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Islamic World News ( 15 Sept 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan: Instead of Being Forced To Do Something Wrong Taliban Should Be Given Incentives to Run the Government in Afghanistan

New Age Islam News Bureau

16 September 2021

  

Clockwise from top left: Zabihullah Mujahid, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Mohammad Hasan Akhund, Amir Khan Muttaqi, Sirajuddin Haqqani, Hibatullah Akhundzada

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Pakistan

Pakistani clerics oppose anti-forced conversion bill

Pakistan was a 'hired gun', says Imran Khan on US war on terror in Afghanistan

Pakistan NSA criticises ‘wait and watch' policy on recognising Taliban regime in Afghanistan

'He is a busy man': Imran Khan on no phone call from Joe Biden

Pak-aided Khalistanis gaining ground in US; India's appeals to curb them fall on deaf ears: Report

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South Asia

Taliban leader Mullah Baradar finds place on Time Magazine's list of '100 Most Influential People of 2021'

UN envoy meets new Afghan interior minister wanted by US

Amid mystery over whereabouts, Taliban leader Mullah Baradar appears in an interview

Friction among Taliban pragmatists, hard-liners intensifies

Afghan envoys marooned abroad after Taliban's sudden return

UN refugee chief warns 'greater suffering' likely in Afghanistan

Afghanistan to have regular army soon: Taliban official

‘Baradar fled to Kandahar after brawl with Khalil Haqqani’

Afghan diplomats urge world to deny Taliban recognition

UN envoy meets Taliban government's interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani

We impose no conditions on Taliban, they declared their objective themselves: Russia

We will suppress those who defend gains of past two decades: Taliban

Afghans themselves caused ongoing situation in Afghanistan: Khalilzad

Taliban asks UN’s cooperation in recognition, lifting sanctions

Over $12 million seized from former officials given to central bank by Taliban

EU announces additional 100 million euros in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan

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India

TISS Students Who Shouted Pro-Sharjeel Imam Slogans Granted Anticipatory Bail In Sedition Case

Delhi riots: Court frames charges against 5 men for shooting Muslim man dead, burning his body

CSI, Muslim youth federation call for ensuring communal harmony

India: Pakistan holding OIC hostage on J&K issue

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Southeast Asia

Learn from Sabah, Sarawak on racial, religious tolerance, says academic

Govt drafting law to enhance shariah courts, says PM

Work with Unity Ministry not on bill over restricting propagation of faiths, Bintulu MP tells religious affairs minister

Perlis Islamic edict allows Muslim wives to get Covid-19 vaccine without husbands’ agreement

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Arab World

Hezbollah brings Iranian fuel into Lebanon: Reports

Egypt, Sudan back resumed controversial Nile dam talks as UN urges deal

Lebanon to resume IMF negotiations, begin reforms: Draft policy statement

Iraq election chief promises fair elections despite concerns

GCC Ministerial Council to hold 149th session in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh

Saudi Crown Prince launches ‘human capability development’ program

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Mideast

Envoy: Origin of Contamination Declared by IAEA Unknown to Iran

Iran Reiterates Support for Lebanon, Readiness to Help

Iranian Fuel Reaches Lebanon

FM: Iran Interested in Further Expansion of Economic Ties with S. Africa

Iranian Envoy Urges End to Looting Syria's Oil

Iran Sends Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan

Iranian Security Forces Dismantle Terrorist Team Affiliated to Foreign Spy Agencies

Iranian DM Praises IRGC, Army Navies for Security in Persian Gulf

Palestinian activist twins featured in Time’s 100 most influential people 2021

Iran’s Raisi to attend regional summit in first official visit since taking office

Iran president selects hardline cabinet to drive hard bargain with US

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails call off planned hunger strike

Iran admits to removing damaged IAEA cameras from nuclear site

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Africa

Court Remands Father, Son, Others For Alleged Killing Of Salawudeen In Mosque

Police arrests suspected killers of Senator Na’Allah’s son

How Morocco's king dealt a blow to political Islam

Haftar’s eastern forces and Chadian rebels clash in southern Libya

Libya’s NOC says Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil terminals blockades have ended

Libya has ‘best opportunity’ for peace in decade, US official says ahead of elections

Morocco names Lieutenant General Belkhir El-Farouk as new army commander

Algerian journalist ordered held in custody, accused of belonging to terrorist group

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North America

Ashraf Ghani’s abrupt exit scuttled deal on power-sharing, says Zalmay Khalilzad

US envoy says Ghani exit scuttled Afghan power-sharing

Biden top aides discouraged abrupt Afghanistan pullout, book says

3 ex-US presidents unite to help Afghan refugees

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Europe

French soldiers kill Islamic State leader in Sahel, Macron says

French forces kill head of Islamic State in Greater Sahara

Key actor of liberation of Azerbaijan's capital: Caucasian Islamic Army

Macron says French forces killed militant Islamic State leader in Greater Sahara

Joint agreement signed between Turkish, Georgian justice ministries

Serbia hails Turkey's cooperation in Balkan region

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/imran-taliban-afghanistan/d/125370

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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan: Instead of Being Forced To Do Something Wrong Taliban Should Be Given Incentives to Run the Government in Afghanistan

Sep 15, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday suggested that the Taliban should be given incentives to handle the current situation instead of being forced to do something and claimed it would be a "fallacy" to think that Afghanistan could be controlled from outside.

The Pak PM, in an interview to CNN's Becky Anderson, asserted that the best way forward for peace and stability in the war-torn country is to engage with the Taliban, which seized Kabul last month.

"So rather than sitting here and thinking that we can control them, we should incentivise them because this current government in Afghanistan clearly feels that without international aid and help they will not be able to stop this crisis. We should push them in the right direction,” he said.

He recalled that history showed "no puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by the people".

Imran said that Afghanistan was on a historic crossroads as either it would gain lasting peace after 40 years of war through an inclusive government or end up in chaos.

"Where Afghanistan goes from here, I am afraid none of us can predict … We can hope and pray that there is peace after 40 years," he said.

He was asked about apprehensions that the Taliban will not protect human rights and the future of Afghanistan.

Khan said the Taliban have said that they want an inclusive government and promised to give rights to their women and also announced amnesty as part of efforts to gain international acceptability.

"But if it goes wrong (in Afghanistan), and which is what we are really worried about, it could go to chaos, the biggest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem, unstable Afghanistan and [...] the possibility of again terrorism from Afghanistan's soil,” he said.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in mid-August, ousting the previous elected leadership which was backed by the West. The interim Cabinet is consists of high-profile members of the insurgent group.

At least 14 members of the Taliban's interim government are on the UN Security Council's terrorism blacklist, including acting Prime Minister Mullah Hasan and his both deputies.

The Taliban had promised an "inclusive" government that represents Afghanistan's complex ethnic makeup, but there is no Hazara member in the Cabinet. No woman has been named in the interim Cabinet.

Talking about the issue of women rights in Afghanistan, Khan said it was a mistake to think that rights of Afghan women can be imposed from outside. “Afghan women are strong. Give them time, they will get their rights," he said.

Imran reiterated that Pakistan suffered a lot after joining the US war on terror and there was time about 50 militant groups were attacking Pakistan.

To a question, the Pak PM said that he had not spoken to US President Joe Biden since the collapse of the Afghan government.

When asked why Biden hadn't called him since coming into office, Imran curtly said: "He is a busy man" and later said Biden should be asked "why he is too busy to call".

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/taliban-should-be-given-incentives-instead-of-being-forced-to-do-something-pak-pm-imran-khan/articleshow/86239912.cms

 

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Taliban Founder Mullah Baradar Noticeably Absent From Key Functions, Dissent Rumoured

16 Sep 2021

Friction between pragmatists and ideologues in the Taliban leadership has intensified since the group formed a hard-line Cabinet last week that is more in line with their harsh rule in the 1990s than their recent promises of inclusiveness, said two Afghans familiar with the power struggle.

The wrangling has taken place behind the scenes, but rumours quickly began circulating about a recent violent confrontation between the two camps at the presidential palace, including claims that the leader of the pragmatic faction, Abdul Ghani Baradar, was killed.

The rumours reached such intensity that an audio recording and handwritten statement, both purportedly by Baradar himself, denied that he had been killed. Then on Wednesday, Baradar appeared in an interview with the country's national TV.

“I was travelling from Kabul so had no access to media in order to reject this news” Baradar said of the rumour.

Baradar served as the chief negotiator during talks between the Taliban and the United States that paved the way for the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was completed in late August, two weeks after the Taliban overran the capital of Kabul.

Shortly after the Kabul takeover, Baradar had been the first senior Taliban official to hold out the possibility of an inclusive government, but such hopes were disappointed with the formation of an all-male, all-Taliban lineup last week.

In a further sign that the hard-liners had prevailed, the white Taliban flag was raised over the presidential palace, replacing the Afghan national flag.

A Taliban official said the leadership still hasn't made a final decision on the flag, with many leaning toward eventually flying both banners side by side. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to discuss internal deliberations with the media.

The two Afghans familiar with the power struggle also spoke on condition of anonymity to protect the confidentiality of those who shared their discontent over the Cabinet lineup. They said one Cabinet minister toyed with refusing his post, angered by the all-Taliban government that shunned the country's ethnic and religious minorities.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has denied rifts in the leadership. On Tuesday, the Taliban foreign minister, Amir Khan Mutaqi, dismissed such reports as “propaganda.”

Baradar had been noticeably absent from key functions. For instance he was not at the presidential palace earlier this week to receive the deputy prime minister of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdur Rahman Al-Thani, who is also foreign minister and was making the highest-level foreign visit yet since the Taliban takeover. Baradar's absence was jarring since Qatar had hosted him for years as head of the Taliban political office in the Qatari capital of Doha.

But in the interview shown Wednesday, Baradar said he did not participate in the meeting because he was not aware about the foreign minister's visit to Kabul. “I had already left and was not able to return back,” Baradar said.

Several officials and Afghans who are familiar and in contact with Baradar told The Associated Press earlier that he was in the southwestern provincial capital of Kandahar for a meeting with Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada. Another Taliban figure said Baradar was visiting family he had not seen in 20 years of war.

Analysts say the friction may not amount to a serious threat to the Taliban - for now.

“We've seen over the years that despite disputes, the Taliban largely remains a cohesive institution and that major decisions don't get serious pushback after the fact,” said Michael Kugelman, Asia program deputy director at the Washington-based Wilson Center.

“I think the current internal dissension can be managed," he said. “Still, the Taliban will be under a lot of pressure as it tries to consolidate its power, gain legitimacy, and address major policy challenges. If these efforts fail, a stressed organization could well see more and increasingly serious infighting.”

However, Taliban divisions today will be more difficult to resolve without the heavy-handed rule of the group's founder, the late Mullah Omar, who demanded unquestioned loyalty.

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/world-news-taliban-founder-mullah-baradar-noticeably-absent-from-key-functions-dissent-rumoured/394767

 

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Court orders separate trials for Hindu, Muslim accused

Soibam Rocky Singh

SEPTEMBER 16, 2021

‘Persons purportedly acting under 2 different conspiracies’

A Delhi court has ordered separation of trial of five accused, arrested in connection with a north-east Delhi riots case, based on their religion. Citing a 2002 Godhra riots case precedent, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav, who has been dealing with a majority of Delhi riots cases, split the “Salman murder case” into separate chargesheets for Kuldeep, Deepak Thakur and Deepak Yadav, and Mohd. Furkan and Mohd. Irshad. This, the judge said, was prompted by a “peculiar situation” arising owing to an “assortment of accused persons from different religions purportedly acting under two different conspiracies and unlawful assemblies”.

The segregation, he concluded while observing that there was enough material on record to allow framing of charges, would avoid prejudicing the defence of the accused. While the police say CCTV footage from the scene of crime at Shiv Vihar on February 27, 2020, captured the presence of the five accused indulging in riotous activity, all of them had pleaded “not guilty” and claimed trial.

The court directed DCP (Crime Branch) Joy N. Tirkey to furnish a complete set of chargesheets in physical form within two weeks while instructing the court staff to treat the existing chargesheet as the one for Kuldeep, Thakur and Yadav. The other one shall be treated as chargesheet for Furkan and Irshad.

The victim

The case FIR was registered on February 29, 2020 at Karawal Nagar police station after 24-year-old Salman died at the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital a couple of days earlier.

The deceased was admitted at the hospital on February 24 after reportedly suffering physical assault earlier in the day at Shiv Vihar during the north-east Delhi riots.

During investigation, it came to fore that Salman had sustained a gunshot injury. A firearm projectile was extracted from his head during post-mortem and seized as part of the investigation.

Both Yadav and Thakur were arrested in connection with the FIR on November 5, 2020, and have been in judicial custody since. Police say the duo were seen in two videos carrying sticks and actively participating in the riots. Both say there is “no direct evidence” against them pertaining to the murder and they have not been specifically named in the FIR either.

Kuldeep was initially arrested in another case, the Mohd. Anwar murder case, and arrested by the police for Salman’s murder on the basis of his disclosure statement. While the police say he could be clearly seen in CCTV footage amid a riotous mob, Kuldeep claims he has nothing to do with the alleged offence. He has been in judicial custody since March 21 last year.

Furkan and Irshad were also arrested in connection with another riots case and charged with the Salman murder on the basis of disclosure statements. The Delhi police say they were captured in CCTV footage from the scene of crime actively participating in the riots.

As in the case of the other three, both Furkan and Irshad claim they have been falsely implicated in the case merely on the basis of suspicion and there is no direct evidence against him.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/court-orders-separate-trials-for-hindu-muslim-accused/article36485931.ece 

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Pakistan

Pakistani clerics oppose anti-forced conversion bill

Kamran Chaudhry

September 16, 2021

Muslim clerics in Pakistan are voicing opposition to a draft bill that would only allow "mature people" to change their religion.

The top trend on Twitter in Pakistan on Sept.15 was "#Islam mukhalif bill na manzoor [reject anti-Islam bill],” as a debate on the bill aimed at stopping forced religious conversions raged in the media.

Opponents of the bill seemed to direct their ire at Naveed Amir Jeeva, a Christian legislator who has been pushing the Prohibition of Forced Religious Conversion Bill, pending with the Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, since 2019.

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Some even shared the Pakistani politician’s profile on social media, spewing hate and condemnation.

Human rights and minority groups have been demanding the government resurrect and pass the bill that would criminalize the kidnapping, forced religious conversion to Islam and subsequently forced marriage of underage girls in Pakistan.

A parliamentary committee to protect minorities from forced conversions recommended in February that only a "mature person" (adult) may be allowed to change religion after appearing before an additional sessions judge.

The committee suggested that the judge set a date for an interview within seven days of receipt of the conversion application. An additional clause empowered the judge with the option to grant the person 90 days to undertake a comparative study of the religions concerned before return to his office with a final decision.

The additional sessions judge may issue the certificate of conversion only after being completely satisfied, the committee recommended.

Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, a cleric appointed as a special representative on religious harmony by Prime Minister Imran Khan, said he rejected the passage of what he called the “anti-Quran bill.”

“There is a bill to end complaints against forced conversions in the Federal Ministry for Religious Affairs and clerics are being consulted. I want to make it clear that no bill can be passed against the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah [the way of the prophet] because the Constitution of Pakistan is under the Quran,” he said in a statement.

According to Camillian Father Mushtaq Anjum, the draft gives a ray of hope to the religious minorities.

“Such opposition from the [Muslim] clerics is a matter of grave concern. Human rights must be upheld. The international community looks at Pakistan and how it behaves towards minorities. Such blatant refusal from the clerics is unacceptable. We reject this mindset,” he told UCA News.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/pakistani-clerics-oppose-anti-forced-conversion-bill/94166# 

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Pakistan was a 'hired gun', says Imran Khan on US war on terror in Afghanistan

Sep 16, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the US war against terrorism was "disastrous" for Pakistan as Washington used Islamabad like a "hired gun" during their 20-year presence in Afghanistan.

