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Islamic World News ( 20 Nov 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, New Daesh Leader Worked With US, New Documents Reveal


New Age Islam News Bureau

21 November 2020

 

New documents reveal that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, the new leader of the Daesh terrorist group, had been cooperating with US intelligence elements.

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• Muslim Teen Guns Down Ahmadi Doctor, Injures His Father And Two Uncles Over ‘Religious Differences’ In Pakistan Punjab

• A Hindu Temple, Believed To Have Been Constructed 1,300 Years Ago Discovered In Northwest Pakistan

• Afghan Govt, Taliban Resolve Key Sticking Points Stalling Peace Talks

• Macron Accuses Turkey, Russia Of Pushing Anti-French Sentiment In Africa

• US To Launch Regional Funds For Pakistan, Afghanistan And Uzbekistan

• Spokesman Dismisses Report on Iranian Deputy FM's Contact with Biden's Team As Fake News

 

Arab world

• Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, New Daesh Leader Worked With US, New Documents Reveal

• Top US General In The Mideast Says ISIS In Iraq And Syria Still Long-Term Threat

• Resistance forces won't put down their weapons amid threat: Iraqi leader

• G20 Riyadh Summit Taking Place Under Exceptional Circumstances: Saudi Arabia's FM

• US extends sanctions waiver for Iraq to import Iranian gas: Iraqi official

• What is the G20, and what is different at this year’s Riyadh summit?

• Hamas condemns Bahraini foreign minister’s visit to occupied territories

• Iran-backed Militias Resume Rocket Attacks Toward US Embassy in Iraq 

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Pakistan

• Muslim Teen Guns Down Ahmadi Doctor, Injures His Father And Two Uncles Over ‘Religious Differences’ In Pakistan Punjab

• Pakistan Court Jails Muhammad Ashraf And Lucman Shah Aides of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed in Terror Financing Case

• War of words erupts after govt refuses permission for PDM rally

• Govt plans unbundling of several public entities

• SBP warns of forced repatriation of overseas Pakistani workers

• Balochistan health, education sectors to be revamped: adviser

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India

• A Hindu Temple, Believed To Have Been Constructed 1,300 Years Ago Discovered In Northwest Pakistan

• From 5-Year Jail Term To Non-Bailable Offence: What States Say On Ordinance Against ‘Love Jihad’

• BJP Accused Rajasthan CM Of Supporting Love Jihad Under The Garb Of Personal Liberty

• UP Home Department Proposes Tough Law Against "Love Jihad": Report

• Bihar Should Have Law Against "Love Jihad": BJP's Giriraj Singh

• Afghanistan can succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across Durand Line: India at UN

• India for 'unequivocal' UNSC stand on terror

• Pak-based Jaish trying to target J&K polls: PM

• Article 370 would never be restored in J&K, 'Gupkar alliance' befooling people: BJP

• 4 Jaish terrorists killed in Nagrota got orders from Masood Azhar’s brother

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South Asia

• Afghan Govt, Taliban Resolve Key Sticking Points Stalling Peace Talks

• Ghani: UN Does Not Recognize The Legitimacy of Taliban as a Government

• MoD Operations in Kandahar Claims 39 Militants, Wounds 5

• At least eight killed in rocket attack in Afghanistan's Kabul: Official

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Europe

• Macron Accuses Turkey, Russia Of Pushing Anti-French Sentiment In Africa

• Belarus KGB Puts Social-Media Channel Creators on Terrorist List

• Gloucestershire man arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences

• Greek police arrest Islamic State suspect after migrant camp brawl

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North America

• US To Launch Regional Funds For Pakistan, Afghanistan And Uzbekistan

• Trump will participate in virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia: US official

• Pompeo: All options remain on the table against Iran

• Dealing with terrorism threat will dominate new administration's agenda

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Mideast

• Spokesman Dismisses Report on Iranian Deputy FM's Contact with Biden's Team As Fake News

• Israel’s aggressive intentions against Lebanon remain, warns army chief Joseph Aoun

• Iran condemns Pompeo’s visit to occupied lands, pro-Israel doctrine

• Iran: World must press Israel to join NPT unconditionally

• Over 3,000 Palestinian children killed by Israel since Second Intifada: Ministry

• Turkey issues detention warrants for 101 people on alleged terrorism links

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Africa

• Rebels In Ethiopia's Tigray Fire Rockets At Neighbouring State: Report

• Ethiopia conflict puts 2.3 million children in need: UNICEF

• Boko Haram: Troops kill 3 terrorists, rescue women, children in Northeast

• Somalia: Bomb Kills 3 Soldiers in Southern Somalia

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Southeast Asia

• Be Thankful Umno Is Part Of Federal Govt, Barisan Nasional Reminds Squabbling Leaders

• GLC-driven initiatives will boost recovery, say experts

• New tourism rules soon for green zone travel, says minister

• Dr Mahathir suggests US president-elect Joe Biden crucial to Asia’s growth

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/abu-ibrahim-al-hashimi-al/d/123536

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 Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, New Daesh Leader Worked With US, New Documents Reveal

20 November 2020

 

New documents reveal that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, the new leader of the Daesh terrorist group, had been cooperating with US intelligence elements.

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New documents reveal that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, the new leader of the Daesh terrorist group, had been cooperating with US intelligence elements.

According to the newly declassified documents, the new Daesh commander has betrayed dozens of fellow Daesh terrorists in Iraq.

According to Iraq’s Al-Forat news, during an interrogation in 2008, al-Quraishi provided the Americans with confidential information about terrorist elements.

