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Islamic World News ( 19 Aug 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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'Girls and Boys Sitting Together In Class Is Dangerous': Kerala Indian Union Muslim League Head Slams Gender-Neutral Education

New Age Islam News Bureau

20 August 2022

 

Kerala Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) general secretary in-charge PMA Salam (Source: Keralakaumudi)

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• Pakistan, India Can't Afford another War: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif

• USCIRF Says Release of Convicts ‘Part of a Pattern’ In India; Condemns the “Unjustified” Release

• UN to End Travel Ban Exemptions for Taliban Officials

• Nigeria Activists Concerned as Secular Court Upholds Shariah Court Trial for Blasphemy

 

India

• Aligarh Muslim University to Explore Collaborations in the Gulf in Areas of Innovation, Start-Ups and Entrepreneurship

• Court Fines Anjuman Intezamia Masjid for Delaying Hearings in the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri Case

• Bilkis Bano case: TRS MLC Kavitha writes to CJI

• Muslim Couple Invites Hindu Seer Home, Perform ‘Padapooja’ (Surrendering To A Guru) In Karnataka

• Muslim activist who opposed MP govt’s bulldozer action held under NSA

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Pakistan

• Can Parliament Make ‘Self-Serving’ Laws, Wonders CJP

• Islamabad Admin Denies PTI Permission to Hold Rally Today Against Alleged Torture on Shahbaz Gill

• Pakistan again urges US to unfreeze Afghan assets

• MQM warns of reviewing decision to participate in Sindh LG polls

• JUI-F starts protest sit-in against lawlessness in Bajaur

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North America

• US Court Sentences Daesh/ISIS 'Beatle' El Shafee Elsheikh To Life In Prison

• CAIR condemns Islamophobic attack on Muslims protesters in US

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Europe

• 9 EU countries voice concern over Israeli raids on Palestinian NGOs

• Ukrainian president appreciates Turkish counterpart for supporting territorial integrity

• Sweden preparing to deport PKK terror suspect

• Plagued by cost-of-living crisis, UK resorts to war-torn Syria with offer of lower tariffs

• Mali welcomes French military pull-out, vowing improved security

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Africa

• Shabaab Militants Attacked Hayat Hotel in Somali Capital, At Least 12 Killed

• Oyebanji won’t stop war against rape in Ekiti – Attorney-General assures

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South Asia

• Participants at Kandahar Gathering: World Should Recognize Islamic Emirate

• Afghanistan: Peace at a price in the Taliban’s heartlands

• For Afghanistan’s Immediate Neighbours, Cautious Engagement With the Taliban

• Anti-Taliban protests erupt in Pakistan border areas

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Mideast

• Iranian Diplomat Meets Islamic Jihad Representative, Ihsan Ataya, At the Latter’s Office in Beirut

• Spokesman: CIA-Led 1953 Coup Recalls Dark Days for Iranians

• Top Commander: IRGC Navy Planning to Widen Presence in High Seas

• Israel announces plans to grant more work permits for Palestinians from Gaza

• Erdogan says Turkey not looking to seize Syrian territory

• Palestinian man killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry

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Arab World

• Iraqi Shia Leader Reaffirms Support for JCPOA Revival in Meeting with MBS

• Attack on Rushdie highlights divisions among Lebanese Shia

• Supporters of Iraq’s Al-Sadr Step up Pressure Tactic with Weekly Prayer in Green Zone

• Five children among 14 killed in shelling on north Syria market

• Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan ink multiple deals worth over $12.5B: Report

• Turkish forces ‘neutralize’ 5 YPG/PKK terrorists in northern Syria

• Russia: HTS militants, White Helmets preparing false-flag chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib

• Nasrallah says there will be no calm in region if US mediator rejects Lebanon’s demands

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Southeast Asia

• Malaysian Anti-Extremism Group Links Brain Drain to Insults against Minority Faiths

• No submissions from us, says Najib’s lead counsel

• Boustead forensic audit report on LCS ‘to be declassified’

• Umno will ‘win big’ if elections this year, says Dr M

• Cabinet approves central agency to handle forfeited assets

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/iuml-gender-neutral-education-kerala/d/127762

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'Girls and Boys Sitting Together In Class Is Dangerous': Kerala Indian Union Muslim League Head Slams Gender-Neutral Education

 

Kerala Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) general secretary in-charge PMA Salam (Source: Keralakaumudi)

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19 AUG 2022

Criticising the Kerala government's gender-neutral education system, Kerala Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) general secretary in charge PMA Salam on Friday sparked controversy by claiming that it is "dangerous" to let boys and girls sit together in a classroom.

According to a report by Kerala media, he said, "Gender neutrality is not a religious issue; it is a moral issue. I am against the attempt to bring in liberalism. Efforts are being made to impose gender-neutral uniforms."

He further claimed that with gender-neutral reforms, children would go "astray".

Salam's statement comes at a time when the Kerala government's efforts to introduce a gender-neutral education system in the state.

A report by India Today quoted Salam, "It is dangerous. What is the need for girls and boys to sit together in classrooms? Why are you forcing them or creating such opportunities? It will only cause problems. Students will deviate from studies."

Salam would "urge" the Kerala government to withdraw the reforms of the gender-neutral education system.

Earlier, the Muslim organisations had accused the ruling-Left government of bringing in liberal ideology in educational institutions that would destroy religious values.

Source: Outlook India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.outlookindia.com/national/-girls-and-boys-sitting-together-in-class-is-dangerous-kerala-muslim-body-head-slams-gender-neutral-education-news-217532

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Pakistan, India Can't Afford another War: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif

 

Shehbaz Sharif

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Aug 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has reiterated his country's strong resolve to maintain peace in the region, but added that sustainable peace in South Asia was linked to the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir issue in line with the UN resolutions and the wishes of Kashmiris, and nothing short of it would work.

"We want permanent peace with India through dialogue as war is not an option for either of the countries," The News quoted the premier as saying said while speaking to a group of students from the Harvard University.

Sharif pointed out that Islamabad and New Delhi should have competition in trade, economy and improving the conditions of their people.

Pakistan was not an aggressor, but its nuclear assets and the professionally trained army are deterrence, he said, adding: "We spend on our military to protect our frontiers and not for aggression," The News reported.

The delegation consisted of students from diverse origins and academic backgrounds.

The Prime Minister welcomed students and held a candid discussion about contemporary challenges Pakistan was facing today.

In response to a question about the national economy and the IMF programme, the premier said that Pakistan's economic crisis stem from structural problems along with political instability in the recent decades.

He said the first few decades since the inception of Pakistan witnessed impressive growth across all sectors of the economy when there were plans, national will and the implementation mechanism to produce outcomes.

"Overtime, we lost the edge in sectors in which we were ahead. The lack of focus, energy and policy action led to reduction in national productivity."

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-india-cant-afford-another-war-shehbaz-sharif/articleshow/93673352.cms

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USCIRF Says Release of Convicts ‘Part of a Pattern’ In India; Condemns the “Unjustified” Release

 

Bilkis Bano, a survivor of the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat, has said the premature release of all the 11 convicts has shaken her faith in justice and left her numb.(File Photo)

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Aug 20, 2022

The US Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Friday strongly condemned the “unjustified” early release of 11 men convicted in the Bilkis Bano case. They were sentenced to life for raping a pregnant Muslim woman and murdering her five-year-old daughter and 13 others during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“USCIRF strongly condemns the early and unjustified release of 11 men sentenced to life in prison for raping a pregnant Muslim woman and committing murder against Muslim victims during the 2002 Gujarat Riots,” USCIRF Vice Chair Abraham Cooper said in a statement.

Calling the early release of the convicts a “travesty of justice”, USCIRF Commissioner Stephen Schneck said it was part of a “pattern of impunity” for those involved in the violence against religious minorities.

“The failure to hold accountable perpetrators of the 2002 Gujarat Riots who committed physical & sexual violence is a travesty of justice. It's part of a pattern of impunity in India for those engaged in violence against religious minorities," USCIRF quoted Schneck as saying.

The BJP-led Gujarat government has been facing ire for approving the early release of the convicts under its old 1992 remission policy. While those convicted for murder with rape or gang rape do not come under the scope of the revised policy, a senior official of the Gujarat government said the release was considered under the state's old remission policy because it was in effect in 2008 when they were pronounced guilty in the case.

Thousands of grassroots workers and women and human rights activists have urged the Supreme Court to revoke the remission, saying the release will have a "chilling effect on every rape victim who is told to ‘trust the system’, ‘seek justice’, and ‘have faith'."

The Congress party has questioned the neutrality of the review panel that granted the remission saying two BJP MLAs were part of the panel.

“There is an interesting side story to the grant of remission to 11 persons convicted for gang rape in Gujarat. Among the Review Panel were two BJP MLAs Shri C. K. Raolji and Smt Suman Chauhan!”

"Another member was Shri Murli Mulchandani who was a key witness for the prosecution in the Godhra Train burning case!" he alleged on Twitter.

Source: Hindustan Times

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/uscirf-says-release-of-bilkis-bano-case-convicts-part-of-a-pattern-in-india-101660955394201.html

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UN To End Travel Ban Exemptions for Taliban Officials

 

United Nations

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Aug 20, 2022

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations is set to end travel ban exemptions for 13 Taliban officials Friday, pending any deal by Security Council members on a possible extension, diplomats told AFP.

Under a 2011 UN Security Council resolution, 135 Taliban officials are subject to sanctions that include asset freezes and travel bans.

But 13 of them were granted exemptions from the travel ban to allow them to meet officials from other countries abroad.

In June, the 15-member UN Security Council's Afghanistan Sanctions Committee removed two Taliban education ministers from the exemption list over the regime's curtailment of women's rights.

At the same time, they renewed the exemption for the others until August 19, plus a further month if no member objected.

Ireland objected this week, according to diplomatic sources.

China and Russia have called for an extension, while the United States has sought a reduced list of the officials allowed to travel and the destinations they can travel to.

The latest proposal on the table would allow just six officials to travel for diplomatic reasons, diplomatic sources told AFP.

If no member of the Council objects by Monday afternoon, it will come into force for three months.

In the meantime, the exemptions for the 13 officials end at midnight on Friday.

Among the 13 are Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Ghani Baradar and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai.

They were instrumental in negotiations with the US government of then-president Donald Trump which led to a deal in 2020 paving the way for America's withdrawal from Afghanistan.

A spokesperson for the Chinese mission at the UN, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council, this week called the Western position linking the travel ban to human rights "counterproductive."

The exemptions are "needed as much as ever," the spokesperson said, adding that if reimposing a travel ban is all other members of the Council want to do, "clearly they have learned no lessons at all."

Despite their promises to be more flexible after they seized power in August last year, the Taliban have largely reverted to the harsh Islamist rule that characterised their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.

In particular, they have severely restricted the rights and freedoms of girls and women, calling for them to don burkas, effectively halting girls' education and systematically removing women from Afghan workplaces.

No country has so far recognised the government.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/un-to-end-travel-ban-exemptions-for-taliban-officials/articleshow/93670140.cms

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Nigeria Activists Concerned as Secular Court Upholds Shariah Court Trial for Blasphemy

 

FILE - Lawyers are pictured in a courtroom during a hearing of a blasphemy case in Kano, Nigeria, Jan. 21, 2021.

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August 19, 2022

Timothy Obiezu

ABUJA, NIGERIA   —

Supporters of free speech in Nigeria are expressing concern after a federal court ruled this week that a singer appealing his death sentence for blasphemy must have his case retried in a Shariah court.

Yahaya Aminu Sharif's lawyer argued his case should be tried in a secular court and challenged the legality of Nigeria’s Islamic courts, which critics say threaten free speech.

But in its decision delivered Wednesday on Zoom, the Kano state appeals court ruled 2-1 that Islamic law does not violate the national charter and that Islamic courts have jurisdiction to try blasphemy cases.

The ruling dismissed a challenge filed by Sharif's lawyer, Kola Alapinni, questioning the legality of the death sentence. One of the judges, Abubakar Muazu Lamido, said the challenge was not backed by law, and that it was "more out of sentiment.”