"We (Pakistan) were like a hired gun," Khan said in an interview with CNN. "We were supposed to make them (the US) win the war in Afghanistan, which we never could."

This comes two days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said the US would reassess its ties with Pakistan following the military drawdown from Afghanistan. Blinken told US Congress during a hearing that Pakistan has a "multiplicity of interests some that are in conflict with ours."

Pakistan has had deep ties with the Taliban and other outfits in the region. Moreover, the country has been accused of supporting the group during the US's war on terror.

Despite ample evidence presented by the international community, Imran Khan, in the CNN interview, denied charges that Pakistan harbours terrorists and has given them a safe haven.

"What are these safe havens?" Khan asked. "The area of Pakistan along the border of Afghanistan had the heaviest surveillance by the United States drones ... surely they would have known if there were any safe havens?"

Digressing from the question, the Pakistan PM said, "The question is, was Pakistan in a position to take military action against the Afghan Taliban when it was already being attacked from inside, from the Pakistani Taliban who were attacking the state of Pakistan?"

While staunchly defending the Taliban, the Pakistan Prime Minister asked the international community to develop a consensus that would lead to recognition of the new "caretaker government" of the "Islamic Emirate".

Speaking to CNN, Khan said that the best way forward for peace and stability in Afghanistan is to engage with the Taliban and "incentivize" them on issues such as women's rights and inclusive government.

"The Taliban hold all of Afghanistan and if they can sort of now work towards an inclusive government, get all the factions together, Afghanistan could have peace after 40 years. But if it goes wrong and which is what we are really worried about, it could go to chaos. The biggest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem," Khan said.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-was-a-hired-gun-says-imran-khan-on-us-war-on-terror-in-afghanistan/articleshow/86254494.cms 

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Pakistan NSA criticises ‘wait and watch' policy on recognising Taliban regime in Afghanistan

Sep 16, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf has said that the ‘wait and watch' policy on recognising the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was flawed and could result in the economic collapse of the conflict-torn country.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in mid-August, ousting the previous elected leadership which was backed by the West. The interim Cabinet announced by the Taliban consists of high-profile members of the insurgent group.

Several world leaders have announced they would see whether the Taliban fulfils its promises to the international community on issues like an inclusive Afghan government and human rights before giving their regime diplomatic recognition.

“Wait and see (regarding Afghanistan's new set up) means collapse,” Yusuf told the media on Wednesday, adding that a similar mistake was made in the 1990s.

He also recalled that the Western leaders had acknowledged the mistake and pledged not to repeat it.

Yusuf said the world in its own interest should talk directly to the Taliban on their concerns, including counterterrorism, human rights, inclusive government, or other issues.

“If the world is interested in this conversation, it needs to happen directly with the new government. For influencing and moulding governance in the way the world wants, it should have a conversation with them. Without engagement that would not be possible,” he said.

He warned that Afghanistan could become a terrorist safe haven again as a consequence of abandoning it.

“If abandonment happens there would be a security vacuum (in Afghanistan). You already know ISIS (the militant Islamic State group) is already present there, Pakistani Taliban are there, Al Qaeda is there. Why do we risk a security vacuum?” he said.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-nsa-criticises-wait-and-watch-policy-on-recognising-taliban-regime-in-afghanistan/articleshow/86256632.cms 

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'He is a busy man': Imran Khan on no phone call from Joe Biden

Sep 16, 2021

NEW DELHI: It's been almost eight months and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is yet to receive a courtesy phone call from US President Joe Biden.

When asked about no phone call from Biden during a CNN interview, the Pakistan PM replied: "He is a busy man."

"But our relationship with the US is not just dependent on a phone call, it needs to be a multidimensional relationship," Khan added. However, putting the onus on the US president for no telephonic exchange between the two leaders, Imran said Biden should be asked "why he is too busy to call."

Meanwhile, Khan also commented on the "terrible" relationship with the United States that has been disastrous for Pakistan and how he is now seeking a more pragmatic approach in dealing with Afghanistan's new leaders.

"We (Pakistan) were like a hired gun," Khan said. "We were supposed to make them (the US) win the war in Afghanistan, which we never could."

Khan said he repeatedly warned US officials that America could not achieve its objectives militarily, and would "be stuck there." He said the US should have attempted a political settlement with the Taliban from a "position of strength," at the height of its presence in Afghanistan, not as it was withdrawing.

Pakistan has other options

“The President of the United States hasn’t spoken to the Prime Minister of such an important country who the US itself says is make-or-break in some cases, in some ways, in Afghanistan — we struggle to understand the signal, right?” Pakistan’s national security adviser Moeed Yusuf had told the Financial Times in an interview last month.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/he-is-a-busy-man-imran-khan-on-no-phone-call-from-joe-biden/articleshow/86254094.cms 

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Pak-aided Khalistanis gaining ground in US; India's appeals to curb them fall on deaf ears: Report

Sep 15, 2021

WASHINGTON: Pakistan-backed Khalistani separatist groups, banned by the Indian government, are quietly gaining ground in the US, a top American think tank has warned, ruing that Washington has so far remained indifferent to the appeals made by New Delhi to curb their destabilising anti-India activities.

The US-based Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is a pro-Khalistan group. In 2019, the Indian government banned it for its alleged anti-national activities.

The SFJ had pushed for Sikh Referendum 2020 as part of its separatist agenda. It openly espouses the cause of Khalistan and in that process challenges the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. The outlawed group's primary objective is to establish an "independent and sovereign country" in Punjab.

In its 'Pakistan's Destabilization Playbook: Khalistani Activism in the US' report published on Tuesday, the Hudson Institute examines the conduct of “Khalistan and Kashmir separatist groups within the United States” to investigate their support by Pakistan.

The report looks at these groups' ties to militant and terrorist outfits in India, and the possible detrimental effects of their activities on US foreign policy in South Asia.

The report demonstrates that "like Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist groups, the Khalistan groups can emerge under new names.”

“Unfortunately, the United States government has shown no interest in violence committed by Khalistan activists, even though the Khalistan campaign's most ardent supporters are located in western countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

“Unless the US government prioritises oversight of Khalistan-related militancy and terrorism, it is unlikely to identify groups that are currently engaged in violence in Punjab in India or are preparing to do so. One seldom finds what one is not looking for," it said.

Anticipation constitutes a crucial part of national security planning and therefore investigating within the limits prescribed by law, the activities of Khalistani groups located in North America is important to preventing a reoccurrence of the violence orchestrated by the Khalistan movement in the 1980s, it said.

Importantly, the recent increase in Khalistan-related anti-India activism within the US is occurring as the United States and India are collaborating to confront the rise of China, especially in the Indo-Pacific, it said.

"The Khalistan movement's history and recent mobilisation should serve as a reminder that, unless the threat it poses is somehow preempted, it could expand to a level where action might be too late to prevent large-scale loss of life," it said.

The report calls upon the US government to take India's concerns seriously and dedicate the requisite intelligence and law enforcement resources to help India address these concerns.

The report said the US government should include all groups responsible for terrorist attacks in India in its list of designated global terrorist groups and designate as terrorists the various individuals that India and US intelligence and law enforcement have established as being connected to designated terrorist entities.

“Apply terror financing laws and regulations to the various groups espousing Kashmiri and Khalistan separatism; Investigate US-based groups espousing Kashmiri and Khalistan separatism for possible violations of US laws related to foreign funding.

“Use legal means established specifically to combat terrorism, including FISA warrants, to monitor suspected Kashmiri and Khalistan terrorism sympathisers and advocates," the report said.

Observing that Sikh radical groups are active in New York and in California, the report said that in addition to disseminating anti-India propaganda, the focus of these organisations is advocating the Khalistan cause and to secure support they target local politicians, US think tanks and human rights activists.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-aided-khalistanis-gaining-ground-in-us-indias-appeals-to-curb-them-fall-on-deaf-ears-report/articleshow/86229953.cms 

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South Asia

Taliban leader Mullah Baradar finds place on Time Magazine's list of '100 Most Influential People of 2021'

September 16, 2021

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban, found a place in Time Magazine's global list of '100 Most Influential People of 2021'.

The head of the Taliban's political office in Doha, Mullah Baradar, was credited with negotiating the Doha peace deal between the Taliban and the US. He is a founding member of the Taliban and was a close associate of the movement's founder Mullah Omar.

Baradar was appointed deputy to Mullah Akhund, head of the Taliban's new interim government, earlier this month.

A profile on Mullah Baradar in the Time Magazine by Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid describes him as the "fulcrum for the future" of Afghanistan.

Ahmed Rashid goes on to write, "A quiet, secretive man who rarely gives public statements or interviews, Baradar nonetheless represents a more moderate current within the Taliban, the one that will be thrust into the limelight to win Western support and desperately needed financial aid.

"The question is whether the man who coaxed the Americans out of Afghanistan can sway his own movement."

Baradar quells rumours of death

In what came as a surprise to most, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar recently made an appearance on Afghan state television to quell rumours about his death.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/time-magazine-most-influential-list-afghanistan-taliban-mullah-abdul-ghani-baradar-1853279-2021-09-16 

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UN envoy meets new Afghan interior minister wanted by US

Sep 16, 2021

A UN envoy has met Afghanistan's new interior minister who was for years was one of the world's most wanted Islamist militants and is now part of a government trying to head off a humanitarian crisis.

The meeting between Deborah Lyons, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, and Sirajuddin Haqqani focused on humanitarian assistance, Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday.

"(Haqqani) stressed that UN personnel can conduct their work without any hurdle and deliver vital aid to the Afghan people," he said.

Afghanistan was already facing chronic poverty and drought https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/un-refugee-chief-warns-greate r-suffering-likely-afghanistan-2021-09-16 but the situation has deteriorated since the Taliban took over last month with the disruption of aid, the departure of tens of thousands of people including government and aid workers and the collapse of much economic activity.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told an international aid conference this week that Afghans were facing "perhaps their most perilous hour".

The UN mission in Afghanistan said that in the Wednesday meeting Lyons had stressed the "absolute necessity for all UN and humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan to be able to work without intimidation or obstruction to deliver vital aid and conduct work for Afghan people".

The Taliban repeatedly targeted the United Nations during the two-decades-long US-led military mission in Afghanistan that ended last month with the rout of the Western-backed government by the Taliban.

In one of the bloodiest incidents, Taliban militants killed five UN foreign staff in an attack on a guest-house in Kabul in 2009.

More recently, gunmen attacked a UN compound in the city of Herat in July with rocket-propelled grenades killing a guard, while protesters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 2011 killed seven UN staff.

The Haqqani network, a faction within the Taliban and for years based on the border with Pakistan, was held responsible for some of the worst militant attacks in Afghanistan during the Taliban insurgency. The United States designated the group a terrorist organisation in 2012.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/un-envoy-meets-new-afghan-interior-minister-wanted-by-us/articleshow/86256158.cms 

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Amid mystery over whereabouts, Taliban leader Mullah Baradar appears in an interview

Geeta Mohan

September 15, 2021

Amid increasing questions over his whereabouts, Taliban co-founder and now deputy prime minister of Afghanistan Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has reportedly appeared in an interview with Afghan state television.

Taliban leader Ahmadullah Muttaqi, in a tweet, said that the latest interview of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will be published today and added that "all the propaganda of the enemy will be officially thwarted".

Earlier this week, Baradar released an audio statement saying he was alive and well after news of his supposed demise went viral on social media.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was last week named as the number two to Mullah Mohammed Hassan Akhund.

He blamed "fake propaganda" for the death rumours in an audio message posted by the Taliban.

Social media has been in a frenzy over the speculation that he had been mortally wounded in a shootout between rival Taliban factions at the presidential palace.

"There had been news in the media about my death. Over the past few nights I have been away on trips. Wherever I am at the moment, we are all fine, all my brothers and friends," Baradar said in the clip.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/amid-mystery-over-whereabouts-taliban-leader-mullah-baradar-appears-in-an-interview-1853269-2021-09-15 

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Afghan envoys marooned abroad after Taliban's sudden return

Sep 16, 2021

The Taliban's abrupt return to power has left hundreds of Afghan diplomats overseas in limbo: running out of money to keep missions operating, fearful for families back home and desperate to secure refuge abroad.

The Islamist militant movement, which swiftly ousted Afghanistan's Western-backed government on August 15, said on Tuesday that it had sent messages to all of its embassies telling diplomats to continue their work.

But eight embassy staff who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, in countries including Canada, Germany and Japan, described dysfunction and despair at their missions.

"My colleagues here and in many countries are pleading with host nations to accept them," said an Afghan diplomat in Berlin, who said he feared what might happen to his wife and four daughters who remain in Kabul if he allowed his name to be used.

"I am literally begging. Diplomats are willing to become refugees," he said, adding he would have to sell everything, including a large house in Kabul, and "start all over again".

Afghanistan's missions overseas face a period of "prolonged limbo" as countries decide whether to recognise the Taliban, said Afzal Ashraf, an international relations expert and visiting fellow at Britain's University of Nottingham.

"What can those embassies do? They don't represent a government. They don't have a policy to implement," he said, adding that embassy staff would likely be granted political asylum due to safety concerns if they returned to Afghanistan.

The Taliban, who enforced a strict interpretation of Islamic law with punishments like amputations and stonings during their previous rule from 1996 to 2001, have sought to show a more conciliatory face since coming back to power.

Spokespeople have reassured Afghans that they are not out for revenge and will respect people's rights, including women's.

But reports of house-to-house searches and reprisals against former officials and ethnic minorities have made people wary. The Taliban have vowed to investigate any abuses.

A group of envoys from the deposed government issued a first-of-its-kind joint statement, reported by Reuters on Wednesday ahead of its public release, calling on world leaders to deny the Taliban formal recognition.

'THERE IS NO MONEY'

Afghanistan's acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told a news conference in Kabul on Tuesday that the Taliban had sent messages to all Afghan embassies telling them to continue work.

"Afghanistan invested in you a lot, you are assets of Afghanistan," he said.

One senior Afghan diplomat estimated there were around 3,000 people either working in the country's embassies or directly dependent on them.

Ousted president Ashraf Ghani's toppled administration also penned a letter to foreign missions on September 8 calling the Taliban's new government "illegitimate" and urging embassies to "continue their normal functions and duties".

But these calls for continuity do not reflect the chaos on the ground, embassy staff said.

"There is no money. It is not possible to operate in such circumstances. I am not being paid now," a source at the Afghan embassy in Canada's capital Ottawa said.

Two Afghan embassy staffers in New Delhi said they were also running out of cash for a mission serving thousands of Afghans who are trying to find ways home to reunite with families or need help applying for asylum in other countries.

Both staffers said they would not return to Afghanistan for fear of being targeted due to their connections to the previous government, but would also struggle to get asylum in India where thousands of Afghans have spent years seeking refugee status.

"I have to just sit tight for now in the embassy premises and wait to exit to any nation that is willing to accept me and my family," one said.

GOVERNMENT IN EXILE

Some of Afghanistan's envoys have openly criticised the Taliban.

Manizha Bakhtari, the country's Austria ambassador, regularly posts allegations of human rights abuses by the Taliban on Twitter while China envoy Javid Ahmad Qaem warned against believing Taliban promises on extremist groups.

Others are lying low, hoping that their host countries will not rush to recognise the group and put them at risk.

Several Afghan diplomats said they would be closely watching the annual meeting of world leaders at the United Nations in New York next week where there is uncertainty over who will fill Afghanistan's seat.

United Nations credentials give weight to a government, and no one has yet formally claimed Afghanistan's seat. Any move seen as legitimising the Taliban might empower the group to replace embassy staff with their own, the diplomats said.