At that time, he was detained by US forces in Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq where he met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former Daesh leader who allegedly killed himself last year.

Out of 66 reports of al-Quraishi’s interrogations conducted by the Pentagon, only three documents have been declassified.

According to these documents, al-Quraishi had accepted to cooperate with the US intelligence service, giving the names of 88 fellow terrorists to the Americans.

He had also disclosed information about his group’s abduction and terror operations, but denied any involvement in the 2003 attacks against foreign forces in Iraq.

His confessions also shed more light on how Daesh was established and how it could reinforce itself following the increase in the number of American troops in Iraq in 2007 and 2008.

The Daesh terrorist group was vanquished in Iraq and Syria and lost all of its urban bastions in both Arab countries, but its remnants carry out sporadic attacks both on government soldiers and civilians.

The group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was allegedly killed in a US raid in northern Syria last month when he detonated his explosive vest after being cornered in a tunnel by approaching American Special Forces.

Daesh later confirmed his death and named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi as the new leader.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/11/20/638992/Daesh-leader-quraishi-declassified-documents

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Muslim Teen Guns Down Ahmadi Doctor, Injures His Father And Two Uncles Over ‘Religious Differences’ In Pakistan Punjab

November 20, 2020

 

Fatal attack on a house of Ahmadi in  Murh Balochan, district Nankana Sahib - AFP Photo

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A doctor belonging to Pakistan’s minority Ahmadi community was shot dead, while his father and two uncles were injured when a Muslim teenage boy opened fire on them over “religious differences” in the country’s Punjab province on Friday, police said.

According to police, the Ahmadi family members were returning to their home after offering Friday prayers in Murh Balochan at Nankana Sahib, some 80 km from Lahore, when an armed teenage boy opened indiscriminate fire on them.

During the firing, 31-year-old Tahir Ahmad, a doctor who did his MBBS from Russia, died on the spot, while his father Tariq Ahmad and two uncles suffered bullets injuries.

Police have arrested the attacker, aged between 16 and 17. He lives in the same neighbourhood as that of the Ahmadi family and is apparently inspired by the radical views against Ahmadis, police said.

“The suspect has been taken into custody and he confessed to having attacked the family over religious differences. It is being ascertained whether the teenager had attacked the Ahmadis on his own or he was following somebody else’s instructions,? a senior police official said.

The Ahmadi community spokesperson Saleem-ud-Din strongly condemned the attack and said there has been a wave of anti-Ahmadi campaign in Pakistan.

“At some events recently, speakers openly incited participants to kill Ahmadis. In the past few months, members of the Ahmadi community are increasingly being targeted because of their faith. The Imran Khan government has turned a blind eye to such activities. This is the fourth killing of an Ahmadi community member due to his faith in the last few months in Pakistan. There are many other incidents of violence where Ahmadis have been injured or faced serious loss of property,” he said.

The Ahmadi community has demanded that the government rein in the hate mongers who are operating with impunity.

“At the same time, the government has to implement its own laws about hate campaign on social media that it is extensively used for this purpose. The safety and security of every citizen in Pakistan is the responsibility of the government and Ahmadis are law-abiding citizens of this country who should get the same rights and protection as any other citizen of Pakistan,” Saleem-ud-Din said.

The Ahmadi faith was established on the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whose followers believe he was a prophet.

Pakistan’s parliament declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974. Since then, Ahmadis have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists in this Muslim majority nation in attacks that have drawn condemnation from human right groups.

Attacks targeting members of the Ahmadiya community have seen an uptick in recent months, the Dawn News reported.

Last month, an Ahmadi professor was shot dead in a targeted attack in Peshawar, allegedly over his religious beliefs.

In July, an American national, Tahir Naseem, was shot dead by a teenager in a Peshawar courtroom. It later turned out that the deceased had reportedly left the Ahmadi community.

On August 12, Meraj Ahmed, an Ahmadi trader, was shot dead by attackers in Peshawar’s Gulbahar area.

On September 10, a mob besieged the residence of an Ahmadi in the Phandu area of Peshawar and the family was rescued by police. However, one of the family members was arrested and charged with blasphemy.

https://indianexpress.com/article/pakistan/muslim-teen-guns-down-ahmadi-doctor-injures-3-others-over-religious-differences-in-pakistan/

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A Hindu Temple, Believed To Have Been Constructed 1,300 Years Ago Discovered In Northwest Pakistan

Nov 20, 2020

 

The discovery was made during an excavation at Barikot Ghundai.(Italian Archaeological Mission to Pakistan )

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PESHAWAR: A Hindu temple, believed to have been constructed 1,300 years ago, has been discovered by Pakistani and Italian archaeological experts at a mountain in northwest Pakistan's Swat district.

The discovery was made during an excavation at Barikot Ghundai. Announcing the discovery on Thursday, Fazle Khaliq of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Department of Archaeology said that the temple discovered is of Lord Vishnu.

It was built by the Hindus 1,300 years ago during the Hindu Shahi period, he said.

The Hindu Shahis or Kabul Shahis (850–1026 CE) was a Hindu dynasty that ruled the Kabul Valley (eastern Afghanistan), Gandhara (modern-day Pakistan), and present-day northwestern India.

During their excavation, the archaeologists also found traces of cantonment and watchtowers near the temple site.

The experts also found a water tank near the temple site which they believe was used by the Hindus for bathing before worship. Khaliq said that Swat district is home to a thousand-year-old archaeological sites and the traces of the Hindu Shahi period have been found for the first time in the area.

Dr Luka, the head of the Italian archaeological mission, said this was the first temple of the Ghandhara civilisation discovered in Swat district.