An Islamic court in Kano sentenced Sharif to death in August 2020 for allegedly circulating a song that blasphemed the Muslim Prophet Mohammed on social media.

In November, the Kano High Court overruled the sentence and ordered a retrial at the Shariah court, stating that Sharif did not have any legal representation during his trial.

Different appraisals

Activists are raising concerns about the appeals court ruling. Abuja-based human rights lawyer Martin Obono called it a threat to free speech. But Kano state Attorney General and Justice Commissioner Musa Abdullahi Lawan praised the judgment, calling it a victory for Kano citizens.

Sharif's lawyer has yet to respond to the court's decision, but he has been opposing Shariah, saying it contravenes the Nigerian Constitution. Islamic scholar Fuad Adeyemi, who serves as executive director of the Al-habibiyyah Islamic society, rejects that assertion.

Shariah, he said, is sometimes "misapplied by people who are not professionals in the handling of it. It's strictly meant for Muslims to regulate the lives of the Muslims. It doesn't concern any non-Muslim.”

Shariah is more dominant across the 12 northern Nigerian states, with a strong base in Kano.

Critics say they worry the ruling could encourage overzealous believers to take mob actions against alleged blasphemers.

In May, a female college student was stoned to death and burned by an angry mob in northwest Sokoto state over accusations of blasphemy. Three weeks after that, a member of a vigilante group in Abuja was also killed over blasphemy allegations.

Abuja lawyer Kayode Ajulo compared the cases.

"I know as a lawyer that Shariah law is part of the body of laws in Nigeria," Ajulo said. "The killing of that innocent girl in Sokoto is a clear criminal case of lynching, murder. It is different from [Shariah] because the issue of blasphemy is still subjected to court or tribunal interpretation, and you can see what the high court has done to say there must be a retrial."

Blasphemy is a sensitive topic in Nigeria, a country of more than 200 million people with a nearly equal distribution of Christians and Muslims.

The offense is punishable by a jail sentence under the country's secular law. But in the far north, the punishment is stricter, including a possible death sentence.

Source: VOA News

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.voanews.com/a/nigeria-activists-concerned-as-secular-court-upholds-islamic-court-trial-for-blasphemy/6708963.html

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India

 

Aligarh Muslim University to Explore Collaborations in the Gulf in Areas of Innovation, Start-Ups and Entrepreneurship

Tariq Alfaham

August 20, 2022

INDIAGCC COUNTRIESEDUCATION

New Delhi – Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), an Institution of National Importance under the Constitution of India, is to explore collaborations with counterpart institutions of the Gulf "in the frontier areas of innovation, start-ups and entrepreneurship."

AMU’s Vice Chancellor, Tariq Mansoor, said today that in addition, collaborations are planned "in the classical languages of Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Hindi."

Writing in the mass circulation daily newspaper, The Indian Express, on AMU’s role in strengthening India’s relations with the Gulf, Mansoor said the proposed collaborations will be part of the National Education Policy (NEP) adopted two years ago, of which, internationalization of education is a key goal.

"The strong Indian diaspora in the Gulf is uniquely placed to vigorously promote Indian higher education institutions in the Gulf as part of the internationalization education under the NEP," he wrote.

He recalled Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s words spoken at the AMU that "in the last 100 years, AMU has worked to strengthen India’s relations with many countries of the world. The research done here on Urdu, Arabic and Persian languages, on Islamic literature, gives new energy to India’s cultural relations with the entire Islamic world."

Modi said this while speaking at the University’s centenary celebrations in December 2020. The Prime Minister asked the AMU community to further invigorate India’s relations with the Islamic world.

Analyzing India’s rapidly growing relations with the Gulf, Mansoor said AMU, therefore, had a role in strengthening India’s links with the region. This is under review.

"Historically, the AMU has played an important role in augmenting India’s quest for fostering closer ties with the Arab and Islamic world. The extensive network of AMU alumni in every Gulf country, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, has over the years successfully leveraged AMU’s soft power dividend in bolstering people-to-people contact."

Source: Zawya

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

https://www.zawya.com/en/business/education/indias-aligarh-muslim-university-to-explore-collaborations-in-the-gulf-bk9pr6ae

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Court Fines Anjuman Intezamia Masjid for Delaying Hearings in the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri Case

Aug 20, 2022

VARANASI: The court of the district judge here has imposed a fine of Rs 500 on the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM) -- the mosque management committee -- for delaying hearings in the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri case. The court has fixed the next date on August 22.Five women have sought the right to worship idols of Shringar Gauri and other deities in the Gyanvapi mosque premises. The AIM has opposed their petition.

During a scheduled hearing Thursday, the AIM filed an adjournment application seeking 10 days for preparations despite having sought time on August 4 in view of the untimely death of its senior advocate, Abhay Nath Yadav.

According to district government counsel (civil), Mahendra Prasad Pandey, Judge Ajay Krishna Vishvesha expressed displeasure over this and said that the hearing was being done in compliance with the order of the Supreme Court which is being delayed. Pandey pointed out that the court had fixed August 18 for the hearing to allow time as Yadav had passed away.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/court-fines-muslim-party-for-delaying-gyanvapi-case/articleshow/93668671.cms

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Bilkis Bano case: TRS MLC Kavitha writes to CJI

Aug 19, 2022

HYDERABAD: Ruling TRS MLC K Kavitha on Friday requested Chief Justice of India NV Ramana to intervene in the Gujarat government's decision to release 11 convicts in the case relating to Bilkis Bano gang-rape and murder of her kin case during the 2002 riots in the western state.

In a letter to the CJI, Kavitha alleged the Gujarat government has acted in ignorance of the guidelines issued by the ministry of home affairs as part of the celebrations of 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' on April 21, 2022 which says that remission should be denied to prisoners convicted for the offence of rape, human trafficking, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), and Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, 1956.

"I implore the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India to save the nation's faith in our laws and in humanity by intervening in this matter so that the decision of the release of the aforementioned convicts is withdrawn immediately," the TRS leader urged Justice Ramana.

Bano was 21 at the time and five months pregnant when this heinous crime took place and to imagine her seeing her rapists walking free with impunity, then being garlanded and celebrated must have shattered her, Kavitha said.

The ruling party legislator pointed out that the case was investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and it was the Special CBI Court that sentenced these convicts.

Section 435 (1) (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code states that the power of the state government to remit or commute a sentence in any case which was investigated by the CBI shall not be exercised by the state government, except after consultation with the Central government, she opined.

The former Lok Sabha member said whether the release of the 11 convicts, in this case, was done in consultation with the Centre is unclear.

Meanwhile, Kavitha's brother and minister K T Rama Rao, in a tweet, referring to the Bilkis Bano case said political parties typically promise development, security, and welfare sops to win elections.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/bilkis-bano-case-trs-mlc-kavitha-writes-to-cji/articleshow/93664907.cms

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Muslim Couple Invites Hindu Seer Home, Perform ‘Padapooja’ (Surrendering To A Guru) In Karnataka

19th August 2022

Gadag: A Muslim couple in Gadag district of Karnataka invited a Hindu seer and performed ‘padapooja’ (ceremony which symbolises surrendering to a guru) on Friday.

The family members of Sikandar Badekhan residing in Hudco Colony of Gadag city invited Swaroopananda Swamiji of Omkar Ashram in Kyarakoppa of Dharwad district. Sikandar Badekhan is a retired professor.

All members of the family worshipped Swamiji’s feet and later chanted the ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ mantra in the house. Later, the Swamiji took ‘prasad’ (lunch) at the house.

Many Muslim families in Gadag district follow Swaroopananda Swamiji. Sikandar Badekhan has been inviting Swamiji to his house for many years.

North Karnataka region is known for religious tolerance and harmonious living in the state for over centuries. Unlike in other places, Hindus and Muslim live side by side harmoniously in most of the villages.

It can be recalled that the authorities made it a point to keep the old tradition of religious procession visiting a dargah in Bengaluru during the Karaga festival despite a section of the people opposing it. At Belur’s historical Chennakeshava Rath Yatra also, the ceremony of reading the Quran before the commencement of Rath Yatra was performed in spite of opposition.

People are appreciating the gesture of the Muslim family and the Hindu religious seer for sending a message of unity to the society.

Source: Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/muslim-couple-invites-hindu-seer-home-perform-padapooja-in-karnataka-2393626/

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Muslim activist who opposed MP govt’s bulldozer action held under NSA

17th August 2022

Bhopal: An activist, who was vocal against the bulldozer drive of the Madhya Pradesh government following communal violence in Khargone, has been arrested under the National Security Act (NSA).

Zaid Khan, a resident of Indore, was arrested in Khargone on Monday for allegedly spreading hatred among the communities, disrupting communal harmony, inciting religious sentiments and posting objectionable posts on social media.

Indore district administration claimed that “Khan had been involved in several criminal activities before 2021. He (Khan) was deliberately disrupting communal harmony with his relentless posts on social media”.

Two FIRs have been lodged against Khan, accusing him of disrupting social harmony and inciting Muslims with his hate speeches. One FIR has been lodged in Indore and the other in Khargone district.

Notably, Khan was one of those who had criticised the BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government’s bulldozer drive in Khargone after a communal clashes broke out there in March this year.

The communal violence had erupted after a group of Muslims had attacked a Ram Navami procession on March 10.

After the clashes, the administration had imposed curfew in the area. Later, several houses were bulldozed during a drive against illegal encroachment.

While the government maintained that the drive was against illegal encroachment, the opposition Congress and the activists accused the BJP government of targetting Muslims.

Source: Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/muslim-activist-who-opposed-mp-govts-bulldozer-action-held-under-nsa-2391923/

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Pakistan

 

Can parliament make ‘self-serving’ laws, wonders CJP

Nasir Iqbal

August 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pak­is­tan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on Fri­day wondered whether the parliament could be expected to make a “self-serving legislation” when it’s in a “transitory period and the elections have to be held”.

“We are the guardians of the Constitution and it is not a joyful enterprise for the courts to do legislation instead or show over activism. But we have to protect the Constitution, the constitutional machinery and the rule of law,” observed the CJP.

The observation came during the hea­ring of a challenge by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan, through his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed, to rec­ent amendments made to the Nat­ional Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

Headed by the CJP, the three-judge Supreme Court bench that heard the case has Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah as its other members.

SC hears Imran’s petition against changes to NAO; govt lawyer says courts must not get involved in political disputes

“These are not ordinary times but exceptional times where the erstwhile ruling party was not performing its duties since it has boycotted out of the parliament while the beneficiaries were amending laws,” regretted the CJP.

Justice Shah wondered if the court should bother about the political temperature outside and asked which forum the people should approach to seek remedy if they were upset in case NAO was completely repealed in future.

Senior counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan, who appeared on behalf of the federal government, replied by citing that the United States Supreme Court always followed the latest election results, meaning they stood with the government in power while deciding constitutional cases.

‘Greater burden on courts’

In a society or a country where the parliamentary process was not working properly and when the fundamental rights were suspended, then there was a greater burden on the courts, but a different approach had to be taken if the democratic and constitutional dispensation were functioning smoothly, the counsel argued.

He cited a number of examples to show that the Supreme Court in the US had changed its views over the years on issues like death sentence, abortion and in the flag salute case, saying resolution of controversies should be confined always to the parliamentary forums instead of allowing them to be decided on the streets.

“We are conscious of the fact,” the CJP observed, adding the court should not enter the political thicket “but we also have to take into view the fundamental guarantees to the citizens like due process, fair trial and fairness in the criminal judicial process”.

The court postponed further proceedings until Sept 1 when Khawaja Haris said he had recovered from Covid only the other day and therefore could not submit a concise statement in time.

The right forum

Answering the questions raised in the petition, Makhdoom Ali Khan in a statement explained that the forum to enact or oppose the enactment of statutes was parliament. Politicians might succeed or fail in the parliament in pursuit of their objectives and those frustrated could take their appeal to people, he said, adding that was their right but the remedy for their grievances was not with courts.

The counsel emphasised that courts could judge the constitutionality of statutes but could not test a statute on the criteria of a particular political outlook or a moral viewpoint or a philosophical approach.

