fiercest rivals, in the position of kingmaker.

Arab parties, which have never before sat in an Israeli government, also finished strong, and exit polls predicted they would form the third-largest party in parliament.

Addressing his supporters late on Tuesday, a jubilant Lieberman said he saw only "one option": a broad, secular coalition with both Blue and White and Likud.

“We've always said that a unity government is only possible in emergency situations. And I tell you and I tell every citizen today watching us on television: the situation, both security-wise and economically, are emergency situations,” he said. “The country, therefore, requires a broad government.”

Early on Wednesday, Gantz told a cheering rally of supporters that while it was too soon to declare victory, he had begun speaking to potential partners and hoped to form a unity government.

“Starting tonight we will work to form a broad unity government that will express the will of the people,” he said.

Attention will now focus on Israel's president, Reuven Rivlin, who is to choose the candidate he believes has the best chance of forming a stable coalition. Rivlin is to consult with all parties in the coming days before making his decision.

After that, the prime minister designate would have up to six weeks to form a coalition. If that fails, Rivlin could give another candidate for prime minister 28 days to form a coalition. And if that doesn't work, new elections would be triggered yet again. Rivlin has said he will do everything possible to avoid such a scenario.

Lieberman called for an immediate start to negotiations and predicted it could be wrapped up quickly. But such a deal promises to be complicated.

Gantz, a former military chief who has presented himself as a unifying figure in a divided nation, has ruled out a partnership with Likud if Netanyahu remains at the helm at a time when he is expected to be indicted on criminal charges.

But in his speech today, he made no such conditions. “I intend to speak with everyone,” he said, without mentioning Netanyahu.

Lieberman, who leads a nationalist but secular party, is unlikely to sit with Arab parties on the left or ultra-Orthodox religious parties on the right.

That could limit both Gantz's and Netanyahu's ability to manoeuvre and could potentially put pressure on the longtime leader, who has ruled for over a decade, to step aside.

Likud members said they remained behind their leader.

“We have the basic principle of standing by the party leader who was elected in the party primary, which is why we won't take action against Netanyahu,” said lawmaker Micky Zohar, a Netanyahu loyalist.

Netanyahu had sought an outright majority with his allies in hopes of passing legislation to give him immunity from the expected indictment.

Israel's attorney general has recommended charging Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three scandals, pending a hearing scheduled next month. A formal indictment would increase the pressure on Netanyahu to step aside if he does not have immunity.

Netanyahu tried to portray himself as a seasoned statesman uniquely qualified to lead the country through challenging times during an alarmist campaign marked by mudslinging and slogans that were condemned as racist. Gantz tried to paint Netanyahu as divisive and scandal-plagued, offering himself as a calming influence and honest alternative.

Netanyahu's campaign promoted images of him jetting off to world capitals and boasting of warm relations with powerful leaders, most notably United States President Donald Trump.

At the same time, he issued repeated doomsday warnings that his opponents were scheming with politicians from the country's Arab minority to “steal” the election.

He tried, and failed, to pass legislation that would allow cameras in polling stations, a step he said was needed to crack down on alleged fraud in Arab towns. Facebook suspended his account for 24 hours last week after it published a post saying that “Arabs want to annihilate all of us. Netanyahu also sought to appeal to his hard-line base with a number of election promises, including plans to annex all of Israel's settlements in the West Bank.

His proposal, which could extinguish any remaining hopes for a Palestinian state, were condemned by much of the world, including important Arab countries like Jordan and Saudi Arabia. But the US remained muted, suggesting he had coordinated with Washington ahead of time.

Netanyahu's frenetic warnings about Arabs appeared to backfire, turning off some Jewish voters and driving heavy turnout in the Arab sector.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the main Arab faction in parliament, said Netanyahu's repeated attacks had boosted turnout and hurt Netanyahu in the end.

“There's a heavy price to pay for incitement,” he told Channel 13 TV.

The election was Israel's second of the year.

In April's vote, Netanyahu appeared to have the upper hand, with his traditional allies of nationalist and ultra-religious Jewish parties controlling a parliamentary majority. But Lieberman, his mercurial ally-turned-rival, refused to join the new coalition, citing excessive influence it granted the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties. Without a parliamentary majority, Netanyahu dissolved parliament and called a new election.

Lieberman's gamble paid off on Tuesday, and partial results indicated his party had nearly doubled in strength, with nine seats.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1505900/netanyahu-rightist-allies-appear-to-fall-short-of-majority-in-israel-polls

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Iran’s leader Khamenei says US policy of maximum pressure will fail

17 September 2019

Iran will never hold talks with the United States and Washington’s policy of maximum pressure on Tehran will fail, the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday, state TV reported, adding that Iranian officials will “never” hold talks with the US.

“Iranian officials will never talk to America ... this is part of their (US) policy to put pressure on Iran ... their policy of maximum pressure will fail,” state TV quoted Khamenei.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/17/Iran-s-leader-Khamenei-says-US-policy-of-maximum-pressure-will-fail.html

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Saudi Arabia joins US naval mission in Middle East amid tensions with Iran

Sep 18, 2019

Saudi Arabia joins a US-led naval mission purportedly aimed at protecting shipping lanes in Middle Eastern waterways as Washington and Riyadh engage in another blame game against Iran following massive Yemeni drone attacks on key Saudi oil facilities.

Quoting an official source in the Defense Ministry, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday that Riyadh had decided to be a member of the so-called International Maritime Security Construct, which operates in the Strait of Hormuz, Bab el-Mandab, the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf.

It also claimed that the US-led coalition is meant to “protect merchant ships through providing safe navigation” and safeguard the interests of the alliance’s member countries.

SPAENG

@Spa_Eng

Saudi Arabia joins International Maritime Security Construct.http://www.spa.gov.sa/1970536 #SPAGOV

41

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Saudi Arabia’s accession to the mission, it further claimed, was “in support of regional and international efforts to deter and counter threats to maritime navigation and global trade in order to ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy.”