Swat district is among the top 20 sites in Pakistan which is home to every kind of tourism like natural beauty, religious tourism, cultural tourism and archaeological sites.

Several places of worship of Buddhism are also situated in Swat district.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ancient-hindu-temple-discovered-in-northwest-pakistan/articleshow/79328021.cms

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Afghan Govt, Taliban Resolve Key Sticking Points Stalling Peace Talks

21 Nov 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan government and the Taliban have resolved key sticking points that had stalled peace talks for weeks, several sources said on Friday, clearing the way for negotiations to move forward.

Talks started on Sept 12 in the Qatari capital Doha but almost immediately faltered over disagreements about the agenda, the basic framework of discussions and religious interpretations.

However, following days of sideline discussions, it appears negotiators have now cleared the way for full peace talks to get under way. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Taliban leader based in Pakistan said that “sufficient progress” has been made.

“We are close to an announcement and initiation of formal talks,” he said.

“A joint statement will be issued soon,” he added, saying the announcement could come in the next few days.

A second Taliban source in Pakistan confirmed that both sides have agreed on the basic rules to begin formal talks. A third source close to the Taliban also confirmed the development. An Afghan official close to negotiators in Doha said that both teams have now resolved several disputed issues, opening the path for talks to begin.

Several members of the Afghan government’s negotiating team recently returned to Kabul for final consultations, after which President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, who is heading the peace process for Kabul, are expected to announce a breakthrough, the official said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1591521/afghan-govt-taliban-resolve-issues-stalling-peace-talks

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Macron accuses Turkey, Russia of pushing anti-French sentiment in Africa

21 November 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Turkey and Russia of whipping up anti-France sentiments across Africa by funding individuals that incite resentment against Paris in the local media.

“We must not be naive on this subject: many of those who speak, who make videos, who are present in the French-speaking media are funded by Russia or Turkey,” Macron claimed during a Friday interview with Paris-based Jeune Afrique magazine.

The French president, who has generated widespread controversy by his latest anti-Islam remarks, further accused Turkey and Russia of attempting “to play on post-colonial resentment.”

Macron sparked extensive anger especially among the Muslim population of nearly two billion people, after he publicly attacked the Abrahamic religion in defense of repeated publication of derogatory cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the name of “freedom of expression.”

In his interview, he accused Ankara of contributing to the “misunderstandings” over his justification of re-publishing the sacrilegious cartoons back in October.

“When I decided to attack radical Islam … my words were distorted. By the Muslim Brotherhood -- quite widely -- but also by Turkey, which has the ability to influence a lot of public opinion, including in sub-Saharan Africa,” Macron claimed.

Reiterating his Islamophobic position that has caused huge controversy across France and beyond over recent months, he further claimed: “I am not attacking Islam, I am attacking Islamist terrorism,” using a term deliberately repeated to depict Muslims as violent by faith.

Paris has called for a total reconsideration of ties between the European Union and Turkey, which under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has significantly expanded its presence and influence in Africa in recent years.

During the interview, Macron also ruled out negotiations with armed groups in Africa’s restive Sahel region, where France is engaged in a military intervention by deploying thousands of troops.

“We don’t talk with terrorists. We fight,” Macron further boasted, as discussions intensify in France and Africa over the long-term strategy of its controversial Operation Barkhane military force.

He went on to claim that Paris would talk to different political and other groups, but not armed groups “which continue to kill civilians and soldiers, including our soldiers.”

Macron’s latest remarks on the denunciation of Islam and in defense of secularism have drawn widespread backlash from Muslim activists and advocates of the noble religion.

Macron in early October unveiled a plan to defend his country’s "secular values" against what he labeled as “Islamist radicalism” and claimed that the religion was “in crisis” all over the world.

Macron underlined that “no concessions” would be made in a new drive to eliminate religion from education and the public sector in the country.

The French president also said his government would present a bill in December that would strengthen the country’s 1905 law that officially separated religion and state.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/11/21/639037/France-President-Emmanuel-Macron-Turkey-Russia-anti-French-sentiment-Africa

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US to launch regional funds for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan

Anwar Iqbal

21 Nov 2020

WASHINGTON: US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Friday that Washington will soon announce a high-level meeting of representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan to encourage trade and development in that region.

The United States, which will also participate in the meeting, is also launching a fund to encourage investments in the South and Central Asian region.

Ambassador Khalilzad is the Trump administration’s Special Represen­ta­tive for Afghanistan Reconciliation and has played a key role in negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban with Pakistan’s support.

The deal, which calls for a total withdrawal of foreign troops from Afgha­n­is­tan by May 2021, was signed in February.

The Trump administration wants to withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan within this framework but faces a strong resistance from the Pentagon which opposes an unconditional pullout.

“We look forward to soon announcing a regional investment fund and a high-level meeting of representatives from the United States, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to discuss connectivity, trade and development initiatives,” Ambassador Khalilzad wrote in a tweet posted on his official Twitter account.

The tweet followed his meeting with Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdul Aziz Kamilov in Washington on Thu­rs­day. Uzbek Special Representative Ismatulla Irgashev also attended the meeting.

“We discussed the current status of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations and the importance of an immediate reduction in violence,” Ambassador Khalilzad wrote.

“We also discussed the region’s role in helping the Afghan peace process and recommitted to the importance of regional economic connectivity, trade and development facilitated by peace in Afghanistan,” he added.

The US diplomat noted that peace in Afghanistan would benefit Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Kabul, where he vowed to “do everything” to help curb violence and push for a ceasefire between the Taliban and Afghan forces.