In Tajikistan, some embassy staff managed to bring their families across the border in recent weeks and they are considering converting the embassy into residential premises to house them, a senior diplomat there said.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghan-envoys-marooned-abroad-after-talibans-sudden-return/articleshow/86252617.cms 

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UN refugee chief warns 'greater suffering' likely in Afghanistan

Sep 16, 2021

AFGHANISTAN: Afghanistan needs urgent and sustained support from the international community to prevent a larger humanitarian crisis, the head of the UN refugee agency said, warning of global implications if that were to happen.

"The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan remains desperate," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement after a three-day visit to the South Asian nation.

"If public services and the economy collapse, we will see even greater suffering, instability, and displacement both within and outside the country," he added in Wednesday's statement.

"The international community must therefore engage with Afghanistan – and quickly – in order to prevent a much bigger humanitarian crisis that will have not only regional, but global implications."

Even before the Taliban took over last month, Grandi said, more than 18 million Afghans, or about half the population, required humanitarian aid.

More than 3.5 million Afghans were already displaced in a country that is battling drought and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/un-refugee-chief-warns-greater-suffering-likely-in-afghanistan/articleshow/86251742.cms 

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Afghanistan to have regular army soon: Taliban official

Sep 16, 2021

KABUL: Afghanistan would soon have a regular army to defend the country, Taliban's army chief of staff Qari Fasihuddin has said.

"Afghanistan would have a regular, disciplined and strong army in near future to defend and protect the country and consultations in this field continue," Xinhua news agency quoted Fasihuddin as saying to the Afghan radio service Salam Watandar.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghanistan-to-have-regular-army-soon-taliban-official/articleshow/86251080.cms

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‘Baradar fled to Kandahar after brawl with Khalil Haqqani’

Sep 16, 2021

A major row broke out between members of the Taliban over the make-up of the new government in Afghanistan last week, the BBC reported on Tuesday. The argument between the group’s co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and minister for refugees Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani happened at the presidential palace in Kabul, the report said. Unconfirmed reports of disagreements have been circulating since Baradar disappeared from public view in recent days.

One Taliban source told BBC Pashto that Baradar and Haqqani — a key figure within the militant Haqqani network — had exchanged strong words, as their followers brawled nearby. The Taliban sources told the BBC that Baradar had left Kabul and travelled to the city of Kandahar following the row. A senior Taliban member based in Qatar and a person connected to those involved also confirmed that an argument had taken place late last week.

The sources said the argument had broken out because Baradar, the new deputy PM, was unhappy about the structure of their interim government. It has been said that the row stemmed from divisions over who in the Taliban should take credit for their victory in Afghanistan. Baradar reportedly believes that the emphasis should be placed on diplomacy carried out by people like him, while members of the Haqqani group and their backers say it was achieved through fighting.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/baradar-fled-to-kandahar-after-brawl-with-khalil-haqqani/articleshow/86249790.cms 

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Afghan diplomats urge world to deny Taliban recognition

Sep 16, 2021

A group of Afghan diplomats from the deposed government in Kabul has issued a first-of-its-kind joint statement calling on world leaders to deny the Taliban formal recognition. The statement was signed by two dozen officials operating in a kind of diplomatic twilight, with no government to represent but still working from missions in the US, Britain, France, Turkey and elsewhere.

The diplomats who signed the letter were all below the rank of ambassador. “We are disheartened that after twenty years of engagement, our allies are abandoning Afghanistan and leaving our people at the mercy of a terrorist group,” the diplomats wrote. The letter also asked world leaders to halt Taliban violence against women, activists and journalists. “Taliban’s success in capturing power through illegal and violent means ... emboldens terrorist and violent extremist groups around the world,” they wrote.

Jawad Raha, first secretary at the embassy in Washington, said his outpost was still operating, with diplomats there focusing on providing services for Afghans living in the US and drawing attention to the situation in Afghanistan. He said the embassy had taken down Ashraf Ghani’s photo. “We were all upset (over) the way he left the country,” Raha said.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghan-diplomats-urge-world-to-deny-taliban-recognition/articleshow/86249780.cms 

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UN envoy meets Taliban government's interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani

September 16, 2021

A UN envoy has met Afghanistan's new interior minister who was for years was one of the world's most wanted militants and is now part of a government trying to head off a humanitarian crisis.

The meeting between Deborah Lyons, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, and Sirajuddin Haqqani focused on humanitarian assistance, Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday.

"[Haqqani] stressed that UN personnel can conduct their work without any hurdle and deliver vital aid to the Afghan people," he said.

Afghanistan was already facing chronic poverty and drought but the situation has deteriorated since the Taliban took over last month with the disruption of aid, the departure of tens of thousands of people including government and aid workers and the collapse of much economic activity.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told an international aid conference this week that Afghans were facing "perhaps their most perilous hour".

The UN mission in Afghanistan said that in the Wednesday meeting Lyons had stressed the "absolute necessity for all UN and humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan to be able to work without intimidation or obstruction to deliver vital aid and conduct work for Afghan people".

The Taliban repeatedly targeted the United Nations during the two-decades-long US-led military mission in Afghanistan that ended last month with the rout of the Western-backed government by the Taliban.

In one of the bloodiest incidents, Taliban militants killed five UN foreign staff in an attack on a guest-house in Kabul in 2009.

More recently, gunmen attacked a UN compound in the city of Herat in July with rocket-propelled grenades killing a guard, while protesters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 2011 killed seven UN staff.

The Haqqani network, a faction within the Afghan Taliban, was held responsible for some of the worst militant attacks in Afghanistan during the Taliban insurgency. The United States designated the group a terrorist organisation in 2012.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1646711/un-envoy-meets-taliban-governments-interior-minister-sirajuddin-haqqani 

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We impose no conditions on Taliban, they declared their objective themselves: Russia

16 Sep 2021

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that they are not imposing any conditions on the Taliban and added that they are declaring their objectives themselves which are fighting terrorism and drug trafficking.

The Russian foreign minister arrived at the collective security treaty organization (CSTO) meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Wednesday, September 15.

Sergey Lavrov said that the Taliban’s commitment to fighting terrorism and drug trafficking is welcomed by them as other countries do.

“They (Taliban) assured everyone they will do everything to prevent threats on neighboring countries. We support most other countries and welcomed such an approach.” Said Lavrov.

The Russian foreign minister though did not say anything about recognizing the Taliban, acknowledged they will observe how the Taliban will implement their commitments.

In the meantime, the Chinese foreign ministry said that their embassy in Kabul is operating as normal and they will maintain engagement with the Taliban.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/we-impose-no-conditions-on-taliban-they-declared-their-objective-themselves-russia-547457457/ 

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We will suppress those who defend gains of past two decades: Taliban

15 Sep 2021

Chief of Army Staff of the Taliban Fasihudin said that they will suppress all who defend the gains of the past two decades under the name of specific ethnic groups or resistance in Afghanistan.

Those who defend democracy in Afghanistan and oppose the Taliban will also be suppressed.

Though he did not directly name any group, he is probably meant the resistance front led by Ahmad Masoud in Panjshir province.

The front which was finally defeated by the Taliban after 15 days, was created by former vice-president Amrullah Saleh and son of the slain Ahmad Shah Masoud.

The chief of Army staff said these people are disturbing security and want bloodshed in Afghanistan.

Fasihudin who was talking to a gathering in Kabul on Wednesday, September 15 said that consultations over creating an Afghan national army are going on and will establish a potent army.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/we-will-suppress-those-who-defend-gains-of-past-two-decades-taliban-546456/ 

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Afghans themselves caused ongoing situation in Afghanistan: Khalilzad

16 Sep 2021

US special representative to Afghanistan’s peace Zalmay Khalilzad said the people of Afghanistan themselves caused the ongoing situation and accused former president Ashraf Ghani of disturbing peaceful transition.

Zalmay Khalilzad in his recent interview said the escape of Ashraf Ghani failed the scheme of peaceful transition and the entering of the Taliban to Kabul.

The special envoy has said that former Afghanistan was not willing to the peace talks and added that the US should not be blamed for the failure of the Afghan government.

“As per an established scheme, Ashraf Ghani was supposed to stay in Afghanistan as the president of the country but he did not do so.” Said, Khalilzad.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/afghans-themselves-caused-ongoing-situation-in-afghanistan-khalilzad-45456/ 

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Taliban asks UN’s cooperation in recognition, lifting sanctions

16 Sep 2021

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan asked the UN to help them in recognition of their government, removing names of the Taliban leaders from the black list, and lifting all other sanctions imposed by the international community.

The acting interior minister of the IEA Sarajudin Haqqani met under the secretary-General of UN Gilles Michaud and secretary-General’s special representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons on Wednesday, September 15 in Kabul.

Spokesperson of the Taliban Zabiullah Mujahid in a series of tweets said that   Sarajudin Haqqani asked the UN to be pragmatic in lifting sanctions from the Taliban

As per Mujahid, Haqqani has told the UN representatives that the Taliban want engagement with the international community and added that an atmosphere of trust is needed in this regard which is releasing the frozen asset of Afghanistan by the US and implementation of the Doha agreement.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-asks-uns-cooperation-in-recognition-lifting-sanctions-43634634/ 

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Over $12 million seized from former officials given to central bank by Taliban

15 Sep 2021

Taliban gave the total amount of 12368246 dollars in cash to the central bank-De Afghanistan bank-that were seized from the residences of officials of the former government.

In addition to the cash, the Taliban has also given the central bank gold bricks on Wednesday, September 15.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/over-12-million-seized-from-former-officials-given-to-central-bank-by-taliban-797987/ 

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EU announces additional 100 million euros in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan

15 Sep 2021

Head of the European Union Urela Von Der Leyen said that the union of 27 European states is standing beside Afghanistan and is announcing additional 100 million euros in humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan.

Der Leyen said that we must do our best to avert the looming humanitarian crisis and hunger in Afghanistan.

The additional amount of money is in addition to 1.2 billion euros announced by the council in 2020. The latter amount of money is planned to be provided to Afghanistan in the period of 2021-2025.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/eu-announces-additional-100-0million-euros-in-humanitarian-aid-to-afghanistan-346346346/ 

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India

TISS Students Who Shouted Pro-Sharjeel Imam Slogans Granted Anticipatory Bail In Sedition Case

16 Sep 2021

A Mumbai court has granted pre-arrest bail to two students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) here in a sedition case registered against them for allegedly shouting slogans in support of former JNU student Sharjeel Imam at an LGBTQ event here in February last year.

The anticipatory bail of Ambadi B and Amir Ali was allowed by additional sessions judge MG Deshpande. But a detailed order of Ambadi was available on Wednesday.

The court noted that there was nothing before it to show that he was part of the gathering and raised anti-national slogans.

A careful perusal of the FIR indicates that there is a clear mention that only one woman Urvashi Chudawala was giving slogans and the group was responding to the same by clapping in chorus, the court said.

"Main accused Urvashi Chudawala is already enjoying the interim protection granted by the (Bombay) High Court. Basically, there is nothing before the court to even hold that the present applicant was part of the said assembly and gave anti-nation slogans attributing sedition," it added.

"The accused is a 22-year-old and his education is in progress. Arrest has far-reaching consequences as the same may spoil the career of the student forever. If the application is rejected, the same will cause irreparable loss to the applicant," the court said.

According to the police, around 300 people had gathered at a rally organised by Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer (LGBTQ) community at Azad Maidan in February last year. There were multiple small groups and many of them were giving slogans, it said.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-main-accused-is-enjoying-interim-protection-of-hc-said-mumbai-court-grants-bail-to-tiss-student-accused-of-raising-pro-/394746 

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Delhi riots: Court frames charges against 5 men for shooting Muslim man dead, burning his body

by Anand Mohan J

September 16, 2021

A Delhi court Thursday framed charges of murder against five men accused of killing a Muslim man and burning his body during the northeast Delhi riots, taking note of his brother’s blow-by-blow account.

Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav framed charges against the accused — Lakhpat Rajora, Lalit, Yogesh and two men both named Kuldeep under sections of murder, rioting, mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house and dacoity of the IPC and sections of the Arms Act.

Mohd Anwar was murdered on February 25. His brother Saleem Kassar had told the police that “a riotous mob after breaking open the doors of his house with sarias and dandas, had looted the same and thereafter set it on fire”.

He further stated that the “riotous mob had also committed murder of his elder brother namely Mohd Anwar with gunshot injury and thereafter burnt his body.” The mob also took away 17 goats from his brother’s house.

The court in his order said that the complainant in this case, Saleem Kassar, had “seen his elder brother being shot dead and his house being burnt by the riotous mob, so it was natural for him to get shattered and shocked”.

“However, by the passage of time, after gaining some composure and confidence, he has not only given a blow-by-blow account of the incident, but has also categorically identified accused Lakhpat Rajora,” court said.

The court said Kassar’s statement was also corroborated with that statement of his son and a protected witness. “At this stage, their aforesaid statements cannot be brushed aside/discarded merely because there has been some delay in recording thereof or that the complainant did not specifically name/identify the accused persons in his initial written complaint made to the police,” the court said.

The court acknowledged that “though, there is some delay in recording the statements of public witnesses in the matter, but at this stage, this Court cannot lose sight of the fact that on account of prevailing communal tension in the area, it was very difficult for the investigating agency to trace the eye/public witnesses promptly, because the people were so shocked and traumatised that it took several days for them to muster courage to come out and report the matter to the police.”

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-riots-court-frames-charges-against-5-men-for-shooting-muslim-man-dead-burning-his-body-7512567/ 

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India: Pakistan holding OIC hostage on J&K issue

Sep 16, 2021

NEW DELHI: The government slammed Pakistan at the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday saying that India doesn't need lessons from a "failed state" which was the epicentre of terrorism and "worst abuser of human rights". The government also hit out at OIC for raising issues related to Jammu & Kashmir as it accused the group of allowing itself to be held hostage by Pakistan.

"We once again regret and reject the reference made by the OIC to J&K which is an integral part of India. The OIC has no locus standi to comment on internal affairs of India. The OIC has helplessly allowed itself to be held hostage by Pakistan, which holds the chairmanship of their Geneva Chapter, to subserve its own agenda. It's for the members of the OIC to decide if it is in their interest to allow Pakistan to do so," said first secretary in Indian mission in Geneva Pawan Badhe.

He was exercising the right of reply against comments by Pakistan and OIC. India said Pakistan was only seeking to divert the council's attention from human rights violations being perpetrated by its government, including in territories occupied by it.

"Pakistan has failed to protect the rights of its minorities, including Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and Ahmadiyas. Thousands of women and girls from minority communities have been subjected to abductions, forced marriages and conversions in Pakistan," said the official.

Badhe said Pakistan had been engaged in systematic persecution, forced conversions, targeted killings, sectarian violence and faith-based discrimination against its ethnic and religious minorities. "Pakistan is a country which has been globally recognised as a country openly supporting, training, financing and arming terrorists, including UN proscribed terrorists, as a matter of state policy. The relevant multilateral institutions have been raising serious concerns on its failure to stop terror financing and lack of effective actions against terror entities," said the official.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-pakistan-holding-oic-hostage-on-jk-issue/articleshow/86249299.cms 

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Southeast Asia

Learn from Sabah, Sarawak on racial, religious tolerance, says academic

Durie Rainer Fong

September 15, 2021

KOTA KINABALU: People in the peninsula have much to learn from Sabah and Sarawak which are far superior in managing their diverse cultures, says an academic.

Sarjit S Gill, a professor with Universiti Putra Malaysia’s faculty of human ecology, said in his research spanning 20 years, he found that the communities in Sabah had a high level of tolerance in celebrating their cultures and religions in their daily lives.

Describing Sabah as his second home, Sarjit said he made it a point to tell students during his lectures that both Sabah and Sarawak are the models for ethnic relations in Malaysia.

“The reality is the communities in both states place much importance on tolerance and celebrating their diversity so that they can live collectively and in a harmonious environment,” he said during a webinar today.

“They have managed this diversity well and the question now is how the communities in the peninsula – the Malays, Chinese and Indians – can learn from Sabah and Sarawak.”