The United States began trying to persuade its allies into the maritime coalition after it blamed Tehran for two separate attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, without providing any credible evidence to back up the allegation, which Iran has categorically rejected.

The US’s allies have turned a cold shoulder to such an alliance, which they believe could lead to tensions with Iran. Only the UK, Australia and Bahrain have so far joined the coalition.

The Saudi decision came a few days after Yemeni armed forces conducted a large-scale drone operation on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities in response to Riyadh’s years-long military aggression, causing a partial halt in crude and gas production from the world’s top oil exporter.

The United States quickly moved to blame Iran for the strikes, though it did not offer any evidence to back up the claim, which both Iran and Yemen have rejected as baseless.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who is slated to hold talks with Saudi officials later today — became the first White House official to comment on the Yemeni raids, claiming Tehran had “launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”

The State Department said Pompeo will discuss “the recent attack on the kingdom's oil facilities and coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region” with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah.

Echoing Washington’s position, Saudi officials have claimed Iranian weapons were used in the attacks, and that the strikes did not originate in Yemen, but declined to provide any detailed evidence.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/18/606477/Saudi-Arabia-Iran-Persian-Gulf-coalition

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10 pro-Iranian militiamen killed in eastern Syria

September 17, 2019

BEIRUT: Overnight airstrikes killed 10 pro-Iranian Iraqi militiamen in eastern Syria, a war monitor said Tuesday, without specifying who carried them out.

The strikes targeted “three positions of the (Iranian) Revolutionary Guards and allied (Iraqi) militias” in Albu Kamal, in the Euphrates Valley just across the border from Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Ten Iraqis from pro-Iranian militias were killed,” the Britain-based monitor said.

The strikes came as tensions mounted between archfoes Iran and the US after Washington blamed Tehran for weekend attacks on Saudi oil installations.

They were the second to hit pro-Iranian forces in eastern Syria in little more than a week.

On Sept. 9, airstrikes killed 18 fighters, including Iranians, according to the Observatory.

In June last year, strikes near the Iraqi border killed 55 fighters, most of them Syrian or Iraqi. A US official speaking on condition of anonymity said Israel was responsible.

Much of the east of Syria was held by Daesh militants before their defeat in March.

It is now divided by the Euphrates Valley into a zone held by forces loyal to the Syrian regime and its ally Iran and another held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and their allies in a US-led coalition, which has in the past carried out air raids on pro-regime forces.

Meanwhile, the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed on Monday to ease tensions in northwest Syria’s Idlib region, but disagreements between the countries appeared to linger, especially over the threat from Daesh.

The summit of the three countries aimed to find a lasting truce in Syria. Recent attacks by the regime forces risk deepening regional turmoil and pushing a new wave of migrants toward Turkey.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1555906/middle-east

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Southeast Asia

 

Sarawak gifts non-Muslim religious institutions RM16.4m

18 September 2019

BY SULOK TAWIE

KUCHING, Sept 18 — Sarawak churches and other non-Islamic institutions received RM16.4 million in cash aid today.

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas assured the cash-strapped institutions that the state will not neglect those in need, especially for those in rural locations looking to finance repairs to their houses of worship and other religious activities.

“The allocation is our good gesture to them financially,” Uggah said at the handing over of 98 cheques to 27 Sarawak assemblymen acting on behalf of the churches and other non-Islamic religious institutions here.

He said the money was part of the RM30 million budgeted for Sarawak’s Unit for Other Religions (Unifor).

Uggah, who is also the minister in-charge of Unifor, said the state unit received 109 applications from churches, temples and other houses of worship for funds.

He said apart from the RM30 million fund, the chief minister had also approved a sum of RM27.3 million for the construction of 12 houses of worship this year.

He added Unifor officials will go to the ground to personally inspect the development of these houses of worship to ensure that they are complete according to schedule and within the cost allocated.

Uggah also asked the Gabungan Parti Sarawak state lawmakers to help the religious institutions meeting their religious needs, like raising funds for their activities or build houses of worship.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/09/18/sarawak-gifts-non-muslim-religious-institutions-rm16.4m/1791683

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PAS leader warns DAP against pursuing 'Christianisation agenda'

September 18, 2019

A senior PAS leader today warned the DAP and other Harapan components against using bogeyman tactics to label its union with Umno as a racist, extreme and radical "klepto-theocracy".

In insisting that PAS-Umno cooperation will not sideline other races and religions, PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man (above) in a statement also warned DAP against pursuing its alleged Christianisation agenda.

"The struggle of PAS and Umno is to unite the ummah in an inclusive manner by prioritising Malays and Muslims but without prejudice to other races.

"This is in line with the teachings of Islam, the Federal Constitution, historical context as well as current demands," said Tuan Ibrahim.

"How about the DAP? Is a Christianisation agenda in Malaysian politics considered a reasonable action?" asked Tuan Ibrahim, who cited an alleged speech by Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim at a forum last Saturday.

On Monday, political analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff was quoted by PAS news organ Harakahdaily as questioning Sim's speech during a “New Malaysia Narrative” forum held at Mega Chinese Methodist Church in Kota Damansara.

"I reserve my comment on this matter at the moment," Sim (photo) told Malaysiakini when contacted.

Tuan Ibrahim further urged authorities to investigate the forum organisers and its contents to avoid confusion among the public.

'Even sworn enemies can reconcile'

Meanwhile, former PAS vice-president Nakhaie Ahmad pointed out how even parties once at war with each other could reconcile their differences, let alone PAS and Umno.

Nakhaie, who left PAS to join Umno in 1989, said the political cooperation was borne out of rejection from Malay-Muslims who are unhappy with changes brought about by Harapan.

