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Fri May 20 2022, 08:46 AM

Islamic World News ( 16 Feb 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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'Hijab Jihad': Bajrang Dal Leader Dubs Hijab Row a Controversy of Anti-National Forces To Create Division

New Age Islam News Bureau

17 February 2022

 

(File Photo)

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• Minister for Religious Affairs Urges Imran Khan to Replace Aurat March with Headscarf Movement

• Women’s Wing of the Islamic Constitutional Movement in Kuwait Protest outside Embassy In Support Of Muslim Women in India

• ‘Full of Stress’: Fear Runs Through Afghanistan’s Dangerous Media Landscape

• Act against Preachers Who Insult Other Faiths, 60 NGOs Urge Malaysian PM

 

India

• If Wearing Of Other Religious Symbols Allowed, Why Not Hijab, Says Counsel

• Customs to Demand Duty for Quran and Dates from the UAE Consulate

• "Only 5 things Essential in Islam, Hijab Not among Them": Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan

• Convey BJP Not Against Muslim Women, Party Brass Tells Karnataka Netas

• India and UAE complete talks on bilateral pact to boost trade

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Pakistan

• Pakistan FM Qureshi says social media misuse among main drivers of religious intolerance

• Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates arrives in Pakistan on first-ever visit

• All nominated suspects in Khanewal lynching case held

• Six terrorists killed in exchange of fire near Balochistan's Buleda area: ISPR

• Minister calls for end to smuggling of fertiliser to Afghanistan

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Arab World

• Controversy among jihadis in Idlib over killing of Islamic State leader

• Ericsson shares crash after CEO says firm may have paid ISIS

• Hezbollah has started producing drones, can create precision missiles: Nasrallah

• Kuwait’s defence, interior ministers resign over ‘abuse of interrogations’

• UAE calls for ending appeasement of Houthis

• Arab Coalition conducts 17 targeted strikes against Houthis in Marib, Hajjah

• IAEA says it is helping Egypt and Saudi Arabia with nuclear power

• Senior Hezbollah official: Bahrain committed ‘historical crime’ by normalizing ties with Israel

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South Asia

• China Slams US Seizure of Afghanistan’s Assets as ‘Conduct of Bandits’

• US Not Backing 'Armed Opposition' to Islamic Emirate: West

• Afghan girls 'must definitely' return to school: Karzai

• Europe pledges $11 M to Afghanistan’s educational sector

• EU to deliver Є500 million to Afghan people

• Taliban delegation holds talks with EU, US diplomats in Doha

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Southeast Asia

• Perlis Mufti Confirms Children Registered as Muslims without Mum’s Presence

• Hun Sen: Myanmar crisis could take 10 years to resolve

• Beijing Olympic organisers hit out at Xinjiang ‘lies’

• Apex court nine-man bench to give its verdict on SIS Forum’s legal challenge against Selangor sharia law on Monday

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Europe

• Türkiye, Pakistan, Malaysia Hailed For Fight against Islamophobia at an International Conference in Istanbul

• How a Soviet intelligence officer became a Muslim and an Afghan

• Yemeni civilian casualty toll highest in three years: UN

• Decision on Iran nuclear deal days away, ball in Tehran's court: France

• Turkiye rescues 52 irregular migrants pushed back by Greece

• UK Police Probing Prince Charles’ Charity Bid Involving Saudi National

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North America

• Muslim Nations That Refuse To Recognize Kosovo Making Big Mistake, Says PM Albin Kurti

• Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and UAE are ‘terrorist actions’: Kosovo PM

• US has no choice but to work with Pakistan, says envoy

• Biden eased pressure on the Houthis one year ago; has it worked?

• US House Leader Nancy Pelosi arrives in Israel, vows support on Iran

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Mideast

• Palestinian Factions In Gaza Vow To Retaliate For Israeli Crimes In Al-Quds

• 50 countries to take part in Aqsa Week 2022 to promote love of mosque, raise awareness

• Israel: officials in Southern Islamic Movement angry with leader

• Hamas, Islamic Jihad urge enhancing Palestinian Resistance against Zionist regime

• Iranian FM: US President’s guarantee not enough

• Iran Calls for West’s Responsible Conduct to Reach Agreement in Vienna

• Envoy: Iran Ready for Playing Role in UN Peacekeeping Operations

• 17 Israelis arrested over attack on Palestinian village

• Australia to list Hamas as terror group

• S. Korea, Iran hold talks on resuming oil trade, unfreezing funds

• Palestinian President Abbas receives Turkish delegation in Ramallah

• Yemenis face ‘death sentence’ amid raging Saudi bombardments, UN official warns

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Africa

• Tanzania seeks ‘wider national interests’ on disputed Maasai land

• African Union Peacekeepers Kill Over 20 Al-Shabaab Terrorists

• Burkina Faso's junta leader sworn in as president

• Top Libyan official says naming new prime minister ‘incorrect’

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/hijab-jihad-bajrang-dal-anti-national/d/126392

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'Hijab Jihad': Bajrang Dal Leader Dubs Hijab Row a Controversy of Anti-National Forces To Create Division

 

(File Photo)

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Mustafa Shaikh

February 16, 2022

Bajrang Dal Karnataka convener Sunil KR termed the hijab controversy "hijab jihad" and alleged a conspiracy behind the ongoing row. Speaking with India Today TV on Wednesday, the Bajrang Dal leader said, "There is a conspiracy behind the hijab controversy, hence we are calling it hijab jihad."

"We are speaking on this issue because anti-national forces like the PFI [Popular Front of India] and the SDPI [Social Democratic Party of India] are active on this issue," Sunil KR said.

He also said students should wear a uniform.

Meanwhile, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) member Poornima Suresh said, "These girls are trying to send a message by wearing hijab that we are different. They are creating a divide, hence it's jihad."

"Those Hindu and Muslim girls, who used to eat together, are now looking at each other as [if they are] different -- this is the problem," Poornima Suresh said.

"At some places, hijab was allowed, but these girls started a fire which engulfed the entire state. They have also asked for a probe by the NIA [National Investigation Agency]," Poornima Suresh said.

The comments by Bajrang Dal and VHP leaders came on the day pre-university and degree colleges reopen in Karnataka amid the ongoing hijab row.

The spat between students and college authorities were reported from several areas after Burqa-clad girls were asked to remove their hijabs and sit in the classroom.

Amid tight security with policemen deployed in and around pre-university colleges at many sensitive places, the day saw a section of Muslim students remaining adamant not to remove the Burqa, let alone Hijab, the Islamic scarves.

Meanwhile, Section 144 has been imposed in Bagalkot, Bangalore, Chikkaballapura, Gadag, Shimoga, Tumkur, Mysore, Udupi, and Dakshina Kannada.

The row over girls wearing hijab started in January when six girl students of a college in Udupi protested against the college authorities for denying them entry into the classroom while wearing Hijab.

The full bench of the Karnataka High Court where the girls had petitioned is hearing the matter on a day-to-day basis. Live TV

Source: India Today

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

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/bajrang-dal-leader-dubs-hijab-ontroversy-hijab-jihad-1913763-2022-02-16

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Minister for Religious Affairs Urges Imran Khan to Replace Aurat March with Headscarf Movement

  

February 17, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Religious Affairs Noor ul-Haq Qadri requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to impose a ban on the Aurat March movement and instead celebrate the International Women’s Day on March 8 as Headscarf Day, Geo News reported.

The contentious rights movement has been attended by tens of thousands in multiple cities across Pakistan since 2018 to coincide with Women’s Day.

Organisers say they have faced a backlash from conservative elements, including threats of violence.

In 2021, the march sparked outrage when banners and videos of protesters chanting what its detractors labelled as objectionable slogans surfaced on social media. Organisers, however, termed the videos as doctored, saying they were aimed at stifling dissent and free speech.

According to Geo News, Qadri said “certain elements” should not be permitted to mock Islamic values or the wearing of headscarves, without elaborating further.

The minister proposed to Khan the world’s attention be drawn on March 8 to the discrimination faced by Muslim women in India, occupied Kashmir and elsewhere in the world due to their religious attire.

Qadri further said the international community should be urged to put an end to blatant mocking and prejudiced treatment meted out to Muslim women in India.

A copy of the letter has also been forwarded to President Dr Arif Alvi.

Global watchdogs have expressed concern in recent years over what they see as a clampdown on rights campaigns in Pakistan.

Source: Pakistan Today

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

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/02/17/minister-urges-pm-to-replace-aurat-march-with-headscarf-movement/

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Women’s Wing of the Islamic Constitutional Movement in Kuwait Protest outside Embassy In Support Of Muslim Women in India

  

The women’s wing of the Islamic Constitutional Movement held a demonstration near the Indian Embassy

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February 17, 2022

KUWAIT: The women’s wing of the Islamic Constitutional Movement held a demonstration near the Indian Embassy yesterday in support of Muslim women in India. Around 120 people, the majority of them women, expressed their rejection and disapproval of the persecution of Muslim women in India and slammed the silence of the international community.

The protesters carried placards against what is happening against students wearing the hijab in India, some of whom were barred from entering schools and colleges in the southern state of Karnataka. The protesters expressed their rejection of moves to force Muslim students to remove their headscarves in schools, denouncing the silence of the international community against such practices against Muslim women.

“What is happening against Muslim women in India is a clear injustice. It is not the right of a person to force someone else to give up their religious beliefs,” said Dana Sharaf, who attended the protest. “Religious terrorism is unacceptable, and the Indian government must take into account its nationals in Muslim countries, especially in the Gulf states, because they are one of the largest communities and have complete freedom in their religious beliefs and rituals,” said lawyer and political activist Israa Al-Maatouk.

“Our message is to convey our voice to the Indian government and to protest against what is happening to Muslim women there. The Kuwaiti Embassy in India must convey our voice and message to the Indian government,” she said, adding it is unacceptable to prevent Muslim women from getting an education if they do not take off the hijab.

Mohammed Al-Ansari, who was at the demonstration, expressed his strong disapproval of what is happening against Muslim women in India, pointing out that Indo-Kuwaiti relations are longstanding, especially in the field of trade. He said humanitarian relations between the two countries are also old, calling on the Indian government to respect all religions.

“In Kuwait we respect the Indian community, which is the largest community residing in the country, and do not force them to practice our Islamic rituals and beliefs. They are free to believe in and practice their rituals, so we call on the Indian government to reciprocate and respect Muslims and their rituals,” Ansari said.

Source: Kuwait Times

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

https://www.kuwaittimes.com/kuwaitis-protest-outside-embassy-in-support-of-muslim-women-in-india/?91769558-1018-794C-B5D0-978ED7560120_kis_cup_C6FA3ED5_6D17_47D1_B6E2_F4B02CC905E0_

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‘Full Of Stress’: Fear Runs Through Afghanistan’s Dangerous Media Landscape

 

Fear accompanies journalist Banafsha Binesh from the moment she leaves her Kabul home

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17 February ,2022

Fear accompanies reporter Banafsha Binesh from the moment she leaves her Kabul home each morning for the newsroom at Afghanistan’s largest television station.

It starts with the Taliban fighters, who roam the streets of the capital with weapons slung over their shoulders. Binesh, 27, says she is frightened by their reputation of harshness toward women, rather than any unsavory encounter.

Dread and uncertainty mount with every new report of a fellow journalist having been detained, interrogated or beaten by Taliban fighters.

“Working is full of stress,” said Binesh, who works for TOLO-TV.

Since taking power six months ago, the country’s new rulers have also issued directives requiring journalists to keep Islamic principles in mind and work for the good of the nation — rules that would seem aimed at quashing independent reporting.

Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Culture and Information Ministry, said criticism is tolerated, but must be constructive.

He blamed attacks on journalists — often while they cover women’s protests, explosions, and other news — on over-zealous Taliban. Other arrests of journalists were not linked to their work, he claimed.

Steven Butler from the Committee to Protect Journalists said it’s not clear yet if attacks on journalists are systematic or “just semi-random events initiated by some Taliban official who has a grudge.”

“I would describe the landscape as full of hazards that are not fully predictable,” said Butler, the Asia program director at CPJ. “Journalists are being selectively picked up, interrogated about their coverage, beaten, and then released after hours or days.”

Most recently, two journalists working for the UN refugee agency were held for six days and released last week after the UN raised alarms. The Taliban said they released the journalists after confirming their identities.

Butler expressed concerns that Taliban intelligence officials are becoming more “hands-on” and have increasingly been implicated in arrests and disappearances.

In one trend-bucking development, TOLO now has more female than male journalists, both in the newsroom and out on the streets.

TOLO news director Khpolwak Sapai said he made a point of hiring women after nearly 90% of the company’s employees fled or were evacuated in the first days of the Taliban takeover.

He said female staffers have not been threatened by the Taliban authorities but have at times been denied access because of their gender.

In one case, a TOLO reporter was barred from a briefing by the acting minister of mines and petroleum when he found out the station had sent a woman to the event.

Sapai said TOLO promptly does stories on such incidents.

The ranks of journalists in Afghanistan thinned dramatically during the chaotic days of the Taliban takeover in August. Tens of thousands of Afghans fled or were evacuated by foreign governments and organizations.

A December survey by Reporters Without Borders and the Afghan Independent Journalist Association found that 231 out of 543 media outlets had closed, while more than 6,400 journalists lost their jobs after the Taliban takeover. The outlets closed for lack of funds or because journalists had left the country, according to the report.

During their previous rule in the late 1990s, the Taliban had no opposition and banned most television, radio and newspapers. Foreign news organizations were able to operate at that time, along with some local outlets.

Faisal Mudaris, a broadcast journalist, blogger and YouTube personality, spent eight days in Taliban custody, where he said he was beaten and threatened.

Mudaris is from the restive Panjshir Valley, the only holdout against Taliban rule during their first weeks in power. Mudaris fears his ethnicity as a Panjshiri, not his journalism, landed him in a Taliban lockup. He believes he remains at risk, fearing that no one can hold the Taliban accountable.

Journalists from other ethnic minorities, including the Hazaras who have long faced discrimination from successive governments, also worry. In the first months after the Taliban takeover, several journalists of a small outlet called Etilaat Roz were arrested and beaten. Both were Hazaras.

Karimi denies anyone is targeted because of their ethnicity and promises investigations will be carried out against offending Taliban. CPJ’s Butler said his advocacy group has no way to measure attacks based on ethnicity.

Still, there appears to be some room for critical reporting under the Taliban. For example, TOLO repeatedly aired a clip of Taliban fighters beating a former Afghan soldier.

Within days, top Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhunzada warned Taliban fighters against excesses, saying they would be punished. He reiterated a promise of amnesty for former soldiers.

“Did the news story bring about a change? I want to think it contributed to it,” said Sapai, the TOLO news director.

Sapai said views among the Taliban range from those who cling to the strict views of the past, to those who want a more open society that embraces education and work for all — including girls and women.

He believes domestic and external pressures on the Taliban should not be underestimated. “Most of the Taliban leadership accept that Afghanistan and the world is different now and it’s hard to turn back the clock but still the differences exist among them,” he said.

It’s the uncertainty about which view will prevail that has journalists worried.

“The fear that we have is for the day in the future when the Taliban will prevent us from the work that we do,” said TOLO reporter Asma Saeen, 22. “This is my big fear and my constant anxiety.”

She has no recollection of the harsh Taliban rule of the 1990s and said she has been able to work unhindered. Yet she resents the many restrictions imposed on girls and women, including banning teen-age girls from returning to school, at least for now, and many women not being allowed to return to their jobs.

Both Saeen and Binesh want to leave Afghanistan, saying they long for the freedoms they enjoyed before the Taliban swept to power.

“We were not expecting that after 20 years of democracy to face these many restrictions,” said Binesh. “I am ready to go.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/02/17/-Full-of-stress-Fear-runs-through-Afghanistan-s-dangerous-media-landscape

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Act against Preachers Who Insult Other Faiths, 60 NGOs Urge Malaysian PM

 

Act against Preachers Who Insult Other Faiths, 60 NGOs Urge Malaysian PM

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Jason Thomas

February 16, 2022

PUTRAJAYA: More than 60 NGOs presented a memorandum to Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob today demanding that he address the issue of certain Islamic preachers who have been “insulting and denigrating” other faiths.

The NGOs, under the Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF), had previously lodged numerous police reports against certain Islamic preachers who have been “attacking non-Islamic faiths and beliefs” in the public domain and through social media by “mocking, misinterpreting and misquoting” the holy books of other religions.