Sarjit was one of the panellists in the webinar hosted by Universiti Malaysia Sabah, entitled “Harmonious Ethnic Relations in Sabah: Rhetoric or Reality?” The event was organised in conjunction with Malaysia Day tomorrow.

Another panellist, Kadazan Dusun Murut Muslim SeMalaysia Organisation chairman Nicholas Sylvester said earlier that the harmony among the various ethnic groups in Sabah was a reality rather than rhetorical, although he did not have scientific research to back up his claim.

Offering anecdotes from his personal experiences, Nicholas, a Muslim convert, said he continued to have good relations with his Christian family and friends despite embracing another religion.

He said he was also close to his grandmother who kept to Chinese traditions and held on to animism practices.

“We are living (in harmony) and there is no issue in our daily lives because we tolerate each other,” he said.

He added that the uniqueness was not limited to his personal experience but all of society in Sabah.

“My good friend, Masidi Manjun (a Sabah minister) told me he was appreciative of a church offering parking facilities during a previous gathering.

“This is also evident in the state assembly and state administration where we can see leaders from various ethnic backgrounds working together with no issues. NGOs also don’t care about who they are helping.

“There are also many places in Sabah where mosques are located next to churches. And there are also many cross-marriages,” said Nicholas.

“To be fair, there are unhealthy things happening on social media that counter the euphoria over the ethnic relations in Sabah where people insult each other over religion and make racist remarks.

“But these are isolated incidents and, in general, harmony is a reality in Sabah.”

Meanwhile, Sarjit said the government had previously acknowledged Sabah and Sarawak as models of integration. It has, however, not carried out equal social and economic development in both states compared to states in the peninsula.

“When it comes to social and economic development, we can see a gap. This must be given attention because we want the people in Sabah and Sarawak to be as developed as those in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur or Selangor.

“During my research on information and communications technology (ICT) services adoption in Sabah, I found schools without computers or science labs or labs with broken computers.

“In Putrajaya, people are discussing using state-of-the-art computers while schools in interior areas are ignored,” he said.

Sabah DAP’s Jannie Lasimbang, who also spoke at the webinar, said the government must step in to aid in efforts aimed at maintaining good ethnic relations by enacting laws to fight racial and religious discrimination.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/09/15/learn-from-sabah-sarawak-on-racial-religious-tolerance-says-academic/?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=pmd_SBVLvAv2GmdDtBIrrgIOFvSW9EXYzkx0l7BROCwXf3w-1631790143-0-gqNtZGzNApCjcnBszQvl 

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Govt drafting law to enhance shariah courts, says PM

September 15, 2021

PETALING JAYA: The government is intensifying efforts to draft the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Act, commonly known as RUU 355, to increase the criminal jurisdiction powers of shariah courts.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaaob said after the draft of RUU 355 is finalised, it would be presented to states for discussion.

“Throughout 2020 and 2021, the government, through the Syarak and Civil Law Technical Committee, under the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs, held a series of meetings to discuss RUU 355.

“This is to look into various aspects, especially the constitution and syarak law so that RUU 355 is more comprehensive and further strengthens the criminal jurisdiction of the shariah courts,” he said in a written reply posted on the Parliament website.

Ismail was responding to a question from Khalid Abdul Samad (PH-Shah Alam), who asked the prime minister to state the strategic plan to strengthen the shariah courts through the amendment of RUU 355 this year.

The proposed amendment to RUU 355 was tabled by Abdul Hadi Awang (PAS-Marang) for the first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on May 26, 2016 as a private member’s bill.

However, the debate on it was postponed and a revised version was tabled in November 2016 and April 2017.

RUU 355 aims to increase the jurisdiction of the shariah courts and punish shariah criminal offences without involving the non-Muslim community.

Commenting further, Ismail said the government would always take steps to strengthen the position of the shariah courts for them to be on par with the civil courts.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/09/15/govt-drafting-law-to-enhance-shariah-courts-says-pm/ 

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Work with Unity Ministry not on bill over restricting propagation of faiths, Bintulu MP tells religious affairs minister

11 Sep 2021

By Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Sept 11 — Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King today urged religious affairs minister Datuk Idris Ahmad to work closely with the Ministry of National Unity by focusing on the unity and integration of all Malaysians.

He stressed that the spirit of unity and mutual understanding, acceptance and harmony among all races and religions must be maintained to promote a true Malaysian Family concept for all.

“It is my solemn request, to all leaders from both the governing and opposition parties and their supporters, to set aside our ambitions using religious and ethnic lines at a time when all Malaysians are struggling to get by during the pandemic,” Tiong said in a statement in response for a proposal to draft a Bill on the control and restrictions on the propagation of non-Muslim religions in Malaysia.

He said an announcement by Idris’ deputy Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary had created a political storm in the country.

“During this severe pandemic, striving along these religious and ethnic lines, does nothing to put Malaysia back to economic and social recovery,” he said, adding that everyone has a right to freedom of religion as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. It must not be compromised now or in the future.

“Regardless of the status of this proposed bill, my only position is that I firmly oppose it to the end. Our country is a multi-racial one,” Tiong,who is also Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president, said.

He hoped all politicians in Malaysia will be more sensitive when dealing with various issues and avoid making remarks that incite and hurt the feelings of other religious groups.

He said creating emotionally-charged rhetoric will only make interracial relationships more tense and it is not a way to garner votes.

“It should be understood by all that religious belief is a spiritual sustenance for human beings and a steadying beacon in confusion and helplessness.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/09/11/work-with-unity-ministry-not-on-bill-over-restricting-propagation-of-faiths/2004821 

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Perlis Islamic edict allows Muslim wives to get Covid-19 vaccine without husbands’ agreement

15 Sep 2021

BY DANIAL DZULKIFLY

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — The Perlis Fatwa Committee has issued a religious edict or “fatwa” stating that Muslim wives can go against their husbands if the latter try to deny them from getting vaccinated against Covid-19.

The edict which was shared by Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin on his social media explained that while Muslims wives are obliged to obey their husbands, this does not include immoral acts or causing harm to oneself or others.

“A wife who is confident that the usage of certain medication that is able to cure of certain ailments or to protect herself from harm based on expert advice, can consume them without the agreement from the husband.

“Disobeying the husband’s objection on the matter is not considered as ‘nusyuz’,’’ it said, referring to a religious offence of disobeying one’s husband.

Last month, it was reported that a Terengganu man had threatened to divorce his wife if she decides to get her Covid-19 vaccine shot.

Last June, Shariah Lawyers Association Malaysia president Musa Awang had pleaded for Shariah courts to remain operational during the lockdown as there was a rise in domestic abuse cases and divorces.

Back in 2017, the Perlis Fatwa Committee was also lauded for its edict allowing Muslim wives to leave their marital home without their husbands’ permission if their lives are in danger.

In his explanation of the edict then, Mohd Asri explained the edict was to protect Muslim wives who had been ill-treated by their husbands.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/09/15/perlis-islamic-edict-allows-muslim-wives-to-get-covid-19-vaccine-without-hu/2005787 

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Arab World 

Hezbollah brings Iranian fuel into Lebanon: Reports

16 September ,2021

Hezbollah began bringing Iranian fuel into Lebanon via Syria on Thursday, a move the Shia group says aims to ease a crippling energy crisis but which its opponents have said exposes the country to the risk of US sanctions.

Quoting its correspondent, Lebanon’s Aljadeed television said a convoy of around 20 tanker trucks carrying Iranian fuel oil had entered Lebanon. The Iran-backed Hezbollah has said the ship carrying the fuel docked in Syria on Sunday.

The trucks crossed into northeastern Lebanon near the village of al-Ain, where a banner declared that Hezbollah had broken a “siege” on Lebanon.

“Thank you Iran. Thank you Assad’s Syria,” declared another banner, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Lebanon fuel crisis

The energy crisis is a result of a financial meltdown that has devastated the Lebanese economy since 2019, sinking the currency by some 90 percent and sending more than three quarters of the population into poverty.

Fuel supplies have dried up because Lebanon does not have enough hard currency to cover even vital imports, forcing essential services including some hospitals to scale back or shut down and sparking numerous security incidents.

The decision to import fuel marks an expansion of the role played by the Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, where critics have long accused the terrorist group that has fought wars with Israel of acting as a state within the state.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday the ship had docked in Syria to avoid harming Lebanon and to avoid embarrassing some of its allies, an apparent reference to the sanctions risk.

US sanctions on Iran oil

Washington has reiterated that US sanctions on Iranian oil sales remain in place, but it has not said whether it is considering imposing measures against Lebanon over the move by Hezbollah.

Washington designates Hezbollah as a terrorist group and has also targeted it with sanctions.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/16/Tanker-trucks-carrying-fuel-oil-from-Iran-enter-Lebanese-territory-TV-reports 

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Egypt, Sudan back resumed controversial Nile dam talks as UN urges deal

16 September ,2021

Egypt and Sudan have expressed readiness to resume talks with Ethiopia on its controversial Nile dam after the UN Security Council urged the three governments to swiftly reach a binding deal.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, set to be Africa’s largest hydroelectric project when completed, has sparked an almost decade-long diplomatic stand-off between Ethiopia and downstream nations Egypt and Sudan.

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council adopted a statement encouraging the three countries to resume negotiations under the auspices of the African Union to swiftly conclude a binding deal.

The Egyptian foreign ministry welcomed the Security Council statement as an “important impetus” for success in renewed talks.

Sudan backed the resumption of AU-led talks during a Wednesday visit by a delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the current AU chair.

The Sudanese foreign ministry said it wanted changes to the “ineffective method that has characterized previous rounds of negotiation.”

The DRC delegation, headed by Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula, is also visiting Egypt and Ethiopia on a tour dedicated to resolving the long-running dispute.

It handed Sudan a document setting out the remaining points of contention between the three governments.

Egypt and Sudan have been pressing Ethiopia to sign a binding agreement on the filling and operation of its dam on the Blue Nile ever since work first started on the project in 2011.

The three governments have held multiple rounds of talks but so far there has been no sign of any breakthrough.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/16/Egypt-Sudan-back-resumed-controversial-Nile-dam-talks-as-UN-urges-deal 

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Lebanon to resume IMF negotiations, begin reforms: Draft policy statement

15 September ,2021

The Lebanese government will resume negotiations with the International Monetary Fund while beginning reforms demanded by donors, according to a draft policy program that aims to tackle one of the worst financial meltdowns in history.

New Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government will also resume negotiations with creditors over a restructuring of public debt on which Lebanon defaulted last year, the draft seen by Reuters on Wednesday said.

The government was agreed on Friday after more than a year of political conflict over seats in cabinet that left the country rudderless as more than three-quarters of the population fell into poverty and shortages crippled normal life.

The cabinet is due to meet on Thursday to approve the draft, which will then go to a vote of confidence in parliament.

Underscoring the gravity of the situation, the policy program was drawn up in a matter of days, much faster than the weeks the process has taken in the past.

The draft said the government was committed to resuming talks with the IMF for a short- and medium-term support plan.

Donors want to see Lebanon enact reforms, including measures to tackle the corruption and graft that led to the economic collapse, before they will unlock billions of dollars of assistance already earmarked for the country.

Talks with the IMF broke down last summer when Lebanon’s political elite and banking sector objected to the scale of financial losses set out in a recovery plan drawn up by the previous government.

The draft program said the Mikati government would renew and develop the previous financial recovery plan, which set out a shortfall in the financial system of some $90 billion – a figure endorsed by the IMF.

The government will also draw up a plan to "correct the situation of (the) banking sector," which has been paralyzed since late 2019, the draft said.

Lebanon”s financial system unraveled in late 2019.

The root cause was decades of profligate spending by the state and the unsustainable way in which it was financed.

As dollars dried up, depositors were frozen out of their accounts. The value of hard currency savings has plummeted by up to 80 percent since then, with the Lebanese pound collapsing by 90 percent from a peg that had existed for more than two decades.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/15/Lebanon-to-resume-IMF-negotiations-begin-reforms-Draft-policy-statement

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Iraq election chief promises fair elections despite concerns

15 September ,2021

Iraq is taking measures to close loopholes and conduct fair elections despite attempts to compromise the upcoming polls, the head of Iraq’s electoral commission said.

Judge Jaleel Adnan Khalaf, chairman of the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission overseeing the election on Oct. 10, told The Associated Press in an interview this week that it has identified and thwarted attempts of voter fraud.

“What we hear here and there is that citizens are selling their voter cards,” he said, referring to a way for candidates to essentially buy votes. “The commission has set strict regulations and strict rules.”

Next month’s vote is being held a year before the elections were due, in line with a promise made by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi when he assumed office in 2020. He is seeking to appease anti-government protesters who rose up in October 2019 in Baghdad and Iraq's south.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi youth took to the streets to decry rampant corruption, poor services and unemployment. Hundreds died as security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds. The protests dwindled following restrictive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The elections are also being held under a new reformed electoral law that divides Iraq into 83 constituencies, instead of 18, which theoretically allows more independents to participate.

Khalaf said the commission has been receiving complaints as Election Day nears, including incidents of parties using weapons to intimidate voters in addition to the selling of voter cards.

The legitimacy and transparency of the election has been questioned with incidents of violence against activists and independent candidates on the rise, including a string of targeted killings in the months leading to the polls. The death of Karbala-based activist Ehab al-Wazni inspired many to declare a boycott of the election.

Despite Khalaf’s reassurances, Iraqis remain highly disillusioned and many are not convinced the political establishment can produce a fair vote.

Concerns are also mounting internally within the commission. One official said they were aware that members of the Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) militia, a state-sanctioned militia umbrella group, will vote along with the general public on Oct. 10 and not on Oct. 8, the day designated for members of the armed forces. The militia group has not provided information to the commission about their fighters, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The United Nations expanded its electoral assistance to the commission to help promote electoral integrity in the eyes of the public. The 2018 election was marked by severe voter apathy, with only 44 percent of registered voters participating. There will also be 130 international experts monitoring the poll, along with 600 support staff.

There are 24 million registered voters, Khalaf said, with 3,449 candidates running in the election for 329 parliament seats. Khalaf said the commission will fulfill its legal obligation to announce the results of the election within 24 hours of polls closing.

The introduction of biometric voting cards is one way the commission hopes it can clamp down on voter fraud. Electronic verification devices will also be used to identify voters and evade double voting, which has occurred in past elections.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/15/Iraq-election-chief-promises-fair-elections-despite-concerns 

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GCC Ministerial Council to hold 149th session in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh

16 September ,2021

The Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is set to hold its 149th session in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh on Thursday, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The session will be headed by the current chairman of the council, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, and will witness the participation of GCC Secretary-General, Nayef Falah al-Hajraf.

Al-Hajraf said the Ministerial Council will discuss several topics, including a follow-up to the implementation of the decisions of the Supreme Council that were issued in the summit of Sultan Qaboos and Sheikh Sabah in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla earlier this year.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/09/16/GCC-Ministerial-Council-to-hold-149th-session-in-Saudi-Arabia-s-Riyadh 

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Saudi Crown Prince launches ‘human capability development’ program

15 September ,2021

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a new program on Wednesday as part of Saudi Vision 2030 plans and a national strategy to “strengthen citizen’s capabilities locally and globally.”

“The Human Capability Development Program represents a national strategy to enhance the competitiveness of national human capabilities locally and globally to be ready for the current and future labor market with capabilities and ambitions that compete with the world, and that is through: instilling and promoting values, developing basic and future skills, and developing knowledge,” the Crown Prince said.

“Because of my confidence in every citizen's capabilities, this program has been developed to meet the needs and aspirations of all segments of society, beginning from childhood passing through universities, colleges, technical and vocational institutes, and reaching the labor market, with the goal of preparing citizens for the future, as this contributes to building a solid economy based on skills and knowledge and with human capital at its core,” HRH the Crown Prince added.

The Crown Prince announced that the program will include 89 initiatives aimed at achieving 16 strategic objectives of Saudi Vision 2030. The program's strategy will be built on three pillars: Develop a resilient and strong educational base, prepare for the future labor market locally and globally, and provide lifelong learning opportunities.