Khan’s first visit to Kabul as prime minister comes amidst escalating violence in Afghanistan, which also threatens peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban that began in Doha in September.

In August, Pakistan hosted a meeting of key Taliban leaders in Islamabad, urging them to hold talks with the Afghan government to end decades of conflict. Islamabad also emphasised the need for an intra-Afghan dialogue to ensure regional stability.

The US-Taliban treaty also calls for such a dialogue and links the withdrawal of troops to the success of these negotiations.

The Trump administration wants to implement the deal before a new administration takes charge in Washington early next year.

The incoming Biden administration also wants a troop-pullout but does not share President Donald Trump’s eagerness to do it as soon as possible.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1591523/us-to-launch-regional-funds-for-pakistan-afghanistan-and-uzbekistan

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Spokesman Dismisses Report on Iranian Deputy FM's Contact with Biden's Team As Fake News

2020-November-20

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh rejected the report as fake and a good example of yellow journalism.

"The report that was released few days ago is completely fake," he said on Friday.

Earlier this week, the New York Times had claimed that Araqchi had tried to pass on to Joe Biden’s advisers.

Iran's representative office in New York made an immediate reaction to the news, rejecting any kind of direct on indirect contact between Iran and the US.

"Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, has tried to pass on to Mr. Biden’s advisers through intermediaries Tehran’s insistence that the United States return to the Iran deal unconditionally before any talks resume," NY claimed.

"Iran is not interested in a temporary freeze and will not stop enriching uranium or reduce its large stockpile in the meantime," it continued.

However, advisers to Biden do not confirm receiving any messages from Iran and say they will only deal with the issue after the inauguration.

Iran has repeatedly reiterated that the election of Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden as the US President is not very important to Iran.

US President-elect Joe Biden has recently said in a CNN article that he wants a renegotiation of the contents of the deal before he agrees to rejoin the agreement.

“I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern,” he wrote, mentioning that he wants changes to the contents of the nuclear deal and guarantees from Tehran that it would be open for compromise to strike multiple deals over its missile and regional powers as well as a number of other issues that have been the bones of contention between the two sides in the last four decades.

In response, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had stressed that the US has violated the nuclear deal and is in no position to ask for any conditions for its return to the JCPOA, adding that it's Tehran that has its own terms to allow the US back into the internationally endorsed agreement.

The foreign minister has reiterated time and again that Tehran would not change even a single word of the agreement, and cautioned the US that it needs to pay reparations for the damage it has inflicted on Iran through its retreat from the nuclear agreement and give enough ensurances that it would not go for initiating the trigger mechanism again before it could get back to the deal.

US President Donald Trump, a stern critic of the historic deal, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade, but to no avail since its "so-called maximum pressure policy" has failed to push Tehran to the negotiating table.

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

Tehran has particularly been disappointed with failure of the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- to protect its business interests under the deal after the United States' withdrawal.

On January 5, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.

In relevant remarks last Wednesday, Araqchi said that the US should lift all sanctions imposed against his country in the past 3 years before returning to the nuclear deal.

“If the US wants to return, all sanctions which have been imposed in this period of time (past 3 years) should be removed. This is not a precondition for returning to the nuclear deal but it is the nuclear deal itself,” Araqchi said.

He added that of course there are other challenges that Iran and the US should talk about (within the framework of the nuclear deal) and the ground should be paved for the US return to the nuclear deal in a way that will meet the Iranian people’s interests.

“The world is now speaking about one point and the entire world has accepted that the (US) policy of maximum pressure has failed and did not attain any of its goals,” Araqchi said.

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/13990830000350/Spkesman-Dismisses-Repr-n-Iranian-Depy-FM's-Cnac-wih-Biden's-Team-As

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Arab world

 

Top US general in the Mideast says ISIS in Iraq and Syria still long-term threat

21 November 2020

WASHINGTON — Although the Islamic State extremist group is battered and scattered, it cannot be fully defeated until the world finds a way to reconcile and resettle the thousands of people displaced by years of war in Iraq and Syria, the general overseeing American military operations in the Mideast said Thursday.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said there is no military means of solving the problem of Mideast refugees and internally displaced persons, or IDPs, who await repatriation or resettlement and represent what he called an unfortunate byproduct of armed conflicts.

“Today, across vast swaths of Syria and Iraq, the systemic indoctrination of IDP and refugee camp populations who are hostage to the receipt of ISIS ideology is an alarming development with potentially generational implications,” McKenzie said in remarks to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

He said a solution must come from a joint effort by diplomatic, security and humanitarian organizations.

“Unless the international community finds a way to repatriate, reintegrate into home communities, and support locally grown reconciliation programming of these people, ... we are buying ourselves a strategic problem 10 years down the road when these children grow up radicalized. If we don’t address this now, we’re never really going to defeat ISIS,” he added.

Over the past six years, starting with former President Barack Obama’s decision in 2014 to return U.S. troops to Iraq to halt an advance of Islamic State forces into Iraq from Syria, the U.S. has led an effort to militarily defeat the extremist group in both countries. But the group has not been extinguished, and McKenzie said it has not abandoned its aspiration to recreate a caliphate and attack the West.

President Donald Trump has pushed for a full U.S. withdrawal from Syria, saying the conflict there was not worth U.S. sacrifices, although there currently are at least several hundred U.S. troops there working with local forces to solidify gains against ISIS. The U.S. also has about 3,000 troops still in Iraq; on Tuesday the Pentagon announced that Trump had ordered a drawdown to 2,500 in Iraq with no change for Syria.