They also called on the Islamic development department (Jakim), the national unity ministry, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers to take action against these preachers, saying their cries had fallen on deaf ears.

“We would like to highlight to the prime minister that these preachers are a threat to the peaceful co-existence of Malaysia’s multiracial, multireligious and multicultural society,” said GHRF president S Shashi Kumar.

“Despite numerous police reports made against them, and the matter having been highlighted by media reports which are definitely known to the prime minister and the government, no proactive measures have been taken to reprimand these preachers to date.”

He said the preachers had violated Articles 3, 5 and 11 of the Federal Constitution, which relate to liberty and freedom of religion.

Representatives from GHRF handed the memorandum to a special officer at the Prime Minister’s Department calling on Ismail to also act “impartially and without fear or favour” against unilateral conversions, which the Federal Court had ruled unlawful.

Shashi said that in light of the numerous cases of children being converted to Islam without the knowledge of both parents, GHRF wanted to see the formation of an independent body to manage and administer conversions.

“The prime minister and his administration should take serious measures to implement strict laws and guidelines with regards to non-Muslims who decide to embrace and profess Islam,” he said.

He said the federation also hoped to bring their concerns to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, and the Malay rulers next as “we can’t trust politicians”.

A member of the delegation, representing a Sarawakian NGO, said he wanted to see all Malaysians treated equally.

“If a non-Muslim insults Islam, I think they would be picked up in less than two hours,” said Kindy Nyadang, a committee member from Persatuan Terabai Menua.

“The law has to be fair, regardless of your race or religion.”

In a separate memorandum, GHRF urged Ismail to allow further Employees Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawals for those struggling to make ends meet.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/02/16/act-against-preachers-who-insult-other-faiths-ngos-urge-pm/

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 India

 If wearing of other religious symbols allowed, why not hijab, says counsel

Feb 17, 2022

BENGALURU: The hijab ban is hostile discrimination against Muslim girls based purely on their religion and is a draconian decision opposed to the intent of Article 15 of the Constitution, senior advocate Prof Ravivarma Kumar submitted on Wednesday.

Appearing for a student of an Udupi college before a full bench of the Karnataka high court headed by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Kumar argued that when wearing of other religious symbols, like bangles, bindi and crucifix pendants, among others, is being allowed, why is only the hijab being disallowed. Article 15 of the Constitution forbids discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.

Kumar pointed out that in Indian society, many college-going girls wear a dupatta or something else to cover their heads, whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or of any other religion.

Government forcing girls to choose between hijab and education, says lawyer

If people wearing a turban can be in the Army, then why can’t a girl sporting her hijab to practise her religion attend classes? It is a draconian decision,” a girl’s counsel Prof Ravivarma Kumar submitted.

He claimed Muslim girls are least educated and least represented in classrooms and if they are shut out in this fashion, it will spell doom for their education. As per him, the role of education is to promote plurality and heterogeneity, and not to have uniformity and homogeneity, and a classroom should be a reflection of diversity in society. Further arguing that college development committees headed by MLAs have no statutory source of power, he said they should not be allowed to exercise police powers vis-a-vis expulsion of students. “A judicial note of the fact may be taken that the MLA, whoever he may be, will be representing a party/ideology. Can we entrust students’ lives to a party or ideology,” he asked. According to him, an MLA will not be subordinate to the government and hence there will be no accountability.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/if-wearing-of-other-religious-symbols-allowed-why-not-hijab-says-counsel/articleshow/89626500.cms

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Customs to Demand Duty for Quran and Dates from the UAE Consulate

K S Sudhi

FEBRUARY 16, 2022

Cochin Customs will demand Customs duty from the UAE Consulate, Thiruvananthapuram, for the copies of Quran, including the ones given to former Minister K.T. Jaleel, and the dates imported to Kerala.

Dr. Jaleel had on Tuesday stated that he would return the 1,000 copies, which were provided by the Consulate, for distribution in the State. The copies were kept in two institutions in Edappal and Alathiyoor.

The UAE consulate had imported 4,000 copies of Quran two years ago, besides the 17,000 kg of dates that were distributed in the State.

Quran and the dates were brought to Kerala as diplomatic cargo, which are supposed to be utilised for the personal and official needs of those at the UAE Consulate.

International convention

Diplomatic cargo is exempted from the Customs duty as per the international conventions. However, it was later found that copies of the Quran and the dates were distributed in the State. Once imported goods are found used by persons without any diplomatic privilege, they become taxable, Customs officials said.

If the consignments were intended to be distributed outside the Consulate, prior permission of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs had to be obtained and Customs duty paid. The Customs duty for Quran and the dates would be assessed as per the provisions of the Customs Tariff Act, sources said.

Though the Bill of Entry of the consignment from UAE port indicated that 4,000 copies were shipped to Kerala, there was no clarity on the total number of copies distributed.

As the Consulate was out of bounds of the Customs to carry out any search, it would be presumed that all the copies were distributed and Customs Duty assessed accordingly. The Consulate may have to provide the explanation on the number of copies in its possession, sources said.

Source: The Hindu

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

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/customs-to-demand-duty-for-Quran-and-dates/article65055946.ece

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"Only 5 things Essential In Islam, Hijab Not Among Them": Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan

February 16, 2022

New Delhi: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan today said the ongoing row over hijab is "not a controversy but a conspiracy" to push back Muslim women. "There is no conflict between religion and education," he said, adding that in Islam, "The purpose of the religion is to make men acquire knowledge". The Governor also added that the argument that hijab is an essential practice in Islam and therefore requires the protection of the Constitution's Article 25.

Quoting the Supreme Court, Mr Khan, who is originally from Uttar Pradesh, said it has laid down that any aspect on which one claims the protection of the Constitution's Article 25, has to be "essential, intrinsic and integral to the practice of faith".

The hijab row started in Karnataka's Udupi last month as some students protested against a bar on it. It drew retaliation from other students who insisted on coming in saffron scarves. The confrontation spread rapidly through the state. Protests were held and Muslim girls heckled, forcing the state to close schools and colleges temporarily and drawing calls for peace from the court.

The matter is currently being heard in the Karnataka High Court where some students have challenged the bar on headscarves, citing the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

The religious books in Islam describes in detail what is essential, Mr Khan said, pointing out that there only "five essential features which are called Arkan e Islam". This are -- the affirmation of faith through kalima, prayer at regular intervals, fasting during Ramzan, charity and for those who can afford it, haj. There can be "no addition or deletion" in these, he said.

"When you apply the essential tests, then this argument that this (hijab) is part of religious freedom -- no. The Supreme Court has said that only the essential features which are integral to the practice of faith -- only they will receive the protection of Article 25. Hijab is definitely not one of them," Mr Khan added.

Asked about the current bar on hijab at educational institutions is affecting the studies of girls and young women, he said it is a fallout of "total ignorance".

Pointing out that the first word in Quran is "Read", he said man is not only exhorted to read the name of God. Quoting relevant passages, he said man has been asked to contemplate about animals, stars and space, and has been asked to go to China if need be in search of knowledge. "More than 700 words in Quran that mean knowledge, think about, meditate," he said, adding the religion is about the search of knowledge.

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As for the controversy around headscarves in Karnataka that has been continuing for more than a month, it is a "sinister design" to push back Muslim women, especially the young girls.

Source: ND TV

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

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/only-5-things-essential-in-islam-hijab-not-among-them-kerala-governor-2772503

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Convey BJP not against Muslim women, party brass tells Karnataka netas

B V Shiva Shankar

Feb 17, 2022

BENGALURU: The central BJP leadership has taken serious note of developments stemming from the hijab controversy in Karnataka and asked local leadership and the state government to convey a clear message to stakeholders that the party is not against Muslim women and that enforcement of dress codes is left to individual institutions, party members said.

BJP legislators revealed that the high command has asked local leaders to exercise restraint and work to end the row without hurting the party’s electoral prospects.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/convey-bjp-not-against-muslim-women-party-brass-tells-karnataka-netas/articleshow/89628118.cms

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India and UAE complete talks on bilateral pact to boost trade

17 February ,2022

India and the United Arab Emirates have completed talks for a wide-ranging economic pact aimed at boosting trade and investment, the Indian government said on Wednesday.

The announcement comes days after the UAE signed a similar pact with Turkey in a push to deepen ties with fast-growing economies. The country is seeking to burnish its reputation as a global hub. India wants better links to revive its economy after the pandemic.

“Negotiations for CEPA were launched in September 2021 and have been completed. The agreement will take India-UAE economic and commercial engagement to the next level, a statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs said.

India’s Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the UAE is seen as a springboard for moving further on negotiating trade agreements with other Gulf Arab nations. The Modi government also views the deal as a gateway to Africa via the UAE, its third-largest trade partner.

Total trade between India and the UAE stood at $53 billion during April-Dec. 2021-22. Imports stood at $33 billion while exports at $20 billion during the period.

UAE, India aim to double trade to $100 billion in five years

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan are scheduled to hold a virtual summit on Feb. 18 to discuss bilateral cooperation and exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest, the statement said.

Indian nationals make up one of the largest population groups in the UAE, a major source of foreign remittances. India is also an important market for two-way tourism and UAE airlines Emirates and Etihad. On a political level, UAE royals helped broker talks between India and Pakistan earlier last year.

Investment ties have deepened rapidly in the lead-up to the agreement.

Groups from the UAE, which relies heavily on imports, committed $7 billion in 2019 to set up a “food corridor and invest in Indian agriculture, with an eye on food security.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/business/economy/2022/02/17/India-and-UAE-complete-talks-on-bilateral-pact-to-boost-trade

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan FM Qureshi says social media misuse among main drivers of religious intolerance

SAJJAD HUSSAIN

16 February, 2022

Islamabad, Feb 16 (PTI) Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday blamed state policies, inflammatory remarks by public office holders and misuse of social media for religious intolerance and violence worlwide, amid growing incidents of mob lynching in recent weeks in the country.

Addressing the 8th meeting of the Istanbul Process, themed ‘10th anniversary of UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18: Looking Back and Moving Forward’ via video link, Qureshi said that “while people of every faith had been victims of these scourges, Muslims and Islam had borne their main brunt.” He said that “securitisation of state policies, deployment of incendiary rhetoric by public office holders, and misuse of social media platforms were among the main drivers of the growing incidents of religious intolerance, discrimination and violence worldwide.” His remarks came amid growing incidents of mob lynching in recent weeks in Pakistan.

On Saturday, a middle-aged mentally challenged man was stoned to death by a mob over charges of blasphemy in Khanewal district in Punjab province. The incident was a grim reminder of Sialkot lynching of Sri Lankan nation Priyantha Kumara, whose body was set on fire over allegations of blasphemy in December.

On Sunday, an enraged mob attacked and injured a Shia scholar for allegedly burning the pages of a religious book in Faislabad district in the province.

On Monday, a Christian man was killed and another injured in clashes between the two communities over an issue of playing loud music in the province.

Qureshi presented a three-pronged preventive and action-oriented strategy as a way forward to counter these contemporary menaces – reviewing discriminatory State laws, policies and practices; promoting inter-faith harmony, tolerance and peaceful co-existence, while building legal deterrence against hate speech; and concluding an international instrument that prohibits dissemination of ideas and expressions which incite acts of religious intolerance.

Nearly 200 participants from States, inter-governmental organisations, civil society, faith community, mainstream and social media attended the virtual meeting.

The hosting of this 8th Istanbul Process meeting signifies Pakistan’s resolve to foster dialogue, and encourage adoption of affirmative and regulatory measures as a bulwark against rising incidents of incitement to violence against people of faith, in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision, the Foreign Office said.

The meeting was hosted on a virtual platform by Pakistan from Geneva.

Source: The Print

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

https://theprint.in/world/pakistan-fm-qureshi-says-social-media-misuse-among-main-drivers-of-religious-intolerance/834526/

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates arrives in Pakistan on first-ever visit

February 17, 2022

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates arrived in Pakistan on Thursday for his first-ever visit to the country, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health (SAPM) Dr Faisal Sultan shared.

During his visit, Gates will review progress on polio eradication efforts and meet President Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and provincial health officials, the SAPM tweeted.

In addition, Gates will also visit the National Command and Operation Centre, the central body for coordinating the country's response to the coronavirus.

The famous philanthropist has held conversations with Prime Minister Imran in the past on various issues and their possible solutions. In October last year, the premier urged Gates to consider providing humanitarian assistance to poverty-stricken people in Afghanistan.

The two had also discussed the polio situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the premier appreciating the assistance provided by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in that regard. In turn, the Microsoft co-founder had praised the prime minister for the progress in eliminating the disease and pledged his foundation's continued support to the country's polio programme.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1675569/microsoft-co-founder-bill-gates-arrives-in-pakistan-on-first-ever-visit

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All nominated suspects in Khanewal lynching case held

February 17, 2022

LAHORE: Police claimed on Wednesday to have arrested all the nominated suspects [33] involved in lynching a ‘mentally-deranged’ man over alleged desecration of the Holy Quran in Khanewal district.

Police also held five other suspects after identifying them through videos of the incident and the total number of the arrested reached 119.

On Saturday, a ‘mentally-ill’ man was stoned to death by a mob over alleged desecration of the Holy Quran at Jungle Dera village.

Tulamba police registered a case under sections 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly of people), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 302 (intentional murder) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act against 33 identified and around 200-300 unidentified suspects.

The first information report stated that when police officials reached the village, a man accused of burning the Holy Quran was found tied up with ropes and being subjected to violence by a mob.

The suspects killed the man after beating him with rods, sticks and bricks. “The suspects hung his body from a tree which spread immense fear,” the FIR said, adding that the body was recovered after much effort and taken for a postmortem examination.

Khanewal police on the instructions of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and IGP Rao Sardar Ali Khan took immediate action and arrested all the nominated suspects.

A Punjab police spokesperson said raids were being carried out on a daily basis in Mian Channu and Khanewal to arrest the suspects. He said police arrested all the 33 nominated suspects along with five more main suspects whose roles are being determined.

He said the total number of suspects in the main role has reached 38.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1675490/all-nominated-suspects-in-khanewal-lynching-case-held

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Six terrorists killed in exchange of fire near Balochistan's Buleda area: ISPR

Naveed Siddiqui

February 16, 2022

Six terrorists, who were involved in recent attacks on military personnel in Balochistan's Kech district, were killed during an exchange of fire with security forces in Injirkan Range near the district's Buleda area on Wednesday, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The military's media affairs wing said in a statement that security forces conducted an operation in Injirkan Range on the basis of information about the presence of a terrorists' hideout "to apprehend [the] externally sponsored enemies of peace in Balochistan".

When the troops started a clearance operation in the area, the terrorists tried to escape their camp and opened fire on security forces, the statement said, adding that six of the terrorist were killed during an intense exchange of fire.

"These terrorists were involved in recent firing and attacks on security forces in the Kech district."

According to the ISPR, a huge cache of arms and ammunition was recovered during the operation.

"Operations to eliminate such perpetrators of terrorist acts in Pakistan will continue and they will not be allowed to sabotage [the] peace, stability and progress of Balochistan," the ISPR statement read.

Recently, there has been a rise in incidents of terrorism in Balochistan, with two major terrorist attacks on security forces reported within the span of a week.

In late January, ten soldiers were martyred after terrorists had attacked a security forces' checkpost in Balochistan's Kech district.

According to a statement issued by the ISPR, the "fire raid" by terrorists occurred on the night of Jan 25-26.

"During intense exchange of fire, one terrorist was killed and several injured. While repulsing terrorists' fire raid, 10 soldiers embraced martyrdom," the statement said.

Then on February 2, terrorists had attempted to attack security forces' camps in Panjgur and Naushki in two separate incidents. However, security forces had repulsed both the attacks and killed 20 terrorists in a subsequent clearance operation.

In Panjgur, terrorists had tried to enter a security forces' camp from two locations. "However, timely response by troops foiled their attempt," the ISPR had said.

The military's media wing had said five soldiers, including a junior commissioned officer, were martyred and six injured during follow-up operations in Panjgur.

In Naushki, according to the ISPR, terrorists attempted to enter a Frontier Corps camp which was "promptly responded", adding that four terrorists were killed as a result.