"These two parties representing the Malays are willing to set aside their chronic differences when a majority of Malays are in an uncomfortable position and felt threatened," he told Malaysiakini.

Umno Veteran secretary-general Mustapha Yaakob said the party has moved on from its bitter rivalry with PAS, and Harapan leaders, including Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, should refrain from meddling in their affairs.

"It is up to PAS whether they want to retract their Umno kafir (infidel) allegation in the past.

Full report at:

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/492361

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Manila calls for collective efforts to combat terrorism

September 17, 2019

MANILA: The Philippines on Tuesday called for collective international efforts to combat terrorism in the wake of strikes on Saudi oil facilities.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Vice President of the Philippines Maria Leonor Robredo said that the attacks were a “wake-up call” to the world and threatened not only her country’s economy but also Filipinos working in the Kingdom.

“I know for a fact that Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of combating terrorist activities. Now that we have heard of the recent attacks last week in the Middle East, it is another wake-up call for all of us that the threat is still there,” she added.

Speaking at her office in Manila, Robredo said that such strikes would have a negative impact on the Philippines. “The attacks are not just expected to affect our economy, but also the future of Filipino workers who reside there (Saudi Arabia).”

On Tuesday, Reuters reported a drop in oil prices. Oil ended nearly 15 percent higher on Monday, with Brent logging its biggest jump in more than 30 years amid record trading volumes.

“My stance is that attacks will continue if we will not step up as a community of nations in really working together, doing collective efforts to combat terrorism,” said Robredo.

Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also expressed concerns about the possible impact of the terror strikes, particularly on oil prices and supplies to his country.

“This is serious. It will — not could — affect us deeply; to put it bluntly, an oil shortage or steep rise in oil price will rock the Philippine boat and tip it over,” Locsin said on Twitter.

Following Saturday’s coordinated drone hits on key Saudi oil sites at Khurais and Abqaiq in the Eastern Province, the Philippine government convened an emergency meeting on Sunday afternoon to discuss the situation.

Present during the meeting held at the Department of Energy (DoE) headquarters in the city of Taguig were officials of the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau, Industry Management Bureau, the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the National Power Corporation (NPC), the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), and the PNOC-Exploration Committee.

“We are seeking to ensure that the energy family will be sufficiently prepared to face the potential impact of this unfortunate incident, if any, on the country,” Secretary of Energy Alfonso Cusi said in a statement.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1555966/world

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Thai PM defends police monitoring of Muslim students

September 18, 2019

Thailand's prime minister defended police for requesting information about minority Muslim students from universities around the country after the move was called discriminatory and illegal.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday the police request, which follows a series of bomb blasts in the capital Bangkok in August blamed on Muslim suspects, was needed to build a national security database.

An official letter from police, shared online by former rights commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit, asked a university to supply information about the numbers, place of origin, sect affiliation and other details about Muslim-organised student groups. The name of the university was blotted out.

"This is an interference to personal rights and a discrimination based on religion," Angkhana said, adding freedom of religion and the right to privacy were guaranteed by the Thai constitution.

About 90 percent of Thais are Buddhist, though Muslims are a majority in three southern provinces bordering Malaysia.

Prayuth said the move was necessary.

"The police already pointed out this is for the creation of a database on intelligence," Prayuth said. "No rights have been breached. We cannot manage anything if we don't have data."

Muslim students said the police request was discriminatory.

"We want the police to reconsider this, the university should be a space where students can express their views freely and their rights are protected," said Ashraf Awae, president of the Muslim Students Federation of Thailand.

'Ill-intended people'

A police source said the request for information on Muslims was linked to the attacks on August 2 that wounded four people when six small bombs and six incendiary devices went off in Bangkok, which was hosting a major international meeting.

Three people were arrested and 11 other suspects remain at large. All are Muslim Malays from southern Thailand.

"We are worried about those ill-intended people who are infiltrating university students," said a police source who didn't want to be named because he wasn't authorised to speak to the media.

Similar letters were sent to many Thai education institutions as part of a routine update of an existing intelligence database, police said in a statement.

Some universities with a large population of Muslim students were disturbed by the letter.

Wuthisak Lapcharoensap, president of Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok, said police should reconsider their request.

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/thai-pm-defends-police-monitoring-muslim-students-190917182918633.html

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Non-Muslims no problem with our alliance with PAS, says Sabah Umno

Tracy Patrick

September 18, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno is confident that the party’s recently formalised alliance with PAS will be beneficial to the state, and says the cooperation with the Islamist party should not be seen through the lens of religion.

Sabah Umno information chief Raime Unggi said the alliance is a vehicle to unite people of all races and religions in the country.

He is also confident the partnership with PAS will not be viewed negatively by non-Muslims in Sabah.

“I admit there are some quarters that are unhappy about this alliance. They say it will break the good relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims.

“But from the feedback I gathered, especially from Sabah Umno members, even the non-Muslim members are happy with the alliance,” Raime told reporters today.

Raime singled out DAP as the “only people who are unhappy” over the alliance.

He accused the Pakatan Harapan government of going back on its election promises, saying Malaysians are feeling worse off compared to when Barisan Nasional was in power.

“The reality is, the policies taken by both the federal and state governments have failed to help the people.

“I have met many people who complained to me about how bad their economic situation is and how business owners have been forced to close shop,” he added.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/09/18/non-muslims-no-problem-with-our-alliance-with-pas-says-sabah-umno/

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China condemns attacks on Saudi oil facilities

17 September 2019

China on Tuesday condemned an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, in a toughening of its language from the previous day, but again without saying who it believed was behind it.

US President Donald Trump said on Monday it looked like Iran was behind attacks on oil plants operated by Saudi Aramco on Saturday but stressed he did not want to go to war, as the attacks sent oil prices soaring and raised fears of a new Middle

ast conflict.