He argued that if followed, the route suggested by the petitioner would lead straight to the political thicket, adding that [courts should] always resist or avoid being embroiled in such disputes.

The counsel emphasised that the petitioner lacks locus standi and bona fide to move the present petition since the amendments of similar nature were made through ordinances in the NAO during the petitioner’s term as the prime minister. It is thus clear that this petition does not raise constitutional but political questions, the counsel said, especially when the apex court has repeatedly held that it does not decide political questions.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1705841/can-parliament-make-self-serving-laws-wonders-cjp

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Islamabad admin denies PTI permission to hold rally today against alleged torture on Shahbaz Gill

Syed Irfan Raza

August 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: After a court in the capital declined to hand over his custody to Islamabad police in view of his fragile condition, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Friday alleged that his close aide Shahbaz Gill was “sexually abused” and “tortured both mentally and physically” by investigators during the ongoing probe against him for making “seditious remarks”.

Mr Khan also announced countrywide rallies to express solidarity with his chief of staff, who is incarcerated in a sedition case, vowing to seek justice for the PTI leader currently being treated in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims). The capital police said they did not inflict torture on Shahbaz Gill so who were the individuals responsible for the torture of Mr Gill, the PTI chief asked.

“There is a general perception in the public at large and in our minds too, as to who could have carried out the gruesome torture. Remember, the public will react. We will leave no stone unturned to find those responsible and bring them to justice,” Mr Khan said in his tweet.

“All the pictures and videos show clearly Gill was tortured both mentally and physically, including sexual abuse – most too gruesome to relate. He was humiliated to break him down. I now have full detailed information,” the former premier tweeted.

Mr Khan urged his party supporters to take to the streets today in the federal capital and all regional headquarters to protest against the detention and alleged torture inflicted on Mr Gill. The PTI chairman urged people to join the rally to show their resolve against the torture.

Rally in Islamabad

Meanwhile, in a video clip shared on the party’s official Twitter account, Fawad Chaudhry said that the PTI “strongly condemned worst kind of torture” on Mr Gill. He added the PTI would hold a rally at Jinnah Avenue from China Chowk to F-9 Park in the federal capital and in all regional headquarters.

Mr Chaudhry said Imran Khan will lead the rally in Islamabad and will address the party workers at the park which will be shown at all regional headquarters through a video link. The PTI leader further claimed that the party has acquired pictures and doctors’ certificates to corroborate their claims and they have been forwarded to the authorities concerned.

Earlier, PTI leaders Babar Awan and Shahzad Wasim also held a joint press conference where they alleged that that Mr Gill was sexually abused and tortured.

However, the Islamabad administration said the PTI will not be allowed to hold a rally in the federal capital and added that Section 144 was in force in the city. The PTI, however, refused to comply with the directives and Fawad Chaudhry said the rally will proceed as planned.

On the other hand, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a statement PTI chairman Imran Khan has to get a court order if he wanted to meet Shahbaz Gill in custody. Her statement came after Mr Khan went to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Hospital to meet Gill but he was denied. “He is not a monarch to go anywhere he wants,” she added.

Court hearing

When Judicial Magistrate Raja Farrukh Ali Khan took up a police application seeking Mr Gill’s eight-day physical remand, the PTI legal team opposed any further extension of the remand.

The counsel for Mr Gill argued that the instant case was registered without the prior permission of the federal government.

The defence counsel argued that Gill was “subjected to fierce physical and mental torture” and they placed on record an application for registration of first information report (FIR) against the delinquents and alleged torturers.

The counsel also expressed doubt on the medical board report, saying it deliberately did not place the report regarding the state of the accused lungs before the court.

The report, issued late on Thursday night, said Mr Gill was discharged as he was clinically stable, and advised him some medication.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1705846/imran-alleges-gill-abused-urges-pti-to-take-to-streets

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Pakistan again urges US to unfreeze Afghan assets

Baqir Sajjad Syed

August 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday urged the United States again to unfr­ee­­ze Afghan assets and condit­ionally allow the Taliban regime to use those funds for dealing with the economic and humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged country.

Foreign Office spokesman Asim Iftikhar, at a weekly media conference, said the Afghan assets held in the US should be released urgently and “in a manner that would make it easier for the interim authorities to utilise this money.”

He was responding to a question relating to reports that the process for the unfreezing of the funds could face delays because of renewed concerns in the US, after Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri’s killing in Kabul late last month, that the money could be diverted to terrorist groups.

The US government had last year frozen $7 billion, ow­­ned by Afghanistan, aft­er the Taliban took over con­trol of the country. President Bid­en, earlier this year, split this amount equally between the families of victims of the Sept 11 terror attacks and aid for suffering Afghans.

Washington has since then been establishing a process for the release of those funds. Zawahiri’s kill­ing has reinforced doubts in the US about Taliban’s cou­n­­­ter-terrorism commit­me­nts.

Mr Iftikhar recalled that Pakistan too wants that the release “shouldn’t be done without strings attached”. He particularly noted that the US provided a lot of hum­anitarian assistance for Afg­hanistan over the past year.

The spokesman, while referring to recent visit by Centcom chief Gen Michael Kurilla and other bilateral engagements said that be­­sides the bilateral agen­­da, the two sides also discussed the situation in Afghanistan.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1705839/pakistan-again-urges-us-to-unfreeze-afghan-assets

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MQM warns of reviewing decision to participate in Sindh LG polls

Imran Ayub

August 20, 2022

KARACHI: In a strong message to “state powers” while reiterating its protest over “unjustified delimitation, fake voters’ list and less count of population in the National Census 2017,” the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) on Friday warned that it would review its decision to participate in the upcoming August 28 local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.

The partner of the ruling alliance at the Centre went on to say with a caution that the party could even boycott the electoral process if the people of urban Sindh were left with a feeling that their original mandate was being stolen only to impose the “fake municipal leadership”, mainly in Karachi, the business capital.

The fresh thoughts in the party ranks were shared by the top leadership during a press conference at its temporary headquarters in Bahad­urabad where they were convinced for a “final move” despite repeated appeals to the power corridors.

Without naming any individual, institution or organisation, the MQM-P apparently, along with the president and prime minister, also addressed the powerful establishment for their role in addressing the grievances of urban Sindh.

“I am here to ask the president, prime minister and those who are guardians of law and Constitution to suggest to us where we should go for justice,” said MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.

He then shared the details of “unjustified delimitation and fake voters”, alleging that the population of Karachi was halved in the 2017 census. Explaining the reasons behind his presser only days before the local bodies’ elections to raise the same old issues the party has been protesting over for the past many months, the MQM-P leader came up with a direct warning that suggested the party was still indecisive about the August 28 polls.

“After the by-election in NA-245 on August 21, we would go to the people of Karachi,” he said. “We would seek their opinion. We would ask them whether it would be beneficial for us or for our people to participate in an election in which their representation has been restricted to 25 per cent [of the total population], their population has been halved and voters’ lists are fake. We are not sure whether participation in such elections would strengthen or weaken democracy?”

In reply to a question about the fate of “Charter of Rights” the party had signed with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in March 2022 to strike a deal with the Sindh’s ruling party on almost all of its years-old demands, which would be agreed under a guarantee offered from the leadership of the opposition alliance, Dr Siddiqui admitted that “nothing has been achieved” and made it clear about the future stance of his party on the agreement.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1705812/mqm-warns-of-reviewing-decision-to-participate-in-sindh-lg-polls

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JUI-F starts protest sit-in against lawlessness in Bajaur

August 20, 2022

BAJAUR: A large number of people attended the protest sit-in arranged by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl here in Bajaur tribal district on Friday to urge the authorities to fulfil their responsibility of providing protection to the local residents and maintaining peace.

Besides workers of several political parties, mostly of JUI-F, social activists and tribal elders also attended the sit-in held outside the Civil Colony, Khar.

The “peace sit-in” meant to make an urgent appeal for improving the law and order situation by ending the wave of violence against the activists of JUI-F and other parties was started after Friday prayers and it continued till filing of this report at 9:30pm.

The participants had designated the day for the protest after the bomb attack on JUI-F senior leader and Khar tehsil council chairman Haji Said Badshah on Aug 15.

Holding white flags inscribed with slogans such as “we want peace in our area”, the participants had brought several essential items with them to the sit-in venue, which showed they planned to continue the protest.

JUI-F district chief Maulana Abdur Rasheed and general secretary Maulana Laiq Khan, Awami National Party’s senior leader Maulana Khan Zeb, Pakistan Peoples Party’s former MNA Sayed Akhunzada Chattan, Youth of Bajaur chairman Rehan Zeb Khan, tribal elder Malik Shaheen Khan and several other notables addressed the participants of the sit-in.

They termed such gatherings necessary for bringing improvement in law and order in the district. According to them, the law and order situation had deteriorated over the past several months in the region.

The speakers were of the view that peace and normalcy were the basic components of life and development. They said that they would not sit silent over incidents of violence in the region.

They asked the authorities to fulfil their responsibility of providing protection to the local residents and said the sit-in would be continued till the authorities gave them a strong assurance of peace in the area.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1705745/jui-f-starts-protest-sit-in-against-lawlessness-in-bajaur

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North America

 

US court sentences Daesh/ISIS 'Beatle' El Shafee Elsheikh to life in prison

Darren Christopher Lyn

19.08.2022

HOUSTON, Texas

El Shafee Elsheikh, the Daesh/ISIS terrorist who was part of a group known as the "Beatles," was sentenced on Friday in US court to eight consecutive life terms in prison for torturing and murdering four American nationals.

"With today’s verdict, we finally have a bit of justice,"Diane Foley, the mother of James Foley, one of the Beatles' victims, said at a news conference after the sentence was handed down.

"I think there's a relief, you know, this has been quite an ordeal that's truly exhausting," she continued.

The other three victims were Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

The three American men – Foley, Sotloff and Kassig – were beheaded while in captivity, and the terror group released propaganda videos of their executions online, setting off a frantic search to identify the group of masked men who were dubbed the "Beatles" due to their British accents.

Elsheikh – who was born in the UK but stripped of his citizenship there after he was identified – was nicknamed "Ringo."

"Today is the eighth anniversary of our son Jim’s gruesome beheading by ISIS," said Foley's mother. "But today we remember four extraordinary young Americans."

Mueller was raped multiple times by ex-Daesh/ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before her death.

"This is a small piece of justice that will help us heal a little, but I don't think there will ever be closure," said Kayla's father Carl Mueller.

A federal judge sentenced Elsheikh to a life sentence for each of the eight counts he was convicted of in April.

The death penalty was taken off the table as part of a deal the US struck with the UK to get the case tried in the US.

The surviving hostages testified during the trial that the "Beatles" would rewrite the Eagles' song "Hotel California" as "Hotel Osama" and would make them sing the refrain, "You will never leave."

More than 20 hostages were taken captive from 2012 to 2015 when Daesh/ISIS controlled large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-court-sentences-daesh-isis-beatle-el-shafee-elsheikh-to-life-in-prison/2665310

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CAIR condemns Islamophobic attack on Muslims protesters in US

August 19, 2022

WASHINGTON:

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim advocacy group, has called on the state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate an alleged bias-motivated assault on those protesting against the persecution of religious minorities and caste discrimination in India at Los Angeles, Palma Park in Anaheim, in the US state of California.

A press release issued by CAIR’s Los Angeles office said that the attackers allegedly harassed protesters, shouting “stupid Muslims, get out.” They also reportedly grabbed protest signs and physically and verbally harassed the protesters.

In a statement, CAIR’s Executive Director in Los Angeles Hussam Ayloush said: “Every American has the right to peaceful protest without the threat of violence and intimidation based on their race, faith or national origin. We call on local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this reportedly bias-motivated attack and to consider bringing hate crime charges against the alleged perpetrators.”

Earlier, CAIR’s New jersey office joined the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) in condemning the use of a bulldozer at the India Independence Day parade in South Plainfield this year.

Source: Tribune Pakistan

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

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2372027/cair-condemns-islamophobic-attack-on-muslims-protesters-in-us

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Europe

 

9 EU countries voice concern over Israeli raids on Palestinian NGOs

Ahmet Gençtürk  

19.08.2022

Nine EU countries on Friday expressed their concern over Thursday’s Israeli raids on the Palestinian NGOs.