The statement had said one officer was injured during the shootout.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1675432/six-terrorists-killed-in-exchange-of-fire-near-balochistans-buleda-area-ispr

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Minister calls for end to smuggling of fertiliser to Afghanistan

Saleem Shahid

February 17, 2022

QUETTA: Balochistan’s Minister for Agriculture Asadullah Baloch has warned that if immediate measures are not taken to stop smuggling of urea fertiliser to Afghanistan, Balochistan may face a serious agriculture crisis in the coming days.

“The smuggling of urea fertiliser is continuing through different routes to Afghanistan despite tall claims of institutions concerned about action being taken against smugglers,” Mr Baloch said on Wednesday.

He said that 80 per cent population of Balochistan was linked to agriculture sector and if timely supply of urea fertiliser was not ensured, farmers and other people attached to the sector would suffer badly. A food crisis could not be ruled out if the situation was not handled carefully by the federal government.

“Farmers and growers are already affected by drought-like situation in the province due to less rains and snowfall and now they are facing extreme difficulty in getting urea fertiliser for their wheat crop.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1675525/minister-calls-for-end-to-smuggling-of-fertiliser-to-afghanistan

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Arab World

 

Controversy among jihadis in Idlib over killing of Islamic State leader

Khaled al-Khateb

February 16, 2022 —

ALEPPO, Syria — The Feb. 3 US Special Forces operation that led to the death of Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi has angered many jihadis opposing Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib.

The jihadis raised questions on the role HTS played in Qurayshi’s killing and the possible coordination between the United States and HTS, which controls Idlib. Another group of jihadis accused HTS of treason because it did not interfere to prevent this operation that lasted for more than two hours at the heart of its area of influence, where its security and military staff are heavily deployed. Others have even accused HTS of providing a safe haven for IS leaders and members in Idlib.

The controversy escalated among jihadis in light of HTS’ comments on the raid, since it took place at the heart of its area of control and security stronghold, and under the radar of its fighters who were closely watching what happened.

In response to the accusations, HTS said in a Feb. 6 statement that it did not know that Qurayshi lived in the safe house in the town of Atmeh before his death, and stressed its rejection of the US raid.

“We were not aware of the raid ahead of time,” it read, stating that HTS did not know who resided in the house. At the same time, HTS stressed that it will continue to ward off IS’ crimes.

The statement read, “The raid raised new concerns among Syrians, and it resulted in casualties among civilians, including women and children, which raised fear and panic among the displaced [living in the camps near the site of the raid] who fled the regime and Russian shelling to find refuge in the border areas.”

It continued that security in the area is the responsibility of the local authorities, which are defending the area from the Syrian government and all components that are trying to tamper with its security.

The US raid in the border town of Atmeh, north of Idlib, was followed by two hours of clashes between the attacking forces and those who were at the house. The operation resulted in the killing of the IS leader, in addition to at least 13 people, including six children and four women.

A source close to the jihadis in Idlib, who declined to be named, told Al-Monitor, “The way HTS dealt with the killing of [Qurayshi] raised many questions among the jihadis opposing HTS, especially those who are affiliated with al-Qaeda-affiliated Hurras al-Din.”

He said, “HTS imposed a security cordon around the site [during the raid], and its members were deployed in its vicinity, watching the course of the operation without interfering. This is what pushed the jihadis to accuse HTS of treason, of having knowledge of the operation and of providing a favorable security environment that facilitated its implementation.”

The source added, “HTS denying knowledge of the raid and its timing did not convince the jihadis in Idlib. What if the regime forces or the Russian forces were to carry out this raid and HTS leaders who are stationed in military and security headquarters close to that place were the target? Would HTS have stood idly by as it did in Atmeh? Of course not. The jihadis consider HTS’ claims as false. It is a mere attempt to cover up their involvement in the killing of Qurayshi.”

Talha al-Masir, aka Abu Shuaib al-Masri, an Egyptian jihadist who opposes HTS and who resides in Idlib, said on Telegram, “The crusader’s [US forces] landing in Atmeh amid a heavy HTS military presence in the area — through its security criminals on border posts along the [border with] the Olive Branch area, the crossings and checkpoints, as well as the peaceful way it dealt with the crusaders — clearly confirm that [HTS leader Abu Mohammed] al-Golani's real project has nothing to do with defending Muslims, and the area and that the repeated defeats and loss of land are its expected outcomes.”

Issam al-Khatib, a former judge who defected from HTS, wrote on Twitter, “I told you that Golani’s security forces are on alert and have work to do. Indeed they remained on alert until the US landing began and ended. Then Golani’s followers stormed the place, looking for gold or money, like the gold they found where the former groups’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in Barisha two years ago.”

Saudi jihadist Majid al-Rashed said on Telegram, “Had you known Golani’s way of thinking, which is based on deception and insult and [on the idea] that the end justifies the means, you would think that he collaborates with the [US] intelligence.”

He added in another post, “I have no doubt that Abu Mohammed al-Golani and some of his commanders coordinate with US intelligence, and that denying knowledge of the landing is an outright lie. The operation lasted three hours. What did they do after they knew? They protected them.”

Source: Al Monitor

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

https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/02/controversy-among-jihadis-idlib-over-killing-islamic-state-leader?FA906854-D48C-5847-AAC0-F8103646A83D_kis_cup_C6FA3ED5_6D17_47D1_B6E2_F4B02CC905E0_

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Ericsson shares crash after CEO says firm may have paid ISIS

17 February ,2022

Ericsson may have made payments to the ISIS terror organization to gain access to certain transport routes in Iraq, in a shock admission following years of regulatory investigations.

Shares in the Stockholm-based company were down almost 14.5 percent around lunchtime on Wednesday, its biggest drop in a day since July 2017.

The admission from Ericsson comes after the company was accused by the US Department of Justice in October of breaching a $1 billion agreement it made with prosecutors in 2019 to end a long a running corruption probe.

In an interview with newspaper Dagens Industri, chief executive officer Borje Ekholm said that Ericsson had identified “unusual expenses dating back to 2018 but the company hasn’t yet determined who the final recipient of the money was.

“What we are seeing is that transport routes have been purchased through areas that have been controlled by terrorist organizations, including ISIS,” Ekholm added.

Ekholm’s comments follow a statement by the telecommunications equipment manufacturer late on Tuesday, in which the company said that it continues to “invest significantly into a probe regarding compliance concerns in its Iraq-based operations.”

A spokesperson for Ericsson declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.

The news of the internal investigation adds another embarrassment for the company following a long running corruption probe, including a $1 billion settlement in 2019.

A unit of Ericsson AB pleaded guilty to a years-long campaign of bribery and corruption in Asia and the Middle East. In October last year, the matter resurfaced, after the US Department of Justice accused the company of breaching the agreement by failing to provide certain documents to the DOJ.

The new suspect payments likely formed part of the same corruption probe, according to analysts at Handelsbanken. The analysts don’t expect the revelations to trigger further investigations.

Ekholm told the newspaper that Ericsson has spent “considerable resources trying to understand this as best we can. Financing terrorism is completely unacceptable and something we do not allow at all.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/business/technology/2022/02/17/Ericsson-shares-crash-after-CEO-says-firm-may-have-paid-ISIS

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Hezbollah has started producing drones, can create precision missiles: Nasrallah

16 February ,2022

Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Wednesday the group has been producing drones and has the capability of turning thousands of rockets to precision missiles.

“We have been producing drones in Lebanon for a long time and whoever wants to buy them, submit an order,” he said in a televised speech to his followers.

Nasrallah said his group is able to transform standard rockets into precision missiles with the help of “experts” from Iran, and that the production has been prompted by arch-enemy Israel's increased use of drone technology.

Israel has long viewed the Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon as an enemy. Lebanon and Israel are still in a formal state of war and have long contested their land and maritime borders. Israel has also carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighboring Syria in recent years against suspected Iranian military deployments or arms transfers to Hezbollah.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/16/Hezbollah-has-started-producing-drones-can-create-precision-missiles-Nasrallah

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Kuwait’s defence, interior ministers resign over ‘abuse of interrogations’

16 February ,202

Kuwait’s defense and interior ministers submitted their resignations to the prime minister on Wednesday, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Qabas reported.

“I resigned because we can no longer work in this atmosphere,” Defense Minister Sheikh Hamad Jaber al-Ali told Al Qabas.

Al-Ali also cited interrogations by the National Assembly as the reason behind his decision, saying: “The abuse of the use of constitutional tools pushed us to submit our resignations to the [prime minister].”

“The general atmosphere is full of quarrelling and the turbulence in the political scene,” al-Ali and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmed Mansour al-Ahmed said in a joint statement.

“Achieving reform has become almost impossible… [since] the state’s executive apparatuses require us to make drastic reforms,” they said according to Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2022/02/16/Kuwait-s-defense-interior-ministers-resign-over-abuse-of-interrogations-

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UAE calls for ending appeasement of Houthis

16 February ,2022

The UAE called for ending appeasement of the Iran-backed Houthi militia during a UN Security Council briefing on Yemen, state news agency (WAM) reported on Wednesday.

“During the past months, we’ve heard several briefings, including that of [Hans] Grundberg,” who is the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, “regarding his efforts to bring the Houthis back to the table of negotiations,” said UAE permanent representative to the UN Lana Zaki Nusseibeh.

“However, terrorist attacks targeted civilian facilities in the UAE resulting in casualties among innocent civilians. We cannot but ask, when will the appeasement of this terrorist group end?” said Nusseibeh.

In January, the Houthis targeted the UAE with three cross border aerial attacks using cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as drones. All the attacks targeted civilian sites and infrastructures and led to the death of three civilians.

During the briefing, Nusseibeh stressed the UAE’s sovereign right to take all the measures necessary to protect the country and its citizens and residents from any “terrorist” attacks.

She noted that the UAE would take such measures while respecting its commitments based on international law, adding that the Houthi “terrorist attacks are a flagrant violation of all international laws and norms.”

Earlier in February, General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said the US will help the UAE replenish interceptors it uses to knock down incoming missiles following a spate of unprecedented attacks by Houthi fighters in Yemen.

McKenzie's remarks came after the Pentagon's announcement of a deployment of a guided missile destroyer and advanced US F-22 fighter jets to the UAE.

Nusseibeh also voiced the importance of putting an end to the Houthi’s “hostile behavior.”

“This requires the international community to take serious and decisive measures where it must exert heavy pressure on the [Houthi] militia and those who support it,” she said, adding that such pressure begins by tightening sanctions and drying up the Houthis’ sources of funding.

Reiterating her call for designating the Iran-backed Houthi militia as a “terrorist” group, Nusseibeh noted that the Houthis have repeatedly broken their pledges to respect any agreement or keep a promise due to the lack of clear international pressure.

Commenting on the Houthis militia’s alleged use of Hodeidah port to store weapons, she called on the UN to have presence in the port to prevent using it to serve military purposes and to launch attacks that threaten the security of navigation and countries in the region.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2022/02/16/UAE-calls-for-ending-appeasement-of-Houthis

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Arab Coalition conducts 17 targeted strikes against Houthis in Marib, Hajjah

16 February ,2022

The Arab Coalition has conducted 17 targeted strikes against the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen’s Hajjah and Marib in the last 24 hours, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The targeted strikes resulted in the destruction of 14 military vehicles, according to SPA, and caused casualties among the Houthis.

The operation comes during a time when tensions are rising with Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis.

Last week, the Arab Coalition asked residents of Sanaa to evacuate some “civilian sites” in the next 72 hours and warned of strikes on the Houthi militia in the area.

The warning came after the Houthis conducted a drone strike against Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport, injuring 12 people.

Abha, near Saudi Arabia’s southern border with Yemen, is a regular target of drone and missile strikes launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia fighting coalition forces in Yemen.

Numerous countries and country representatives including the US Department of State, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, and others, condemned the airport attack.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2022/02/16/Arab-Coalition-conducts-17-targeted-strikes-against-Houthis-in-Marib-Hajjah-

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IAEA says it is helping Egypt and Saudi Arabia with nuclear power

16 February ,2022

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Rafael Grossi told a conference in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday that the organization is working with Egypt and Saudi Arabia to help them to develop nuclear power.

Saudi Arabia has vast reserves of uranium ore that it plans to use to use to develop a nuclear power program, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman previously told the Future Minerals Summit in Riyadh on January 12.

Saudi Arabia said more than a decade ago that it was considering developing its own nuclear power program but it has yet to build any nuclear plants. Prince Abdulaziz said at the summit that Saudi Arabia would be manufacturing and developing uranium.

“Let me be very specific about it, we do have a huge amount of uranium resources that we would like to exploit and we will be doing it in the most transparent way, we will be bringing in partners,” the minister said at the time.

He said Saudi Arabia would be publishing its energy strategy soon and that it was well-placed to become the cheapest producer of so-called green hydrogen.

“Our business model would enable us to do that ... we are very open to every opportunity that comes our way and every technology,” Prince Abdulaziz said.

Saudi Arabia Mining Co. (Ma’aden), the Gulf's largest miner, would also be creating a subsidiary for investments abroad.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2022/02/16/IAEA-says-it-is-helping-Egypt-and-Saudi-Arabia-with-nuclear-power

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Senior Hezbollah official: Bahrain committed ‘historical crime’ by normalizing ties with Israel

16 February 2022

The deputy head of Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah says Bahrain has committed “a historical crime” by normalizing ties with the Israeli regime, stressing that the kingdom would soon recognize that the normalization deal only serves the interests of Tel Aviv.

Speaking at a ceremony in Beirut on Wednesday, Sheikh Naim Qassem described Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s recent visit to Manama as an “act of treachery committed by the Bahraini leaders.”

“If they think normalization would protect them from [consequences of shirking] their responsibilities towards their people and towards the rights that are wasted, they are wrong”, he said, adding that “if they think that Israel will offer them something, they are wrong.”

He pointed to the Tel Aviv regime’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and wreaking havoc there, and said Israel seeks to “own all the land” by killing and arresting Palestinians.

“Bahrain has committed a historical crime with normalization,” Qassem said, adding that leaders of the Manama regime and those of all the Persian Gulf states that have normalized or want to normalize ties with Tel Aviv would “soon” find that they have lost everything, including the trust of their peoples as well as their conscience.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Hezbollah official emphasized that the honorable and free nations as well as the resistance would ultimately emerge victorious in the confrontation with the Israeli regime.

Bennett arrived in Manama on Monday in the highest-level visit since the two sides normalized their relations under a 2020 US-brokered deal.

Bahrain, along with the United Arab Emirates, signed a peace pact with the Tel Aviv regime in a ceremony hosted by former US president Donald Trump at the White House in September 2020.

Sudan and Morocco followed suit later in the year and inked similar US-brokered normalization deals with the occupying regime.

Palestinians slammed the deals as a treacherous “stab in the back” and a betrayal of their cause against the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/02/16/676960/Hezbollah-Bahrain-committed-historical-crime-normalizing-ties-Israel-

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South Asia

 

China slams US seizure of Afghanistan’s assets as ‘conduct of bandits’

16 February 2022

China has condemned the United States’ decision to seize Afghanistan’s frozen assets amid a mounting humanitarian crisis, saying the conduct is no different from that of “bandits.”

“Without the consent ofthe Afghan people, the US willfully disposes of assets that belong to the Afghan people, even keeping them as its own. This is no different from the conduct of bandits,” Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press conference.

“As the culprit of the Afghan crisis, the US should not exacerbate the suffering of the Afghan people. Itshould unfreeze their assets, lift unilateral sanctions on Afghanistanas soon as possible, and assume its due responsibility to ease the humanitarian crisis in the country,” he reiterated.

US President Joe Biden issued an executive order this week authorizing the release of half of the $7 billion in frozen Afghan funds for humanitarian aid, keeping the other half for a possible payment to the families of the 9/11 victims.

Following the order, thousands of Afghans took to the streets of Kabul and other cities to condemn the measure, arguing that Afghanistan had nothing to do with the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Angry demonstrators also called on the international community to help Afghanistan unfreeze all the assets frozen in the US as well as the European countries.

The decision by Biden came only a few days after the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that Afghanistan is “hanging by a thread," as millions of Afghans are at the risk of starvation and death.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/02/16/676982/China-slams-US-seizure

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US Not Backing 'Armed Opposition' to Islamic Emirate: West

16 February, 2022

The US special envoy for Afghanistan, Thomas West said at an event on Monday that Washington is not backing “organized armed opposition” to the Islamic Emirate and that it would “discourage other powers from doing so as well."