President-elect Joe Biden has long argued for bringing most U.S. troops home from the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan while narrowly focusing the U.S. military on defeating ISIS and al-Qaida.

Trump has pushed for the repatriation of foreign fighters in Syria, but their home countries have largely refused to take them back. He has shown little interest in leading a diplomatic or humanitarian effort to resettle refugees and internally displaced people and to improve their economic prospects.

In the short run, McKenzie said, ISIS is in no position to pose a major security threat to the United States. The al-Qaida extremist group and like-minded militants also are severely hobbled but not eliminated, he said.

Pressure put on these groups by the U.S. military and other organizations has made it difficult for them to transfer the funds, organize the plans and move the people needed to conduct external attacks from Iraq or Syria, he said.

“Because when you are running for your life up and down the Euphrates River Valley, listening to the noise of an armed MQ-9 drone overhead, it’s hard to think about conducting attack planning against Detroit,” he said.

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/11/19/top-us-general-in-the-mideast-says-isis-in-iraq-and-syria-still-long-term-threat/?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1738667_

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Resistance forces won't put down their weapons amid threat: Iraqi leader

20 November 2020

A senior Iraqi leader says the Islamic resistance forces will not lay down their arms as long as Iraq is under threat.

Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq movement, says the Iraqi government is entitled to having a monopoly on carrying and using weapons in order to restore stability to the country.

However, he noted that the Iraqi resistance forces will continue carrying arms as long as the country is in danger.

Speaking in an interview with the Al-Iraqiya TV, which was aired on Thursday, Khazali said resistance forces carry weapons for a specific goal and reason.

“Once that goal is achieved, they will lay down their weapons,” he noted.

He said he is opposed to rocket attacks against the US embassy, and so are many other groups, as it is a diplomatic site.

“Resistance groups are opposed to [the US] occupation; we do not approve of rocket attacks against diplomatic centers,” he added.

The heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, which hosts foreign diplomatic sites and government buildings including the US embassy, has been frequently targeted by rockets and explosives in the past few years.

Washington, each time, has been quick to point the finger at popular anti-terror groups, which are now integrated into Iraq's armed forces.

The US has time and again targeted positions of Iraq’s anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, after blaming the major anti-terror force for the rocket attacks.

The popular group and other resistance forces have strongly denied any involvement in the strikes. They even agreed last month to stop military operations against US and foreign forces in Iraq to allow them to leave the Arab country.

Khazali, however, says the ceasefire announced by Islamic resistance groups has come to an end as two conditions for the truce have not been met.

“The two conditions included Iraq’s control over its airspace and setting up a timetable for the withdrawal of American occupying forces from Iraq,” he said in the Thursday interview.

“We will establish the principle of our full right to confront alien forces militarily,” he added.

Anti-American sentiments have been running high in Iraq since the US assassinated Iran’s anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and deputy head of Iraq’s anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in Baghdad on January 3.

Just days later, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously passed a bill mandating the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq.

The US has refused to withdraw its troops, with US President Donald Trump balking at the idea with the threat to seize Iraq's oil money held in bank accounts in the United States.

Iraqi resistance groups have pledged to take up arms against US forces if Washington fails to comply with the parliamentary order.

The US announced on Tuesday that it would slash troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq to 2,500 in each country, their lowest levels in nearly 20 years of invasion.

Washington still has some 3,000 troops stationed across Iraq.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/11/20/638985/Iraq-khazali-resistance-US-occupation

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G20 Riyadh summit taking place under exceptional circumstances: Saudi Arabia's FM

20 November 2020

The G20 Leaders Summit in Riyadh comes under exceptional circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Saudi Arabia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan via the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Friday.

Despite the challenges, Prince Faisal said the Kingdom had “faced the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic with determination, determination and competence.”

“The Kingdom has put at the top of its priorities the protection of lives and the economy from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, and has paid special attention to discussing policies related to individuals with their various interests and areas affecting their lives,” SPA quoted the minister as saying.

“The Kingdom seeks to push policy solutions to address the epidemic, and to work with international partners and organizations to achieve these solutions,” he added via SPA.

G20 Riyadh Summit

Saudi Arabia holds the 2020 presidency of the G20, which rotates among members, and will be hosting the G20 summit across Saturday November 21 and Sunday November 22.

Due to the coronavirus, this year’s Riyadh summit is being held virtually, with leaders and ministers attending via webcam.

The build-up events, ranging from Women 20 to Business 20, have also taken place virtually.

Addressing the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic is top of the agenda this year, as countries try to rebuild from the devastating economic impact of the virus.

The environment has also featured, with the looming threat of climate change everpresent on the agenda.

This year’s agenda also has a sharper focus on culture than previous years, with culture ministers pledging to support the $2.3 trillion cultural economy in a meeting on November 4.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/11/20/G20-G20-Riyadh-summit-taking-place-under-exceptional-circumstances-Saudi-Arabia-s-FM

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US extends sanctions waiver for Iraq to import Iranian gas: Iraqi official

21 November 2020

Washington has granted Iraq a shortened 45-day sanctions waiver to import Iranian gas that will expire days before US President Donald Trump’s term ends, an Iraqi official said Saturday.

Baghdad buys gas and electricity from its neighbor Tehran to supply about a third of its power sector, worn down by years of conflict and poor maintenance.

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The US blacklisted Iran’s energy industry in late 2018 but granted Baghdad a series of temporary waivers, hoping Iraq would wean itself off Iranian energy by partnering with US firms.

The lengths of the exemptions have become a key tool in US policy towards Iraq, demonstrating the level of satisfaction or frustration with Baghdad.