Iran has rejected the US accusations it was behind the strikes that damaged the world’s biggest crude-processing plant and triggered the largest jump in crude prices in decades.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying offered different wording from Monday, when she said it was irresponsible to blame anyone for the attack without conclusive facts.

“China condemns this attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities and opposes any attacks on civilians or civilian facilities,” she told a daily news briefing.

However, Hua also reiterated her Monday call for the “relevant parties to avoid taking actions that bring about an escalation in regional tensions.”

She did not elaborate.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman visited Beijing in 2017, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to China this year.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/09/17/China-condemns-attacks-on-Saudi-oil-facilities.html

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Europe

 

Russia to discuss selling new anti-drone weapons to Middle East partners

17 September 2019

Russia will hold talks with its Middle East partners on selling them new anti-drone weapons systems, Interfax news agency cited Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport saying on Tuesday.

The arms exporter would discuss sales of the new anti-drone weapons during the Dubai Airshow in late November, Rosoboronexport director Alexander Mikheev said.

The comments follow a drone attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities on Saturday which knocked out more than 5 percent of global oil supply.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/17/Russia-to-discuss-selling-new-anti-drone-weapons-to-Middle-East-partners.html

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Britain, Germany agree on need for international response to Saudi attacks

17 September 2019

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday they needed to work with international partners to form a collective response to Saturday’s attacks on Saudi oil plants, his spokesman said.

The two leaders also agreed there was a need to de-escalate tensions in the region and were committed to a common approach on Iran, which has been blamed by US President Donald Trump for the attack on Saudi oil facilities.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/09/17/UK-PM-and-German-Chancellor-discuss-common-approach-on-Iran.html

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Britain continues to aid Saudi war effort in Yemen

Sep 17, 2019

As the brutal war in Yemen grinds on, the British government has just admitted that it has breached an arms sales ban to Saudi Arabia.

The International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, was forced to apologise to court for two breaches of a pledge not to license military-related exports to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the War on Yemen.

In late June the court of appeal ruled arms sales to Saudi Arabia unlawful and accused ministers of ignoring whether airstrikes that killed civilians in Yemen broke humanitarian law.

The legal challenge was brought by the advocacy group, Campaign Against Arms Trade, which successfully argued that arms sales to Saudi Arabia might be used in a serious violation of international humanitarian law. 

Truss has now admitted that the granting of licenses for £435,000 of radio spares and a £200 air cooler for the Royal Saudi Land Forces were in breach of the court ruling.

The admission comes in a letter to the Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls, where Truss discloses that 260 items of radio spares for the Saudi military had been issued in July, more than two weeks after the court ruling.

In the letter Truss states: “I have apologised unreservedly for the error in granting these two licenses”.

Truss’ admission underlines the reluctance of the British government to discontinue arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a key British ally in the Middle East.

British arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been a major contributory factor to the conflict in Yemen, where more than 10,000 civilians have been killed by Saudi-led coalition bombings, which began in March 2015. 

A former Ministry of Defence senior civil servant and defence attaché to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, John Deverell, told the Guardian on June 18 that “Saudi bosses absolutely depend on BAE Systems”.

Referring to the Yemen conflict, Deverell added: “They [Saudis] couldn’t do it without us”.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/17/606422/UK-Saudi-Arabia-Yemen-War-Arms-Sales

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Dutch court starts hearing in war crime case against Israel’s Gantz

Sep 17, 2019

A Dutch court has held a hearing on a war crime case against a former Israeli general challenging incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in ongoing general elections.

The Hague District Court weighed on Tuesday whether it should hear a lawsuit brought by a Palestinian man seeking compensation from Benny Gantz for his role in the killing of six of his relatives during the Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip in 2014.

On July 20, 2014, Ismail Ziada lost his mother, three brothers, a sister-in-law, and a 12-year-old nephew when their family home was bombed by the Israeli air force.

A visitor was also killed in the Israeli bombardment.

“I was shot at a very close range with a rubber coated metal bullet in the head. I witnessed another boy being shot in the head next to me, dying on the spot,” said Ziada about his encounters with the Israeli army.

Ziada, who now lives in the Netherlands, filed a civil lawsuit in 2018 seeking damages from Gantz, who was the chief of staff of Israel’s military at the time of the bombing, and the then-air force commander Amir Eshel.

Ziada says the attack violated international humanitarian law because it deliberately targeted civilians.

The Tuesday session addressed a motion filed by Gantz and Eshel’s lawyers asking the court to dismiss the case. They argued the ex-commanders were immune because the Dutch court had no jurisdiction over the case.

Ahead of the hearing, Ziada’s lawyer, Liesbeth Zegveld, said Palestinians from Gaza could not receive fair treatment in Israeli courts.

Dutch courts can exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes, provided the accuser cannot get a fair trial elsewhere.

Israel launched several wars on the Palestinian coastal sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014. The military aggression, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians. Over 11,100 others were also wounded in the war.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/17/606451/Palestine-Gaza-Israel-Dutch--Benjam-Benny-Gantzin-Netanyahu

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Return to JCPOA only way to de-escalate tensions in Middle East: Merkel

Sep 17, 2019

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says a return to a 2015 nuclear deal Iran clinched with six world states is the only way to defuse tensions in the Middle East.

The Europeans “believe that the deal to stop Iran from acquiring military nuclear capabilities is a building block we need to get back to,” Merkel said during a news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Berlin on Tuesday.

She pointed to increasing tensions in the region in recent days and said her country prefers a “diplomatic process” to calm the situation.

“Germany will always be in favor of de-escalation and long-term solutions [which] are only possible through a political process,” Merkel pointed out.

Tensions have been running high between Iran and the United States since last year, when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the multilateral nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

In response to the US move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments three times in compliance with articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

Last week, Merkel said Europe has made its choice regarding the historic Iran deal — which Washington has been attempting to sabotage — and will honor the agreement.

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday that the international community must unanimously condemn the United States’ destructive behavior and economic terrorism against other countries.