Speaking at an event at the US Institute of Peace (USIP), the US special representative for Afghanistan suggested that Pakistan previously had an opportunity to help with a negotiated settlement Afghanistan, which it did not take.

“I think had Pakistan taken some of those steps in a more meaningful and consistent way, I think we would be in a different place today,” he said.

West said that he believes “there is a recognition in Pakistan that the current leadership of the interim authorities in Afghanistan is not truly representative and potentially not sustainable.”

He suggested said the decision made by US President Joe Biden over the fate of $7 billion Afghan assets was meant to protect the assets for Afghanistan: “Fundamentally the action was about protecting $3.5 billion for the benefit of the Afghan people,” West said.

The US envoy expressed optimism over the reopening of schools and universities for the girls.

Source: Tolo News

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

https://tolonews.com/index.php/afghanistan-176744

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Afghan girls 'must definitely' return to school: Karzai

Feb 17, 2022

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that every girl in the country "must definitely" return to schools, as it is "absolutely" necessary for the well-being of war-torn nation.

In his remarks to France 24, the former leader said that the return of girls to school and women to their workplaces is the demand of Afghanistan itself, TOLO News reported.

Girls and women have been out of educational institutions and offices since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021.

Regarding the recognition of the incumbent Taliban government, Karzai said some initial steps were needed to be taken at the national level to pave the way.

"On the issue of recognition by the international community, my proposal has been from the very beginning this--that we the Afghan people need to put our own house in order first.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghan-girls-must-definitely-return-to-school-karzai/articleshow/89630566.cms

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Europe pledges $11 M to Afghanistan’s educational sector

16 Feb 2022

Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan said that European representatives pledged $11 million to Afghanistan’s educational sector and added that the money will increase based on the needs.

The meeting was conducted in the Qatari capital Doha where the acting Foreign Minister of the IEA, Amir Khan Motaqi is leading a delegation that is meeting the city-based European diplomats.

The Foreign Ministry in a press release said that the Afghan delegation discussed with European representatives the humanitarian situation, humanitarian assistance, women’s and minorities’ rights, women’s education and working opportunities, and the participation of all ethnic groups in the government.

The visiting Afghan delegation has also briefed European envoys about the reopening of schools and universities in the country, according to the statement.

As per the statement, the Afghan delegation has assured European envoys of their commitment to the rights of all Afghans.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/europe-pledges-11-m-to-afghanistans-educational-sector-8758667/

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EU to deliver Є500 million to Afghan people

16 Feb 2022

Special representative of European Union for Afghanistan Thomas Niklasson said that they remain committed to Afghan people adding that the Union will deliver up to Є500 million to address the humanitarian situation of the Afghan people.

Thomas Kilasson in a Twitter post on Tuesday, February 15 said that with the money, they will focus on food, health, education, and other relevant parts.

“The EU remains committed to the Afghan people and is delivering 500 million euros in assistance through UN and NGOs focusing on food, health, WASH and protection, education and livelihood.” Reads the Twitter post.

The announcement comes after the Taliban delegation held negotiations with European representatives in Doha.

Tomas Niklasson said that the two delegations agreed to continue the dialogue through physical and virtual meetings.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/eu-to-deliver-%D1%94500-million-to-afghan-people-89587/

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Taliban delegation holds talks with EU, US diplomats in Doha

16 Feb 2022

Doha, Qatar – Representatives of the European Union and the United States have met Taliban members as the group seeks to unlock fundings to tackle Afghanistan’s dire humanitarian crisis.

The Afghan delegation led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Wednesday held the second day of talks with diplomats from 16 European countries in the Qatari capital, Doha.

“All participants pledged to make all possible efforts for the overall well-being of the Afghan people,” read a statement issued by the Taliban, adding that the international community is ready to take “effective steps in the field of humanitarian assistance”.

The statements though did not provide any specific details about the steps to be taken by the international community.

Thomas Niklasson, EU special representative for Afghanistan, who also attended the talks, said that the bloc remains committed to delivering 500 million euros ($569m) in assistance through the UN and humanitarian organisation.

The Taliban is still not recognised by any country and many of its senior officials are still under Western and UN sanctions. The country is also cut off from international financial institutions, which has triggered a banking crisis.

The talks came weeks after the armed group met Western diplomats in the Norwegian capital Oslo during which the issue of human rights and the need for humanitarian aid was discussed.

Niklasson in a Twitter post added that the Taliban expressed “commitment to open primary and secondary schools for boys and girls throughout the country no later than March”.

The Taliban-led government is gripped with a fast-deteriorating humanitarian crisis with 97 percent of the population at the risk of sinking below the poverty line, according to UNDP’s projection.

The group, which seized power in August last year by toppling the Western-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani, is also seeking to unfreeze billions of dollars of money by the West.

But Western countries and international financial institution have linked their release to the improvement of the country’s human rights record, especially regarding women.

Last week, US President Joe Biden said that some $7bn in Afghan reserves held in the US would be split between a fund to aid Afghanistan and to compensate victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“It is not acceptable for us to spend this money on humanitarian aid or compensation,” Mottaqi said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Millions of dollars in aid pledged by the West will be channelled through a special mechanism, which means the fund will not go through the government departments.

While the Taliban have repeatedly emphasised exercising a softer rule compared with their previous stint in power from 1996 to 2001, restrictions on women still remain in force.

Source: Al Jazeera

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

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/16/taliban-meets-with-eu-us-in-bid-to-unlock-funds-for-afghanistan

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Southeast Asia

 

Perlis Mufti Confirms Children Registered As Muslims Without Mum’s Presence

February 17, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Azinul Abidin has confirmed that the state’s religious department had registered single mother Loh Siew Hong’s three children as Muslims without her being present.

He also confirmed that the children’s father had been asked where Loh was, though they did not investigate her whereabouts further.

“The father came and brought his children to Perlis to be converted to Islam,” he said in a video posted on his Facebook page yesterday, adding that the three were all under 18 at the time.

According to Asri, the father had brought the children to the religious department in July 2020.

“When asked where their mother was, the father said he didn’t know. He wanted to request that his children become Muslim. So the religious department registered them as Muslim. They weren’t registered at the national registration department.

“Their father brought them. We didn’t research where their mother was. Their father said he did not know where their mother was, so we let them become Muslim.”

Yesterday, Loh told FMT she could not see her children for the past three years because she had been at a women’s shelter after suffering physical abuse at her former husband’s hands.

She filed for divorce last year, winning full custody of the 14-year-old twin daughters and 10-year-old son. The High Court in Kuala Lumpur had also ordered the police to recover her children.

The Federal Court previously ruled that the conversion of any child under 18 to another religion needed the consent of both parents.

Asri said the Perlis religious authorities were not aware that the Kuala Lumpur High Court had granted Loh full custody of her children in March 2021. At the time, the children were in Perlis.

“The children were converts, the father was in jail, so we took care of them. Then we heard that someone wanted to take them. We continued looking after them … because we didn’t know about the court order,” he said.

He said the children had been brought to Perlis before the court’s letter on the matter “reached our hands”.

“The court letter was between her and her husband, it wasn’t addressed to us.”

Asri maintained that the state religious authorities would not always side with Muslims when it came to issues of child custody, saying they were primarily concerned about who could ensure the child’s welfare.

“But if the child is already ‘mumaiyiz’ (capable of distinguishing good from bad), they can choose to go to their non-Muslim mother or Muslim father,” he said.

He said the father was jailed for drug offences several months after their conversion.

Asri maintained that the Perlis religious authorities had no qualms with handing over the children to Loh, if that was what they wanted.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/02/17/mufti-confirms-children-registered-as-muslims-without-mums-presence/

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Hun Sen: Myanmar crisis could take 10 years to resolve

February 17, 2022

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said it would take 5-10 years to resolve the violent crisis in Myanmar as ASEAN foreign ministers began arriving in Cambodia for their annual meeting.

Speaking at the inauguration of seven bridges in western Cambodia, Hun Sen said international criticism of his efforts to end the violence, which erupted in response to last year’s coup led by General Aung Min Hlaing, had made negotiations too difficult.

“Seeking peace is not easy,” he told journalists. “It might take five to 10 years in the case of Myanmar. If both ASEAN's chair and the UN secretary-general’s special envoy are criticized for their efforts to resolve the Myanmar crisis, how do you expect Myanmar to end the ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis?”

Hun Sen last month became the first foreign leader to visit Myanmar since the coup when he attempted to move forward the five-point consensus agreed by ASEAN and bring Myanmar back into the fold after it was banned from the bloc’s annual summits.

But he was widely criticized for legitimizing the regime and a ceasefire which, as this year’s chair of ASEAN, Hun Sen helped negotiate. The ceasefire is in tatters amid continued military strikes and reports of massacres.

The junta has since said ASEAN's special envoy, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, can meet with ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a key element of the five-point consensus, but no further details have been provided.

Myanmar was uninvited to the foreign ministers' retreat amid the violence, although it can send a non-political envoy but has to date declined.

The meet has been dubbed a “hybrid summit” after Brunei and Thailand opted to attend via Zoom as foreign ministers from Singapore, Laos, Malaysia and Vietnam arrived.

However, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son tested positive for Covid-19 on his arrival in Cambodia, Prak Sokhonn said. “I would like to wish a swift recovery to our colleague,” he said.

High on the agenda are issues surrounding China and the disputed South China Sea, admitting Timor-Leste to ASEAN and formulating a plan for a post-pandemic economic recovery.

The regional bloc has increasingly split along traditional lines in recent years. Divisions initially emerged over attitudes to China and respective claims in the South China Sea but widened over Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing of its Muslim Rohingya population and further in the wake of the coup.

Source: UCA News

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

https://www.ucanews.com/news/hun-sen-myanmar-crisis-could-take-10-years-to-resolve/96148#

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Beijing Olympic organisers hit out at Xinjiang ‘lies’

February 17, 2022

BEIJING: Beijing Olympics organisers hit out at “lies” about Xinjiang on Thursday and reiterated the Chinese government’s stance on Taiwan, while also railing against “politicising” the Games.

The US has led a diplomatic boycott by some Western nations at the Games over rights concerns in China, especially the fate of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Rights issues overshadowed the build-up to the Olympics in the Chinese capital and they roared back to the fore during a regular daily press conference featuring an IOC spokesman and officials from the local organising committee.

Campaigners say that at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims have been incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang, while there are also allegations of forced sterilisations of women and forced labour.

“These issues are irrelevant to the Winter Games but I still feel obliged to make a quick comment again,” said Beijing 2022 Organising Committee spokeswoman Yan Jiarong, after foreign reporters twice asked about Xinjiang.

“The questions are based very much on lies. Some authorities have already disputed such false information with a lot of solid evidence.”

Yan also criticised what she called “lies by deliberate groups” over Xinjiang.

China vehemently denies all charges over its treatment of Uighurs and maintains the camps are vocational training centres aimed at reducing the appeal of Islamic extremism.

Yan was also bullish on the question of Taiwan. China claims the self-ruled democratic island as part of its territory to be re-taken one day, by force if necessary.

At all Olympic Games, athletes from Taiwan compete under the banner of “Chinese Taipei”.

“This is something that we really have to take a solemn position on,” said Yan, following a question about Taiwanese athletes at the Games and their attendance at Sunday’s closing ceremony.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2022/02/17/beijing-olympic-organisers-hit-out-at-xinjiang-lies/

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Apex court nine-man bench to give its verdict on SIS Forum’s legal challenge against Selangor shariah law on Monday

16 Feb 2022

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 16 — The Federal Court nine-member bench will deliver its decision this Monday (February 21) on a legal action by SIS Forum (Malaysia) to challenge a Selangor Islamic Enactment provision which empowered the state Shariah High Court to review fatwa issued by the state religious authorities.

One of the lawyers representing SIS, Surendra Ananth, when contacted, said they received a notification from the court today informing of the decision date.

The decision will be delivered virtually via Zoom.

On October 12 last year, the bench, led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat reserved the court’s decision after lawyers representing SIS and the Selangor government completed their submissions in the case.

The bench had heard submission from lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who appeared for SIS and also by Selangor state legal adviser Datuk Salim Soib @ Hamid, who acted for the Selangor government, as well as from lawyers Zainur Zakaria and Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, representing the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais), which was allowed to intervene in the case.

The other judges on the bench were Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Rohana Yusuf, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Federal Court judges Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Salleh, Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Puan Sri Zaleha Yusof, Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal and Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang.

On September 22 last year, the Federal Court granted SIS leave to pursue its legal challenge in the Federal Court through Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution.

SIS sought leave to commence the challenge seeking to declare as invalid Section 66A of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003 which states that the Shariah High Court may, in the interest of justice, on the application of any person, have the jurisdiction to grant permission and hear the application for judicial review on the decision made by the council or committees carrying out the functions under this Enactment.

Source: Malay Mail

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

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2022/02/16/apex-court-nine-man-bench-to-give-its-verdict-on-sis-forums-legal-challenge/2042020

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Europe

 

Türkiye, Pakistan, Malaysia Hailed For Fight against Islamophobia at an International Conference in Istanbul

16 February, 2022

Speakers at an international conference in Istanbul have commended Türkiye, Pakistan and Malaysia for their relentless efforts against the scourge of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crimes, with Ankara offering to share its "knowledge and experience" with other members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

"As an organisation (OIC), we need to work together, increase collaboration and use our platform more effectively," Türkiye's deputy justice minister Yakup Mogul told a conference on Wednesday.

Muslim nations need to support people who are facing discrimination around the world, he told delegates gathered to discuss human rights violations faced by Muslims, adding Türkiye was ready to "share our knowledge and experience" with other OIC countries.

"If we don’t take steps, it would get worse," Mogul said, referring to the occupation of Palestine's lands and Myanmar’s brutal uprooting of ethnic Rohingya Muslims.

The two-day event is jointly hosted by Türkiye's justice and foreign ministries and the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of OIC.

Responding to Islamophobic incidents in Europe, he said: "We should not allow Europe to become a place that is not peaceful for Muslims" while calling for "effective" UN and OIC systems.

Legal safeguards

Haci Ali Acikgul, the chairperson of the OIC's IPHRC, said the Muslim bloc and its human rights body have remained vocal in "condemning hate-motivated acts against Muslims around the world, from Palestine to Kashmir, Nagorno Karabakh, India, Sri Lanka, France, New Zealand, Central African Republic, and Myanmar."

Islamophobia, he said, has "transformed into a systematic anti-Muslim rhetoric of right-wing extremists propagated to achieve well-defined political gains."

Acikgul said the IPHRC has proposed a comprehensive anti-Islamophobia strategy for the OIC, but given the scale of the challenge "efforts of the OIC and IPHRC alone are not enough."

"It requires concerted collaborative efforts by states, civil society, intelligentsia and media," he noted while praising the leadership of Türkiye, Pakistan and Malaysia for their "laudable efforts that provided a sense of direction and required political impetus to the ongoing efforts at the global scale."

"We support their call for instituting legal safeguards aimed at protecting the sensitivities of all religious groups and galvanising OIC's collective efforts to project the true image of Islam and its message of peace and tolerance," he said.

Acikgul said Islamophobia has "transformed into a systematic anti-Muslim rhetoric of right-wing extremists propagated to achieve well-defined political gains."

Studies show that far-right and anti-Muslim movements have gained ground around the world, especially in Europe as the refugee crisis has triggered nationalism across the continent.

Palestinian official highlights discord within OIC

"There is inconsistency in our positions and actions as the members of the OIC are not acting in unison," said Ammar Hijazi, Palestine's assistant minister for multilateral affairs, while decrying the decision of some nations to normalise ties with Israel.

However, he stressed that "we seek solutions based on respect, dialogue and harmony," calling for solidary and support for the Palestinian people.

People of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) "are victims of double standards and discrimination at a larger scale," said Huseyin Isiksal, special adviser to the TRNC president on international relations and diplomacy.

However, he asserted that Turkish Cypriots "will never give up our rights (as) we are not a minority but equal to Greek Cypriots."

Source: Trt World

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

https://www.trtworld.com/turkey/t%C3%BCrkiye-pakistan-malaysia-hailed-for-fight-against-islamophobia-54830

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How a Soviet intelligence officer became a Muslim and an Afghan

17 February, 2022

Sherefovic Hakimov fought alongside Communist Soviet forces against Afghan mujahidin in the 1980s, but his life changed fundamentally after becoming a prisoner of war.