The program's initiatives will include promoting the expansion of kindergartens, which will help to develop a resilient and strong educational base for all children. Moreover, the career guidance and counseling initiative which will provide citizens with the capabilities and skills necessary to plan their career objectives. In addition, a number of initiatives that target upskilling and reskilling citizens to increase employability rate and enable entrepreneurs and innovators for the future labor market locally and globally.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/09/15/Saudi-Crown-Prince-launches-human-capability-development-program- 

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Mideast

Envoy: Origin of Contamination Declared by IAEA Unknown to Iran

2021-September-16

"It is regrettable that despite Iran’s written explanations regarding the presence of depleted uranium contamination, which were delivered to the Agency on 26 May 2021, the Agency still keeps repeating that 'Iran had yet to provide an explanation'. The Agency has to rectify this situation," Qaribabadi said, addressing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s board of governors' meeting on 'Report of the IAEA Director General'.

"As it was explained by Iran, based on our investigation into the background of the activities carried out in the location, there was no precedent of any nuclear activity; therefore, the origin of the contamination declared by the Agency is absolutely unknown to us. Nevertheless, the depleted uranium contamination originating from commercially available uranium-derived products is nothing unusual and is not a significant issue," he added.

The full text of the Iranian envoy's remarks are as follows:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

Madam Chairperson,

Director General,

Excellencies, Dear Colleagues,

At the outset, allow me to point out that the Director General’s latest report under this agenda item includes some aspects which I deem it necessary to elaborate them more for the sake of establishing a better understanding about the work done and the future perspective in this regard.

First and foremost, I would like to reiterate the fact that, there is no safeguards related issue regarding Iran’s ongoing nuclear activities and this important point has been confirmed, once again consistent with the previous ones, in the current report of the Director General. Likewise, Iran has voluntarily continued practical and constructive interactions and working relations with the Agency to address questions about a few immaterial and insignificant issues. Despite sincere efforts, it is profoundly inadequate that, the Secretariat has taken a counterproductive and hasty approach in reporting the matter at the expense of its own credibility.

Madam Chairperson,

While Iran has been positively responding to different requests by the Director General, the current report of the Agency is mostly, a repetition of the previous report without reflecting appropriately the recent and ongoing developments and progress between the two parties. Unfortunately such positive and constructive approach shown by Iran was not reciprocated appropriately by the Agency, which could turn into an obstacle for future good-will interactions between the two sides.

Having said this, allow me, Madam Chairperson, to explain some of the outstanding aspects of the recent progress, parts of which were also raised in the report of the Director General, as follows:

1. Iran has already provided the Agency with the complete background information on activities in Location 4, as the Agency calls it, both orally and in writing, the supporting documents of which have also been presented to the Agency on 24 August 2021. Iran has also responded to the questions of the Agency on 24 August 2021, which were delivered to it unofficially on 26 May 2021. In this context it is regrettable that despite Iran’s written explanations regarding the presence of depleted uranium contamination, which were delivered to the Agency on 26 May 2021, the Agency still keeps repeating that “Iran had yet to provide an explanation”. The Agency has to rectify this situation. As it was explained by Iran, based on our investigation into the background of the activities carried out in the location, there was no precedent of any nuclear activity; therefore, the origin of the contamination declared by the Agency is absolutely unknown to us. Nevertheless, the depleted uranium contamination originating from commercially available uranium-derived products is nothing unusual and is not a significant issue.

It is a source of serious concern that after numerous communications and interactions on this subject and providing information, explanations and complete set of documentation, the Agency sent a letter on 2 September 2021, referencing to some commercial satellite imageries for the period of 1994 till 2018, to claim that some of Iran’s explanations are not consistent with the imageries. Firstly, some satellite imageries cannot prove that activities in contradiction with Iran’s statement have occurred. Secondly, a serious question is raised that why the Agency had not provided Iran with these imageries before in order to be assessed and responded to. Apparently this has become a malpractice by the Agency that every time that we come close to concluding an issue, new questions are raised which prepares the ground for an open and endless process. This practice is not acceptable and contradicts the Agency’s professionalism. Considering all that was explained above and also numerous meetings, communications and explanations provided by Iran, we believe and highly expect that the Agency is able to conclude this matter as resolved.

2. On the natural uranium in the form of a metal disc at location 2, as the Agency calls it, I should remind and recall that the Agency’s inspectors carried out in-field verification activity on this matter at a declared facility twice during the second half of 2020. These were in addition to the annual PIV which usually is carried out in the first half of the year. In the May meeting in Tehran, we challenged the Agency’s claims on this issue which are merely based on a few non-authentic and unsubstantiated images without presenting any supporting evidence. We have stated vividly to the Agency that it is not possible for Iran to take any action accordingly, and it is upon the Agency to rectify this improper practice. Nevertheless, as a sign of good-faith, Iran informed the Agency in May in Tehran that if an additional verification activity, as requested by the Agency, would conclude the matter, we are ready to voluntarily facilitate the implementation of the request. Now, it is upon the Agency to take a professional and proper decision in this regard.

3. Having different opinions on the modified Code 3.1 is not a new issue between Iran and the Agency and dates back to almost two decades ago. It should be reminded that in the new phase, Iran, among the voluntary and transparency measures, accepted implementation of the modified Code 3.1 based on paragraph 65 of the JCPOA.

Madam Chairperson,

I would like to seriously convey my concerns over the aggrandizing of few insignificant old issues from the secretariat. The Director General’s statement in his last report stating that “the lack of progress in clarifying the Agency’s questions concerning the correctness and completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations was seriously affecting the ability of the Agency to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme”, is veritably a clear indication of exaggerations on these issues. The Agency should avoid politicizing and maintain its professionalism in its positions and reports. How is it possible that an insignificant amount of material belonging to two decades ago affect the peaceful nature of the nuclear program of a country, while that country is hosting more than 20 percent of the Agency’s inspections at the global level and has accepted, for more than 5 years, the most robust verification and monitoring activities of the Agency?! The statement of the Agency in its report is completely unprofessional, illusory and unfair. We really hope that the Director General rectifies it because continuation of this path may negatively affect Iran’s approach toward the Agency.

In this context, I would like to reiterate that constructive engagement requires positive environment, avoiding expressing any pre-judgment, raising artificial concerns or deadlines, as well as unnecessary and disproportionate overstatement of the trivial issues.

Iran is committed to its obligations under the CSA. It should be noted that all nuclear material and facilities including LOF's in Iran are under the Agency’s safeguards in accordance with the CSA and there is no indication of diversion in declared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

Madam Chairperson,

Reacting to some points raised in this meeting, I would like to reiterate that it is a bitter irony of the history that, the Agency overlooks Israeli regime’s nuclear weapon program in the volatile region of the Middle East.

Regrettably, this regime continues to ignore the international community by downplaying the significance of the Treaty, denying acceding to the Treaty and refusing to place all its nuclear facilities and activities under the Agency's comprehensive safeguards regime. Quite to the contrary, Israel is now even enjoying a more preferential treatment as compared with that of the Nuclear Weapon States, who are members to the NPT and have several obligations specifically under Articles I and VI of the Treaty. While for being still out of the NPT, Israel is free from any obligations under the Treaty, and enjoys all advantages of the IAEA Statute which are interlinked with the NPT.

Such a situation has given this regime the audacity to ridicule the authority and mandate of the Agency in preventing the diversion of its nuclear materials and activities. Most importantly, this regime has become so cynically bold as to manipulate the realities and criticize other Members of the NPT on the account that they have obligations due to their membership in the Treaty, but Israel has not. This is a very serious shortcoming and failure in the work of the Agency, which should be addressed properly.

In this situation, what is the advantage of being both a NPT member and fully implementing the Agency’s safeguards? How could the international community see the IAEA as a serious, professional and impartial partner when it does not pursue evenly and justly the implementation of its comprehensive safeguards regime for all its Members, and yet does not seriously discuss the necessity of verification activities and inspections of, for-instance, Israel's nuclear program? Doesn’t the policy of silence and negligence about Israel’s nuclear program send a negative message to the members of the NPT meaning that “being a member of the Treaty equals accepting the most robust monitoring and verifications, while being outside the Treaty means to be free from any obligation and criticism, and even be rewarded”?!

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000625000452/Envy-Origin-f-Cnaminain-Declared-by-IAEA-Unknwn-Iran 

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Iran Reiterates Support for Lebanon, Readiness to Help

2021-September-16

During the meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Amir Abdollahian underlined the need for the further expansion of relations between Iran and Lebanon, voicing the country's readiness to meet different needs of Lebanon.

He congratulated the Lebanese people on the formation of a new government in the country, adding that the Iranian government under President Ebrahim Rayeesi pays due attention to providing support for the Axis of Resistance.

The honorable resistance of the Lebanese people against the Zionist and Takfiri enemies is a source of honor and pride for all the regional nations and the freedom-seekers across the world, Amir Abdollahian said. 

The Lebanese envoy, for his part, congratulated the Iranian foreign minister on his appointment to the post. 

Safieddin said that the Lebanese people are grateful for the Iranian support for their country during tough times.

He also thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for selling the most needed fuel to Lebanon.

Tankers carrying Iran-sent fuel arrived in the Lebanese territories on Thursday, bringing joy to people who have been facing acute fuel shortage in the past few months.

A convoy of tankers loaded with Iranian mazut had entered the village of Hawsh al-Sayyed Ali in Lebanon’s Northeastern Baalbek-Hermel province on Thursday, Lebanon 24 News reported.

The media director of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah said that the tankers will first stop between the villages of Ain and Laboueh and that their last station would be the entrance to Southern Baalbek.

Speaking on Wednesday night, Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyed Hassan Nasrallah urged people not to gather to observe the convoy both for their own safety and the movement of the tankers.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000625000376/Iran-Reieraes-Sppr-fr-Lebann-Readiness-Help 

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Iranian Fuel Reaches Lebanon

2021-September-1

A convoy of tankers loaded with Iranian mazut had entered the village of Hawsh al-Sayyed Ali in Lebanon’s Northeastern Baalbek-Hermel province on Thursday, Lebanon 24 News reported.

The media director of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah said that the tankers will first stop between the villages of Ain and Laboueh and that their last station would be the entrance to Southern Baalbek.

Speaking on Wednesday night, Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyed Hassan Nasrallah urged people not to gather to observe the convoy both for their own safety and the movement of the tankers.

Announcing that ships carrying Iranian fuel would set sail for Lebanon last month, Nasrallah warned that the Israeli regime and the US that the resistance group regarded the convoy as part of the “Lebanese soil.”

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000625000335/Iranian-Fel-Reaches-Lebann 

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FM: Iran Interested in Further Expansion of Economic Ties with S. Africa

2021-September-16

Amir Abdollahian in a meeting with South African Ambassador Vika Mazwi Khumalo in Tehran on Wednesday underlined significance of African countries in Iran’s foreign policy, asking for evermore expansion of ties, and especially the economic relations with Pretoria.

He also stressed the importance of the Ministerial Joint Economic Commission and its Ministerial Political Committee, as well as its other side committees, in the two countries.

Amir Abdollahian also referred to the South African president’s meeting with the Iranian president in November 2015 in Pretoria as a turning point in the two countries’ relations, remembering that he was a deputy foreign minister at the time.

He also appreciated South Africa’s supports for Iran during its rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, and also that county’s support for the Palestinian nation.

During the meeting, the two officials surveyed ways for expansion of comprehensive bilateral ties and mutual cooperation.

Ambassador Khumaloa in the meeting conveyed the South African Foreign Minister Ms. Naledi Pandor’s congratulation to his Iranian counterpart.

She referred to the arrangement for holding the 15th Session of the Iran-South Africa Joint Economic Commission, expressing the hope that in the near future meeting of its Political Committee would be held in Tehran and the Joint Commission in South Africa.

He repeated South Africa’s invitation of President Ebrahim Rayeesi for a visit to Pretoria, expressing the hope that the visit would take place during the next Christian year and after the Joint Commission.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000625000399/FM-Iran-Ineresed-in-Frher-Expansin-f-Ecnmic-Ties-wih-S-Africa 

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Iranian Envoy Urges End to Looting Syria's Oil

2021-September-16

The Syrian people have suffered greatly from one of the gravest humanitarian situations in the world for over 10 years, Ershadi said, addressing the UN Security Council on 'The situation in the Middle East (Syria – Humanitarian)' on Wednesday.

She pointed out that unfortunately, “people are suffering more now than they ever have” as USG Martin Griffiths has been told by Syrians and humanitarian workers during his recent visit to Syria.

Ershadi said the international community has a serious political, moral and ethical responsibility to address this dire situation.

"The visit of the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator to Syria, enabling him to collect firsthand information as well as to assess actual situation on the ground, was a welcome act," the Iranian envoy added.

She underscored that it is promising that, according to his account, he was encouraged by his discussions with the Syrian Government’s officials and by subsequent developments on the ground, including the first humanitarian cross-line operation into Syria’s North West since 2017.

"We value all efforts to make this happen, including the preparations by the Syrian Government and the cooperation of the humanitarian community," Ershadi said. "More importantly, we salute the dedication of a Syrian soldier who lost his life while demining to clear the road for humanitarian convoy."

The Iranian ambassador also said that the transfer of humanitarian aid to Daraa, with the cooperation of the Syrian Government, is also an important development.

She further pointed out that as the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator has been notified by the humanitarian community, the humanitarian and socioeconomic situation continues to deteriorate and there is an “urgent need for recovery assistance and improved basic services”.

"This underlines the importance of the full and effective implementation of resolution 2585, through which the Security Council has called upon all Member States to respond with practical steps to address the urgent needs of the Syrian people," Ershadi said.

She went on to assert that through that resolution, the Council has also stressed that such efforts must include supporting “essential services through water, sanitation, health, education, and shelter early recovery projects”.

"In this context, we welcome the statement of the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator that “we must dramatically increase our early recovery assistance," Ershadi said.

The Iranian envoy reiterated that however, it is disappointing that, according to him, “needs in Syria keep growing while funding keeps shrinking”.

She said that this means financial contributions for humanitarian activities in Syria must increase, but this alone is not enough.

Ershadi further said that therefore, efforts for early recovery projects and reconstruction must be redoubled and expedited; unilateral sanctions, which have a devastating role in aggravating the humanitarian situation, must be removed fully and immediately; the looting of Syrian oil and wealth must stop; water must not be weaponized; and the return of refugees and displaced persons must be facilitated.

"Further efforts must also be made to ensure that Syrians no longer need to rely on humanitarian aid," she added.

Ershadi underlined that the ultimate solution is, of course, ending the conflict, full withdrawal of all uninvited foreign forces, defeating terrorists, and ensuring Syria’s territorial integrity, unity and political independence.

"We hope that the recent positive developments as a result of the coordination and cooperation of the Syrian Government and the humanitarian community will yield further results and replace confrontational approaches with cooperation," she added.

The Iranian envoy concluded by saying that the touching story told by USG Griffiths of a four-year-old Syrian boy with leukemia, under treatment at a clinic in rural Aleppo, which “has no electricity, running water, or access to medication”, is only one example of the hardships faced daily by many Syrians.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000625000297/Iranian-Envy-Urges-End-Ling-Syria's-Oil 

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Iran Sends Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan

2021-September-16

The Mahan Air flight, which landed in Kabul on Wednesday, was carrying over a dozen Iranian diplomats as well as humanitarian supplies.

The flight took off from the Northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad with 19 passengers on board.

The fight, the report added, would return to Mashhad airport with 26 passengers.

Earlier this month, Afghanistan’s former president Hamid Karzai and head of the country’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah had in a telephone conversations with Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian asked for humanitarian aid.

Amir Abdollahian stressed that Iran would maintain trade and keep its borders with Afghanistan open.