In May, the leaders of Russia, France and Germany underscored the need to preserve the JCPOA, stressing their commitment to boosting trade ties with the Islamic Republic despite the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the accord.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/17/606424/Merkel-Iran-Middle-East-JCPOA-Jordan

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2,800 Turks applied for Swiss asylum since coup bid

Bayram Altug  

17.09.2019

GENEVA

Around 2,800 Turkish citizens have applied for asylum in Switzerland since August 2016, after the bloody coup attempt of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) in Turkey, according to local media.

NZZ am Sonntag reported that there was a 130% increase in applications compared to the previous three years, basing its story on State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) sources.

Secretariat spokesperson Lukas Rieder was also quoted by the newspaper saying that "the increase in Turkish asylum seekers is a result of internal developments in Turkey," hinting at the defeated coup attempt and an attempt by FETO terror group members to get asylum.

Turkey has complained that European countries have failed to recognize FETO as a terror group and do not comply with its extradition requests.

The acceptance rate of Turkish citizens’ asylum applications was 62%, reportedly higher than overall rate of other countries' citizens.

It was also reported that Turkey was the number two country for citizens applying to Switzerland for asylum as of last July.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/2-800-turks-applied-for-swiss-asylum-since-coup-bid/1585884

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UK urges collective response to Saudi Aramco attacks

Claire Corkery

Sep 18, 2019

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that there should be a collective response to the attack on the kingdom's oil sites.

“He expressed the UK’s condemnation of the attacks and said the UK stands by Saudi Arabia and is committed to the country’s security," Mr Johnson's spokeswoman said.

“The two leaders noted the need to establish the facts of what happened and the prime minister reiterated the importance of a collective response.

"He encouraged the Crown Prince to continue working with international partners.”

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spoke to his Saudi equivalent on Monday about the drone attacks, as well as ministers in Germany, France and the US.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/uk-urges-collective-response-to-saudi-aramco-attacks-1.911624

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North America

 

Prosecutors Disclose Taped Confession in 9/11 Case

By Carol Rosenberg

Sept. 17, 2019

This article was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — One of the accused conspirators in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was secretly recorded at Guantánamo admitting he funneled most of the funds that financed the hijackers who killed nearly 3,000 people 18 years ago, according to transcripts presented by prosecutors in a pretrial hearing on Tuesday.

The transcripts also portrayed the defendant, Ammar al-Baluchi, reading aloud a draft confession in a prison recreation yard on Nov. 25, 2008, describing it to another detainee as a statement he was working on with another man accused of conspiring in the attacks, Ramzi bin al-Shibh.

“If you consider my work and jihad against you on the 11th of September,” Mr. al-Baluchi is quoted as reading to the other prisoner, “to be terrorism or a crime, then I, with much pride, honor and dignity, announce it to all people that I am a terrorist and a first-class criminal.”

Mr. al-Baluchi then interjected, according to the transcript, that “Ubaydah,” Mr. bin al-Shibh’s nickname, “wrote this for me. I don’t know where he got this ‘first class.’”

Mr. al-Baluchi is a nephew of the accused plot mastermind, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. They are among five men, including Mr. bin al-Shibh, who are scheduled to go to trial by military commission on Jan. 11, 2021, in the death penalty case.

The contents of the secret recordings emerged in a pretrial hearing ordered by the judge, Col. W. Shane Cohen, who is deciding whether to let prosecutors admit a F.B.I. account of Mr. al-Baluchi’s confessions at Guantánamo in January 2007, known as his “clean team statement.”

His lawyer, James G. Connell III, has argued that Mr. al-Baluchi did not know in advance about the Sept. 11 attacks, and so did not know how the money he transferred would be used. He has asked the judge to exclude his Guantánamo statements as tainted by Mr. al-Baluchi’s years of incommunicado detention and torture in the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program.

Mr. Connell has said Mr. al-Baluchi was so abused between his capture in Pakistan in April 2003 and transfer to Guantánamo in September 2006 that he told F.B.I. agents involuntary, programmed responses drilled into him by his C.I.A. interrogators.

To rebut Mr. Connell’s assertions, James M. Fitzgerald, a special agent with the F.B.I., testified Monday that after he and Mr. al-Baluchi discussed the difference between the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., Mr. al-Baluchi voluntarily took part in an interrogation that lasted 30 hours across four days.

The agent described Mr. al-Baluchi as clearheaded, cooperative and rational as the two men examined dozens of documents related to a series of transfers of $119,500 to the hijackers in the United States. Mr. Fitzgerald said Mr. al-Baluchi agreed that he had sent the money.

The interrogation was so collaborative, Mr. Fitzgerald testified, that the F.B.I. brought Mr. al-Baluchi burgers, fries and an apple pie from the base McDonald’s to the interrogation site, Camp Echo II, which until 2004 was a C.I.A. black site.

On Tuesday, Mr. Fitzgerald read selections of conversations between the prisoners from English-language transcripts. The point was to show that Mr. al-Baluchi, when chatting with fellow inmates between 2007 and 2010, corroborated admissions he made to the agents.

Declassified court filings have long suggested that the United States systematically recorded conversations among former C.I.A. prisoners at the base’s most clandestine prison building, Camp 7, starting in 2007.

Tuesday’s disclosures marked the first time that the contents of some of those conversations were disclosed publicly.

On Monday, Mr. Fitzgerald quoted Mr. al-Baluchi as admitting to sending a series of money transfers from Dubai, where he was working in an electronics business, to two of the hijackers, Marwan al-Shehhi and Mohamed Atta, in California, Florida and New York.

In a prison recreation yard in 2009, according to the transcript shown in court, Mr. al-Baluchi had an exchange with a fellow former C.I.A. black site prisoner, Abu Faraj al Libi.

“According to what Abd al-Hadi said, there is no evidence against you,” Mr. Libi said, according to the transcript.