The 56-year-old Sherefovic Hakimov, a former Soviet military personnel, no longer identifies himself as Russian. He lives in Afghanistan’s Herat city as a Muslim and an Afghan.

In 1987, as part of the invading forces of the Soviet Union, he became a war prisoner.

His brother, Alexandre, was a Russian deputy in the country’s parliament, and his sister, Mabuba, worked as an adviser for the Soviet military. His parents were also high-ranking officials in the Soviet army. His father, an ethnic Armenian, was a general and his mother, a Ukrainian Jew, worked for Soviet intelligence.

In 1984, Hakimov was deployed to Afghanistan as a Soviet military intelligence officer. After three years, he was severely wounded during a gun battle with the Afghan mujahidin. Injured and demoralised, he eventually became a prisoner of war.

“There were about 120 lost Soviet soldiers, and Hakimov is one of them,” said Bilal Guler, Anadolu Agency’s Kabul correspondent, who conducted an extensive interview with Hakimov in Herat, western Afghanistan.

“There is no concrete information on those lost Soviet soldiers, and none of them appear to be able to go back to either the Soviets or current Russia. It’s not clear what happened to them,” Guler tells TRT World. Among others, Hakimov has a unique story.

"They were telling me to become a Muslim. They also encouraged me to say 'La ilaha illallah Muhammedun Rasulullah,'" said Hakimov, who also goes by his adopted name, Sheikh Abdullah, given to him by Haji Sayyid Abdulvahab Katali, one of the mujahidin leaders.

“La ilaha illallah Muhammedun Rasulullah”, which means “there is no god but God and Muhammad is His prophet,” is considered as the declaration of belief in Islam. By uttering these words, a non-Muslim can enter Islam and become a Muslim.

“I thought that Muhammad would come and determine what to do with me, and that he was a judge or leader of these [Mujahidin],” Hakimov told Anadolu Agency’s Guler, remembering his feelings back in the day. Anadolu Agency interviewed Hakimov on February 15, the anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Dreaming Islam

Hakimov did not become a Muslim until he had a dream in which a white-bearded man also advised him to convert to Islam. After that, he decided to adopt both the Muslim faith and the Afghan culture.

"I have been in Afghanistan for nearly 40 years. I'm Afghan now. I have Afghan citizenship. I am now a Muslim. I'm not Russian. I don't belong to the Russians," Hakimov said. The former Soviet soldier dresses like an Afghan and is fluent in both Pashto and Persian, the two dominant languages of Afghanistan.

Hakimov also became good friends with his former enemy, Katali.

"He was our enemy back then. We were his enemies too. If we had caught him, we would have executed him. If we had fallen into his hands, maybe he would have executed us," Hakimov said.

"We became friends after I converted to Islam…I became both his employee and his son. He got me married. He gave [me] a house," he added.

When he was 25, Hakimov married an Afghan woman, who died giving birth to a girl named Menice. His second wife also passed away due to stomach cancer last year.

With the loss of his second wife, Hakimov grew disillusioned with life. "After my wife died, I couldn't do anything anymore." He visits his wife’s grave every day to pray for her.

Russia: a foreign land

Hakimov, who is suffering from memory loss and other ailments from his past injury, has lost his Soviet passport and belongings, including photographs of his family members.

His Russian has become rusty with time, and due to his health condition, he has forgotten many words and phrases. He still has a good hold on his native Armenian language, however.

Both his parents are dead. Being away from his siblings for decades has taken a mental toll on him. He misses his brother and sister a lot.

"We are human beings. It's impossible not to miss [them],” he said, expressing his desire to see them. The last time he talked to his sister over the phone was two years ago.

While he's aware that many of his ailments could be treated in Russia, he's still not sure how the government would treat him if he ever went back.

But Guler believes that if one of his siblings visited him in Afghanistan, he might feel encouraged to go to Russia. “I think that he feels left behind by the family,” Guler says.

“Russia's policy is different. It is true, they say they forgive us. But one of us went to Russia and was arrested. He escaped from there and came back to Afghanistan. If the Russians hadn't arrested him, we'd all be gone," Hakimov said.

Hakimov fears that if he goes back to Russia, he might face retribution too.

"I'm not under arrest here. They [Russians] say why you surrendered. We say that we didn't surrender. We were wounded and remained. We fell into the hands of the mujahidin ,” Hakimov said.

“It takes a long time to realise that we were prisoners and did not surrender," he added.

Different delegations from the UN to Uzbekistan and Russia visited him many times to help him leave Afghanistan, but he refused to do so.

Hakimov is not sure if the Russian government can understand the circumstances that led to his capture. On some occasions, Hakimov even trained the mujahidin to fight against the Soviets.

“I had to, I was afraid. For my life, to survive, I was showing every skill I could to the mujahidin .”

A neutral ‘Afghan’

In 1989, two years after Hakimov’s captivity, the Soviets left Afghanistan in disgrace. But after that, an internal power struggle gripped Afghanistan until the Taliban emerged victorious in 1995. However, Taliban rule was also interrupted in 2001 following the September 11 attacks in the US with the American invasion.

“Since the Soviet withdrawal, Hakimov has pulled out from armed conflict not fighting for any Afghan group,” Guler says. “His health also does not allow him to get involved in any fighting,” Guler adds.

Source: Trt World

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

https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/how-a-soviet-intelligence-officer-became-a-muslim-and-an-afghan-54810

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Yemeni civilian casualty toll highest in three years: UN

February 17, 2022

UNITED NATIONS: The seven-year war in Yemen has witnessed a dangerous escalation, with January’s civilian casualties the highest in at least three years and eight million Yemenis likely to lose all humanitarian aid next month without urgent new funds, UN officials said on Tuesday.

UN special envoy Hans Grundberg and UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths painted a worsening picture of the already dire situation in the Arab world’s poorest nation. They said the past month brought a multiplication of combat zones and the end of January saw nearly two-thirds of major UN aid programmes being scaled back or closed.

Yemen has been convulsed by civil war since 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels took control of the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north, forcing the government to flee to the south, then to Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015, backed by the US and United Arab Emirates, to try restore President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

Grundberg warned the UN Security Council that recent attacks by the Houthis on the UAE and Saudi Arabia indicate how this conflict risks spiraling out of control unless serious efforts are urgently made by the Yemeni parties, the region and the international community to end the conflict.

He said a coalition air strike on a detention facility in Houthi-controlled Saada was the worst civilian casualty incident in three years, and he pointed at an alarming increase in air strikes in Yemen, including on residential areas in Sanaa and the port area of Hodeida.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1675510/yemeni-civilian-casualty-toll-highest-in-three-years-un

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Decision on Iran nuclear deal days away, ball in Tehran's court: France

16 February ,2022

France's foreign minister said on Wednesday that a decision on salvaging Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers was just days away, but that it was now up to Tehran to make the political choice.

Indirect talks between Iran and the US on reviving the tattered agreement resumed last week after a 10-day hiatus and officials from the other parties to the accord - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - have shuttled between the two sides as they seek to close gaps.

Western diplomats previously indicated they hoped to have a breakthrough by now, but tough issues remain unresolved. Iran has rejected any deadline imposed by Western powers.

“We have reached tipping point now. It's not a matter of weeks, it's a matter of days,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament, adding that the Western powers, Russia and China were in accord on the outlines of the accord.

“Political decisions are needed from the Iranians. Either they trigger a serious crisis in the coming days, or they accept the agreement which respects the interests of all parties.”

The agreement began to unravel in 2018 when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the US and reimposed far reaching sanctions on Iran, which then began breaching the accord's limits on its uranium enrichment activity.

Diplomats and analysts say the longer Iran remains outside the deal, the more nuclear expertise it will gain, shortening the time it might need to race to build a bomb if it chose to, thereby vitiating the accord's original purpose. Tehran denies it has ever sought to develop nuclear arms.

Western diplomats say they are now in the final phase of the talks and believe that a deal is within reach.

“We are coming to the moment of truth. If we want Iran to respect its (nuclear) non-proliferation commitments and in exchange for the US to lift sanctions, there has to be something left to do it,” Le Drian said.

Iran said on Monday it was “in a hurry” to strike a new deal as long as its national interests were protected and that restoring the pact required “political decisions by the West”.

Key bones of contention remain Iran’s demand for a US guarantee of no more sanctions or other punitive steps in future, and how and when to restore verifiable restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activity.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/16/Decision-on-Iran-nuclear-deal-days-away-ball-in-Tehran-s-court-France

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Turkiye rescues 52 irregular migrants pushed back by Greece

Haydar Toprakçı  

16.02.2022

IZMIR, Turkiye

Turkish Coast Guard units rescued 52 irregular migrants off the coast of Izmir province after they were pushed back by Greek coastal authorities.

The Coast Guard Command said Tuesday in a statement they learned that there was a group of irregular migrants in life rafts off Dikili, Seferihisar, Foca and Cesme districts and dispatched units to the areas.

Later, the asylum seekers, who were in five life rafts, were brought ashore and all of them were taken to provincial migration offices.

Turkiye and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.

Turkiye has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkiye-rescues-52-irregular-migrants-pushed-back-by-greece/2503808

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UK police probing Prince Charles’ charity bid involving Saudi national

16 February 2022

The UK police have launched an investigation into allegations that one of Prince Charles’s charities offered to help a Saudi billionaire secure honors and citizenship in return for donations.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the London Metropolitan Police Service said it decided to open a formal investigation after assessing media reports and looking at documents.

“The decision follows an assessment of a September 2021 letter. This related to media reporting alleging offers of help were made to secure honors and citizenship for a Saudi national,” the statement read.

“The Special Enquiry Team has conducted the assessment process which has included contacting those believed to hold relevant information.”

“Officers liaised with the Prince's Foundation about the findings of an independent investigation into fundraising practices. The foundation provided a number of relevant documents.”

The probe followed a series of stories in the Times of London, which reported that a long-time aide to Prince Charles helped secure the prince's support for a Saudi citizen to receive a knighthood and British citizenship in return for donations of millions of pounds.

Saudi national Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz’s large contributions notably funded the renovation of several royal residences, including Dumfries House, in Scotland. Prince Charles's closest aide, Michael Fawcett, who promised to help secure British citizenship for Mahfouz, stepped down in October.

Mahfouz, a donor to the Prince’s Foundation, had been seeking to obtain citizenship by paying intermediaries tens of thousands of pounds to put him in contact with the prince after being advised that awards would help his application.

Despite Charles's claims that he had no knowledge of the alleged deal, he could still prove to be a vital witness, as he held private meetings with Mahfouz at the British embassy in Saudi Arabia, in London and in Scotland.

Prince Charles already stands accused of bribes from the Saudi royal family, which has one of the worst records of human rights abuses.

The British royals have faced a host of scandals in the past several years. In the most recent, Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II’s son, agreed to settle his lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre, who accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was underage.

According to documents filed on February 15, the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/02/16/676976/UK-police-Prince-Charles-Mahfouz

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North America

 

Muslim Nations That Refuse To Recognize Kosovo Making Big Mistake, Says PM Albin Kurti

February 17, 2022

Fourteen years ago, the Republic of Kosovo declared its independence and became the world’s newest country. Backed by its main ally, the US, and protected by an UN-mandated NATO presence, Kosovo enters its 15th year of independence facing several challenges — and some clear and present dangers, too.

Despite the backing of some of the world’s biggest and most influential states, Kosovo is still not part of the UN and is recognized by fewer than 100 of the 193 UN member states. Even though it is located in the heart of Europe, and enjoys huge support from the EU, it is still not a member of the union and Kosovars do not enjoy visa-free travel across the continent.

The main cause of most of Kosovo’s pains is the deep-rooted historic rift with its northern neighbor, Serbia. Both countries were part of the former Yugoslavia and, following its break-up, endured a bloody decade of fighting in the Balkans during the 1990s.

Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo or apologize for the atrocities of the 1998-1999 Kosovo War, which only ended after NATO intervened. The current standoff and mutual non-recognition prevent both countries from joining the EU, five members of which still do not officially recognize Kosovo.

Previous Kosovar leaders attempted to engage in dialogue with Serbia. However, since assuming office in March 2021, Prime Minister Albin Kurti has signaled repeatedly that talks with Belgrade are not a priority.

“We did not want to neglect dialogue with Serbia but I cannot have it as priority number one,” he told Arab News during an exclusive interview at his office in Pristina. “I said, from the outset of this government, that jobs, justice and the COVID-19 pandemic are our top three priorities. Number four could be the dialogue.

“This dialogue, which we are approaching in a constructive and creative manner with different proposals, is a dialogue about the status of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Kosovo and Serbia do not recognize each other, so the solution is mutual recognition.”

There are other elements that further complicate the possibility of a normalization of relations between the countries and their mutual accession to the EU.

To start with, there are the dark shadows of the past. A few months after he was elected prime minister, Kurti spoke about the possibility of reviving plans to sue Serbia for genocide in an international court, and rejected some Western calls for Kosovo’s minority Serb population to be allowed to vote in a Serbian referendum that Pristina considers “unconstitutional.”

Another issue is that officials in Kosovo accuse their Serbian counterparts of being much more interested in being in the orbit of Russia rather than Europe.

“Serbia has close cultural, historical and military links with Moscow,” said Kurti. Asked how this close relationship between Belgrade and Moscow might affect his country if war breaks out between Russia and Ukraine, Kurti said it might push Serbia to become “more aggressive.” But while he said that Pristina is “following the situation very carefully,” he added: “We are not afraid.”

Nevertheless, some critics of recent US foreign-policy decisions believe Kosovo has a number of reasons to be concerned, given that in recent years neither Washington nor NATO have proven to be very good friends to many of their traditional allies in times of need.

Former US President Barack Obama’s so-called “red lines” did little to deter Russia from seizing control of Crimea in 2014. More recently, as part of the Biden administration’s pivot toward ending “forever wars,” the world watched the painful scenes at Kabul Airport as many Afghans desperately trying to flee the country after Washington effectively handed the country back to the Taliban, 20 years after it waged a war to bring democracy to the country and end the rule of the same extremist group.

However, Kurti strongly believes that the NATO presence in Kosovo is there to stay but that if push comes to shove, Kosovars are capable of defending themselves.

“I think that Kosovo has great people with great will and courage, on one hand, and on the other hand, I think that our defense and security forces and NATO, especially the US, are here to stay,” he said.

“And we are certain that we will be victorious in any kind of future crisis that might occur, but which we do not want to have.”

Kurti is so confident of NATO’s commitment to his country that he believes it is likely Kosovo will join the alliance as a full member much sooner than it is granted EU membership status.

“I believe that this is the case for two reasons,” he said. “Firstly, in the EU we have five non-recognizers out of 27, whereas in NATO we have four non-recognizers out of 30. So, one non-recognizer less in NATO than in EU.

“But in addition, the criteria and standards that you have to fulfill to join NATO are not as complex as they are for joining the EU. So, it is realistic to expect that we will first join NATO and then EU.”

In addition, NATO does not require its members to be member states of the UN or the EU, so provided that Pristina can convince Spain, Greece, Romania and Slovakia to recognize it, the prime minister’s vision might become a reality in the next few years, observers argue.

Relations with the Muslim world

The members of the EU that do not recognize Kosovo might argue that they have taken this position to avoid encouraging separatist movements within their countries. What is perhaps more remarkable is that fact that as things stands, only slightly over half of the members of Organization of Islamic Cooperation recognize Kosovo, which is a Muslim-majority country. Leading the way among the Gulf recognizers are moderate Muslim countries, such as regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

How does Kurti feel about the fact that so many fellow Muslim states do not recognize his country, particularly a major Islamic nation such as Iran?

“We think that it’s a big mistake that some of the countries with Muslim-majority populations are not recognizing Kosovo,” he said. “I think that they have been misinformed by Serbia. And some of them do this because they keep some close links with the Russian Federation.

“However, I would urge all the countries in the world, for the sake of long-term peace, sustainable security and recognizing the rights of people to freedom and self-determination, to recognize the independence of Kosovo.

“In a way, those who do not recognize the independence of Kosovo, with or without intention, they fall prey to supporting Serbia from the time of the militias that committed genocide in Kosovo.”