In a joint statement, foreign ministries of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden said: “A free and strong civil society is indispensable for promoting democratic values and for a two-state solution.”

“The further reduction of civil space in the oPT (occupied Palestinian Territory) remains a source of concern,” the statement added.

The countries underscored that Israel did not provide substantial information that would justify reviewing their policy toward the six Palestinian NGOs on the basis of the Israeli decision to designate them as “terrorist organisations.”

“Should convincing evidence be made available to the contrary, we would act accordingly,” they concluded.

On Thursday, the Israeli army stormed and ordered the closure of Palestinian NGOs in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Al-Bireh.

The EU last week decided to unfreeze funds allocated to six of the Palestinian NGOs, but despite the vote, the European Commission did not announce that the funds would be unfrozen.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/9-eu-countries-voice-concern-over-israeli-raids-on-palestinian-ngos/2665349

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Ukrainian president appreciates Turkish counterpart for supporting territorial integrity

Davit Kachkachishvil  

19.08.2022

KYIV, Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday appreciated his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

"I had lengthy conversations today with Erdogan, the Turkish president. I am appreciative of President Erdogan's consistent support for our state's territorial integrity and sovereignty. We talked about cooperation in the economy, energy, and defense sectors,” Zelenskyy said in a video message.

On Thursday, Erdogan visited the Ukrainian city of Lviv and met with Zelenskyy and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"I appreciate Turkey helping out with this project by taking care of Kharkiv's and its surroundings' reconstruction. A country that is extremely powerful can complete this task. The infrastructure agreement was inked today, marking the first stage," the Ukrainian president said.

According to Zelenskyy, the world's food crisis started to improve once the grain corridor deal that was agreed in Istanbul by Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine, and the UN came into effect.

"The result is clear and not only for Ukraine, but also for the world. Because the severity of the global food crisis is felt to be diminishing," he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/ukrainian-president-appreciates-turkish-counterpart-for-supporting-territorial-integrity/2665322

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Sweden preparing to deport PKK terror suspect

Atila Altuntas  

19.08.2022

STOCKHOLM

Sweden is set to deport a suspected member of the PKK terror group to Türkiye, local media on Friday.

Swedish newspaper ETC reported that the 26-year-old Zinar Bozkurt has been detained pending deportation.

Separately, digital news outlet Blank Spot said Bozkurt's asylum application to Sweden eight years ago was rejected earlier this year and that a decision was made for his deportation.

The Swedish Security Service (SAPO) detained Bozkurt over connections with the PKK terrorist organization, it reported, adding that he was deemed a security threat to the Nordic country.

This came roughly a week after reports emerged that Stockholm accepted Türkiye's extradition request for Okan Kale, who was convicted over fraud charges.

Kale sought asylum in Sweden in 2011 after being accused of credit card fraud against three banks in Türkiye, but his request was denied.

In 2014, he was granted refugee status in Italy.

Kale received a temporary refugee residence card for two years in Italy. He then came to Sweden in 2016 and married a Swedish woman 23 years older than him. He attained a residence and work permit in Sweden thanks to this marriage.

In October 2021, Ankara came into contact with Swedish authorities through Interpol. Kale was arrested and imprisoned on the same date.

On the other hand, Ankara has not received a positive response to other requests for terrorist extraditions over the last five years, including for members of the PKK and its offshoots, as well as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 in Türkiye.

Sweden refused to extradite PKK members Mehmet Sirac Bilgin, Aziz Turan, Ragip Zarakolu, and Halef Tak, granting citizenship to all four.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

Stockholm did not respond to the requests from Ankara for the extradition of FETO members Harun Tokak and Bulent Kenes, either.

In the defeated 2016 coup orchestrated by FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen, 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.

Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden signed a memorandum this June on the Nordic countries' bids for NATO membership following four-way talks in Madrid.

The memorandum conditions Finland and Sweden to take steps on Türkiye's terrorism concerns, including the extradition of terror suspects, and lifts an arms embargo on Ankara.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/sweden-preparing-to-deport-pkk-terror-suspect/2665207

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Plagued by cost-of-living crisis, UK resorts to war-torn Syria with offer of lower tariffs

19 August 2022

The UK has promised to liberalize trade with Syria, offering lower tariffs to the war-torn country as part of plans to bring its cost-of-living crisis under control.

The Department for International Trade announced earlier this week that it is set to unilaterally offer improved trading terms to Bashar Assad’s government and seven other developing countries, which will be included in a new post-Brexit “enhanced preferences” scheme.

The UK government plans to cut tariffs for those countries by 85 percent in a bid to cut the cost of imports for British consumers and decrease the burden of soaring prices for people.

K imports from Syria last year, including textiles, vegetables and sugar, were about £2m, while the exports, including dairy products, machinery and electrical goods, were around £4m.

The UK government is resorting to any method to fix its inflation-hit economy, which has witnessed skyrocketing energy prices, especially after imposing sanctions on Russian energy over the Ukraine war.

The decision comes at a time when most European countries are grappling with a severe energy crisis after losing access to Russian fuel.

Meanwhile, British officials have said that the “robust sanctions” on Damascus meant the Syrian government “could not benefit from enhanced preferences,” putting doubt over British claims that the economic strategy seeks to help developing nations.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the UK government has been funding militants seeking to overthrow the Assad government. In 2018, the UK took part in US-led missile strikes against Syria. In March 2021, the British government slapped sanctions on key allies of President Assad.

The UK is also currently funding Kurdish-run prisons in Syria, where hundreds of children are being held in dire conditions, despite the UN’s warning to London that funding “mass arbitrary detention centers is incompatible with the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights.”

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/08/19/687681/UK-set-to-reduce-trade-tarrifs-for-Syria,-in-bid-to-partly-fix-economic-crisis

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Mali welcomes French military pullout, vowing improved security

20 August 2022

Mali's government has welcomed the withdrawal of French military forces from the African nation, saying the pullout ushers in better security for its people.

"People's security will be considerably improved," said government’s spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga in a statement on Friday, insisting that the French withdrawal "reassures the Malian population that, thanks to the rise in power of the brave Malian forces, more successes will be recorded against the terrorist groups."

The government "takes note of this final withdrawal," Maiga added in the official statement after France said Monday that its last remaining troops had left Mali.

The development came days after Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop blamed French forces in his country for "acts of aggression" and sponsoring Daesh-linked terrorists.

In a letter to the president of the 15-member UN Security Council (UNSC) on Monday, Diop said that French forces had committed "frequent violations" of Malian airspace, suggesting that the intruding flights were aimed at "collecting intelligence for the benefit of terrorist groups... and to drop arms and ammunition for them."

He called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council in his letter in order to ensure that France “immediately ceases its acts of aggression,” in the form of the alleged violations of its sovereignty, support for terrorist groups, and spying.

“In the event of the persistence of this posture which undermines the stability and security of our country, Mali reserves the right to use self defense,” he said.

France, however, reacted to Mali’s complaint at the UN by slamming what it claimed as "increasing manipulation of information" about its military withdrawal.

Relations between Bamako and Paris have deteriorated following two military coups in the impoverished – though minerals-rich -- Sahel country since 2020.

According to Western press reports, the arrival of Russian paramilitary forces in Mali at the invitation of the provisional military government in Bamako was a key factor in France's decision to withdraw its occupation forces.

Meanwhile, Mali’s Defense Minister Sadio Camara paid a visit to Russia this week and was reportedly still there on Friday.

France's military occupation of Mali began in 2013 to allegedly counter militants that Paris claimed were linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups. Accordingly, the French government deployed thousands of soldiers to purportedly prevent separatist forces from reaching Bamako.

The war caused several thousand deaths and more than a million people to flee their homes. There have been two military coups in roughly a year, amid growing demonstrations against France’s military presence.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/08/20/687696/Mali-welcomes-French-military-pullout,-vowing-improved-security

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Africa

 

Shabaab Militants Attacked Hayat Hotel in Somali Capital, At Least 12 Killed

Aug 20, 2022

MOGADISHU: At least 12 people have been killed in Somalia's capital Mogadishu after al Shabaab militants attacked a hotel leading to a siege that authorities are still trying to end, an intelligence office told Reuters on Saturday.

The attackers struck the Hayat Hotel on Friday evening with two car bombs, before entering the facility while firing their guns and seizing control.

"So far we have confirmed 12 people, mostly civilians, died," Mohammed, an intelligence officer who only gave one name, told Reuters "The operation is about to be concluded but it is still going on."

Sounds of explosions punctuated the night as government forces tried to wrest control of the hotel back from the militants, witnesses said.

Large sections of the hotel were destroyed by the fighting, they said.

The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist group statements.

Al Shabaab has been fighting to topple the Somali government for more than 10 years. It wants to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/at-least-eight-civilians-killed-in-mogadishu-hotel-attack/articleshow/93671259.cms

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Oyebanji won’t stop war against rape in Ekiti – Attorney-General assures

August 19, 2022

By Emmanuel Ani

The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Ekiti State, Hon. Olawale Fapohunda SAN, has assured the residents of the state that the Governor-elect, Abiodun Abayomi Oyebanji, will continue to fight against the spike of rape in Ekiti State.

Hon. Fapounda gave his words to parents of child victims of rape in his office on Thursday that there is absolutely no need to worry about the post Governor Fayemi era, assuring that Oyebanji was sufficiently aware of the crisis of rape in Ekiti State and would rather intensify than stop the fight.

According to the Attorney-General, the zero tolerance policy for all forms of sexual violence in Ekiti State is appropriately enshrined in the Criminal Law of Ekiti State, thus legally sustainable by the incoming administration.

Fapounda said the Ministry of Justice was concerned about the recent spike in cases of child rape in Ekiti State, as elsewhere, and will not rest on its oars until it is totally eradicated.

The Attorney General also confirmed that his office was currently prosecuting a Prophet who raped a 13-year-old girl and another who raped eight girls all under the age of 14.

Ekiti State has been at the forefront of prosecuting and getting judgements against perpetrators of rape and other forms of gender-based violence.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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

https://dailypost.ng/2022/08/19/oyebanji-wont-stop-war-against-rape-in-ekiti-attorney-general-assures/

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South Asia

 

Participants at Kandahar Gathering: World Should Recognize Islamic Emirate

August 20, 2022

The gathering of tribal elders and Islamic clerics in Kandahar ended on Thursday and attendees issued a resolution asking the world to recognize the Islamic Emirate as a legitimate system and to engage with Kabul in a positive way.

"We call on them to recognize the Islamic Emirate as a legitimate system, to interact positively with the Islamic Emirate, to lift the restrictions they have put in place, and to cooperate in the economic development and development of the Afghan nation,” the resolution reads.

"Not all representatives of Afghanistan participated, women also did not participate,” said Wahidullah Faqiri, an expert on international relations.

The sixteen-article resolution referred to the US airstrike on Kabul, saying that the neighboring countries who allowed the US drone to operate in their territory are involved in this crime and would face consequences.

"The rulers of these countries should know that making deals on Afghanistan and allowing Afghanistan's enemies to access their space and land, as well as allowing operations against Afghanistan, will certainly have bad consequences for them,” the resolution stated.

"This is not only a step in accordance with international principles; this is the voice and response of the Afghan people who have long asked the government to stand against the damaging actions of the countries in the region,” said Najibullah Jami, university lecturer.

The Emirate has been asked in the fourteenth article of this resolution to give attention to women, minorities, children, and people in the area of justice, as well as religious and modern education.

"We call on the Islamic Emirate to pay special attention to rights of minorities, children, women, and of all people involved in justice, religious and modern education, health, agriculture, and industry in light of Sharia law,” according to the resolution.

"If the Taliban are truly committed to the Islamic and human rights of Afghan women, they should end the systematic suppression of women and open girls' schools above the sixth grade as soon as possible,” said Maryam Marouf Arween, women’s rights activist.

More than 3,000 people attended the gathering of Islamic clerics and tribal elders held in Kandahar yesterday, including the leader of the Islamic Emirate and other officials.