Mr. al-Baluchi replied: “Three-quarters of the money for the operation was sent through me, for example. You understand?”

The way that prison worked at the time, the former C.I.A. prisoners who had spent years unable to speak with or see other prisoners were given recreation time in pairs. They were confined to separate enclosures, meaning the prisoners could shout back and forth but not see one another.

Mr. Connell, Mr. al-Baluchi’s capital defense lawyer, said after court Tuesday that those statements — he would not confirm the existence of recordings — were also the fruits of torture and were, moreover, protected by an attorney privilege because during that period Mr. al-Baluchi was acting as his own lawyer.

In the apparent draft confession referred to in the transcript, Mr. al-Baluchi said in 2008 that he intended to go to the United States the week before the Sept. 11 attacks but could not get a visa. That comment appeared to corroborate a presentation Mr. Fitzgerald had made in court a day earlier, showing a visa application Mr. al-Baluchi submitted to visit the United States for one week, starting Sept. 4, 2001.

Instead, he left the United Arab Emirates on Sept. 10, 2001, then joined Mr. Mohammed and Mr. bin al-Shibh, in Karachi, Pakistan, where they watched the attacks unfold on television.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/17/us/politics/9-11-confession-tapes.html

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Brad Pitt Calls International Space Station: ‘Did You Spot Indian Moon Lander?’

Sep 18, 2019

NEW DELHI: Hollywood actor Brad Pitt had a question for Nasa astronaut Nick Hague, currently posted at the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday. Pitt wanted to know if Hague had seen India’s Chandrayaan II lander Vikram land on the moon.

Pitt, who plays an astronaut in his upcoming space drama “Ad Astra”, sat down for a conversation with Hague, an American astronaut who went to space in March 2019 on 59th expedition to the ISS. Hague, a colonel in the US Air Force, is part of a team stationed at ISS in the low Earth orbit.

In a conversation that lasted 20 minutes, Pitt asked Hague a range of questions: from what it was like to live in space, to who controls the jam box. The conversation was broadcast live on Nasa TV. The space agency also shared a link of the conversation from its official Twitter handle. The dialogue was also meant to generate more awareness around space exploration programmes.

During the conversation, Pitt asked, “I got to go to JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) last week and it was on the day when India was landing on the moon and the United States were assisting them in that effort. Could you see that from where you are?” “No, unfortunately, I along with the rest of the crew had to follow along with the news reports,” Hague replied.

On September 7, Isro lost communication with Vikram lander minutes before touchdown. It has been trying to reestablish contact since then.

In its tweet at 9pm on Monday, Nasa tweeted: “LIVE NOW: There’s an incoming call … from space! @AstroHague is talking to #AdAstra actor Brad Pitt about what it’s like to live and work aboard the @Space_Station. Watch.”

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/brad-pitt-calls-iss-did-you-spot-indian-moon-lander/articleshow/71177258.cms

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10K anti-Muslim incidents in US since 2014: report

Servet Günerigök  

17.09.2019

WASHINGTON

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has recorded a total of 10,015 "anti-Muslim bias incidents" since 2014.

In the report released Monday, the U.S.’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy body said the trend shows a steady increase in the number of the incidents but saw an initial hike after Donald Trump entered election races in 2015.

"Not only did the number of bias incidents increase, the violent nature of the incidents also jumped," read the report, The Bias Brief. "From 2014 through June of 2019, CAIR chapters across the country recorded a total of 1,164 anti-Muslim hate crimes, including physical assault and property damage."

CAIR chapters reported 2,783 incidents that involved federal government agencies.

In 2016, anti-Muslim incidents numbered 2,213, an increase of 65%

from 2014 levels, or 1,341 incidents.

The highest spike in bias incidents occurred in 2017 with 2,599.

"This can be attributed to the Muslim Ban Executive Order, which was signed within the first 10 days of the Trump presidency," it said.

In the first half of this year, CAIR recorded 759 anti-Muslim bias incidents.

The report identifies the most frequent type of abuse as harassment, after employment discrimination, bullying, intimidating, among others.

"The overall trend in federal agency-instigated incidents demonstrates that the FBI is the most common type of federal government agency for which American Muslims report acts of bias, accounting for almost half of the total number of cases: 1,177 total bias incidents," said the report.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/10k-anti-muslim-incidents-in-us-since-2014-report/1586835

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Pompeo condemns Taliban attacks in Afghanistan that kill nearly 50 people

Sep 18, 2019

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has condemned the terrorist attacks carried out by the Taliban suicide bombers in Afghanistan in which at least 48 people were killed.

In Parwan province, to the north of Kabul, a Taliban suicide bomber on Tuesday targeted an election campaign rally where Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani was set to speak, killing 26 people and wounding 42.

Ghani was not hurt in the attack which happened at a checkpoint near the rally venue, a spokesperson for the governor of Parwan confirmed.

In a separate incident hours later, a suicide bomb attack near the US embassy in central Kabul killed 22 people.

"Through these attacks, the Taliban demonstrate blatant disregard for the people and institutions of Afghanistan," Pompeo said in a statement after the Taliban claimed responsibility for both the terrorist attacks.

He said for Afghans to truly reconcile, the Taliban must begin to demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace rather than continue the violence and destruction that causes inordinate harm to the Afghan people and the future of their country.

"And for days, Afghanistan has endured blackouts and other challenges as a result of Taliban attacks against power transmission lines which carried electricity to hospitals, schools, and homes in many areas of the country," Pompeo said on Tuesday.

The attacks came after US President Donald Trump stunned the world on Saturday when he announced the cancellation of a secret meeting with the Taliban and Afghan President Ghani at Camp David near Washington.

Trump's announcement came after the Taliban claimed responsibility of an attack in Kabul last week, in which an American soldier was among the dead.