A particularly paradoxical twist in this tale is the non-recognition of Kosovo by the Palestinian Authority. One might think that the official representatives of a people who have for seven decades protested and fought against the illegal occupation by Israel would be among the first to stand in solidarity with Kosovo.

Yet the PA does not recognize Kosovo and its former leader, Yasser Arafat, was criticized for his close ties with former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic at the turn of the century.

Meanwhile, although Israel and Kosovo only formally recognized each other a little over a year ago Tel Aviv’s policy towards Kosovo has long been non-aggressive. Even before the formal recognition, which had been lobbied for by the administration of former US President Donald Trump, Israel supported Kosovo’s campaigns to gain membership of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Even so, Kosovo’s announcement last year of its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel shocked many Muslim countries, given the sensitivity of the issue in the Muslim world.

All of this begs the question of what the current stance in Pristina is on the Palestinian cause and the PA.

“I think that, just as we know how much the Palestinian people have suffered, they should not neglect the suffering of the Albanians in Kosovo, who survived Serbia’s genocide,” said Kurti.

He denies, however, that the Trump-era decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was in any way a form of retaliation against the official Palestinian position of non-recognition of Kosovo.

“That has nothing to do with our stance toward the Palestinian people and their cause,” he said. “We want to have good relations with Palestine, with the Palestinian Authority and with Palestinians as people.”

Last year, Kosovo joined several Arab and Muslim states in designating the Iran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah as a terrorist group. When asked about the background to that decision, Kurti said it is “not difficult to recognize terrorists and violent extremists.”

He added: “In line with our beliefs and values, on which we are building our country and on which we are orienting future generations, we made such a decision in Kosovo, and we are part of the global coalition against violent extremism and terrorists.

“We also condemned all the attacks and activities of Hezbollah, and also of Daesh.”

Kurti also said he was appalled by the recent attack by the Houthis in Yemen on Abu Dhabi airport and their ongoing strikes against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia, adding that such acts can never be tolerated.

Does this mean that he agrees that the Houthis should be designated as a terrorist group?

“Yes, I think all these attacks on civilians are terrorist actions,” he said.

Kosovo, as well as Bosnia, has had its own issues with home-grown terror; a number of its citizens lest the country to join Daesh a few years ago. Kurti said there is no place in his country for tolerance of extremist ideology.

“There were a couple of hundred people from Kosovo who unfortunately joined these absolute wars,” he said. “Some of them never came back and for those who did come back, we have done some rehabilitation programs. Some are also serving sentences in prison.

“There had been some manipulation of certain individuals. I can imagine that was due to their lack of educational background, and perhaps unemployment and social misery, and we have to have a certain sensitivity toward the situation. However, this will never stop us from harshly condemning violent extremism.”

‘Kurtinomics’ and Saudi Vision 2030

At the start of our interview, Kurti congratulated the Saudi leadership and people on the occasion of the newly announced annual “Founding Day,” which will be celebrated in the Kingdom on Feb. 22 each year. Throughout our discussion, he appeared up to speed on the most recent developments in Saudi Arabia.

“I think the people of Kosovo, but also people in the Balkans and in Europe, should know more about the reforms and the progress in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We want to strengthen cooperation with the Kingdom. It’s a very rich country, both in its culture and history, but likewise in its natural resources and economic development.”

The reforms Kurti referred to are those that are taking place under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan. It includes the diversification of the economy to reduce its dependence on oil; the creation of jobs for Saudi youths, who form the majority of the population; the introduction of previously unimaginable social freedoms and religious reforms; and a relentless crackdown on corruption.

Meanwhile, Kurti and his party triumphed at the election in Kosovo last year based on a “jobs and justice” campaign that focused on the creation of opportunities for young people and women, and a promise to tackle corruption.

He sees the similarities in the recent developments in the two countries and an opportunity for them to enhance cooperation. To this end, he invited Riyadh to seize the opportunities and invest heavily in the emerging environment in Kosovo.

“With our government we are fighting corruption,” he said. “There is no tolerance for corruption. And we are also growing our economy. For example, last year we registered two-thirds higher exports than the year before. Budget revenues increased by one third.

“Likewise, business turnover increased, while foreign direct investment increased by more than 50 percent. These figures show that Kosovo is progressing — and the best way for more progress is to invest in the already existing progress.”

But how exactly does his brand of “Kurtinomics” work? He said his reforms are all about giving people hope and a reason to believe in them.

“When people are hopeful, they would rather spend than save in our economy if it is growing,” said Kurti. “Because when you expect rainy days in the future, you’d rather save than spend. Then when people see the government is not corrupt, they are more ready to pay taxes and other contributions. That’s why budget revenues in Kosovo, tax revenues, increased by a third without changing fiscal policy.

“And the last thing is that tax administration started to have greater discipline than before. Fighting corruption and crime helps not only the common values of the people but also the health of the economy. On the other hand, our diaspora, which is huge and especially concentrated in German-speaking Europe, sent even more remittances back home than before.

“We have also established a commercial court and in this way we want to create a good environment for business. Kosovo has the euro as a currency and a very young population; the average age is 30 years, even though we are an ancient people. We are located at the heart of the Balkans, close to European markets. And at the same time, Kosovo is a country that never forgets its friends and wants to have good relations with all peace-loving nations in the world.”

Regarding the fight against corruption, Kurti admitted his government has a mountain to climb. “Corruption in Kosovo was high in the past and has not been eradicated altogether,” he said. “But it was quite concentrated at the top, so there was no trickle-down effect. Corruption was concentrated at the top and now we stopped it, precisely, at the top, with the change of government through democratic elections. This is the first point.

Source: Eurasia Review

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

https://www.eurasiareview.com/17022022-muslim-nations-that-refuse-to-recognize-kosovo-making-big-mistake-says-pm-albin-kurti/

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Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and UAE are ‘terrorist actions’: Kosovo PM

February 17, 2022

PRISTINA: Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti condemned the continuing series of Houthi attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia, and more recently the UAE, agreeing that such assaults reveal the Houthis to be a terrorist group.

“We were appalled by these images and all these attacks. Absolute violence against civilians, which has nothing to do with respect for human dignity, for human rights, for society and community, is something that we can never tolerate and it is our task to always condemn (them),” he said.

Asked whether he agrees that as a result of this deliberate targeting of civilian targets the Iran-backed Houthi militia should be designated as a terrorist group, Kurti said: “Yes, I think that all these attacks on civilians are terrorist actions.”

Kurti spoke to Arab News during an exclusive interview at his office in Pristina to mark the 14th Independence Day of Kosovo. The prime minister lauded his country’s cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the fields of countering terrorism, intelligence sharing and the ideological battle against violent extremism.

PRISTINA: Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti condemned the continuing series of Houthi attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia, and more recently the UAE, agreeing that such assaults reveal the Houthis to be a terrorist group.

“We were appalled by these images and all these attacks. Absolute violence against civilians, which has nothing to do with respect for human dignity, for human rights, for society and community, is something that we can never tolerate and it is our task to always condemn (them),” he said.

Asked whether he agrees that as a result of this deliberate targeting of civilian targets the Iran-backed Houthi militia should be designated as a terrorist group, Kurti said: “Yes, I think that all these attacks on civilians are terrorist actions.”

Kurti spoke to Arab News during an exclusive interview at his office in Pristina to mark the 14th Independence Day of Kosovo. The prime minister lauded his country’s cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the fields of countering terrorism, intelligence sharing and the ideological battle against violent extremism.

terrorism, and all these kinds of violent fundamentalism, we are on the same page,” he said.

Highlighting the recent wide-ranging reforms that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has ushered in under Vision 2030, Kurti said it is his aim to strengthen Kosovo’s ties with the Kingdom.

“I think the people of Kosovo, but also people in the Balkans and in Europe, should know more about the reforms and the progress in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“We want to strengthen cooperation with Saudi Arabia. It’s a very rich country, both in its culture and history, but likewise in its natural resources and economic development.”

Sorry, the video player failed to load.(Error Code: 101102)

The prime minister invited the Kingdom to invest more in his country and benefit from the reforms and serious anti-corruption measures his government is introducing in Pristina.

“With our government we are fighting corruption; there is no tolerance for corruption,” he said. “And we are also increasing our economy.

“For example, last year we had for two-thirds (of the year) higher exports than the year before. Budget revenues increased by one-third. Likewise, business turnover increased (and) foreign direct investment increased by over 50 percent. This data shows that Kosovo is progressing — and the best way for more progress is to invest in the already existing progress.”

Regarding the opportunities that exist for Saudi and other international investors, Kurti highlighted several potential sectors and stressed that as prime minister, he looks forward to engaging with efforts to promote these opportunities.

“We would like to have more trade exchange with Saudi Arabia and more investments in the health sector, in agriculture and also in energy because we want, just like Saudi Arabia, to invest in renewables, especially solar and wind,” he explained.

“Because the vast majority of our electrical energy is generated by coal thermal power plants, we would like to have more renewables.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2026326/saudi-arabia

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US has no choice but to work with Pakistan, says envoy

Anwar Iqbal

February 17, 2022

WASHINGTON: The United States has no choice but to work with Pakistan on the way ahead in Afghanistan, says a senior US official while elucidating the Biden administration’s new policy for the region.

At a discussion at the US Institute of Peace in Washington on Tuesday afternoon, US Special Repre­sentative for Afgha­nistan Tom West acknowledged Pakistan’s role in arranging a peace deal with the Taliban but also complained that Islamabad often ignored Washington’s suggestions.

“I have productive, good and honest relationships with Pakistani leaders, and they have huge amounts of expertise in their system on these (Afghan) matters,” he said. “And I think we don’t have a choice but to work with Pakistan on the way ahead.”

He was the only speaker at this discussion which focused on US consultations with the Taliban, other Afghans and the international community since the Taliban takeover.

The moderator, former US National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley, however, also asked a set of questions about US-Pakistan relations, differences between Islam­abad and Kabul’s new rulers and the Taliban’s position on TTP and the Durand Line.

“During the life of the negotiations, from January to August, and in the years before, we were in very close touch with the leadership of Pakistan regarding steps that we urged Pakistan to take to enhance the prospects of a negotiated settlement to this conflict,” Mr West said.

“Had Pakistan taken some of those steps in a more meaningful and consistent way, I think we would be in a different place today. I genuinely do.”

The response made it clear that while Pakistan supported the peace process, it did not always accept US proposals. Mr West also made it clear that Islamabad’s reluctance often irked Washington, although the two allies continued to support the Doha talks that led to an agreement in 2020.

“Now, it’s a mark of our pragmatism, in my view, that in Washington you are not hearing leaders from across the spectrum spending time and energy criticising Pakistan and looking backwards,” he said.

Mr West, however, indicated that despite these reservations, Washington wants to continue its cooperation with Pakistan on Afghanistan and other issues.

“I frankly think that that energy (criticising Pakistan) is not called for given the situation in Afghanistan today,” he said.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1675518/us-has-no-choice-but-to-work-with-pakistan-says-envoy

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Biden eased pressure on the Houthis one year ago; has it worked?

16 February ,2022

One year ago today, the US removed Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis and group officials from terror blacklists shortly after President Joe Biden announced an end to support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive operations” inside Yemen.

The Biden administration cited humanitarian concerns despite making it one of the president’s first foreign policy moves, which also included freezing arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both part of the coalition fighting in Yemen.

Biden also declassified a report that alleged that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 operation that led to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry denied the allegations following the report’s publication.

There was an effort by the Biden administration to highlight its so-called focus on human rights. But a year later, Biden and his top officials appear to be reconsidering their rushed policy moves on Yemen that placed much of the blame on Saudi Arabia and the coalition it leads.

Last month, Biden declared that he was reconsidering designating the Houthis as a terrorist organization following multiple attacks on the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi.

Analysts say that doing so may not have much impact as the first decision already emboldened the Houthis.

“Removing [the designation] once it had been put in place was a powerful signal to the Houthis that the new administration was leaning towards them and encouraged them to be intransigent,” Ali Shihabi told Al Arabiya English.

“Had it never been put in place, it would have made little difference; but removing it once it was in place was the huge mistake,” argued Shihabi, a political analyst with a focus on Saudi Arabia.

State Department officials say that no decision has been made and that the move is still being considered. Sources familiar with the Biden administration’s thinking say that specific sanctions on Houthi leaders could be announced in the coming weeks.

The Houthis have threatened to keep targeting the UAE so long as it backs groups in Yemen fighting against the militia.

The UAE is part of the coalition, which intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The Arab Coalition and pro-government groups have been making gains in Yemen, reclaiming provinces from under the control of the Houthis.

Washington has since approved millions of dollars of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in a bid to help both countries defend themselves against attacks from the Houthis and other Iran-backed groups in the region.

Biden’s top diplomat for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, has also repeatedly said the Houthis were at fault for blocking any real efforts towards a political solution in Yemen.

He has also said that there is no military solution to the war, which has pitted the Houthis against the internationally recognized government.

The group escalated its offensive on the oil-rich province of Marib and increased its attacks on Saudi Arabia following Biden’s decision to remove the group from the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list and revoking its Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) designation.

Houthi militants have ransacked the US Embassy in Sanaa and detained multiple US and UN employees. The local staff that worked for the US continue to be held more than four months after being detained.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration sanctioned several Houthi officials and have vowed to continue doing so for their role in the yearslong Yemen war.

The Biden administration has grown increasingly frustrated with the Houthis due to their lack of cooperation with efforts to reach a solution. This will be reflected in the moves expected to be made soon, sources familiar with the US administration’s thinking say.

Changing views on the Houthis

One year later, things on the ground have changed, even for those who initially opposed designating the Houthis.

“My view is that the FTO issue should be revisited,” former US Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein told Al Arabiya English.

Despite being one of the 100 former US diplomats to publicly criticize the Trump administration’s move to designate the Houthis, Feierstein now says, “things have changed.”

“The past year has demonstrated that the Houthis will not return to the negotiating table until they accept that there is no alternative to a political resolution,” he wrote in an article Tuesday titled ‘A peacemaker’s case for designating the Houthis.’

Citing Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government’s willingness to engage in a ceasefire, the former US diplomat wrote: “As a member of Iran’s ‘axis of resistance,’ uncontested Houthi control of Yemen would pose an enduring challenge not only to the well-being of the Yemeni people but also to vital US interests...”

Yet, he suggested crafting new sanctions and designations in a way that prevented unintended humanitarian consequences.

Such a move, as Shihabi argued, may not have a direct impact on the Houthi leadership, but it would send a message “that delegitimizes the Houthi movement as a participant in Yemen’s political future.”

For her part, Nadwa al-Dawsari said the FTO designation has little value other than delegitimizing the Houthis as an actor in the country.

“Nothing short of a substantial military campaign that is consistent and coordinated to weaken the Houthis would help bring Yemen closer to peace,” she told Al Arabiya English, arguing that re-designating the group could have a “devastating impact” on ordinary Yemenis.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/16/Biden-eased-pressure-on-the-Houthis-one-year-ago-has-it-worked-

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US House Leader Nancy Pelosi arrives in Israel, vows support on Iran

16 February ,2022

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Israel on Wednesday as part of a Congressional delegation to the country, reiterating the United States’ “iron clad” support for Israel’s security.

“We’re together in the fight against terrorism posed by Iran, both in the region and also its nuclear development,” she said in a speech at the Knesset. “Israel’s proximity to Iran is a concern to all of us.”

The Democratic House speaker also said she hoped that the Senate will “very soon” approve the additional funding that the House passed last September for the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which Israel uses to intercept homemade rockets fired from the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The visit came at a time of heightened tensions following clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers in the flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in a 1967 war.

Pelosi reiterated the United States’ commitment to a two-state solution “that enhances stability and security for Israel, Palestinians and their neighbors.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/16/US-House-Leader-Nancy-Pelosi-arrives-in-Israel-vows-support-on-Iran

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Mideast

 

Palestinian factions in Gaza vow to retaliate for Israeli crimes in al-Quds

16 February 2022

Palestinian factions in the besieged Gaza Strip have stressed that Israel will pay a price for its crimes and ongoing attacks against Palestinians in al-Quds and the occupied West Bank.

They made the remarks during a protest held in Gaza City on Wednesday to express solidarity with residents of the occupied East al-Quds neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Tensions heightened across the Palestinian territories on Sunday, when Israeli forces and illegal settlers renewed their attacks against Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah.