Source: Tolo News

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

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-179468

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Afghanistan: Peace at a price in the Taliban’s heartlands

By Secunder Kermani

August 20, 2022

A year after the Taliban takeover, BBC correspondent Secunder Kermani visits the group's heartlands in southern Afghanistan to discover that peace comes at a price.

In a dusty patch of land next to the Helmand river, along what used to be one of the frontlines of the war, two teenage boys are locked in an embrace, trying to wrestle each other to the ground. Sitting in a wide circle, spectators look on eagerly as the early evening light begins to dim.

We're in Sangin district in southern Afghanistan, scene of some of the deadliest clashes of the past two decades. Much of the town is still rubble, though a number of houses are being rebuilt as residents return home, savouring their first taste of peace in years.

There are no women amongst the crowd: in this deeply conservative part of the country, they're largely kept behind closed doors. Many here supported the Taliban's insurgency against the former Afghan government and US-led forces that supported it, while others are simply relieved the violence that plagued their lives has finally come to an end.

"Life is very good now, people are happy," says Lalai, who has organised the wrestling match. "There's freedom and no problems," chimes in another man.

Everyone you speak to here has been affected by the war. "You won't find a single home in the district without at least two or three relatives martyred," Lalai tells us.

Many Afghans feel deeply despondent about the direction the country is being taken in by the Taliban. However, in rural areas, particularly in the south and east - dominated by the Pashtun ethnicity - there are many others who either support the Taliban or who feel life under their rule is preferable to life at war.

Reminders of the conflict are everywhere in Sangin: the debris of homes flattened by US or Afghan government airstrikes, as well as the scars on the road leading to Helmand's capital Lashkar Gah, left by Taliban bombs.

Inside Lashkar Gah, everyone we speak to praises improved security, but there's a new battle in Afghan cities, against hunger.

Foreign funding which used to prop up the previous government has been slashed and Afghanistan's bank reserves have been frozen ever since the Taliban took power last year. Now poverty and child malnutrition are on the rise.

"I go down to the roundabout at dawn to try and find work as a labourer," one elderly man tells us, "but if even one person arrives offering a job, 50 others swarm around him first."

A crowd gathers around us as we speak, all complaining of sharp rises to food prices and a lack of opportunities.

"Even when I'm saying my prayers, I keep thinking of my debts and how I'll pay them back," says Haji Baridad, a building contractor. Still, he adds, he's happy the war has ended. "I live just outside the city and couldn't travel at night, now I can… But I'm earning nothing."

The Taliban do have a degree of genuine grassroots support in Afghanistan, particularly in places like Helmand, although as they stridently oppose democratic elections, it's impossible to quantify it.

Helmand, however, is also one of the most tightly controlled provinces in the country. We've been told anyone publicly criticising the Taliban faces arrest or even worse.

In December 2021, Naveed Azimi, an English teacher, was detained by the Taliban in Helmand for having written a Facebook post criticising the lack of salaries for government employees. Not long after, his dead body was dumped by the river.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, another local critic of the Taliban told the BBC that about 20 people in total had been arrested for their social media activity.

"You can't say anything at all," he said, describing how some were simply threatened whilst others were kept in jail. "The Taliban have different types of torture for them, hitting them with cables and pipes, holding their heads under water."

From Helmand, we set off for Kandahar. The drive is just under three hours, but would have been unimaginable for us during the war. In the fields by the roadside, farmers are picking grapes, but it's another crop that this part of the country is best known for.

Opium grown in Afghanistan produces the vast majority of the world's heroin, and in the past, it's been a valuable source of income for both poor farmers and the Taliban.

Now the Taliban have banned its cultivation. A few fields of dried-up poppies are all that remain of the most recent crop. Shaista Gul, an elderly farmer with a wrinkled face, is worried. "Nothing else we plant can earn us enough money," he says.

Given the ban, however, he has no plans to try to plant opium again. The Taliban could be about to achieve what the US never could, substantially eradicating poppy production. Opium that has already been processed, though, is still being openly traded in markets.

"Some say rich people have stored up a lot of opium," Shaista Gul tells us, "waiting for the prices to rise even further. So they're happy."

We arrive in Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city and spiritual home of the Taliban. It was at a shrine here that the founder of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, was declared "Leader of the Faithful" in 1996, as he stood in front of a crowd, holding out a cloak said to have belonged to the Prophet Muhammad.

"The Taliban were much stricter back then," one elderly witness to the event tells us. "Now they're not forcing people to grow their beard, for example."

Kandahar, however, is where the new supreme leader of the Taliban, the reclusive Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, still resides. He remains out of public sight, but he is believed to be behind the progressively hardening stance of the Taliban over the course of the year. The Taliban's government is based in Kabul, but it's Kandahar where the ultimate decisions are made.

The latest example of the Taliban's assertiveness is corporal punishment. So far, it hasn't been widely implemented, but last month, Taliban officials in Kandahar announced three people had been flogged for sex outside marriage and theft.

"It's our nation, our religion," the province's deputy governor, Maulvi Hayatullah Mubarak, responds defiantly when I question him about the incident, insisting a legal procedure would have been followed.

It's Afghan women who have been affected most by the Taliban's new laws. In Kandahar and southern Afghanistan, nearly all wore the burqa or covered their faces in public already. Female teachers and healthcare workers are among those who have been allowed to continue working. But others have been told to stay at home.

Negina Naseri was a radio presenter in Kandahar, but stopped work when fighting intensified. Now she would like to go back, but while female journalists in Kabul are still broadcasting, outlets in Kandahar have been told they can no longer employ them.

"Kandahar is a province where people don't often let women work," Negina tells me. "When I was out on the street I was hit, my scarf was pulled, people threw bottles or cigarette packets at me - even their phone numbers… despite all this I managed to achieve a professional position."

Now, stuck at home, she says she sometimes wishes she had never even bothered pursuing an education.

Kandahar might be where the Taliban first emerged, but it's also where they have faced some of the fiercest resistance. Just across the road from the shrine visited by Taliban founder Mullah Omar is an elaborate domed mausoleum commemorating one of the Taliban's most notorious opponents.

General Raziq was viewed as a hero by many in Afghanistan for helping hold back the Taliban advance, until he was assassinated in 2018. He was closely linked to the foreign military presence, but also accused of widespread human rights abuses.

In the town of Spin Boldak, south of Kandahar, bordering Pakistan, his men allegedly ran a secret prison. Faizullah Shakir, an imam at a nearby mosque, who says he has no links with the Taliban, was held there for nearly three years and gives us a tour of his former cell.

"They hung me from the ceiling and wrapped my arms around a pipe, while beating my legs with bayonets," he says. He describes being suspended like that for three days before being cut down, having his jaw broken and then being taken to a small, dark underground chamber where he lived with a group of other prisoners.

There wasn't even enough space for them each to lie down, he says.

The Taliban have committed countless atrocities in the course of the Afghan conflict and have been responsible for the majority of civilian deaths, but they, or those accused of links to them, have also been the victims of atrocities. The incidents were often simply just never highlighted in the same way.

It explains why some in the country see little difference between the "strongmen" of the previous government and the Taliban's forces now.

Driving along the fence separating Afghanistan from Pakistan, we reach an entirely abandoned village called Sharo Oba. Commander Haji Sailab, a veteran Taliban member, says he and other local members of his Noorzai tribe who lived there were forced out en masse by General Raziq, who belonged to a rival tribe.

"When I returned here for the first time last year with my family, they cried with happiness," Haji Sailab says.

Others suggest the inhabitants were forced to leave, not because of tribal rivalry, but because they were harbouring Taliban elements who had launched repeated attacks on government forces. But Haji Sailab says the incident helped the movement grow from a small to substantial presence in the area, capitalising on local anger.

After Spin Boldak fell to the Taliban, there were credible reports of revenge killings by members of the Noorzai tribe. Haji Sailab, however, denies that. He insists an amnesty announced by the Taliban leadership prevented violence.

There would've been rivers of blood flowing," he says. "We know exactly who was responsible for the attacks on us."

The killing of dozens of former members of the Afghan security forces has been documented over the past year and there has been no sign of any accountability for their deaths from within the Taliban. Yet by the brutal standards of the Afghan conflict, their return to power has been less bloody than many had initially feared.

It's what the Taliban do now that matters most to Afghans. As we return to Kandahar, we take a detour, following an autorickshaw that has been converted into a mobile library.

The Pen Path charity works promoting education in remote villages. About 100 boys and girls gather excitedly in front of a mosque as a visiting teacher begins his lesson. Matiullah Wesa, founder of Pen Path, describes education as an "Islamic right", but the Taliban have kept most girls' secondary schools in the country closed.

In this village, as in other impoverished rural parts, no girls' secondary school even exists. Students often don't even have pens or notebooks, says Matiullah Wesa.

As the open-air class gets underway, older girls and women are nowhere to be seen. The Taliban cite these conservative values as the reason behind the continuing school closures. But watching over their younger daughters, fathers in the village are clear they want them to get an education.

"I want them to go to university," says one, "they can become doctors and serve the country." Another expresses support but outlines his conditions that "there should be a separate building for girls and a female teacher. They should wear the burqa on their way to school."

Even in this deeply conservative environment, there appears a consensus that girls should have the same right to education as boys. It's a telling moment.

Source: BBC

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

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-62566884

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For Afghanistan’s Immediate Neighbours, Cautious Engagement With the Taliban

Vaishali Basu Sharma

August 20, 2022

Five countries that share borders with Afghanistan – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the north; Iran to the west; and Pakistan to its east and south – are directly impacted by the return of the Taliban at the helm in Kabul. With China, Afghanistan shares a tiny 76 km stretch at the tip of the remote Wakhan corridor, beyond which lies the Xinjiang province.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are currently over two million registered refugees from Afghanistan in these five nations. Pakistan and Iran account for the majority of refugees at 1,282,901 and 780,000, respectively.

After the fall of Kabul, former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh and former defence minister Massoud’s eldest son and namesake, Ahmad, who is now spearheading the resistance against the Taliban, escaped to Tajik capital Dushanbe.

In a gesture that could not have made Tajikistan’s anti-Taliban stance clearer, President Emomali Rahmon conferred the country’s highest civilian award, the ‘Order of Ismoili Somoni’, upon the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, fondly referred to as  the ‘lion of Panjshir.’

Tajikistan

Just as for other countries, Tajikistan’s main concern remains the destabilisation of Central Asia by the export of militant groups from Afghan soil. Yet, this is oversimplifying a complex security dilemma; an estimated six million Tajiks live in Afghanistan (approximately 25% of the 23 million Afghans living in Afghanistan). Dari-speaking Tajiks have been targeted by the Taliban for their ethnicity and because they constitute the core of the Northern Alliance, just as the Hazaras, who are Shia, are targeted for their religious beliefs.

A month prior to the fall of Kabul, almost the entire 1,357 km Afghan-Tajik border, bridged by six crossings in total, fell into the Taliban’s hands. As the Taliban gained ground, defeated Afghan troops began to cross over into Tajikistan. Soon, “what started as a trickle became a torrent” and nearly 1,500 fleeing Afghans sought refuge in Tajikistan. Tajik authorities said that the troops were all sent back to Kabul on chartered flights, but details remain unclear.

In September, tensions rose as the Taliban sent reinforcements, including fighters from the Jamaat Ansarullah, formerly the Tajik wing of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), to guard sections of the Tajik border. In retaliation, President Rahmon mobilised 20,000 troops to the border and held military exercises with other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

Around the time that the Taliban takeover picked up momentum, many ordinary Afghans crossed over into the Shughnon district in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO), which shares a long border with Afghanistan. Dushanbe has been trying to draw attention to the impact of Afghans trying to enter the country, with the head of the State Committee for National Security, Saimumin Yatimov, saying, “Every day hundreds more try to enter the country,” calling the situation a “threat to the whole post-Soviet region”.

Iran

According to a US congressional investigation, an estimated 3,000 members of Afghan security forces, including a number of high-ranking officers and US-trained Afghan special operators, were effectively forced to flee to Iran after the collapse of Ashraf Ghani’s government. Along the border with Iran, clashes occur every so often between the Iranian forces and the Taliban, each accusing the other of starting the fights.