"They (the Taliban) thought that (they) had to kill people in order to put themselves in a little better negotiating position.... You can't do that with me," Trump said while responding to a question about his decision to cancel the talks.

Trump said the decision to invite the Taliban to Camp David was his, and so was the call to cancel it.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/pompeo-condemns-taliban-attacks-in-afghanistan-that-kill-nearly-50-people/articleshow/71177266.cms

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Donald Trump, shifting tone, plays down talk of war with Iran

Sep 18, 2019

DUBAI/ WASHINGTON: Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday ruled out talks with Washington after President Donald Trump blamed Tehran for a crippling attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

“Sometimes they say negotiations without any precondition and sometimes with 12 conditions,” supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in comments published by the ISNA news agency. “Such statements either come from their disheveled policies or are a ploy to confuse the other side.”

Meanwhile, Saudi King Salman called on governments around the world to confront the threats to oil supplies and global economic stability posed by the weekend attack. European allies said the crisis should be addressed collectively.

Trump said on Monday that it looked like Iran was behind the strike at the heart of the Saudi oil industry, which cut 5% of global production, but stresed he did not want to go to war. Iran denied it was to blame. “Iranian officials, at any level, will never talk to American officials... this is part of their policy to put pressure on Iran,” Iranian state TV quoted Khamenei as saying. He said talks could only take place if the US returned to a nuclear accord between Iran and the West that Trump abandoned last year.

US-Iran relations deteriorated after Trump quit the accord and reimposed sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear programmes. He wants Iran to stop supporting regional proxies, including Yemen’s Houthi group, which has claimed responsibility for the attack. A day after warning that the US was “locked and loaded” to respond to the incident, Trump said on Monday there was “no rush” to do so and that Washington was coordinating with Gulf Arab and European states. “I’m not looking at options right now. We want to find definitively who did this.”

Britain and Germany agreed they needed to work with partners to form a collective response and de-escalate tensions as efforts continued to establish what happened, PM Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/donald-trump-shifting-tone-plays-down-talk-of-war-with-iran/articleshow/71177153.cms

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US eyes UN action over Saudi Aramco blasts

18 September 2019

The United States hopes that the UN Security Council takes up the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations for which Washington blames Iran, a senior US official said Tuesday.

The official said that Saudi Arabia, as the target of the weekend blasts, needed to take the lead in seeking action by the Security Council but that the United States first needed to prepare information for release.

“We do see a role for the UN Security Council to play,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

“Saudi Arabia has been attacked, which has global consequences. The UN Security Council was created to address threats to international peace and security, and this attack meets that criteria,” he said.

He did not specify what action he would seek at the Security Council, where Russia and China wield veto power and have been critical of President Donald Trump’s unilateral sanctions against Iran.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/09/18/US-eyes-UN-action-over-Saudi-Aramco-blasts-.html

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Trump lacks power to use US military for S Arabia's interests: Gabbard

Sep 17, 2019

Congresswoman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has lashed out at President Donald Trump for his response to the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil refineries, saying Trump lacks constitutional power to use the US military to serve Saudi interests.

“The Constitution does not give the president the power to unilaterally use our military for Saudi Arabia’s interests to go to war nor does it give him the power to do so without the express consent of Congress,” the 38-year-old member of the House of Representatives from Hawaii told The Hill on Tuesday.

“If I were president now, I would make very clear that we will not use our military to further the interests of Saudi Arabia or any other country,” she added.

Gabbard, who served in combat zones in Iraq as a member of the Hawaii National Guard between 2004 and 2005, went on to emphasize that there needs to be concrete evidence before the US takes any military action against Iran or any other country.

Gabbard accused the US president a day earlier of trying to “pimp out” the American military over the recent attack on Saudi oil refineries.

‘We shouldn’t attack anybody on behalf of S Arabia’

Also on Tuesday, Republican Senator Josh Hawley called on the Trump administration to exercise restraint following the attack and said the US should be mindful of protecting its own interests.

“We shouldn’t attack anybody on behalf of Saudi Arabia for Saudi Arabia’s national interests,” Hawley said during an appearance on Hill.TV.

Hawley argued that Washington should instead look to “preserve the security of the American people and the prosperity of our middle class.”

Saudi Aramco oil facilities came under a drone attack over the weekend and the strike knocked out more than half the kingdom’s production. 

Yemen's Houthi fighters have claimed responsibility for the attack, but the United States has rejected their claim with Trump saying that Iran appears to be responsible for the strike.

Following a briefing from his military and intelligence advisers at the White House on Monday, Trump was asked whether Iran was behind the attack, Trump said, "It's certainly looking that way at this moment and we'll let you know. As soon as we find out definitively we'll let you know but it does look that way."

A day earlier, Trump said the United States was “locked and loaded” for a possible response to the attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities.

Trump said that Washington has a "reason to believe that we know" who is responsible for the attacks carried out against the kingdom’s key oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais on Saturday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the blame for the operation on Iran, claiming, “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia” and that “there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

Tehran, however, dismissed the allegation, saying Washington seems to be shifting from a failed campaign of “maximum pressure” to one of “maximum lying” and “deceit” against the Islamic Republic.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet that “US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory.”

Yemen said it used 10 drones for Saturday’s operation, which was one of their largest retaliatory attacks ever inside the kingdom.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/17/606459/Tulsi-Gabbard-Saudi-Arabia-oil-refineries-Donald-Trump-constitutional-power

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US lawmakers seek de-escalation in Kashmir row

Michael Hernandez 

17.09.2019

WASHINGTON

Seven lawmakers urged Washington's top diplomats in India and Pakistan on Tuesday to use the U.S.'s diplomatic leverage to de-escalate the ongoing crisis in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian government has instituted a communications blackout and imposed a curfew in the region since August when it stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special administrative status guaranteed by the Indian constitution. Scores of people have been detained since the clampdown began Aug. 5.