Sheikh Jarrah has been the scene of frequent crackdowns by Israeli regime forces on the Palestinians protesting against the threatened expulsion of dozens of families from their homes in favor of Israeli settler groups.

Speaking on behalf of the factions, Amer al-Ja’ab, a senior leader of the Palestinian Democratic Union (aka FIDA political party), said, “The dignity of our people is associated with their adherence to … their land and sanctuaries, and we will not leave the people of al-Quds alone.”

He added that the Palestinian people would not allow Israel to continue with its policy of Judaizing al-Quds, despite the rise of settler terrorism.

Al-Ja’ab emphasized that unity among Palestinians would thwart all Israeli schemes.

Israel occupied East al-Quds, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip — territories the Palestinians want for a future state — during the six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967. It later had to withdraw from Gaza.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/02/16/676974/Palestinian-factions-Israel-will-pay-price-for-crimes-al-Quds

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50 countries to take part in Aqsa Week 2022 to promote love of mosque, raise awareness

February 17, 2022

LONDON: A UK-based initiative to shed light on the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem has gone global for the second year in a row, with more than 50 countries set to take part, according to organizers.

Aqsa Week 2022, which will run from Feb. 24 to March 2, is being organized by the British-based Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) — a NGO concerned with defending the human rights of Palestinians and protecting the Al-Aqsa Sanctuary.

FOA said that during the week, which they anticipate to be the biggest one yet, mosques, universities, local councils and parliaments will hold talks, workshops and other activities and educational events to highlight the mosque’s heritage, and bring global focus to its issues and the plight of the Palestinians.

“It is an incredible week for people around the world to create conversation and raise awareness on the centrality of Masjid Al-Aqsa as well as the plight of the Palestinian people,” FOA said.

Aqsa Week, which was launched by FOA in 2017, aims to inform people of Al-Aqsa and its history and significance, as well as the dangers faced by Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian people.

Al-Aqsa is Islam’s third holiest site and is in close proximity to religions sites significant to Jews and Christians, making the area a flashpoint in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Israeli government has on occasion prevented Muslim worshippers from accessing the mosque.

Several of the FAO events will be streamed live on their social media accounts, as well as TV and radio, and they have chosen #LoveAqsa as this year’s hashtag.

“Aqsa Week 2021 was an unprecedented global success, receiving incredible support from government departments and prominent institutions, including the Departments of Religious Affairs in Turkey and Malaysia, the Iraqi government and the Palestinian Awqaf,” FOA said.

Meanwhile, FOA organized a demonstration on Saturday to call on Londoners to boycott Israeli apartheid, stopping at certain locations, including PUMA and British electronic retailer Currys, to raise awareness of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.

“FOA called on individuals and businesses to stop buying Coca-Cola until the company ends its complicity in the human rights abuse of Palestinians,” it said, as part of its #NotInMyFridge campaign, which says the company operates in an illegal Israeli settlement, making it complicit in apartheid.

The other campaigns they highlighted on the streets included the #PowerOffHP as “HP provides the technology for the control systems used at Israel’s checkpoints, a key aspect of the illegal occupation,” and #BoycottPUMA “until it stops sponsoring the Israeli Football Association,” which “has football clubs in illegal Israeli settlements.”

The march came on the heels of a report by human rights organization Amnesty International, which called for Israeli authorities to be “held accountable for committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians.”

The report, entitled “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: A cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity,” details how Israel enforces a system of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people wherever it has control over their rights, Amnesty said.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2026471/world

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Israel: officials in Southern Islamic Movement angry with leader

February 16, 2022

Several senior officials of the Southern Islamic Movement in Israel have declared their anger with leader Mansour Abbas over his stances which, they allege, contradict the movement's principles, Safa has reported.

Abbas is said to be adopting the Zionist narrative regarding the Israeli occupation. He infuriated the officials in the movement recently when he rejected the conclusion reached by Amnesty International that Israel is an apartheid state. His claim that, "Israel was born a Jewish state and will remain a Jewish state," apparently caused uproar among the movement's members.

The Islamic Movement in Israel was established in 1971 by the late Sheikh Abdullah Nimer Darweesh and it worked on both religious and social issues. In the 1990s, the movement was split into what became known as the Southern Islamic Movement and the Northern Islamic Movement. The latter was led by Sheikh Raed Salah, but was outlawed by the Israeli government in 2015.

"The Islamic Movement rejects the remarks of Mansour Abbas regarding Amnesty International's investigation, the normalisation with Israel and the Jewish state," said Ibrahim Sarsour, one of the senior officials critical of the leader. "He has defected from the steadfast religious and national principles." He called on Abbas to commit to the "text and spirit" of the movement's principles.

Source: Middle East Monitor

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

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220216-israel-officials-in-southern-islamic-movement-angry-with-leader/

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Hamas, Islamic Jihad urge enhancing Palestinian Resistance against Zionist regime

February 16, 2022

The Palestinian resistance movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad called on all Palestinian people to intensify resistance against the Israel regime in the face of the crimes committed by the Zionists.

The two groups released separate statements on Tuesday after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian youth in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire during clashes that erupted in Nabi Saleh, northwest of Ramallah City, between protesters and Israeli troops.

Residents identified the victim as Nehad Bargouthi, 19, who was shot in the abdomen with live bullets and was taken to the hospital before succumbing to his wounds.

Local witnesses said the shooting was cold-blooded and with no justification.

In their statements, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said the blood of Martyr Barghouthi and other martyrs and the sacrifices made by Palestinians held in Israeli jails will bring about the enemy’s end.

They called on all Palestinians to continue the path of martyrs and intensify resistance against the Zionist regime in all its forms.

Bargouthi's killing comes a day after Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian teenage boy and wounded at least 14 others during fierce skirmishes in Silat al-Harithiya Village, northwest of Jenin. Those clashes broke out as Israeli troops raided the village to tear down a home.

Source: ABNA24

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https://en.abna24.com/news//hamas-islamic-jihad-urge-enhancing-palestinian-resistance-against-zionist-regime_1230019.html

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Iranian FM: US President’s Guarantee Not Enough

2022-February-16

Amir Abdollahian made the remarks in an exclusive interview with the Financial Times.

He said that Washington had failed to address Iran’s demand for guarantees that no party is able to abandon the deal, as the US did under former President Donald Trump in 2018. Tehran also wants all sanctions imposed by Trump to be lifted.

“As a matter of principle, public opinion in Iran cannot accept as a guarantee the words of a head of state, let alone the United States, due to the withdrawal of Americans from the JCPOA,” Amir Abdollahian stated, using the acronym for the accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Experts say it is virtually impossible for the Joe Biden administration to provide the legal assurances Tehran demands. But Amir Abdollahian noted he had told Iran’s negotiators to propose to western parties that “at least their parliaments or parliament speakers, including the US Congress, can declare in the form of a political statement their commitment to the agreement and return to the JCPOA implementation”.

 “Iran’s commitments are as clear as a mathematical formula. It is absolutely clear what we are supposed to do and how these measures will be verified through the IAEA [the UN nuclear watchdog]. Therefore the other side can have no concern; But we remain concerned primarily about the guarantees [that the US would not withdraw].”

Expressing Tehran’s frustrations with Washington’s position as weeks of talks in Vienna appear at risk of stalling, Amir Abdollahian added, “We are facing problems during this period because the other party lacks a serious initiative.”

He said that Iran wanted the negotiations to lead to the “total lifting” of sanctions. The challenge, however, was that the Biden administration was only willing to remove the economic sanctions authorised by Trump, he added.

“This is not all we are looking for. That Trump unilaterally and unjustly imposed sanctions on real and legal entities in Iran under some allegations as Iran’s missile programme, regional issues or human rights is not acceptable,” the foreign minister continued.

He noted that “this is also one of the challenges which remains on the negotiating table in Vienna”.

Amir Abdollahian said US officials had sent “many messages” to have direct talks with Iran, but ruled out any such move.

“Our last response to Americans and intermediaries was: any direct dialogue, contact and negotiation with the US would have very huge costs for my government,” the foreign minister added.

“We are not ready to enter into the process of direct talks with the US if we do not have a clear and promising outlook to reach a good agreement with sustainable guarantees in front of us,” he stated.

Amir Abdollahian noted that Tehran had indicated to the US that if Washington’s “intentions are genuine, you should take some practical and tangible steps on the ground before any direct talks and contacts can take place”.

This could include unfreezing billions of dollars of Iranian petrodollars stuck in foreign central banks because of Trump’s sanctions or a presidential executive order to lift some of the sanctions, he continued.

Amir Abdollahian said that in “general, we are optimistic”, adding, “We also welcome a good deal in the shortest time however this deal must uphold the rights of the Iranian people.”

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani underlined on Tuesday that the Iranian negotiators' pursuit of a good agreement in Vienna talks with the world powers, stressing that verification and guarantees are integral parts of a good deal.

"The real lifting of sanctions means that #Iran will enjoy credible and sustainable economic benefits," Shamkhani wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday.

"Proven American malpractice is the most important threat to any agreement. Verification and providing a guarantee is an integral part of a #GoodDeal," he added.

In relevant remarks on Monday, Amir Abdollahian said that the threats and warnings made by the western side during the Vienna talks will not end the negotiations, and further stressed that attainment of a deal requires the other parties to be more serious.

"If the American side and the three European countries [to the Vienna talks] are serious about returning to fulfilling their obligations under the JCPOA, a good agreement can be reached in a short term," Amir Abdollahian said in a joint press conference with his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney in Tehran. 

"We look forward to reaching a good agreement, and we are confident that the practical, positive and constructive proposals presented by the Islamic Republic of Iran have paved the way for such an agreement to be reached quickly," he added.

He also noted that the Western parties must show their true intention to return to their full commitments under the JCPOA instead of playing with text and time.

"We are in a hurry to reach a good agreement, but within the framework of rational negotiations and achieving the rights and interests of our people," the Iranian minister said.

“Threats and warnings of the other sides will not specify the endpoint of the negotiations and the realities of the negotiating table and the seriousness and efforts of the western sides and the US for reviving their undertakings will specify the endpoint for negotiations or attainment of an agreement,” he underlined.

Also, on Monday, Shamkhani said that if Washington makes a political decision to remove sanctions against Iran, all speculations about the outcome of the Vienna talks will be removed.

“Vienna Talks have reached a stage where outcome can be announced without speculation and with certainty,” Shamkhani wrote on his twitter page yesterday.

"The US political decision to realize or refuse to accept the requirements of a credible and lasting deal based on the principles accepted in the JCPOA can replace speculation", he added.

In another tweet on Sunday night, Shamkhani had voiced displeasure that the western parties participating in Vienna talks still continue their initiative “show” to avoid acting upon undertakings.

Shamkhani referred to his phone talks with Iran’s lead negotiator Ali Baqeri Kani, and said, "Tonight's phone call with Bagheri Kani confirmed 2 statements in my mind about Vienna Talks: 1. Increasing difficulty of Iranian negotiators task to advance the logical and legal instructions of Tehran 2. Continuation of initiative ‘show’ by Western parties to evade commitments."

Envoys from Iran and the G4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — have been holding negotiations in the Austrian capital for 10 months in a bid to resurrect the JCPOA.

The eighth round of the talks resumed last week after a brief pause during which the negotiators returned to their capitals for consultations.

Shamkhani warned last week that the Vienna talks between Iran and the world powers may not end up in a deal if the US remains adamant to removing all cruel sanctions imposed on Tehran under the maximum pressure campaign.

"The agenda for the Iranian negotiators to continue the eighth round of Vienna Talks has been carefully defined. An agreement in which the sanctions that form the maximum pressure are not lifted will condition the country's economy and cannot be the basis of a good deal," Shamkhani wrote on his twitter page.

Reports said earlier this month that the Biden administration has restored a nuclear cooperation sanctions waiver to Iran, a senior State Department official said.

The waiver, which was rescinded by the Trump administration in May 2020, had allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to carry out non-proliferation work at Iranian nuclear sites.

The move came as Iran has been requesting removal of economic sanctions.

Shamkhani reacted to the news by saying that Iran has the right to a peaceful nuclear program.

“Iran’s legal right to continue research and development and to maintain its peaceful nuclear capabilities and achievements, along with its security against supported evils, cannot be restricted by any agreement,” he tweeted.

Iranian senior analyst Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm also discredited the US move, describing it as a deceitful measure aimed at prioritizing nuclear debates over economic sanctions in the Vienna talks.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14001127000972/Iranian-FM-US-Presiden%E2%80%99s-Garanee-N-Engh

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Iran Calls for West’s Responsible Conduct to Reach Agreement in Vienna

2022-February-16

“The Iranian side’s initiatives have put an agreement within reach, but conclusion of a final agreement depends on the Western side’s responsible conduct,” Amir Abdollahian wrote on his twitter page, referring to his phone talks with the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

The EU coordinated the talks that led to conclusion of the 2015 deal.

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani underlined on Tuesday that the Iranian negotiators' pursuit of a good agreement in Vienna talks with the world powers, stressing that verification and guarantees are integral parts of a good deal.

"The real lifting of sanctions means that #Iran will enjoy credible and sustainable economic benefits," Shamkhani wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday.

"Proven American malpractice is the most important threat to any agreement. Verification and providing a guarantee is an integral part of a #GoodDeal," he added.

In relevant remarks on Monday, Amir Abdollahian said that the threats and warnings made by the western side during the Vienna talks will not end the negotiations, and further stressed that attainment of a deal requires the other parties to be more serious.

"If the American side and the three European countries [to the Vienna talks] are serious about returning to fulfilling their obligations under the JCPOA, a good agreement can be reached in a short term," Amir Abdollahian said in a joint press conference with his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney in Tehran. 

"We look forward to reaching a good agreement, and we are confident that the practical, positive and constructive proposals presented by the Islamic Republic of Iran have paved the way for such an agreement to be reached quickly," he added.

He also noted that the Western parties must show their true intention to return to their full commitments under the JCPOA instead of playing with text and time.

"We are in a hurry to reach a good agreement, but within the framework of rational negotiations and achieving the rights and interests of our people," the Iranian minister said.

“Threats and warnings of the other sides will not specify the endpoint of the negotiations and the realities of the negotiating table and the seriousness and efforts of the western sides and the US for reviving their undertakings will specify the endpoint for negotiations or attainment of an agreement,” he underlined.

Also, on Monday, Shamkhani said that if Washington makes a political decision to remove sanctions against Iran, all speculations about the outcome of the Vienna talks will be removed.

“Vienna Talks have reached a stage where outcome can be announced without speculation and with certainty,” Shamkhani wrote on his twitter page yesterday.

"The US political decision to realize or refuse to accept the requirements of a credible and lasting deal based on the principles accepted in the JCPOA can replace speculation", he added.

In another tweet on Sunday night, Shamkhani had voiced displeasure that the western parties participating in Vienna talks still continue their initiative “show” to avoid acting upon undertakings.

Shamkhani referred to his phone talks with Iran’s lead negotiator Ali Baqeri Kani, and said, "Tonight's phone call with Bagheri Kani confirmed 2 statements in my mind about Vienna Talks: 1. Increasing difficulty of Iranian negotiators task to advance the logical and legal instructions of Tehran 2. Continuation of initiative ‘show’ by Western parties to evade commitments."

Envoys from Iran and the G4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — have been holding negotiations in the Austrian capital for 10 months in a bid to resurrect the JCPOA.

The eighth round of the talks resumed last week after a brief pause during which the negotiators returned to their capitals for consultations.

Shamkhani warned last week that the Vienna talks between Iran and the world powers may not end up in a deal if the US remains adamant to removing all cruel sanctions imposed on Tehran under the maximum pressure campaign.

"The agenda for the Iranian negotiators to continue the eighth round of Vienna Talks has been carefully defined. An agreement in which the sanctions that form the maximum pressure are not lifted will condition the country's economy and cannot be the basis of a good deal," Shamkhani wrote on his twitter page.

Reports said earlier this month that the Biden administration has restored a nuclear cooperation sanctions waiver to Iran, a senior State Department official said.

The waiver, which was rescinded by the Trump administration in May 2020, had allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to carry out non-proliferation work at Iranian nuclear sites.

The move came as Iran has been requesting removal of economic sanctions.

Shamkhani reacted to the news by saying that Iran has the right to a peaceful nuclear program.