In May, Washington granted Iraq a four-month extension as a gesture of goodwill towards Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who had just formed a cabinet seen as US-friendly.

But when it renewed the waiver in late September, the Trump administration gave Iraq just 60 days.

This time, it went even shorter: 45 days, a top Iraqi official told AFP, expiring around a week before Trump is set to hand over the White House to President-elect Joe Biden.

“They (the Trump administration) wanted a last opportunity to have a say,” the official said.

The shorter waiver comes amid concern by Iraqi and Western officials that Trump could use his final days in office to strike at Iran and its allies in Iraq.

The State Department is drawing up plans for a possible closure of the American embassy in Baghdad, which has been targeted by dozens of rocket attacks in the last year.

And two Iraqi officials have said they expect a “bucket list of sanctions” against Iranian interests in Iraq ahead of the White House handover.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/11/21/US-extends-sanctions-waiver-for-Iraq-to-import-Iranian-gas-Iraqi-official

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What is the G20, and what is different at this year’s Riyadh summit?

Marco Ferrari

21 November 2020

This year’s G20 summit will be an event quite unlike any in the organization’s history.

Hosted by Saudi Arabia, the Leaders’ Summit will bring leaders from 19 of the most powerful countries and the European Union together.

But travel restrictions and concerns over social distancing due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic mean that invitees will have to take part in a virtual conference.

This year’s agenda also looks different to previous years. The global financial crash wreaked by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be high on the agenda for this year’s summit, as leaders are expected to discuss ways of dealing with the fallout of worldwide lockdowns over the past year and the ongoing race to develop and roll out a vaccine.

What is the G20?

Founded in 1999 as a platform for national banks and governments of 19 countries and the European Union, the G20 expanded its operations and began hosting regular leaders’ summits in 2008.

It invited world leaders from 19 countries and the European Union to discuss matters of international monetary policy.

The presidency rotates between member countries every year.

Its roots can be traced back to the Bretton Woods conference at the end of the Second World War, an early meeting of world leaders to discuss cross-border monetary policy.

Its members are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, while Spain is a permanent guest invitee. Additionally, Jordan, Singapore, and Switzerland have been invited as guests to this year’s summit. Several international organizations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO) are also invited.

Discussions at the G20 summits revolve around issues affected global trade – both political and regulatory. For example: at 2019’s summit in Osaka, members committed to reforming the WTO’s dispute settlement system – which enforces rules about how trade is conducted between WTO members.

What is different this year?

Aside from the fact that world leaders will not be attending the event in person, this year’s G20 summit is expected to focus on addressing the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. It will be the first time the summit is hosted by an Arab nation.

Saudi Arabia’s agenda this year is focused on three key areas: empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers for the future.

The Kingdom is expected to discuss ways for providing opportunities for everyone around the world – with a particular focus on women and young people. Environmental concerns will also play a role, as carbon emissions and ocean preservation will be discussed. Finally, there will also be a focus on the future of AI and the digital economy.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2020/11/21/G20-Explainer-What-is-the-G20-and-what-is-different-at-this-year-s-Riyadh-summit-

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Hamas condemns Bahraini foreign minister’s visit to occupied territories

20 November 2020

Palestinian Hamas resistance movement has censured a Bahraini government delegation led by Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani over paying an official visit to the occupied territories, more than two months after the Persian Gulf kingdom normalized relations with Israel.

“The Bahraini foreign minister’s visit to the occupied lands and the friendly talks he had with criminal Israeli leaders are deplorable and condemned in strongest terms. This is an unacceptable act at [both] Arab and moral levels,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said in a statement released on Thursday.

He added, “Bahrain’s request to exchange ambassadors during its foreign minister’s visit reflects the Bahraini regime’s insistence on deepening the national mistake that it made by signing the normalization agreement with the Israeli Occupation.”

Qasem then lambasted the Manama regime’s intent to exchange ambassador with the Tel Aviv regime as contrary to Arab principles and an act of antagonism against the national interests of Bahraini people, warning that such a measure would further escalate tensions in the region.

The senior Hamas official highlighted that Zayani’s visit to the occupied lands concurrent with an uptick in Israel’s settlement construction activities in Jerusalem al-Quds has made the Persian Gulf nation a partner in the crimes and aggression being committed against Palestinian people, their rights and land.

On Wednesday, the Bahraini delegation arrived by Gulf Air’s flight GF972 at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, and Zayani was welcomed by his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi.

US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, Avi Berkowitz, was on the flight as well.

Zayani met with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem al-Quds later in the day.

At a ceremony in Manama on October 18, Bahraini and Israeli officials signed a joint communiqué establishing full diplomatic relations. The Manama and Tel Aviv regimes are now expected to open embassies.

The Israeli delegation, led by Israeli security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, flew on an El Al Israel Airlines charter flight from Ben Gurion Airport to Bahrain and was accompanied by US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.

The meeting followed a September 15 ceremony at the White House when Netanyahu signed US-brokered normalization deals with the Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Bahraini foreign minister.

The normalization deals have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital. They say the deals ignore their rights and do not serve the Palestinian cause.

Many Arab states say they remain committed to the so-called Arab Peace Initiative – which calls for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied after 1967 in exchange for peace and the full normalization of relations.

But speculation has been rife that some countries in the region would soon join the bandwagon to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/11/20/638984/Hamas-condemns-Bahraini-foreign-minister%E2%80%99s-visit-to-occupied-territories

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Iran-backed Militias Resume Rocket Attacks Toward US Embassy in Iraq 

By Namo Abdulla

November 19, 2020

WASHINGTON - Weeks of continued calm in and around Baghdad’s Green Zone were disturbed Tuesday when several rockets were fired toward the U.S. Embassy, located in the fortified area that houses key government offices and other diplomatic facilities.