"This presents tremendous danger to global peace and a clear national security risk for the United States. Pakistan and India are both valued allies, crucial to our interests in the region, including the Afghanistan peace process,” congressmembers Donald Beyer, Raul Grijalva, Alan Lowenthal, Andy Levin, Ted Lieu, James McGovern and Ilhan Omar wrote.

"It is of the utmost importance that we leverage our relationships with their governments to deescalate the situation," they added.

The lawmakers also encouraged U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster, and Chargé d’ Affaires of United States Embassy in Pakistan Paul W. Jones "to do everything in your power" to get Indian authorities to release detainees taken on arbitrary pretexts, end the communications blackout, allow press access, and "emphasize the centrality of Kashmiri voices in determining the future of Jammu and Kashmir."

From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian Constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws.

The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.

After New Delhi's move of scrapping Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, it has been under a near-complete lockdown since Aug. 5.

Several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.

Indian authorities, however, claim that daytime restrictions have been lifted in 90% of the region.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-lawmakers-seek-de-escalation-in-kashmir-row/1586676

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Africa

 

Jordan says 153,000 Syrians returned home since last October

17 September 2019

Around 153,000 Syrians have returned to their country from Jordan since the reopening of a key border post last October, the interior ministry said Tuesday.

Of the 153,000 who returned via the Jaber post, around 33,000 had refugee status with the UN refugee agency UNHCR, it said.

The ministry reiterated its commitment to “voluntary returns of Syrian refugees” and to easing “necessary steps for their departure from the kingdom.”

More than 650,000 Syrian refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Jordan, which shares a 370-kilometre (230-mile) border with Syria.

Amman says it has welcomed as many as 1.3 million Syrian refugees since the start of the neighboring Arab country’s conflict in 2011.

The Jaber border post, called Nassib on the Syrian side, is the main passage between the two countries and used to serve as a hub for regional trade.

In July 2018, it was retaken from rebels in a Russian-backed offensive by Syrian government forces.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/17/Jordan-says-153-000-Syrians-returned-home-since-last-October-.html

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Jordan king says Israeli annexation would be a disaster

September 18, 2019

Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Tuesday that if Israel went ahead with the idea of annexing all the settlements in the West Bank it would be a “disaster” for attempts to find any two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Speaking after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Abdullah said he was “extremely concerned” about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to annex all the West Bank settlements.

He said it will “directly impact” the relationship between Israel and Jordan, and Israel and Egypt, and that “these types of statements are ... a disaster to any attempt to move forward to the two-state solution.”

Merkel agreed, calling Netanyahu’s vow “unhelpful.” The German government backs an internationally negotiated peace solution in the sense of a two state solution ... annexations are always detrimental to peace solutions. They do not help and therefore we do not agree, said Merkel

Abdullah said “we’re looking on this with tremendous concern.”

Netanyahu’s career was on the line on Tuesday as Israel held its second national election this year, with voters deciding whether to give him another term in office despite a likely indictment on corruption charges.

The longest serving leader in Israeli history was seeking a fourth consecutive term in office and fifth overall.

But he faced a stiff challenge from retired military chief Benny Gantz, whose centrist Blue and White party is running even with Netanyahu’s Likud.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1556011/middle-east

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US airstrike in Somalia kills 2 al-Shabaab militants

Mohammed Dhaysane  

18.09.2019

MOGADISHU, Somalia

The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) said Wednesday that it had conducted an airstrike against the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab group in southern Somalia, killing two militants.

The airstrike took place north of the port city of Kismayo, the capital of Lower Jubba, and they were targeted after the group attacked a Somali patrol, according to AFRICOM.

“In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike on Al-Shabaab insurgents after they attacked a Somali patrol northwest of Kismayo, Lower Juba Province, Somalia on Sept. 17. At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed two (2) terrorists,” AFRICOM said in a statement posted on Twitter.

No civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike, the statement added.

Separately, on Tuesday, Somali National Army Commander Gen. Odawa Yusuf Rage said that the army had killed the al-Shabaab “governor” of the central region of Hiran alongside another senior militant.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/us-airstrike-in-somalia-kills-2-al-shabaab-militants/1586910

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Two insurgents killed in US strike on al-Shabaab in Somalia

BY JOHN BOWDEN

09/17/19

U.S. Africa Command announced Tuesday that two suspected al-Shabaab militants were killed by a U.S. airstrike in the country's Lower Juba province after attacking a Somali government patrol.

The press release Tuesday from the Defense Department reported that no civilian casualties were thought to have occurred.

"In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S Africa Command conducted an airstrike on Al-Shabaab insurgents after they attacked a Somali patrol northwest of Kismayo, Lower Juba Province, Somalia on Sept. 17," the statement read.

The U.S. for years has been engaged in airstrikes and other missions to support the Somali government against al-Shabaab insurgents aligned with ISIS, and Tuesday's strike indicated that insurgent forces maintain the capacity to strike at Somali targets near the border with Kenya.

An airstrike conducted by the U.S. north of Somalia's capital of Mogadishu in March killed dozens of insurgents. At the time, Africa Command's deputy director of intelligence said such operations were crucial to “maintain pressure on al-Shabaab and disrupt its planning cycle and degrade its ability to mass forces and coordinate attacks against the Somali people.”

Full report at:

https://thehill.com/policy/defense/461800-2-insurgents-killed-in-us-strike-on-al-shabaab-in-somalia

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/saudi-prince-in-exile-launches-opposition-movement,-calls-for-constitutional-monarchy/d/119775

 

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TOTAL COMMENTS:-   1


  • "Saudi Prince in Exile Launches Opposition Movement, Calls For Constitutional Monarchy"

    The present monarchy is not likely to leave without a violent overthrow. Neither the King nor the Crown Prince will accept constitutional monarchy.


    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/18/2019 5:46:33 PM



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