Afghanistan relies on Iran for transit route and imports including fuel. According to customs officials, all Iranian borders with Afghanistan have reopened and goods are transiting safely. 

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei stressed last month that Iran would continue to support the Afghan people.

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000625000309/Iran-Sends-Hmaniarian-Aid-Afghanisan 

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Iranian Security Forces Dismantle Terrorist Team Affiliated to Foreign Spy Agencies

2021-September-15

The security and intelligence forces dismantled the terrorist team in an operation while it was attempting to carry out acts of sabotage and terrorist attacks against Iran’s vital and sensitive centers, the statement said.

It added that more information about the terrorist team will be provided to people in the near future.

In a relevant development in July, the Iranian security forces had also dismantled a terrorist group affiliated to the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, and captured its members.

“A network of agents of the Zionist regime (Mossad) has been dismantled and captured along with a large shipment of weapons and ammunition after arriving at the western border posts of the country,” the director-general of the Intelligence Ministry for Counter-Espionage Operation said.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000624000710/Iranian-Secriy-Frces-Dismanle-Terrris-Team-Affiliaed-Freign-Spy 

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Iranian DM Praises IRGC, Army Navies for Security in Persian Gulf

2021-September-15

“We owe the strategic security of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman and the critical waterways of the country to the defense preparations of the Navy of the Army and the IRGC,” General Ashtiani said in a meeting with IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri on Wednesday.

"Today, maritime trade and economic and commercial activities at sea enjoy security," he added.

General Ashtiani also hailed the combat readiness of the IRGC naval forces.

Rear Admiral Tangsiri, for his part, said, "Today, the Navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran enjoys authority, capabilities and preparations, and these capabilities are owed to the wise guidance and command of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (Ayatollah Khamenei)."

In relevant remarks in June, Rear Admiral Tangsiri underlined his forces’ preparedness to safeguard Iran's interests in the Persian Gulf and international waters.

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https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000624000745/Iranian-DM-Praises-IRGC-Army-Navies-fr-Secriy-in-Persian-Glf 

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Palestinian activist twins featured in Time’s 100 most influential people 2021

16 September ,2021

Prominent Palestinian activists and twins Muna and Mohammed El-Kurd have been named among the world’s 100 most influential people of 2021 by TIME magazine.

Featuring the likes of Britney Spears, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Elon Musk and Tim Cook, TIME unveiled its annual list on Wednesday with the sibling activists praised for having provided the world with a window into living under Israeli occupation in East Jerusalem.

They become the face of a campaign to halt Palestinian evictions from a flashpoint East Jerusalem neighborhood and helped prompt an international shift in rhetoric in regard to Israel and Palestine.

For more than a decade, the El-Kurd family, along with dozens of their neighbors in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, has been fighting against the possibility of forced removal from their homes by Israeli settlers.

In May, tensions in Sheikh Jarrah spilled into the nearby Old City, where Israeli forces attacked worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque; Hamas militants in Gaza responded with rocket fire into Israel. Mohammed and Muna El-Kurd—who were temporarily detained by Israeli authorities this summer—challenged existing narratives about Palestinian resistance through viral posts and interviews, humanizing the experiences of their neighbors and pushing back against suggestions that violence was being predominantly carried out by Palestinians.

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/16/Palestinian-activist-twins-featured-in-Time-s-100-most-influential-people-2021 

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Iran’s Raisi to attend regional summit in first official visit since taking office

16 September ,2021

Tehran’s participation in a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) conference demonstrates the importance it places on regional cooperation, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said before leaving for Tajikistan on Thursday on his first foreign trip since taking office last month.

The summit in Dushanbe will discuss last month’s takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, a neighbouring country of the SCO’s largely Central Asian members. Afghanistan itself is an observer at the SCO, as is Iran.

The SCO was launched in 2001 to combat radical Islam and other security concerns in China, Russia and four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics.

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Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/16/Iran-s-Raisi-to-attend-regional-conference-in-first-official-visit-since-taking-offic 

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Iran president selects hardline cabinet to drive hard bargain with US

15 September ,2021

Iran, emboldened by the messy US withdrawal from Afghanistan, is betting that its new hardline cabinet -- including Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani -- can force concessions in talks on Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Bagheri, a hardline senior diplomat, was named on Tuesday to replace Abbas Araqchi, a seasoned pragmatist diplomat and chief negotiator in the negotiations that Tehran hopes will lead to a lifting of US sanctions.

Kani is an extension of the hardline deep state that is now in charge across all institutions in Iran and can more readily negotiate with the West as he is not just representing the government but has the empowerment of the inner circle,” said Andreas Krieg, associate professor at the School of Security at King's College in London.

“It (the US withdrawal from Afghanistan) has given the regime in Tehran more confidence in their regional surrogate warfare approach while showing that the US is on the backfoot in the region.”

Iran has alarmed Washington and its Gulf Arab allies by relying on proxies in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, to steadily spread its influence across the Middle East.

Bagheri, who was named deputy foreign minister for political affairs, had been a senior negotiator in the nuclear talks under former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from 2007 to 2013. He is a relative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran's parliament in late August approved all but one of President Ebrahim Raisi's big-name nominees for a cabinet of hardliners that will have the task of implementing his plans to ease US sanctions and tackle worsening economic hardship.

Indirect talks between Iran and the United States stopped in June, days after Raisi was elected president of Iran. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week said time was running out for Iran to return to the nuclear accord.

An official involved in the talks said Iran's enrichment with large numbers of advanced centrifuges is an unresolved issue, as is Iran's demand that it “verify” US compliance before curbing its nuclear program.

This official said verification meant the easing of US sanctions, Iran's export of some of oil and its payment through an international bank before Tehran would take steps to make its program less capable of being used to make nuclear weapons

Western powers on Monday scrapped plans for a resolution criticizing Iran at the U.N. atomic watchdog after Tehran agreed to prolong monitoring of some nuclear activities, even though the watchdog said Iran made no “promise” on another key issue.

During a last-minute visit to Tehran this weekend by IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, Iran agreed to grant his agency overdue access to its equipment in Iran that monitors some sensitive areas of its nuclear program. Inspectors will swap out memory cards more than two weeks after they were due to be replaced. Grossi said on Sunday that the agreement solved “the most urgent issue” between the IAEA and Iran.

He made clear on Monday, however, that on another source of concern - Iran's failure to explain uranium traces found at several old but undeclared sites - he had obtained no firm commitments.

Nicki Siamaki, analyst at Control Risks, said Bagheri's appointment, particularly if he replaces Araqchi as chief nuclear negotiator, could prolong the process of reaching a deal with the United States as his masters would raise the stakes to reach a deal they see meets their conditions.

The 2015 nuclear agreement imposed restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions against Tehran.

Then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, re-imposing tough economic sanctions on Iran. Tehran responded as of a year later by breaching many of the agreement's restrictions and later enriching uranium to purity levels much closer to weapons-grade.

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/15/Iran-president-selects-hardline-cabinet-to-drive-hard-bargain-with-USPlease click the following url to read the full text of the original story: 

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Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails call off planned hunger strike

15 September ,2021

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have called off a planned hunger strike later this week involving some 1,400 inmates after their demands were met, a Palestinian group said Wednesday.

Tensions have been running high since six militants staged a dramatic escape from a high-security jail in northern Israel on September 6, via a tunnel dug under a sink. Four of them have since been recaptured.

Hundreds of their fellow inmates were transferred to other jails, and personal items were confiscated, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club.

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The Palestinian Authority’s commission for prisoners had announced plans for a hunger strike from Friday.

Some 1,380 prisoners - out of more than 4,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails - were to start fasting on Friday, to be joined by other inmates next week.

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/15/Palestinian-prisoners-in-Israel-jails-call-off-planned-hunger-strike 

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Iran admits to removing damaged IAEA cameras from nuclear site

15 September ,2021

Iran acknowledged on Wednesday that it had removed several surveillance cameras installed by UN nuclear inspectors at a centrifuge assembly site that came under a mysterious attack earlier this year.

The chief of the country's nuclear program, Mohammad Eslami, sought to portray the removal of cameras as Tehran's response to world powers reneging on their commitments under the tattered 2015 nuclear deal.

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“The parties did not implement their commitments so there were no necessity for the cameras’ existence,” Eslami said after a meeting with lawmakers — remarks apparently aimed at his own domestic audience under the country’s new hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi.

Eslami's comments come days after a confidential International Atomic Energy Agency report that revealed the nuclear watchdog found four surveillance cameras to be destroyed and damaged after their removal from the centrifuge manufacturing site in Karaj, a city about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Tehran.

In June, Iran accused Israel of mounting a sabotage attack on the site, which makes components for machines used to enrich uranium. Without disclosing details of the assault, Iranian authorities acknowledged the strike had damaged the building.

Addressing swirling questions about the agency's broken surveillance cameras, Eslami said Wednesday they were damaged during recent “terrorist operations," without elaborating.

The attack on Karaj was just the latest in a series of suspected assaults targeting Iran’s nuclear program that have heightened regional hostilities in recent months, as world powers attempt to salvage the now-collapsed nuclear deal. Israel is widely believed to have carried out the sabotage, though it has not claimed responsibility.

Tensions eased slightly in the contest over IAEA surveillance cameras at Iran's sensitive nuclear sites earlier this week, when Iran agreed to allow international inspectors to install new memory cards into surveillance cameras at its atomic facilities to continue filming.

Tehran holds all recordings at its sites as negotiations over the US and Iran returning to the landmark nuclear deal remain stalled in Vienna. As Tehran tries to ramp up pressure on the West to grant sanctions relief, the country is now enriching small amounts of uranium to its closest-ever levels to weapons-grade purity as its stockpile continues to grow.

Tehran maintains its nuclear program is peaceful, and Eslami on Wednesday hit back against those who accuse Iran of covertly pursuing a nuclear bomb.

“What Iran has gained in the nuclear field is based on domestic research and development, and nobody can stop this” Eslami said, adding that he will travel to Vienna next week for a meeting with the IAEA. “We should not allow ourselves to be accused of secrecy by the world.”

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/15/Iran-admits-to-removing-damaged-IAEA-cameras-from-nuclear-site 

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Africa

Court Remands Father, Son, Others For Alleged Killing Of Salawudeen In Mosque

Sep 16, 2021

ILESA – Justice Ayo Oyebiyi of Osogbo High Court in Osun State has ordered the remand of Kayode Esuleke, and his son, Ifasola Esuleke, Kola Adeosun and Akeem Idowu at Ilesa Prison for alleged killing of Moshood Salawu­deen in a mosque at Osogbo, Osun State capital.

The accused persons were charged on 13 counts ranging from murder, at­tempted murder, malicious damage, Assault to breach of public peace and fighting dirty in the public.

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https://independent.ng/court-remands-father-son-others-for-alleged-killing-of-salawudeen-in-mosque/

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Bauchi gov appoints new Head of Service, 22 Perm Secs

September 16, 2021

By Hafsat Abdulhamid

Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, on Wednesday approved the appointment of a new Head of Civil Service, Alhaji Yahuza Adamu Haruna and 22 Permanent Secretaries for the state civil service.

This was revealed by the Special Adviser Media to the Governor, Mukhtar Gidado in a press release he signed and made available to DAILY POST in Bauchi.

According to the governor’s media aide, Haruna’s appointment came on the heel of the retirement of the immediate past Head of Civil Service, Alhaji Aliyu Jibo, adding that prior to his retirement, the governor had confirmed him as the state’s substantive Head of Civil Service, effective from 1st April, 2021.

“His Excellency, Sen. Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, CON, Fnipr (Kauran Bauchi) the Executive Governor of Bauchi State has approved the appointment of Alhaji Yahuza Adamu Haruna as the new Head of Civil Service for Bauchi State.

“This followed the retirement of the Head of Civil Service, Alh Aliyu Jibo, mni. Prior to Alh. Jibo’s retirement, His Excellency, the Governor had approved his confirmation as the substantive Head of Civil Service with effect from 1st April 2021,” Gidado stated.

He added that Governor Mohammed thanked the outgoing Head of Civil Service for his invaluable contribution to the development of the state’s civil service and wished him the very best in his future endeavours.

The governor’s media aide informed that the newly appointed Head of Civil Service hailed from Ningi Local Government Area of the state and attended the famous Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, where he graduated with Bsc Economics.

“He also holds Msc Agric-economics from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi and a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from the Bayero University, Kano (BUK). He is currently pursuing a doctorate programme in Economics at the Bauchi State University, Gadau.

“Until his appointment, he was the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Budget & Economic Planning, Bauchi State,” Gidado informed.

In a similar development, he informed that Governor Mohammed had approved the appointment of 22 new Permanent Secretaries in the state civil service, adding that their appointment and that of the new Head of Civil Service were with immediate effect.

According to him, the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries are: Jibrin Moh’d Yusuf (Alkaleri LGA); Danjuma Garba (Bauchi LGA); Babaji Mairiga Suleiman (Bauchi LGA); Saratu Musa Jibrin (Bogoro LGA); Shehu Yahaya Jalam (Dambam LGA); Hannatu Iliya (Dass LGA); Isa Moh’d Tahir (Gamawa LGA); Asma’u Muhammad Sunusi (Ganjuwa LGA); Idris Saleh Giade (Giade LGA) and Bala Manu Gadau (Itas/Gadau LGA).

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https://dailypost.ng/2021/09/16/bauchi-gov-appoints-new-head-of-service-22-perm-secs/

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Police arrests suspected killers of Senator Na’Allah’s son

15 September 2021

The Nigerian police has arrested the suspected killers of Abdukareem Na’Allah, the eldest son of Senator Bala Na’Allah.

Abdulkareem, a pilot, was killed in August at his home in Kaduna.

An aide to Senator Na’Allah said in a statement last month that the killers strangled the 36-year-old pilot to death after entering his room through the roof.

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https://guardian.ng/news/police-arrests-suspected-killers-of-senator-naallahs-son/ 

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How Morocco's king dealt a blow to political Islam

By Magdi Abdelhadi

Morocco's governing Islamist party has suffered a shocking defeat in recent elections - a turn of events reverberating across North Africa given its pioneering role for political Islam amid the Arab Spring.

The Development and Justice Party (PJD), which was the first Islamist party to come to power in an election in the region and the wider Middle East, found its share of the vote was decimated from 125 to a mere 12 seats.

Back in 2011 the sense of a new beginning for many in Morocco was real.

The rise of the PJD chimed with the times.

The protests that erupted first in Tunisia, later known as the Arab Spring, were in full swing. Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya were all toppled that year.

Islamists parties were poised to win elections in Egypt and Tunisia and to change the course of history, as many had hoped.

Morocco's King Mohammed VI saw where the wind was blowing and acted swiftly to pre-empt any similar upheaval that could threaten his throne.

He sacked the cabinet and dissolved parliament. To stem the tide of rising protests he announced plans to draft a new constitution to put Morocco on a new path.

'Cosmetic changes'

It was later approved by a resounding 98.5% of the vote, hailed as a game changer, and helped portray the king as a benign autocrat willing to share power with the people.

But the reforms promised by the king were dismissed as cosmetic by the February 20 Movement for Change, the banner under which demonstrations were organised during the Arab Spring.

It had taken to the streets demanding radical reform to turn Morocco into a constitutional monarchy, where the king would "reign but not rule", a symbol of the nation - more in line with European monarchies in the UK or Scandinavia.

In fact, the king had retained nearly all the powers he had held in the past in the new constitution. He continued to control foreign, defence and security policy.

He also retained his position as the spiritual leader of the nation - he's officially the "Commander of the Faithful", an historic description used nowhere else today, and is based on a claim that his dynasty is a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad.

However, the new constitution held out the promise of a new beginning to parts of the political class, including the PJD.

The party seized the opportunity and rode on the crest of the wave of widespread discontent with the old political parties.

And the king and his courtiers - which has reluctantly tolerated the Islamists - did not block their rise to complete the democratic façade, while maintaining the strings of real power within its grip.