On the other hand, Iran and Taliban ministers have settled issues related to water and energy cooperation. The Taliban has agreed that water from the Helmand river will no longer be diverted to Godzareh, as it was under the previous US-backed administration, enabling Iran to receive its share of 820 million cubic meters per year.

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan has been playing a key role in providing the logistics for aid to be delivered to Afghanistan. Although the Taliban is unable to pay for electricity, Uzbekistan, which provides Afghanistan with almost 60% of its electricity, has continued the supply. So have Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, albeit their contributions are much smaller. This is likely a move to appease the armed group.

From Termez to the Friendship Bridge on the Amu Darya River, a rail connection connects Uzbekistan to Mazar-i-Sharif. Tashkent has been engaging in talks with Pakistan to extend the railway line to Peshawar, which will provide access to the Pakistani ports on the Arabian Sea.

Turkmenistan

During the Taliban regime in the 1990s, Turkmenistan was conferred a UN-recognised status as a neutral state. This time, however, Ashgabat has been vocal in support of Afghanistan to become part of the global economy. Turkmenistan’s deputy foreign minister recently argued that reintegrating Afghanistan into the global economy “will have a positive impact on ensuring the security and stability of both the country itself and the region as a whole.”

If ever realised, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline holds the possibility of supplying 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Turkmen gas to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. While TAPI remains an unlikely proposition, for now, the Taliban government has reached a deal with Turkmenistan to import 1,000 tons of liquefied petroleum gas.

Pakistan

For Pakistan, the initial sense of jubilation dissipated with the recognition of the dangers posed by the Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The previously Pakistan-linked Haqqani faction of the Taliban is engaging with India, prompting New Delhi to deploy a “technical team” to its shuttered embassy in Kabul to review and restart basic consular diplomacy.

The TTP, which enjoys unprecedented support in Afghanistan, is not budging from its demand on reversal of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) merger. Earlier this year, Pakistan had to launch air strikes targeting TTP hideouts in Afghanistan, using Chinese drones.

Security along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is worse than before and according to Claude Rakisits, a senior strategic analyst at the Australian National University, it has become obvious “that the Taliban’s ideological, organisational, tribal, and personal ties with the TTP, its fellow ideological traveller, would trump any feeling of gratitude it had toward Pakistan for supporting it – diplomatically, militarily, and institutionally – for the last 20 years.”

Also read: Pakistan: An Army-Imposed Deal with the Pakistani Taliban Could Spell Disaster

Differences over the Durand line have become sharper since the return of the Taliban at the helm. Regardless of the deteriorating security relations, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had approved the import of coal from Afghanistan in Pakistani rupees instead of dollars.

Taliban 2.0

Despite regular pronouncements about banning opium cultivation, the Taliban has continued its narcotics trade, although the exact dimensions of the volume and revenue from it has never been completely uncovered. This week, Iranian Customs officials at Dowqarun seized about 100 kg of sheesha in an Afghan tanker truck. Large amounts of the heroin that reaches Russia first crosses Tajikistan.

David Mansfield of The Economist estimates the group made between $27.5 million and $35 million annually by taxing the drug trade and about $245 million at checkpoints along main roads. According to a Voice of America report, the Taliban have managed to collect $840 million in revenue between December, 2021 and June, 2022, a large share of which (56%) is from customs and the export of coal and fruits to Pakistan.

There is lot of evidence pointing towards the fact that under Taliban 2.0, extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and violations of fundamental freedoms have become the norm. Its senior leaders lack a coherent vision for the country and its emir remains reclusive. The Taliban has proved intransigent and unrealistic in its relations with its neighbouring countries.

All the three central Asian countries – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan – along the northern border of Afghanistan, and Iran in the west, have maintained permanent diplomatic missions in Afghanistan, without formally recognising the Taliban government, maintaining that its recognition would hinge on forming an “inclusive” administration.  However, an international conference on Afghanistan held in Tashkent earlier in July was attended by representatives of over two dozen countries including Iran, India and Pakistan.

Regular reports emerge of Taliban fighters destroying border pillars in the Wakhan corridor, more as a show of strength and nationalism to Pakistan than China. The Taliban has shrewdly manipulated China’s concerns over Uighur separatists to take forward negotiations on economic and developmental support. Not overly concerned about infiltration from the border, Beijing is inclined to deal with the Taliban on its own rather than rely on Islamabad.

Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours face a deadlier threat from a resurgent Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) that has stepped up attacks across the country, targeting religious and ethnic minorities and recruiting extremists. Even as they cautiously proceed, for the countries in its neighbourhood, further engagement with the Taliban mainly hinges upon its ability to contain the ISK and prevent extremist groups from operating in Afghanistan.

Source: The Wire

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

https://thewire.in/south-asia/afghanistan-neighbours-cautious-engagement-with-taliban

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Anti-Taliban protests erupt in Pakistan border areas

20th August 2022

Islamabad: Protests against the strengthening of the Taliban erupted in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The protesters on Friday called on the Islamabad government to take stronger action against attempts by the Taliban who control Afghanistan to seize Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, reports dpa news agency.

A Taliban spokesman called the protests “sabotage” and “financed by the West”.

Protesters blocked a main road connecting the region to the rest of the country, according to local police.

They raised black flags against the Taliban on their rooftops.

Protests have already taken place in the Swat region, near North Waziristan.

Swat is home to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, who narrowly survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012 after campaigning for education for women and girls.

Source: Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/anti-taliban-protests-erupt-in-pakistan-border-areas-2394071/

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Mideast

 

Iranian Diplomat Meets Islamic Jihad Representative, Ihsan Ataya, At the Latter’s Office in Beirut

August 19, 2022

The Iranian diplomat, Karamullah Moshtaqi, who is a political advisor to the embassy, met with the Islamic Jihad official, Ihsan Ataya, at the latter’s office in Beirut.

The Iranian diplomat relayed Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mojtaba Amani’s congratulations to Ataya on the martyrdom of the members of the Palestinian resistance movement in the recent flare-up with Israel, according to Al Alam.

Moshtaqi saluted the Mujahideen of the Al-Quds Brigades, praising the brigades' performance in confronting Israel’s aggression.

During the meeting, it was insisted on the importance of the role of the "Islamic Jihad Movement" in managing the battle of "the unity of the battlefields", its merit in leading the military confrontation against the barbaric aggression on Gaza, and response to the assassination of Taysir al-Jabari by striking Tel Aviv in order to create an equation in protecting the resistance leaders from the Israeli targeted killings.

The meeting also discussed ways to prevent the enemy from achieving its goals, and thwarting its attempts to sow discord between the Jihad movement and the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza.

During its three-day aggression against the Gaza Strip from August 5 to 7, Israel killed more than 40 Palestinian civilians, including 16 children. After the unprovoked aggression against the Gaza Strip, Israel accepted an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that put an end to its bombing of civilian homes.

The flare-up began when Israel started aggression against Gaza with the purpose of eliminating the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine.

The movement agreed to the ceasefire. It underlined in a statement its right to respond to any Israeli aggression.

Speaking at a press conference held after the announcement of the ceasefire, al-Nakhalah said Israel failed to achieve the goals it set for its recent aggression which is to eliminate the leaders of the resistance movement.

“The Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip scored an achievement, led by the Islamic Jihad movement… the enemy raised a specific slogan, which is the liquidation of the Islamic Jihad movement and its military arm, but the movement today is stronger than ever,” he said, adding that the resistance movement had the upper hand during the flare-up evidenced by its ability to shower Israeli targets with missiles.

Al-Nakhalah kept in touch with Iran’s high-ranking officials after the Israeli aggression. He sent a letter to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, and spoke over the phone with Speaker of Iranian Parliament Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

In his letter, al-Nakhalah confirmed the widespread presence of Palestinian Resistance fighters, particularly from the Islamic Jihad and the military branch of Saraya al-Quds, in all of Palestine, especially in Gaza and the West Bank, according to khamenei.ir. He said, “Due to the presence of the troops of the Jihad Resistance, not a single day passes without clashes taking place with the Zionist regime in the West Bank.”

The Leader responded to the letter of al-Nakhalah. In his reply, Ayatollah Khamenei stated that he considered the Islamic Jihad’s courageous resistance to be the reason for both the elevation of the movement's position and their ability to nullify the Zionist regime’s deception while crushing them.

“I received your honorable, promising letter with its good news. May God reward you and hurry the ultimate victory of the admirable and oppressed Palestinian nation. The recent event has added to the honors of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement and elevated the status of Islamic Jihad in the magnificent Resistance movement of the Palestinian nation. With your courageous Resistance, you have nullified the policy of deception of the usurping regime,” the Leader said, according to khamenei.ir.

In the conversation between Qalibaf and Al-Nakhalah, the speaker of parliament congratulated the Palestinian leader on the recent victory achieved by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad against Israel.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran stands by the Palestinian nation and the Palestinian Islamic Resistance under all circumstances and with all its might,” Qalibaf told al-Nakhalah, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.

Source: Tehran Times

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

https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/475824/Iranian-diplomat-meets-Islamic-Jihad-representative

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Spokesman: CIA-Led 1953 Coup Recalls Dark Days for Iranians

2022-August-19

"The American government tops the world record in terms of intervening in affairs of other countries and staging military attacks and coup against independent countries and governments," Kana'ani tweeted.

"The 1953 coup d'état against the Iranian national government is a clear example of Iran's dark days," he added.

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman asked will the American government correct its wrong and failed policy towards Iran and respect the Iranian nations' legitimate rights.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14010528000311/Spkesman-CIA-Led-953-Cp-Recalls-Dark-Days-fr-Iranians

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Top Commander: IRGC Navy Planning to Widen Presence in High Seas

2022-August-18

"Today, we have been tasked with establishing a presence in the high seas," Maj. Gen. Salami stated at a ceremony held to pay tribute to the IRGC’s naval forces in the Northeastern city of Mashhad.

He praised the bravery of the IRGC Navy in the face of threats, noting it is unwavering faith that makes the country’s Armed Forces unbreakable against the enemies besides military might.

“Today, we have nothing less than the enemies’ [military equipment]; state-of-the-art missiles, vessels with high stability at sea and other sea-based hardware. Such equipment gets invincible only when accompanied by the brave soldiers’ true faith,” the military chief stated.

“Our criterion is not enjoying equality with the enemies in terms of armaments but strong faith, which is the key to success on the battlefield,” he added.

“I’m sure that there is no fear of the enemies’ superficial grandeur in your hearts” but the main factor needed to face them is faith, the IRGC commander continued.

Salami described the IRGC Navy as a powerful and experienced force, with a mission to pave the way for the Islamic Republic’s presence in the far seas.

On Wednesday, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said that the military power of Iran is strong, extraordinary and deterrent despite enemy sanctions and pressures, and hailed the IRGC Navy for its remarkable developments in the recent decades.

Addressing a gathering of the IRGC Navy commanders and officials in the Northeastern city of Mashhad, Maj. Gen. Baqeri stated that the IRGC Navy, which has a brilliant background in fighting US aggressors in the Persian Gulf, had made significant development in enhancing the power in the fields of fleet, missile, and drone.

“Thank God, we have witnessed incredible and proud advancements and developments in the capabilities of the IRGC Navy over the past four years, which have promoted the Islamic Republic of Iran’s deterrence power,” he stated.

Referring to the Navy’s strategic role and missions, he noted that safeguarding Iran’s interests in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, which is the responsibility of the IRGC Navy, has established a strong defense in this strategic region.

"Despite the enemy’s sanctions and the maximum pressure, Iran’s military power has been strong, extraordinary and deterrent," the military official underlined.

"Navy forces have put on the agenda developing equipment and improving the level of combat power," Baqeri underscored.

The Islamic Republic’s military doctrine holds that the country’s armed capability solely serves defensive purposes.

Iranian military experts and technicians have in recent years made substantial headway in manufacturing a broad range of indigenous equipment, making the armed forces self-sufficient in the weaponry sphere.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14010527000504/Tp-Cmmander-IRGC-Navy-Planning-Widen-Presence-in-High-Seas

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Israel announces plans to grant more work permits for Palestinians from Gaza

19 August, 2022

Israel said Friday it plans to grant more work permits to Palestinians in blockaded Gaza, reviving a pledge made ahead of a visit by US President Joe Biden but later scrapped.