Iraqi officials say at least three of the seven rockets fired were intercepted by the Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-Ram) system installed near the U.S. Embassy, but some of them fell in nearby civilian areas, killing at least one child and injuring several others. The attack did not kill or wound any Americans.

Initially, a new pro-Iran group called Ashab al-Kahf or “the cave companions,” which Iraqi intelligence sources describe as a subgroup of Kataib Hezbollah, the usual suspect in attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack on social media.

Denial of responsibility

But after news of civilian casualties broke, KH and its political ally in the Iraqi parliament, the Fatah Coalition, issued separate statements denying the involvement of Shiite militias in the attack. They both blamed it, without evidence, on President Donald Trump’s election performance.

“The shelling of the embassy came to cover up Trump’s loss in the elections through exporting his internal crises and trying to ignite a full-scale war,” the KH statement said.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in a statement on Wednesday strongly condemned the attack, noting reports that “Iran-backed militias again took credit for the attack.” The statement also called on the Iraqi government to hold the violent armed groups accountable.

The new attack came nearly two months after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly called Iraqi leaders, threatening to close his country’s embassy in Baghdad if Iraqi authorities failed to stop the militia attacks.

In response to VOA’s question on whether Washington will close the embassy or take other actions over the latest rocket attack, a State Department spokesperson Wednesday said, “We understand the government of Iraq is currently investigating. We have no further comment at this time.”

In October, KH announced it was ceasing attacks on U.S. interests because they were promised by Iraqi officials that U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq.

U.S. troop drawdown

Even though the attack came shortly after the Trump administration announced it would pull out several hundred of the 3,000 troops stationed in Iraq, Michael Knights, an Iraq analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the incident was unrelated to the withdrawal decision.

“The November 17 rocket attack was preplanned before the U.S. announcement,” he said, adding that the rocket attack was timed to coincide with a secret visit by Esmail Qaani, commander of the Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), who was said to be in Baghdad that day.

VOA could not independently verify the alleged Baghdad visit by Qaani, who replaced Qassem Soleimani, who died in a U.S. drone strike in January.

“Militias [are] not emboldened. They have rushed to assure Iraqi government that it is not they who did it. They want to keep a low profile until Trump is out,” added Knights.

Pro-Iranian militias in the past, however, have described U.S. troop drawdowns as a success for their anti-American “resistance.”

The attack also came hours after Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi held a phone call with Pompeo. The two discussed the drawdown of U.S. troops and “the growing capability of Iraqis in the fight against terrorism,” according to a statement by Kadhimi’s office.

The Iraqi government issued a statement on Wednesday, calling those behind the attack “outlaws” and vowing that the perpetrators “will not go unpunished.”

Some experts, however, doubt that Iraqi authorities will be able to bring the attackers to justice.

https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch/iran-backed-militias-resume-rocket-attacks-toward-us-embassy-iraq?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1738667_

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan Court Jails Muhammad Ashraf And Lucman Shah Aides of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed in Terror Financing Case

Nov 20, 2020

LAHORE: A Pakistani court on Friday jailed two more aides of Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed in a terror financing case.

The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) of Lahore handed down six and five-and-a-half years of imprisonment to JuD leaders Muhammad Ashraf and Lucman Shah, respectively.

ATC judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on each of them.

On Thursday, the 70-year-old JuD chief was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment in two terror cases by ATC Lahore. Saeed's two close aides - Zafar Iqbal and Yahya Mujahid - were sentenced to 10 and a half years each, while his brother-in-law Abdul Rehman Makki was sentenced to six months of imprisonment in the same cases.

Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a $10 million bounty on, was arrested on July 17 last year in the terror financing cases. He was sentenced to 11 years in jail by an anti-terrorism court in February this year in two terror financing cases.

The JuD chief is lodged at Lahore's high-security Kot Lakhpat jail.

Saeed is wanted in India for planning the 2008 Mumbai attacks when 10 Pakistani terrorists killed 166 people, including six Americans, and injured hundreds others.

Paris-based global terror financing watchdog financial action task force (FATF) is instrumental in pushing Pakistan to take measures against terrorists roaming freely in Pakistan and using its territory to carry out attacks in India.

A total of 41 cases have been registered by Pakistan's counter terrorism department against the JuD leaders, out of which 24 have been decided while the rest are pending in the ATC courts. Four cases have been decided against Saeed so far.

The sentencing of JuD leaders comes weeks after the FATF retained Pakistan on its grey list till February 2021 as Islamabad failed to fulfil the agency's six key obligations, including failure to take action against two of India's most wanted terrorists - Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar.

Saeed-led JuD is the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack.

The US department of the treasury has designated Saeed as a specially designated global terrorist. He was listed under the UN security council resolution 1267 in December 2008.

The FATF had placed Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action to curb money laundering and terror financing by the end of 2019 but the deadline was extended later on due to Covid-19 pandemic.

With Pakistan's continuation in the 'grey list', the country may find it difficult to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union, thus further enhancing problems for the cash-strapped nation.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-court-jails-2-more-aides-of-jud-chief-hafiz-saeed-in-terror-financing-case/articleshow/79328725.cms

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War of words erupts after govt refuses permission for PDM rally

Ali Hazrat Bacha

21 Nov 2020

PESHAWAR: The opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Friday vowed to defy government ban on its public gathering in Peshawar on Sunday, warning the district administration that use of force to stop the protesting citizens could spark street battles.