The PJD further increased its share of the vote in subsequent elections in 2016 to 125 seats to spend another five years in power.

Poisoned chalice

Although almost everyone expected the party to shed some votes in the election last week, no-one predicted this crushing defeat - even the leader of the party and his deputy lost their seats, prompting their immediate resignation.

It is perhaps too early to fully account for the reasons of this dramatic fall. But observers concur that PJD has simply failed to deliver on its electoral promises.

A party that has "justice" and "development" in its name has failed to deliver either, they argue.

It had, for example, promised to lift more Moroccans out of poverty, improve public education and health, but failed to do any of that. On the contrary the gap between the rich and the poor has simply widened.

Further, the party has alienated some of its base when it endorsed a controversial law introducing two-year contracts for teachers, robbing them of job security and is regarded by some as the first step in privatising the education system.

On the question of the status of the French language in education - a particularly sensitive topic for a party that champions Arab-Islamic identity in the former French colony - it failed to block a law that made French the language of teaching science in schools.

Critics of the party say once in power it became more royalist than the king, taking the side of the "makhzen" - the term Moroccans use to refer to the king and powerful courtiers and security agencies - against the people in key rights and labour disputes.

Some commentators believe that the party's biggest mistake was assuming the responsibility of government without actually having the real power, which rested with the king.

It was like a poisoned chalice.

All that said, the change to the electoral law, not proposed by the PJD but which was passed by parliament in March, also dealt a decisive blow to the party's chances of achieving another big electoral win.

Lowering the benchmark for smaller parties, and counting the votes on the basis of all eligible voters rather than on only valid ballots, contributed to the party's loss.

The party had contested these changes, saying they were unconstitutional, but had failed to block them in parliament.

On the face of it, the changes were designed to allow for greater plurality, but in reality they further fragmented the political landscape, a tactic that has long been used by the makhzen, say analysts, to undermine political parties.

Election charade?

Regionally, the news of the failure was greeted with jubilation.

In Egypt and the Gulf the party is viewed as the Moroccan version of the Muslim Brotherhood, a national and transnational political-religious movement that has been designated as "terrorist" in some countries.

Commentators regarded the fall of PJD as the final nail in the coffin of political Islam.

In Morocco, it is safe to argue that the marginalisation of the PJD suggests that the makhzen has now completely weathered the storm of the Arab Spring and its immediate aftermath.

But the underlying tensions rising from the quest for truly representative and accountable government, or from the desire to check the powers of the king - have not gone away.

The man nominated by the king to form the new government, Aziz Akhannouch, the billionaire leader of the National Rally of Independents (RNI), which won the largest number of votes, has said that his government will work to "implement the strategy of the king".

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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-58571178 

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Haftar’s eastern forces and Chadian rebels clash in southern Libya

15 September ,2021

The Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar clashed with Chadian rebel forces in the south of Libya on Tuesday and Wednesday, both sides said.

The fighting underscores the risk of further instability in the Sahel region, where an array of groups operate across borders and where fighting has created space for militant organizations.

Statements from the LNA, which holds most of eastern and southern Libya, said it was engaged in military operations against what it called terrorist groups and the Chadian opposition.

The rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) said via social media that its positions on the frontier had been attacked by Haftar’s forces, fighting alongside what it said were Sudanese mercenaries and French troops.

The LNA said it had carried out air strikes and was conducting aerial patrols. FACT said French air strikes had hit its positions.

The French army said it had no forces on the ground or in the air in that area.

FACT had been based in Libya and fought alongside the LNA during periods of Libya’s civil war, receiving heavy arms from Haftar, researchers say.

In April, FACT advanced into northern Chad, battling the army there. Chadian authorities said president Idriss Deby, who had ruled for 30 years, was killed in the clashes. His son has taken over as transitional president.

The LNA, which was backed in the Libyan conflict by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt, also used fighters from Sudan and Syria as well as those provided by the Russian Wagner Group, a UN panel of experts has said.

The UAE deployed drone strikes in support of the LNA during its foiled 14-month offensive to capture Tripoli, which ended last year. The US military has said that Russia flew jets to Libya last year to support LNA operations.

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2021/09/15/Haftar-s-eastern-forces-and-Chadian-rebels-clash-in-southern-Libya 

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Libya’s NOC says Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil terminals blockades have ended

16 September ,2021

Libya’s National Oil Corp (NOC) on Thursday said that a blockade of the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil terminals had ended and that export operations had returned to normal.

Protesters at those two ports and another, Hariga, had been blocking exports since last week and demanding jobs for local people. NOC said on Wednesday that operations had also resumed at Hariga.

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A company statement said that NOC’s chairman, Mustafa Sanalla, had held talks with local elders who had helped to end the protests.

Security issues in Libya, where a fragile peace process has installed a unity government, have repeatedly threatened to undermine oil output that has topped 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) this year.

Last year eastern-based forces, which control most of the oil production and export areas, blockaded terminals for months and almost entirely halted Libyan oil output.

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https://english.alarabiya.net/business/energy/2021/09/16/Libya-s-NOC-says-Es-Sider-and-Ras-Lanuf-oil-terminals-blockades-have-ended 

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Libya has ‘best opportunity’ for peace in decade, US official says ahead of elections

15 September ,2021

War-torn Libya has its best chance for peace since the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, a senior US diplomat said Wednesday, urging rival sides to work together ahead of December elections.

“Libya now faces the best opportunity it has had in a decade, to bring the conflict to closure, to move the economy forward and to lay the foundation for a stable democratic society,” said Department of State Counsellor Derek Chollet during a visit to Tripoli.

“The US will continue to support this vital process,” he told journalists.

But speaking after meeting top figures in the country’s transitional government including Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah, he warned that “the moment is urgent.”

Chollet’s visit came days after parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, a key backer of eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, ratified a law governing the upcoming presidential election, sparking anger from MPs and politicians who say he failed to follow due process.

Libya tumbled into chaos following the US and NATO-backed 2011 revolt that toppled and killed Gaddafi, with rival militias and foreign powers fighting for control.

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2021/09/15/Libya-has-best-opportunity-for-peace-indecade-US-official-says-ahead-of-elections 

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Morocco names Lieutenant General Belkhir El-Farouk as new army commander

15 September ,2021

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Wednesday appointed a prominent general in charge of operations in the disputed Western Sahara as his deputy in command of the armed forces.

King Mohammed, who is supreme commander of the North African country’s military, “named Lieutenant General Belkhir El-Farouk as Inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces,” said a statement carried by the official MAP news agency.

El-Farouk “was selected for this post in light of his professional abilities and the high level of responsibility he has shown in the various missions with which he has been charged,” it said.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Wednesday appointed a prominent general in charge of operations in the disputed Western Sahara as his deputy in command of the armed forces.

King Mohammed, who is supreme commander of the North African country’s military, “named Lieutenant General Belkhir El-Farouk as Inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces,” said a statement carried by the official MAP news agency.

El-Farouk “was selected for this post in light of his professional abilities and the high level of responsibility he has shown in the various missions with which he has been charged,” it said.

Morocco sees the former Spanish colony as an integral part of its territory, but the armed Polisario movement, backed by the kingdom’s arch-rival Algeria, seeks an independence referendum there.

Tensions rose sharply in November after the separatists blocked a key road in the Guerguerat area leading to neighbouring Mauritania, arguing it violated a 1991 ceasefire deal.

El Farouk commanded an operation sending troops in to reopen the road.

The Polisario responded by declaring the UN-backed ceasefire null and void, and the two sides have traded fire intermittently since.

The Western Sahara is the biggest bone of contention between Rabat and Algiers, which last month broke ties with its neighbour citing “hostile actions” – a claim dismissed by the kingdom.

Morocco controls 80 percent of the desert territory and has offered autonomy there, but insists it must retain sovereignty.

That position was endorsed by the US administration of Donald Trump in the final months of his presidency, in exchange for Rabat’s normalisation of ties with Israel.

The sparsely-populated desert territory boasts significant phosphate resources and a long Atlantic coastline with access to rich fishing waters.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2021/09/15/Morocco-names-Lieutenant-General-Belkhir-El-Farouk-as-new-army-commander 

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Algerian journalist ordered held in custody, accused of belonging to terrorist group

15 September ,2021

An Algerian journalist from a local French-language newspaper has been remanded in custody, accused of belonging to a terrorist organization and spreading false information, a lawyer and rights group said.

A judge in Sidi M’hamed district of Algiers on Tuesday evening ordered Liberte journalist Mohamed Mouloudj to be placed in provisional detention, according to the National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD).

Mouloudj is accused of “undermining national unity, belonging to a terrorist organization and spreading false information,” lawyer Abdelghani Badi said on Facebook.

The Algerian government last year criminalized the dissemination of what it considers “false news” that harms national unity.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly accused Algerian authorities of resorting to criminal prosecutions against journalists and others using vaguely worded offences in the penal code.

Mouloudj was arrested on Sunday and his home searched, according to the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH).

Six other people arrested in the same case were also remanded in custody, the CNLD said.

On Monday, police announced the arrest of 16 people suspected of belonging to the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (MAK), which the government says is a terrorist organization.

An unidentified journalist was said to be among the 16 suspects.

They were detained in connection with an investigation into recent forest fires in the northeastern Kabylie region, and the lynching of a man after rumors spread that he had started deadly blazes in the area.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2021/09/15/Algerian-journalist-ordered-held-in-custody-accused-of-belonging-to-terrorist-group 

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North America

Ashraf Ghani’s abrupt exit scuttled deal on power-sharing, says Zalmay Khalilzad

September 16, 2021

WASHINGTON: Former president Ashraf Ghani’s abrupt exit last month scuttled a deal under which the Taliban would hold off entering Kabul and negotiate a political transition, the US negotiator on Afghanistan said on Wednesday.

In his first interview since the collapse of the 20-year Western-backed government, Zalmay Khalilzad, who brokered a deal with the Taliban last year to withdraw US troops, told the Financial Times that the insurgents had agreed to stay outside the capital for two weeks and shape a future government.

“Even at the end, we had an agreement with the Talibs for (them) not to enter Kabul,” he told the newspaper in the interview.

But Ghani fled on Aug 15 and the Taliban, in a previously arranged meeting that day with Gen Frank McKenzie, chief of Central Command, asked if US troops would ensure security for Kabul as government authority crumbled.

“And then you know what happened, we weren’t going to take responsibility,” Khalilzad said.

President Joe Biden had insisted that US troops would only work to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies and not extend America’s longest war. Asked about Khalilzad’s remarks, State Department spokesman Ned Price said it was not an option to stay “a moment longer” in Kabul.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1646669/ashraf-ghanis-abrupt-exit-scuttled-deal-on-power-sharing-says-zalmay-khalilzad 

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US envoy says Ghani exit scuttled Afghan power-sharing

16 September ,2021

The US negotiator on Afghanistan said that President Ashraf Ghani’s abrupt exit scuttled a deal in which the Taliban would hold off entering Kabul and negotiate a political transition.

In his first interview since the collapse of the 20-year Western-backed government, Zalmay Khalilzad, who brokered a 2020 deal with the Taliban to withdraw US troops, told the Financial Times that the insurgents had agreed to stay outside the capital for two weeks and shape a future government.

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“Even at the end, we had an agreement with the Talibs for (them) not to enter Kabul,” he told the newspaper in the interview published Wednesday.

But Ghani fled on August 15 and the Taliban, in a previously arranged meeting that day with General Frank McKenzie, chief of Central Command, asked if US troops would ensure security for Kabul as government authority crumbled.

“And then you know what happened, we weren’t going to take responsibility,” Khalilzad said.

President Joe Biden had insisted that US troops would only work to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies and not extend America’s longest war.

Asked about Khalilzad’s remarks, State Department spokesman Ned Price said it was not an option to stay “a moment longer” in Kabul.

“There was never a realistic, there was never a viable, there was never a practical option for the United States to stay,” Price told reporters.

“We were left with a very clear and stark impression that if the United States sought to prolong our presence on the ground, our servicemembers... would again be targets of Taliban violence not to mention terrorist attacks by groups like ISIS.”

Ghani, who sought safety in the United Arab Emirates, has apologized for how the government ended but said he left on the advice of palace security to avoid bloody street fighting.

The Taliban had been demanding the resignation of Ghani as part of any transitional government. Ultimately, the Islamists named a caretaker government with no non-Taliban nor women and that includes US-designated terrorists.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, testifying before Congress this week, also said he spoke to Ghani on August 14 and that the Afghan leader agreed both to work on a transitional government and, if the Taliban reneged, to “fight to the death.”

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/16/US-envoy-says-Ghani-exit-scuttled-Afghan-power-sharing 

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Biden top aides discouraged abrupt Afghanistan pullout, book says

15 September ,2021

President Joe Biden’s top cabinet members unsuccessfully tried to dissuade him from pulling all US troops from Afghanistan, hoping he would leverage the withdrawal to seek a political settlement, a new book says.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pushed for a slower drawdown to encourage negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government, according to “Peril,” a forthcoming book by famed investigative journalist Bob Woodward co-authored with his Washington Post colleague Robert Costa.

Blinken, a longtime aide to Biden who had previously staunchly backed his plan to end the 20-year war, called the president from Brussels after hearing concerns from NATO ministers in a March meeting, the book says.

“His new recommendation was to extend the mission with US troops for a while to see if it could yield a political settlement. Buy time for negotiations,” it says, according to a passage published by CNN ahead of the book’s release next week.

Biden, who advocated ending America’s longest war a decade earlier as vice president, was undeterred and explained in colorful language that he felt generals strong-armed former president Barack Obama into staying in Afghanistan.

Biden ultimately said he would withdraw remaining troops by August 31, saying that setting conditions would only perpetuate an “endless war” in which the United States had achieved its objectives.

Biden’s decision was popular with the public, but he has since come under criticism as the Taliban -- ousted by a US invasion 20 years earlier -- came back to power in a matter of days as the Western-backed government and military folded.

Blinken, speaking to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday, said that NATO allies had brought “various perspectives” in his meetings but ultimately backed the pullout.

The previous administration of Donald Trump had set a May 1 withdrawal date in an agreement with the Taliban.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2021/09/15/Biden-top-aides-discouraged-abrupt-Afghanistan-pullout-book-says 

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3 ex-US presidents unite to help Afghan refugees

Barry Ellsworth 

15.09.2021

Three former US presidents joined with businesses and other groups Tuesday to back the formation of Welcome.US, an organization to support Afghan refugees coming to America.

George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and their wives along with a collection of advocacy groups are members of the organization that will aid thousands of Afghans who fled their country, fearing retribution from the Taliban after helping US and allied forces during their occupation.

US President Joe Biden evacuated American troops as of Aug. 30, ending their nearly 20-year deployment in the beleaguered country.

“Thousands of Afghans stood with us on the front lines to push for a safer world, and now they need our help. We are proud to support Welcome.US and the work to help Afghan families get settled and build new lives,” George W. Bush and his wife Laura said in a statement from the organization.

“We stand ready to show our new Afghan neighbors and the rest of the world how a welcoming and generous spirit forms the backbone of what makes our country so great.”

It was Bush who as president launched the US invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The war continued through Obama's presidency and that of Donald Trump, culminating in Biden's decision to withdraw American forces at the end of last month. That effectively meant that all allied forces had to leave.

Welcome.US is also backed by US businesses, including coffee giant Starbucks and Microsoft, as well as veterans' and non-profit associations. A number of US state leaders said they would be happy to accept the Afghan refugees into their communities.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/3-ex-us-presidents-unite-to-help-afghan-refugees/2364948 

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Europe

French soldiers kill Islamic State leader in Sahel, Macron says

16.09.2021

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday morning that French military forces had killed Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the leader of the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).

"It's another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel," Macron wrote in a tweet.

ISGS is active across large swathes of the Sahel region, especially the tri-border region between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso known as Liptako-Gourma. The area has been ravaged by militant violence that has also targeted children.