A further 1,500 people from the impoverished and overcrowded Gaza Strip would be allowed to work in Israel from Sunday, the military said in a statement.

“The decision will take effect... on condition that the security situation remains quiet in the area,” said COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for civil affairs in the Palestinian territories.

The move to boost to 15,500 the total number of work permits was initially announced on July 12, on the eve of Biden’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

But it was scrapped four days later, in the wake of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and retaliatory strikes by Israeli warplanes.

The work permits provide vital income to some of Gaza’s 2.3 million people, who have been living under a strict blockade imposed by Israel since the Palestinian militant group Hamas seized power in 2007.

Friday’s announcement follows three days of fighting this month between the Islamic Jihad movement and Israel.

At least 49 Gazans were killed and hundreds wounded, according to figures from the enclave’s health ministry.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/08/19/Israel-announces-plans-to-grant-more-work-permits-for-Palestinians-from-Gaza

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Erdogan says Turkey not looking to seize Syrian territory

19 August, 2022

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Turkey was not looking to seize any Syrian territory despite stepping up its attacks against Kurdish forces in the war-torn country's north.

Erdogan's comments came days after a Turkish air strikes on a Syrian border post run by regime forces reportedly killed 17 fighters.

A war monitor reported that both Kurds who man some of the Syrian border posts and regime forces were killed in the Turkish raids.

The official Syrian news agency said three government soldiers were killed in the attack.

Turkey said it was responding to a strike on its own positions along the border that killed two soldiers.

The exchange of fire marked one of the largest escalations since Ankara and Damascus traded attacks in 2020.

Erdogan appeared to try and calm the tensions in comments to reporters on board his return flight from his first wartime visit to Ukraine.

“We do not have eyes on the territory of Syria because the people of Syria are our brothers,” Turkish media quoted Erdogan as saying.

“The regime must be aware of this.”

Erdogan's visit to Ukraine came two weeks after he flew to Sochi for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that also covered Syria.

Putin's support was instrumental in helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad survive an 11-year conflict against rebel groups backed in part by Turkey.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/08/19/Erdogan-says-Turkey-not-looking-to-seize-Syrian-territory-

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Palestinian man killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry

19 August, 2022

A Palestinian man was killed Friday by Israeli forces during a raid in the north of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Salah Sawafta, 58, “died of critical wounds, sustained by live bullets from the occupation (Israeli military) in the head, in Tubas this morning,” a ministry statement said.

The Israeli military said soldiers came under fire during a raid in the town.

During an operation in “Tubas, several suspects hurled Molotov cocktails and opened fire at (Israeli) troops, who responded with fire,” the army said in a statement, adding “hits were identified.”

The mayor of Tubas, Hossam Daraghmeh, said Sawafta had been leaving dawn prayers when he was shot.

“He left the mosque and was heading to his house wearing a prayer robe. There was a vengeful soldier stationed in a building near the municipality who shot him in the head,” he said.

Daraghmeh said Sawafta had been unarmed when he was hit.

“This man did not have a stone or anything in his hand,” he said.

The Israeli military said five people were detained in overnight raids across the West Bank.

On Thursday, a 20-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli troops during clashes in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/08/19/Palestinian-man-killed-in-Israeli-West-Bank-raid-Palestinian-ministry

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Arab World

 

Iraqi Shia leader reaffirms support for JCPOA revival in meeting with MBS

August 19, 2022

According to CNN, citing the official Saudi news agency, the two sides also discussed Saudi-Iraq relations and a number of issues of common significance.

The meeting was attended by Khaled bin Salman, Deputy Minister of Defense of Saudi Arabia; Musa’id bin Muhammad Al-Aiban, Saudi National Security Adviser; Abdul Aziz Al-Shammari, Saudi Ambassador to Iraq; and Sayyid Mohsen Al-Hakim, Deputy Chairman of Iraq's National Wisdom Movement.

Hakim went on to say that the Vienna talks should be viewed as an opportunity for all parties to look at the future positively and seek common goals to help stabilize the region.

Hakim also pointed to the role of Iraq in mediating talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, saying it will have positive effect on the nations of the region.

So far, Iraq has hosted five rounds of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi crown prince has suggested dialogue between the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran after dozens of Iranian students attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran in January 2016 in protest to the execution of 40 pro-democracy activists.

Source: Tehran Times

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

https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/475826/Iraqi-Shia-leader-reaffirms-support-for-JCPOA-revival-in-meeting

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Attack on Rushdie highlights divisions among Lebanese Shia

18/08/2022

BEIRUT, Lebanon—

The stabbing of author Salman Rushdie has laid bare divisions in Lebanon’s Shia Muslim community, pitting a few denouncing the violence against fervent followers of the Iran-backed Shia militant Hezbollah group who have praised the attack. One Rushdie defender received death threats.

The attack struck close to home among Lebanon’s Shia. The assailant, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, is a dual Lebanese-US citizen and his father lives in a village in Hezbollah-dominated southern Lebanon. Matar’s mother has said she believes her son’s visit to the village of Yaroun in 2018 turned him into a religious zealot.

The religious edict, or fatwa, urging Muslims to kill Rushdie was issued in 1989 by Iran’s then-spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who accused the author of blasphemy for his portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in the novel “The Satanic Verses.”

Iran, a close Hezbollah ally, has praised Friday’s attack but denied direct involvement. Hezbollah officials have been tight-lipped since the attack on the 75-year-old Rushdie as he was about to give a lecture in western New York. A Hezbollah official declined comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

Most Lebanese Shia support Hezbollah and the more secular allied Amal movement of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, which won all 27 seats allocated to the sect during this year’s parliamentary elections. Parliament and cabinet seats are divided in Lebanon in accordance with religious affiliations.

Still, there is a vocal minority of Hezbollah critics among Shia. Several were attacked and one was shot dead last year.

As the controversy swirled, an old video of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah resurfaced on social media. In it, Nasrallah said that “no one would have dared to attack Islam’s Prophet Muhammad again” if Rushdie had been killed immediately after the fatwa.

Some Hezbollah critics have accused the group and its supporters of teaching their children to kill in the name of religion.

Matar’s mother, Silvana Fardos, told the local Al-Jadeed TV late Tuesday that her son had lived all his life in the United States until he visited Lebanon for the first and last time in 2018. That trip changed him forever, she said.

“After he returned from Lebanon he was a different human being … I knew that he had a long depression and I was expecting one day to wake up and find out that he had committed suicide,” Fardos said, alleging that her son was mistreated by his father.

Asked if she asked herself whether she had raised a terrorist or an extremist, the mother said: “No. I raised an angel.”

Journalists have been prevented from entering Yaroun and Matar’s father has not spoken to the media.

Despite Hezbollah’s official silence, the group’s supporters on social media are praising the attack.

Some released threats against prominent journalist Dima Sadek after she posted on her Twitter account a photo of Khomeini and General Qassim Soleimani, the Iranian Revolutonary Guards’ Quds Force chief killed in a US strike in 2020, describing the two as “satanic verses.”

Since then, death threats on social media and through messages on her cell phone have not stopped, with one man warning her, “I will rape you in public,” and another saying that “her blood should be shed.” She received a text message in which the sender told her where she lives.

Sadek said despite the public threats, she has not been contacted by the authorities with offers for protection.

“This is the first time I feel I am in danger,” Sadek, a harsh Hezbollah critic for years, told the AP. She alleged that the social media campaign against her is orchestrated by Nasrallah’s son, Jawad.

She said she is restricting her movements for the first time.

The Committee to Protect Journalists urged the Lebanese authorities to launch an investigation and protect Sadek.

Shia journalist Mohamad Barakat, managing editor of the Asas Media news website, also came under attack after he wrote that by stabbing Rushdie, Matar “stabbed Shia who live in Europe and America.”

In the other camp, Lebanese journalist Radwan Akil of the renowned local daily An-Nahar said in seemingly contradictory remarks that he condoned the fatwa against Rushdie, but not the killing of anyone, including writers.

“I am of course with political freedoms and freedom of expression … but I’m not for criticising the greatest man in history the Prophet Muhammad and I also reject the criticism of Jesus Christ,” Akil said in a televised interview with Lebanese media.

An-Nahar issued a statement, headlined “adopting a call to murder contradicts our policies.” It said that Akil’s views were his own. Two journalists who had worked for the paper and were outspoken critics of Hezbollah and the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, another Iran ally, were killed in car bombings in 2005.

The debate may eventually fizzle out because most Lebanese are preoccupied with the country’s economic meltdown and lack of services. “They have lots of other concerns,” said Hilal Khashan, political science professor at the American University of Beirut.

Lebanese political leaders have not commented on the Rushdie attack.

However, caretaker Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada denounced Rushdie’s depiction of the prophet.

Source: The Arab Weekly

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

https://thearabweekly.com/attack-rushdie-highlights-divisions-among-lebanese-shia

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Supporters of Iraq’s al-Sadr step up pressure tactic with weekly prayer in Green Zone

19 August, 2022

Thousands of supporters of Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stepped up their pressure tactics Friday with a weekly prayer session in the high-security Green Zone they have occupied for three weeks.

Tensions in the impoverished, war-scarred country have escalated over the inability of political factions to agree on formation of a government, 10 months after parliamentary elections.

Al-Sadr once led an anti-US group and has millions of devoted followers. Some of them stormed Iraq’s parliament late last month and began a sit-in, first inside the building and then on its grounds where thousands remain.

More recently their opponents from a pro-Iran bloc, the Coordination Framework, began their own sit-in on an avenue leading to the Green Zone which houses government institutions and foreign embassies.

“Yes! Yes to Muqtada!” the cleric’s followers chanted as the prayers began under a blazing sun.

Al-Sadr did not attend.

Neither was he present Wednesday when caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi met party and other leaders to discuss the political deadlock, which ordinary Iraqis see as having nothing to do with their daily struggles.

Sadr wants parliament dissolved to pave the way for new elections, and his followers see him as a champion of the anti-corruption fight.

Their opponents in the Framework seek a transitional government before new polls.

The Coordination Framework comprises former paramilitaries of the Tehran-backed Hashed al-Shaabi network, and the party of former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, a longtime al-Sadr foe.

Maliki was among those who attended the talks on Wednesday, when political leaders agreed to work on a roadmap aimed at ending the impasse which has left the country without a new prime minister or president.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/08/19/Supporters-of-Iraq-s-al-Sadr-step-up-pressure-tactic-with-weekly-prayer-in-Green-Zone

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Five children among 14 killed in shelling on north Syria market

19 August, 2022

Fourteen people were killed including at least five children in a rocket attack on a market in the northern Syrian city of al-Bab on Friday, according to emergency responders working in opposition-held areas.

The White Helmets rescue group earlier put the death toll at nine.

It said that figure might rise further as rescue and search operations continued, adding that children were also among at least 30 people wounded in the attack.

The warring parties in Syria’s 11-year conflict have carved up the north into a patchwork of zones of control.

Al-Bab falls within the areas of Aleppo province held by Turkish-backed fighters, but other parts are held by Syrian government troops backed by Russia.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), spearheaded by Kurdish groups who have opened a dialogue with the Damascus-based government, also control parts of the north and northeast.

The head of the SDF’s media center, Farhad Shami, said the group had nothing to do with Friday’s attack.

Activists in al-Bab had been planning a protest after midday prayers on Friday to denounce comments by Turkey calling for reconciliation between the Syrian government and the opposition.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/08/19/Five-children-among-nine-killed-in-shelling-on-north-Syria-market

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Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan ink multiple deals worth over $12.5B: Report

Yakoota Al Ahmad, Ali Semerci  

20.08.2022

Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan inked multiple deals worth over $12.5 billion in various fields, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

The deals were signed at a Saudi-Uzbek Business Council meeting which was held during Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia.