“Iran’s legal right to continue research and development and to maintain its peaceful nuclear capabilities and achievements, along with its security against supported evils, cannot be restricted by any agreement,” he tweeted.

Iranian senior analyst Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm also discredited the US move, describing it as a deceitful measure aimed at prioritizing nuclear debates over economic sanctions in the Vienna talks.

In a reply tweet to a post left by Ulyanov who had welcomed the US waivers as a step forward, Khoshcheshm said the US continues its game against Iran and its recent move shouldn't be interpreted as softening tone.

Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi said last week that his country pursues a balanced foreign policy in relations with the world states, stressing that Iran's progress does not depend on developments in New York or Vienna.

"In our foreign policy, we seek balanced relations with the world and attach special importance to neighboring countries" Rayeesi said.

"We pin hope on our people," he added, noting that "we never pin hope on either New York or Vienna".

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14001127000299/Iran-Calls-fr-Wes%E2%80%99s-Respnsible-Cndc-Reach-Agreemen-in-Vienna

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Envoy: Iran Ready for Playing Role in UN Peacekeeping Operations

2022-February-16

“In this regard, my Government stands ready to increase its contribution to the peacekeeping operations logistically and militarily by deploying troops, military observers, police, and civilians,” Takht Ravanchi said, addressing the UN’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations on Tuesday.

He reiterated the Islamic Republic’s strong commitment and support to the UN peacekeeping missions as the “flagship” activity of the United Nations.

The Islamic Republic first announced its preparedness to contribute to the United Nations’ peacekeeping missions by providing security forces and logistical support in 2016.

Back then, Iran’s former UN envoy Gholam Ali Khoshrou, underlined the need for strict adherence to the UN Charter’s principles in any peacekeeping operation and the host countries’ responsibility towards protection of the civilian lives.

Takht Ravanchi laid emphasis on the same imperatives as well as “non-use of force except in self-defense and impartiality.”

“Therefore, any military intervention by the United Nations or by any foreign forces under the pretext of protection of civilians should be avoided,” the ambassador asserted.

“We strongly believe that the respect for principles of sovereign equality, political independence, territorial integrity of all States and non-intervention in matters that are essentially within their domestic jurisdiction should also be upheld in this regard.”

The UN peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14001127000343/Envy-Iran-Ready-fr-Playing-Rle-in-UN-Peacekeeping-Operains

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17 Israelis arrested over attack on Palestinian village

16 February ,2022

Seventeen Israelis have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a racist attack on a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank last month, police said Wednesday.

Police said Jewish Israelis armed with stones, clubs and “other objects” wounded one Palestinian and vandalised shops, vehicles and property in the northern West Bank village of Hawara on January 24.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The suspects, who live in the West Bank, Jerusalem and northern Israel, are under investigation for perpetrating “an attack, participation in a prohibited gathering and destroying property with a racist motive,” police said.

Human rights groups say that West Bank Palestinians face frequent attacks by Jewish Israelis and that perpetrators often go unpunished as Israeli security forces rarely take action.

Israel’s B’tselem rights group, which closely monitors West Bank violence, said in November that it had documented 451 incidents of Jewish settler violence on Palestinians since early 2020.

In 66 percent of cases in which settlers attacked Palestinians, Israeli security forces did not visit the scene, B’tselem said.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recorded 410 attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the first 10 months of 2021, compared to 358 in 2020.

The Israeli army said it documented 100 attacks by Palestinians against Jewish settlers in the West Bank last year.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/16/17-Israelis-arrested-over-attack-on-Palestinian-village

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Australia to list Hamas as terror group

17 February ,2022

Australia on Thursday said it would list all of Palestinian movement Hamas as a terrorist organization, the latest Western nation to do so.

Canberra had previously listed Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades as a terror group, but the new designation will list the organization in its entirety.

Hamas currently controls the Gaza Strip, has vowed to “liberate” Jerusalem by force and has frequently carried out attacks on Israeli targets.

“The views of Hamas and the violent extremist groups listed today are deeply disturbing, and there is no place in Australia for their hateful ideologies,” said home affairs minister Karen Andrews.

The designation will place restrictions on financing or providing other support to Hamas -- with certain offences carrying a 25-year prison sentence.

“It is vital that our laws target not only terrorist acts and terrorists, but also the organizations that plan, finance and carry out these acts,” Andrews said.

Israel has maintained a blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2007, when Hamas took power in the impoverished enclave.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/17/Australia-to-list-Hamas-as-terror-group

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S. Korea, Iran hold talks on resuming oil trade, unfreezing funds

16 February ,2022

South Korea and Iran have held working-level talks on resuming imports of Iranian crude oil and unfreezing Iranian funds held in the East Asian nation, South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

South Korea was previously one of Iran’s leading Asian oil customers. The move comes as negotiations to revive Tehran’s nuclear agreement with world powers resumed in Vienna.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“Our side expressed hope for the resolution of issues related to sanctions such as the transfer of frozen funds upon the agreement on the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) now underway in Vienna,” the release said.

The Iranian side stressed the importance of an early resolution of the matter of the frozen funds, it added. Iranian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Iran and South Korea are also discussing the trading of crude oil and oil products, on the condition sanctions are lifted as progress is made in nuclear negotiations, the release said.

Previously South Korean oil buyers chiefly imported condensate, or an ultra-light form of crude oil, from Iran.

The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after then President Donald Trump withdrew from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with six major powers, under which it agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for US sanctions relief.

Tehran has repeatedly demanded the release of about $7 billion of its funds frozen in South Korean banks under US sanctions, saying Seoul was holding the money “hostage.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/02/16/South-Korea-in-talks-to-resume-Iranian-oil-imports-unfreezing-Iranian-fund

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Palestinian President Abbas receives Turkish delegation in Ramallah

Enes Canlı, Mücahit Aydemir 

17.02.2022

JERUSALEM

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday received Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal in Ramallah, according to diplomatic sources.

The sources said that during the meeting Turkiye-Palestine relations were discussed. The Turkish delegation assured continued support to the Palestinian people within the framework of a two-state solution, the sources added.

The Turkish delegation also met Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and discussed bilateral ties.

Turkish Consul General in Jerusalem Ahmet Riza Demirer also attended the meeting.

Kalin and Onal are scheduled to meet Israeli Foreign Ministry and Presidency officials on Thursday.

The two senior Turkish officials began a two-day visit to Palestine and Israel from Wednesday.

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/palestinian-president-abbas-receives-turkish-delegation-in-ramallah/2504806

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Yemenis face ‘death sentence’ amid raging Saudi bombardments, UN official warns

16 February 2022

Millions of people in Yemen could face a “death sentence” if the gaps in the UN’s funding for humanitarian aid are not filled, a UN official has warned.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that January had seen nearly two-thirds of major UN aid programs being scaled back or closed. He said rations may be cut further from March, or stopped.

“The humanitarian operation... is about to start doing a lot less,” Griffiths said. “Aid agencies are quickly running out of money, forcing them to slash life-saving programs.”

“We have never before contemplated giving millions of hungry people no food at all. If these gaps aren’t addressed, it will simply be a death sentence for people whose coping mechanisms in some cases are completely exhausted and who rely on assistance for their survival,” Griffiths said.

The official, who previously served as the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, described the current funding shortage as “unprecedented in Yemen.”

According to the UN humanitarian office, the 2021 humanitarian plan for Yemen received $2.27 billion of its $3.85-billion requirement, the lowest funding level since 2015. The 2022 plan has not been released.

Funding shortages could also deprive 3.6 million people of safe drinking water and end programs to promote reproductive health.

UN special envoy Hans Grundberg also told the 15-member Council that an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on a detention facility in Sa’ada in January “was the worst civilian casualty incident in three years,” as he pointed at an “alarming” increase in the bombardment of Yemen, including residential areas in Sana’a and the port area of Hudaydah.

More than 650 civilians were killed or injured in January by Saudi air raids, shelling, small arms fire and other violence, “by far the highest toll in at least three years,” according to UN figures.

Meanwhile, recent retaliatory attacks by the Sana’a-based National Salvation Government on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “indicate how this conflict risks spiraling out of control unless serious efforts are urgently made by the Yemeni parties, the region and the international community to end the conflict,” Grundberg said.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies, backed by the United States and European powers, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.

Famine significantly threatens more than five million people in Yemen, according to the World Food Programme.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/02/16/676968/Yemen-UN-Martin-Griffiths-death-sentence-gaps

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Africa

 

Tanzania seeks ‘wider national interests’ on disputed Maasai land

Kizito Makoye  

17.02.2022

LOLIONDO, Tanzania

In a desperate bid to curb increasing human activities at one of UNESCO’s cultural heritage sites, authorities in Tanzania are planning to review a controversial law allowing a multiple land use system in the northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), ostensibly to protect wildlife sanctuaries.

The NCA, which is sprawled across a wide expanse of highland plains and savanna woodlands dotted with wild animals, is a multiple land-use area with wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai herders who practice traditional livestock grazing.

The area, known worldwide as a home to the Maasai, is rich in plants and endangered animal species, including black rhinoceroses, as well as a breathtaking dry season migration of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles into the northern plains.

Damas Ndumbaro, Tanzania’s minister of natural resources and tourism, told parliament last week that the government is planning to review the Ngorongoro Conservation Act of 1975 because it no longer suits the purposes for which it was meant.

The controversial law gives the state-owned Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) the power to oversee conservation and develop natural resources, promote tourism and safeguard the interests of Maasai pastoralists who engage in cattle ranching and the dairy industry within the area.

However, human rights groups say the government’s move to review the law will technically halt the traditional land-use system, paving the way for the eviction of over 80,000 Maasai pastoralists.

Human rights campaigners have accused the government of using every ploy to justify the eviction of Maasai people from their ancestral land under the guise of wildlife conservation.

But Ndumbaro has denied such land grabbing claims.

“One of the things that is being said is that the government wants to grab Maasai land. Let me state it clearly: Nobody owns land in Tanzania. All the land belongs to the state, and the president is the sole custodian on behalf of the people,” he told parliament.

The land conflict in the disputed Ngorongoro area has been raging for decades now. The Maasai pastoralists, who moved into the Ngorongoro and Loliondo areas from Serengeti National Park, claim they had been promised that they would never again be relocated.

However, since 1992, the ethnic group in Ngorongoro, who resides on roughly 4,000 square kilometers (1,544 miles) of land, has been living in constant fear as authorities repeatedly threaten to evict them. In April 2021, local residents in Ngorongoro claimed they had been told by authorities to prepare to move out of the district.

However, in his statement, Ndumbaro allayed such fears, saying there are no such plans to evict the Maasai in Ngorongoro.

Surprisingly, the minister defended a smear campaign in the local media accusing the Maasai of destroying the environment and wildlife habitats.

“Anyone who’s genuinely dissatisfied with the news coverage about the situation in Ngorongoro can present their complaints to the relevant authorities,” he said.

Erick Kabendera, a prominent Tanzanian investigative journalist, strongly criticized fellow journalists who blindly support the eviction of Maasai from their ancestral land.

“Local media touting cultural xenophobia narratives need to appreciate other communities’ cultures before exposing their ignorance,” Kabendera tweeted.

Meanwhile, human rights campaigners have opposed a directive issued by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, who instructed the Ministry of Tourism and its related institutions to conduct an awareness campaign to educate legislators about the history of Ngorongoro.

In their joint statement issued last week, the campaigners said the government order goes against principles of dispensing justice because the ministry is part of the dispute.

They advised the government to recruit independent observers including human rights campaigners and the people of Ngorongoro to raise awareness about the real situation to avoid sharing biased information.

“We insist this conflict must be carefully resolved in a participatory way by involving the Maasai people, who are the main victims,” the group said in a statement.

The group acknowledged the need for sustainable conservation in Ngorongoro but asked for a clear explanation from the government on why Maasai communities who have been living among the wildlife are being perceived as a nuisance.

They called on the government to abandon its plans to evict Maasai communities in Ngorongoro and Loliondo because doing so will inflict great pain and suffering on the impoverished communities.

Speaking at a public rally with Maasai traditional leaders and other stakeholders this week, Prime Minister Majaliwa allayed eviction fears, saying the government recognizes the Maasai people in Ngorongoro and their role as natural conservators of natural resources.

“As native people, you’ve made an immense contribution to the protection of natural resources for many years. We recognize your role in conserving nature,” he said.

Majaliwa hailed the Maasai people for their innate ability to co-exist with wildlife.

He said that based on the opinions given by various stakeholders, the government is working on the best way to safeguard the wider national interest in the Ngorongoro area

The prime minister said the government is determined to improve the tourism sector in Ngorongoro by involving local people.

“We have all seen an increase in the human and livestock population in Ngorongoro. If we do not take appropriate actions, our parks will suffer,” Majaliwa said. “This is a tourism area. We must decide whether or not we don’t want tourism.”

Emmanuel Lekshoni Shangai, a legislator from Ngorongoro, has urged the government to recognize the legal status of Maasai herders in Ngorongoro and Loliondo who have become victims of persecution.

He decried the government’s move to take away 1,500 square kilometers (579 square miles) of land in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/tanzania-seeks-wider-national-interests-on-disputed-maasai-land/2504873

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African Union peacekeepers kill over 20 al-Shabaab terrorists

Mohammed Dhaysane  

17.02.2022

MOGADISHU, Somalia

Peacekeeping forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) conducted an operation late Wednesday against the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab terrorist group, killing over 20 terrorists, local media reported.

The operation took place in Somalia's Lower Shabelle region.

AMISOM carried out the operation hours after al-Shabaab attacked the capital Mogadishu on multiple fronts and briefly took over the Kahda district police station.

The attacks, which began with suicide car bombings, killed at least five people, including two civilians, and wounded 16 others.

"AMISOM executed this operation without the coordination of federal government security forces," the Garowe Online news website reported.

As the Somali government focuses on completing parliamentary elections by a Feb. 25 deadline, al-Shabaab have doubled their terrorist attacks.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/african-union-peacekeepers-kill-over-20-al-shabaab-terrorists/2504826

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Burkina Faso's junta leader sworn in as president

James Tasamba

16.02.2022

KIGALI, Rwanda

Burkina Faso’s junta leader Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was sworn in as the country’s president on Wednesday, weeks after the ousting of former President Roch Kabore.

In a televised ceremony in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, Damiba with his right hand raised swore before the Constitutional Council to “preserve, respect, uphold and defend the Constitution” as the president of Burkina Faso, head of state and the supreme commander of the armed forces.

Dressed in camouflage uniform, a red beret, and a sash in the colors of Burkina's national flag, Damiba’s swearing-in came after the West African country’s Constitutional Council last week formally recognized him as president.

Kabore was detained and later resigned on Jan. 24 following a coup.

The military junta has pledged to re-establish constitutional order within a “reasonable time.”

Earlier this month, the junta announced a 15-member commission that it said will be tasked with “drawing up a draft charter and agenda, together with a proposal for the duration of the transition period.”

In his inauguration speech, Damiba said the commission has already begun its work.

“Its work should indicate the path to follow for a return to a constitutional order accepted by all, and taking into account our security constraints, our realities and the aspirations of our people,” he said.

He said the coming weeks and months will be decisive for Burkina Faso, and called for national reconciliation.

“I address to the Burkinabe of the interior and the diaspora a message of confidence. I am convinced that there is no inevitability as long as we put all our strength together,” he said.

“The world is watching us ... In the spirit of the aspirations of our people, I pledge to govern by example,” he added.

On corruption, Damiba said justice and anti-corruption structures will have a crucial role to play, warning that those trying to obstruct the process will bear the consequences of their actions.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/burkina-fasos-junta-leader-sworn-in-as-president/2504420

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Top Libyan official says naming new prime minister ‘incorrect’

Walid Abdullah

16.02.2022

TRIPOLI, Libya

The head of Libya’s High Council of State said last week’s move by the parliament to appoint a new prime minister was “incorrect”.

“The parliament’s decision to name a new prime minister before holding a session of the High Council of State was incorrect,” Khaled al-Mishri said in a statement on the council’s website on Wednesday.

This move “won’t help to build bridges of trust between the council and parliament,” he added.

On Feb. 10, the House of Representatives, based in eastern Libya, named former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha to form a new government, replacing incumbent Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh.

The parliament argues that the mandate of Dbeibeh’s government had expired on Dec. 24.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/top-libyan-official-says-naming-new-prime-minister-incorrect-/2504152

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