Aside from carrying out multiple attacks on local civilians, ISGS was also responsible for the killing of US soldiers in 2017 and the execution of six French NGO workers in August of last year.

Increasing violence in the tri-border region

There are currently around 5,100 French troops present in the region as part of Operation Barkhane. They are joined by soldiers from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

Due to the increasing violence, France has repeatedly pushed for support from other European countries. However, given minimal successes and growing criticism at home, Macron has said that the number of French soldiers in deployment will be halved by 2022.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dw.com/en/french-soldiers-kill-islamic-state-leader-in-sahel-macron-says/a-59195415 

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French forces kill head of Islamic State in Greater Sahara

September 16, 2021

French President Emmanuel Macron announced early on Thursday that French forces had killed Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the head of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara region.

Macron tweeted the killing of al-Sahrawi was "another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel". He did not give the location of the incident or any details of the operation.

Macron tweeted, "The nation is thinking tonight of all its heroes who died for France in the Sahel in the Serval and Barkhane operations, of the bereaved families, of all of its wounded. Their sacrifice is not in vain.”

French Defence Minister Florence Parly tweeted the al-Sahrawi was killed in a strike by the French Barkhane force. She called the killing a "decisive blow against this terrorist group", but added "Our fight continues."

AFP reported, "Sahrawi in 2015 formed ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), which is blamed for most of the jihadist attacks in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso... The jihadist leader was behind the killing of French aid workers in 2020 and was also wanted by the United States over a deadly 2017 attack on US troops in Niger." The 2017 attack killed four US military personnel and four members of Niger's military.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.theweek.in/news/world/2021/09/16/french-forces-kill-head-of-islamic-state-in-greater-sahara.html 

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Key actor of liberation of Azerbaijan's capital: Caucasian Islamic Army

Jeyhun Aliyev 

15.09.2021

Some historians argue that Azerbaijan would not exist without the Caucasian Islamic Army, which succored the Azerbaijani people over a century ago.

Today, Azerbaijan marks the 103rd anniversary of the liberation of Baku, the country's capital, under the leadership of the Caucasian Islamic Army, which was headed by the 29-year-old Nuri Pasha (Killigil).

The friendly political, legal, trade, and military relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey were documented shortly after the foundation of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic on May 28, 1918 with the Treaty of Batumi, signed between the newly established country and then Ottoman Empire on June 4, 1918.

With the pact, the empire recognized the independence of Azerbaijan, which could in return request its military help in case of any threat.

After the republic's declaration of independence in Georgia, Fatali Khan Khoyski, Azerbaijan's first prime minister, formed the government in Ganja, now northwestern Azerbaijan, in June, as he was not able to travel directly to Azerbaijan's current capital Baku since the city was then controlled by Armenian militants and Bolsheviks, a revolutionary party that was committed to the ideas of Karl Marx.

On Sept. 15, 1918, an elite Ottoman force called the Caucasian Islamic Army under the leadership of Nuri Pasha (Killigil) was sent by then Minister of War Enver Pasha to what is today Azerbaijan in the closing months of the World War I following a plea from the region's people.

The Caucasian Islamic Army, made up of Turkish and Azerbaijani soldiers, completed its mission in September, liberating Baku and thus laying the groundwork for the country's independence decades later in 1991.

Over 1,100 Caucasian Islamic Army members sacrificed their lives together with the Azerbaijani people for the cause.

The Caucasian Islamic Army has an irreplaceable role in Azerbaijan's life, ownership of Baku and turning the city into the capital.

The liberation of Baku at the time paved the way for the transfer of the capital from Ganja and ensured the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, providing the basis for its modern day boundaries.

Enver Pasha – also an elder brother of Ottoman Gen. Nuri Pasha – personally conveyed the message to the Ottoman capital Istanbul that Baku had been liberated from Armenian gangs.

Situation in region one century ago

Emerging from the internal upheaval brought by the fall of the Romanov Tzars in Russia, a Transcaucasian parliament, known as the Seym or Supreme Power of the Transcaucasia, was formed in Tbilisi, the capital current of Georgia, on Feb. 14, 1918, by representatives from the Southern Caucasus.

The Muslim faction of the Seym comprised of 44 delegates who were elected from the region to the Russian Constituent Assembly formed after the 1917 Revolution and represented over a million Turkic Muslims in Azerbaijan and the Southern Caucasus.

The Muslim faction, or Council of Muslims, was functioning as a Muslim Parliament of Transcaucasia.

Following the persistent claims of the Azerbaijani representatives, who were among the most consistent attendees in the parliament, the Seym proclaimed the independence of Transcaucasia on April 9, 1918.

This led to the establishment of the United Republic of Transcaucasia. However, serious contradictions and conflicts among the disparate national interests hampered both the Transcaucasian Seym and the Republic of Transcaucasia.

As a result, the Georgian delegation left the Seym and announced the independence of Georgia on May 26, 1918.

Following Georgia, members of the Muslim faction held a separate meeting one day later and decided to declare the independence of Azerbaijan.

With this purpose, the Transcaucasian Muslim Council proclaimed itself the National Council of Azerbaijan – the country's lawmaking body.

During that meeting, a statesman and prominent public figure, Mammad Amin Rasulzade, was elected chairman of the National Council of Azerbaijan, though he was not present at the meeting, but in Batumi, Georgia.

On May 28, 1918, a historic meeting in Tbilisi adopted the Declaration of Independence of Azerbaijan, consisting of six articles, making Azerbaijan the first Parliamentary Republic in the Muslim East.

Being the beacon of hope for the independence movement of Azerbaijan in the 20th century with his remarks, "Once raised, the flag never falls!" Rasulzade played a key role in the formation of the modern Azerbaijani identity.

The government led by Khoyski then came to Ganja in June, and was not able to come directly to Baku because the city was then controlled by Armenian and Bolshevik militants.

The newly founded state managed to form the national army on June 26, 1918.

The Caucasian Islamic Army came to help the Azerbaijani people in Ganja upon their appeal to the Ottoman Empire, and completed its mission in September in Baku after liberating the city.

In December 1918, the first decision of the newly established Azerbaijani Parliament was to place a monument for the "martyred Ottoman soldiers and officers" at the highest location in Baku.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/world/key-actor-of-liberation-of-azerbaijans-capital-caucasian-islamic-army/2365760 

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Macron says French forces killed militant Islamic State leader in Greater Sahara

September 16, 2021

France’s president announced the death of the leader of the militant Islamic State (IS) in the Greater Sahara late on Wednesday, calling Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi’s killing “a major success” for the French military after more than eight years fighting extremists in the Sahel.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that al-Sahrawi “was neutralised by French forces” but gave no further details. It was not announced where al-Sahrawi was killed, though the IS group is active along the border between Mali and Niger.

“The nation is thinking tonight of all its heroes who died for France in the Sahel in the Serval and Barkhane operations, of the bereaved families, of all of its wounded,” Macron tweeted. “Their sacrifice is not in vain.”

Rumours of the militant leader’s death had circulated for weeks in Mali, though authorities in the region had not confirmed it. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the claim or to know how the remains had been identified.

“This is a decisive blow against this terrorist group,” French Defence Minister Florence Parly tweeted. “Our fight continues.”

Al-Sahrawi had claimed responsibility for a 2017 attack in Niger that killed four US military personnel and four people with Niger’s military. His group has also abducted foreigners in the Sahel and is believed to still be holding American Jeffrey Woodke, who was abducted from his home in Niger in 2016.

The extremist leader was born in the disputed territory of Western Sahara and later joined the Polisario Front. After spending time in Algeria, he made his way to northern Mali where he became an important figure in the group known as MUJAO that controlled the major northern town of Gao in 2012.

A French-led military operation the following year ousted extremists from power in Gao and other northern cities, though those elements later regrouped and again carried out attacks.

The Malian group MUJAO was loyal to the regional Al Qaeda affiliate. But in 2015, al-Sahrawi released an audio message pledging allegiance to the IS group in Iraq and Syria.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1646708/macron-says-french-forces-killed-militant-islamic-state-leader-in-greater-sahara 

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Joint agreement signed between Turkish, Georgian justice ministries

Davit Kachkachishvili

15.09.2021

A joint agreement was signed between Turkish and Georgian justice ministries on Wednesday.

Turkey's Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul first met his Georgian counterpart Rati Bregadze in the capital Tbilisi, where he went to hold official talks.

During the meeting, it was stated that the sharing of knowledge and experience in judicial matters would contribute constructively to bilateral relations.

Gul conveyed the steps taken as part of judicial reform and human rights action plan in Turkey during bilateral and inter-delegation meetings, stressing the importance of judicial cooperation in fighting terrorism.

Bregadze also said the priority of the ministry is to improve the quality of justice services, strengthen human rights, and review the legislative infrastructure.

After the meeting, which lasted about an hour, Gul and Bregadze signed a joint agreement between the justice ministries of the two countries.

Georgian prime minister thanks Turkey for its support

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/joint-agreement-signed-between-turkish-georgian-justice-ministries/2365751 

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Serbia hails Turkey's cooperation in Balkan region

Behlul Cetinkaya and Lejla Biogradlija 

15.09.2021

Serbia’s parliament speaker praised Turkey’s cooperation in the Balkan region over various economic activities including a landmark highway project which will connect the region.

“The highway project between Belgrade and Sarajevo is one of the main focuses of our cooperation, and we have great expectations from it,” Ivica Dacic told Anadolu Agency, during his official visit to the Turkish capital Ankara.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic “support this great regional project, which will undoubtedly raise the economic capacities of the entire Balkans, and will also be a great symbol of connection in our region,” Dacic added.

“We think that Turkey will be an important partner of Serbia, as it used to be before, in the economy but as well in all other areas because we still have a lot to offer to each other,” he noted.

Serbia-Turkey ties are “very close these days, our relations flourished in a couple of years,” Dacic said, adding: “We, in Belgrade, are pleased because of it, so are our friends in Ankara. I am convinced that citizens of our two countries desire constant growth of our relations because we live in the same region and share a lot from mutual culture and history.”

“Besides, our two countries recognize a good chance for economic cooperation,” he also said.

“Turkey and Serbia are constantly raising their mutual trade, it is now at the level of about 1.3 billion euros a year, and we want to reach two billion,” he added.

“This is very achievable, because there is still a lot of room for trade and investment on both sides, and our job as a representative of the state is to help achieve those ambitions as much as possible,” Dacic explained.

Investments in infrastructure, agriculture, energy

Noting that in the past, “there were only a couple of Turkish companies doing business in Serbia,” Dacic said: “A lot of caution was present toward coming of Turkish investments to Serbia and mostly it was the fault of us, in Serbia.”

“Fortunately, that has changed, because we have done a lot to attract companies from Turkey and offer them good business conditions,” he said.

“Since 2015, we have a rapid growth of Turkish investments in Serbia, but also the growth of the participation of Turkish companies in various projects, primarily in the field of infrastructure, and all that together is measured in hundreds of millions of dollars,” he explained.

Serbia is an “excellent investment destination that can confirm all businessmen from Turkey operating in Serbia,” Dacic stressed, saying: “There is a lot of possibilities for investments, primarily, in the fields of infrastructure, agriculture, energy and the field of high technologies.”

Emphasizing those as the most dynamic sectors in Serbia, he said he hopes that Turkish companies will recognize them as a chance for their business development.

Dacic also said: “It is very important that the issue of raising the economic cooperation is the most important topic of the frequent meetings of our government officials, especially the ones between presidents Vucic and Erdogan.”

“This guarantees that we will have more and more good joint projects in the future,” he added.

On the TurkStream project, Dacic said that from the beginning of the project, they were "interested to be a part of it.”

“Not only because it is necessary for securing the supply of our growing gas needs but because it would be a good chance for a good profit for our country being a transit point.

“Unfortunately, in the past, there were political obstacles for these kinds of projects, primarily the limitations imposed by the EU. However, the Turkish Stream showed that bureaucratic obstacles should not stand on the way of the economic interests,” he explained.

Noting that Serbia is a “European transportation and energy hub, especially when we have in mind connecting Turkey with Western Europe as the biggest economic entities in our surroundings,” Dacic said, and added: “We must use this position as a chance to multiply our capacities as well.”

The TurkStream project comprises two lines with a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year. The first line will carry 15.75 bcm of Russian gas to Turkish consumers every year, and the second will carry another 15.75 bcm from Russia to Europe via Turkey.

‘No one can get everything’ on Kosovo and Serbia talks

On the negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, Dacic said his country is “very interested for this process to succeed and have been working patiently and responsibly on it for years.”

“Unfortunately, the other side, the authorities in Pristina, does not relate in this way and thanks to their obstructions, this process often comes to a standstill. That is still the case now,” he added.

“We want the dialogue to result in a comprehensive compromise and decisions that will not fully satisfy us or Pristina,” he explained. “We are very well aware that no one can get everything and that concessions are inevitable.”

“If we were not aware of this, there would be no reason to talk. Only a compromise will resolve this issue in the long run and will enable both Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo to turn to the future and live in peace,” he said.

“I have been involved in these talks from the beginning and as Prime Minister, I signed the Brussels Agreement eight years ago, but unfortunately some of its articles have not been applied to this day, primarily the agreement on the establishment of the Union of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo and Metohija.

“We are fulfilling everything we agreed on, but you can see that the Pristina is not doing the same,” Dacic noted.

Dacic also called on Western mediators, primarily the EU and the US, “to influence the Pristina`s authorities to continue with this process, above all to be constructive towards finding a solution, which is not the case now, but also to fulfill what it had been signed.”

Serbia’s parliament speaker also mentioned the “unsolved border issues with our neighbors, primarily with Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Describing it as a “technical” issue rather than a political one, Dacic said: “I am sure that these issues will be solved through bilateral negotiations.”

“As far as Serbia is concerned and I think our neighbors think the same, these issues do not burden our relations and we are ready to solve them with our best intentions,” he explained.

Stressing that “the border crossing regime on our border in the region is getting more loosening,” he said: “Our citizens are crossing to other countries easier than before and we will keep on working on this.”

“The Removal of border barriers, mostly for goods and services, is the essence of the initiative `Open Balkans` which was launched on Serbia`s initiative with Albania and North Macedonia.

“We desire our region to be a place without any economic impediments because this is the only way we can encourage our trade exchange and economic growth,” he added.

Touching on the Montenegro-Serbia tension regarding the enthronement ceremony of the new metropolitan of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, Dacic said: “Montenegro is having an internal crisis and the turbulences that are present there have nothing to do with Serbia, nor do we influence them.”

“This is exclusively an internal matter of Montenegro and they must solve them on their own, not by violence, which was the case recently, but only through dialogue and the political process,” he added.

“The things that concern us, and no one can blame us for this, is the situation of the Serbian people in Montenegro, which makes up a third of the population, as well as the situation of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which was severely threatened by some legal solutions, which were changed after much effort and protest,” he also said.

Serbia wants Serbs in Montenegro to “enjoy equality and completely the same rights with all other nations, but unfortunately, that has not been the case for a long time,” the Serbian politician added. “Serbs have been discriminated in various areas and this is inadmissible in a country that wants to be democratic.”

“This includes the right to religion, which is entirely endangered, by great pressure on the Serbian Orthodox Church,” he said.

‘EU membership remains our priority’

On Serbia’s relations with the EU, Dacic said his country “progressed on its way to EU membership, even more so in its internal reforms than the official result shows through the number of open negotiation chapters.”

“So, we can do it much faster, but the problem is the EU, which resists the new enlargements for its own reasons,” he added.

“We cannot have much influence on that, but EU membership remains our priority and we continue to meet the criteria for membership.

“But this does not mean that we will sit still and wait for the EU to change its mind regarding the enlargement to the Balkans,” he stressed.

Serbia continues to strengthen its economy "to remove barriers" with its neighbors, Dacic said.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/serbia-hails-turkeys-cooperation-in-balkan-region/2365387 

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