The agreements aim to promote investments, and increase joint projects in different sectors, including health, energy, aviation, tourism, pharmaceuticals, construction, food, and technology.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/saudi-arabia-uzbekistan-ink-multiple-deals-worth-over-125b-report/2665378

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Turkish forces ‘neutralize’ 5 YPG/PKK terrorists in northern Syria

Merve Berker 

19.08.2022

Turkish security forces “neutralized” five YPG/PKK terrorists in northern Syria, near the Turkish border, authorities said on Friday.

The terrorists were planning an attack on Türkiye's Operation Peace Spring zone, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Turkish authorities use the term “neutralize” to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/turkish-forces-neutralize-5-ypg-pkk-terrorists-in-northern-syria/2665123

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Russia: HTS militants, White Helmets preparing false-flag chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib

20 August 2022

Russia’s Defense Ministry has warned that members of the Takfiri Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist outfit together with the so-called civil defense group White Helmets are planning to stage yet another false-flag chemical attack against civilians in the northwestern province of Idlib to implicate Russian army and Syrian government forces.

“The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria has received information that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists together with representatives of the pseudo-humanitarian organization White Helmets are preparing to record a staged video in Ariha town and Jisr ash-Shughur city of the province to accuse the Russian Aerospace Forces and Syrian government troops of indiscriminate strikes on civilian infrastructure and residential areas,” Deputy head of the center, Major General Oleg Yegorov, said on Friday.

He added that the the Takfiri terrorist group, previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra, has carried out five counts of shelling in the past 24 hours, of which one was recorded in the Idlib de-escalation zone. Areas in the same Syrian province as well as the western coastal province of Latakia were also shelled on four different occasions.

“In Aleppo province, a Syrian soldier was also wounded when terrorists stationed in Tekad town west of Aleppo used light weapons to target positions of government forces near Basratun village,” Yegorov said.

The White Helmets group, which claims to be a humanitarian NGO, is known for its coordination with terror outfits in Syria to carry out staged chemical attacks in order to falsely incriminate Syrian government forces and fabricate pretexts for military strikes by a US-led military coalition present in Syria since 2014.

On April 14, 2018, the United States, Britain, and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma, located about 10 kilometers northeast of the capital Damascus.

That alleged attack was reported by the White Helmets group, which published videos showing them purportedly treating survivors.

Washington and its allies blamed Damascus for the Douma attack, an allegation strongly rejected by the Syrian government.

The western media and governments have repeatedly accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its own citizens in the war against terrorists.

This is while Syria surrendered its stockpile of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the United States and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. It has also consistently denied using chemical weapons.

Russia has been providing Syrian forces with crucial military assistance in the ongoing battles across the conflict-plagued Arab country.

The Russian assistance, which began in September 2015 at the official request of the Syrian government, has proved effective as Syrians continue to recapture key areas from remnants of the Daesh terrorist group and other foreign-backed terrorist factions.

‘Remnants of terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria expanding their activities elsewhere’

Meanwhile, Head of Russia's Security Council Nikolai Patrushev says remnants of Takfiri terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria are expanding their activities in other countries of the world.

Addressing a meeting of the security chiefs of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member countries in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, Patrushev stated that the extremists, having suffered heavy blows in Iraq and Syria, are now changing their tactics and expanding their activities in other parts of the world, including South Asia and Africa.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/08/20/687694/Russia--HTS-militants,-White-Helmets-preparing-false-flag-chemical-attack-in-Syria%E2%80%99s-Idlib

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Nasrallah says there will be no calm in region if US mediator rejects Lebanon’s demands

19 August 2022

Secretary General of Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says if the American mediator does not accept the demands put forward by Lebanon with regard to waters disputed with Israel, there will be no calm in the region.

Nasrallah made the remarks on Friday while addressing a ceremony to mark laying the foundation stone for the touristic landmark in Bekaa’s Janta via video conference.

He said addressing the case of disputed waters and gas fields with the Israeli regime should not be tied to the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Nasrallah said Hezbollah will insist on the Lebanese rights and borders.

“If Lebanon’s demands on maritime demarcation are not met, things will escalate, regardless of whether Iran’s nuclear deal is signed or not.”

He said all the attention is now on the US mediator who is “wasting” the limited time. The coming days, he added, will be “critical” for Lebanon’s oil wealth and maritime demarcation.

Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar reported on Friday that Israel had yielded to Beirut’s maritime demands. Also according to Israeli outlets, an Israeli official is set to travel to the United States to discuss the issue in the hopes of achieving an agreement.

Back in mid-July, Nasrallah had warned the regime of any drilling operations for oil and gas in the disputed area, saying, “There would be no room for oil and gas extraction in the entire region if Lebanon does not get its right.”

The maritime row between Lebanon and Israel is over an area in the Mediterranean Sea spanning about 860 square kilometers. Block No. 9 is rich in oil and gas. Israel relies heavily on gas and has long been developing occupied offshore gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea.

The two sides have held several rounds of talks to delineate their maritime borders and resolve the decades-long dispute, but to no avail. The maritime dispute escalated in early July after the regime moved vessels into the Karish Gas Field, which lies in Lebanon’s territorial waters.

The Lebanese resistance movement does not rule out going to war with Israel over the regime’s attempts at impinging on Lebanon’s natural resources.

New tourist site in Bekaa

The new tourist site will be built in one of the former training camps of Hezbollah in Janta. Historically, that land had hosted the resistance’s military drills since Hezbollah's emergence 40 years ago.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/08/19/687675/No-calm-expected-if-US-mediator-rejects-Lebanon%E2%80%99s-demands-Nasrallah

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Southeast Asia

 

Malaysian Anti-Extremism Group Links Brain Drain to Insults against Minority Faiths

Dineskumar Ragu

August 20, 2022

PETALING JAYA: An anti-extremism group has voiced fear that the brain drain from the country will worsen if legal authorities are not serious in acting against those who insult minority faiths.

Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU) founder Aizat Shamsuddin said the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) should take heed of an allegation by the Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) that there had been inaction in cases of insult to faiths other than Islam.

Aizat said the failure to protect the religious freedoms of minorities could be a factor in emigration.

He said members of religious minority groups who emigrate would typically head for countries with a much more accepting society and functioning rule of law.

“Many examples of emigration like this can be seen from countries that are facing inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts,” he said, citing Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Myanmar.

“Selective action from the authorities can also contribute to the disaffection and grievances within the minority communities which can negatively impact social cohesion and public trust in the state institution.”

Recently, GHRF spokesman Peter John Jaban said there appeared to be a double standard in handling cases of insult to religions.

He claimed that immediate action was often taken against those accused of insulting Islam but not against those insulting other faiths.

Citing the case of Wan Asshimah Kamaruddin, who allegedly called for the desecration of churches in Sarawak, he said 61 police reports had been lodged against her for a video she posted in March 2021.

The AGC took action only after members of the public filed a civil suit this year, he added.

However, Ryan Chua of Pusat Komas said it was unlikely that the alleged double standard was a major factor in the brain drain phenomenon.

“I think it is a little bit too far-fetched to make the link to that extent,” he told FMT.

“We at Pusat Komas believe that institutionalised racism and favourable treatment given to a particular race, to a certain extent, may have contributed to the brain drain. But we need to understand that brain drain does not involve only non-Malays.

“Malays are also migrating overseas to seek brighter opportunities. We can see that there are a lot of them. We also need to look at their social class.”

But Chua called for action against those who insult minority faiths.

“The AGC needs to remember its function to serve all Malaysians and not just one race,” he said.

He also urged Putrajaya to form the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission proposed by the National Unity Consultative Council when Pakatan Harapan was in power.

In 2020, the national unity ministry said a bill on the commission would not be tabled, claiming that there were already enough laws to deal with issues related to race and religion.

Aizat suggested that the AGC and the police explore a non-punitive alternative approach, such as requiring perpetrators to face aggrieved parties and apologise publicly.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/08/20/group-links-brain-drain-to-insults-against-minority-faiths/

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No submissions from us, says Najib’s lead counsel

Ho Kit Yen

August 19, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Najib Razak’s lawyers have told the Federal Court that they will not be making any submissions in his SRC International appeal next week.

Lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik indicated this to the court after ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram wrapped up the prosecution’s case.

Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who is chairing the five-member panel presiding over the appeal, then pointed out that the defence had three days until Tuesday to prepare its submissions.

“Don’t tell us you are not prepared to submit on any of the 94 grounds (listed in the petition of appeal filed by Najib’s former lawyers)?” she asked.

Hisyam then reiterated that they will not be making any submissions.

Tengku Maimun responded by saying that the panel will “deal with it” when court resumes next Tuesday.

The other judges on the panel are Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Federal Court judges Nallini Pathmanathan, Mary Lim and Zabidin Mohamad Diah.

Hisyam’s stand today seemed to contradict what he told the court yesterday, when he said the defence will be filing “fresh submissions”.

Najib is seeking to quash his conviction for abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT) over SRC funds amounting to RM42 million.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/08/19/no-submissions-from-us-says-najibs-lead-counsel/

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Boustead forensic audit report on LCS ‘to be declassified’

August 19, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein has ordered Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation (BHIC) to declassify the forensic audit report into the late delivery of the navy’s littoral combat ships, according to Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.

In a Facebook post, Asyraf said that the report will shed light on the mastermind behind the corruption and misappropriation that plagued the company.

“I wonder who is the opportunist and who masterminded the delay (in the delivery of the ships). Let’s wait and see what the forensic audit will reveal,” he said.

Asyraf said he was informed by Hishammuddin that he had ordered BHIC to declassify the report.

He said they had met after a Barisan Nasional meeting in Johor this evening.

BHIC is a major shareholder of Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS), the defence ministry’s contractor to build six frigates in the littoral combat ship programme.

On Wednesday, Putrajaya had declassified a report on the project by the governance, procurement and finance investigation committee.

It came two weeks after Parliament’s watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, released a report into the troubled RM9 billion project, which has suffered years of delays.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/08/19/boustead-forensic-audit-report-lcs-to-be-declassified/

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Umno will ‘win big’ if elections this year, says Dr M

August 20, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Umno feels it is likely to “win big” if the 15th general election is held this year, says former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said Umno would want the nationwide polls to be held “as soon as two or three months from now because they feel that at this moment the public still looks up to them, and the opposition is broken up, disorganised,” Associated Press quoted him as saying.

Mahathir claimed that former prime minister Najib Razak hoped to make a political comeback should Umno win, and expects that an Umno-led government would pardon him of his convictions on corruption charges.

“And when he gets a pardon, (and is) cleared completely, he can then become prime minister. He will do it. Believe me, he will do it.”

Mahathir said he believes that Malay voters have returned to support Umno, and claimed that the voters had been offered money and other incentives.

A general election is not required until September next year. However, several Umno leaders, particularly party leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former prime minister Najib have pressed for earlier elections, especially after Barisan Nasional’s victories at recent state elections.

Najib is currently seeking to quash his conviction and 12-year jail sentence on corruption charges. His case is now on appeal before the Federal Court.

Mahathir said if his party wanted him to contest the elections, he would do it if he was “strong and healthy” enough to form a graft-free administration.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/08/20/umno-will-win-big-if-elections-this-year-says-dr-m/

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Cabinet approves central agency to handle forfeited assets

August 19, 2022

PETALING JAYA: The Cabinet has approved a policy paper to enable the National Anti-Financial Crime Prevention Centre (NFCC) to be the central agency to handle seized and forfeited assets.

Law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the centre would proceed with the process of drafting suitable amendments to the law, Bernama reported.

He said the decision follows Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s statement on May 19 to make NFCC the central agency to manage seized and forfeited assets.

The legal amendments will have provisions to empower the NFCC to manage seized and forfeited assets on behalf of the government.

Wan Junaidi said research would be carried out on how centralised property management systems are handled in countries such as Australia, Britain, the United States and the Netherlands.

“Countries with a centralised property management system are able to manage property more effectively and efficiently, adding value and bringing success to the country.

“Most importantly, its implementation will benefit all parties in the criminal justice system,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said a one-stop centre to manage seized and forfeited assets is required in Malaysia.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/08/19/cabinet-approves-central-agency-to-handle-forfeited-assets/

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