Rallies across the country will be held as the PDM planned until the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government is removed, representatives of the opposition parties declared while speaking at a joint press conference at Peshawar Press Club.

Pakistan Peoples Party’s central information secretary Dr Nafeesa Shah at a separate presser also warned the government against playing with the emotions of the masses, asking the administration to allow the 11-party opposition alliance to hold its Peshawar rally in a ‘peaceful’ manner.

Friday saw a flurry of statements and press conference soon after the Peshawar deputy commissioner refused to allow the opposition, which had earlier held public meetings in cities of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, to hold their rally scheduled for Nov 22 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s capital.

In a rejoinder to PDM’s request for permission, the Peshawar DC said: “The Covid-19 positivity rate [in] District Peshawar has presently exceeded 13%, which is alarmingly high and any large public gathering is likely to further increase the spread of life-threatening virus. The undersigned regrets to inform you that permission for the said event has not been granted.”

Just two days ago, Railways Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed while holding a press conference in Islamabad had advised the opposition leaders to enter into a dialogue with the government to steer the country out of the political impasse.

Accompanied by PPP Senator Rubina Khalid, Ms Shah told the presser in Peshawar that PDM’s rallies had baffled the PTI government that had offered to resolve issues through dialogue.

Expressing serious concern over the increasing prices of life-saving drugs, food items and other essential commodities, the PPP central information secretary said the existing inflation was the outcome of bad governance.

She said the government was trying to hide behind the pandemic but warned that it would not find any route to escape.

About the spread of virus, Ms Shah said political parties had advised all their workers to take necessary measures to ensure their safety.

The PPP leader alleged that Gilgit-Baltistan election once again proved that the PTI had come to power through election engineering. To disrupt the anti-government movement being run by the people of Pakistan, the rulers were trying to use ‘Covid engineering’, she said in reference to the restriction on their public gathering.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s KP chapter chief Senator Maulana Atta-ur-Rehman, Awami National Party’s KP general secretary Sardar Hussain Babak, PPP’s KP president Humayun Khan, Qaumi Watan Party’s provincial chapter chairman Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao, KP information secretary of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Ikhtyar Wali Khan, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party representative Mukhtiar Yousufzai, Jamiat Ahle Hadith representative Dr Zakir also spoke during the press conference.

They condemned the administration for turning down the permission for the Sunday gathering and said the rulers were using different pretexts to disturb the people’s movement against the government.

They warned the government that any attempt to create hurdles in the holding of PDM’s meetings would spark street protests.

The JUI-F’s KP chief said the removal of banners and posters and denying permission for holding the public rally were the tactics being used by the government to pressure the PDM to cancel its events.

“We are ready to go to extreme point against government,” the JUI-F leader declared, demanding the establishment to stop supporting the PTI government.

ANP’s Babak said it was fundamental right of the people to hold peaceful meetings. Leaders of the ruling PTI, which did not take any precautionary measure at all while recently holding public meetings in Gilgit-Baltistan last week, were asking the PDM not to hold meetings due to the pandemic.

QWP’s Sherpao and PML-N’s Khan described the PTI government more dangerous than Covid-19, saying that it was time to get rid of ‘Covid-18’.

Earlier addressing a press conference in Islamabad, federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid had suggested the opposition parties to hold talks with PM Khan to end political impasse. “If you don’t hold dialogue with the prime minister, the narrative of [PML-N supremo] Nawaz Sharif will be buried,” Mr Rashid warned, adding that approaching a “closed tunnel” was not a wise step as it could lead to a “disastrously dangerous situation”.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1591553/war-of-words-erupts-after-govt-refuses-permission-for-pdm-rally

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Govt plans unbundling of several public entities

21 Nov 2020

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Husain has announced unbundling of several state-owned enterprises, including Pakistan Railways, PIA and Pakistan Steel Mills, and involving the private sector to run these entities.

Addressing a news conference with Information Minister Shibli Faraz here on Friday, Dr Husain also highlighted the reforms undertaken in the federal tax collecting body. Acknowledging mismanagement and corruption in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the adviser said the best way to eradicate all such misdoings was to minimise human interaction.

“If we are able to harness the true potential of tax collection, the government will not require borrowing and the national debt will reduce,” he said, adding that a UK-based Pakistani had been hired as the chief information officer at the FBR and under the new system, payment of sales tax refunds was going on smoothly.

“Now the claimants do not need to meet any official to receive the cheques for refunds; the amount is directly transferred to the bank account of the company. We have cleared refunds of up to Rs250 billion and soon this system will be implemented for income tax refunds, too,” he said.

PM’s aide says Rs250bn sales tax refunds cleared

Dr Husain said out of around 2.7 million income tax filers, one million showed a negligible income and the FBR had started gathering information about these people from the National Database and Registration Authority, Civil Aviation, etc.

“Due to this integration of database the FBR will know the lifestyle of such persons; it will expand the tax base and eventually lead to lowering the tax rate. All such measures will also help improve the FBR performance,” he added.

The PM’s aide said the restructuring plan of Pakistan Railways (PR) had been approved by the federal cabinet and the organisation would be divided into five entities — a regulatory body on safety and accidents; a separate company for ML-1 for fast-track train from Karachi to Peshawar; a government company to manage the existing tracks and other infrastructure; a freight company as currently only four per cent national freight is being handled by PR and this needed to be enhanced; and a passenger company where the private sector will be allowed to operate trains by giving charges to the track and infrastructure company.

Dr Husain also announced division of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) land into two parts as well as a scheme to lay off its existing employees by offering them salaries for two-three years.

“The PSM has been non-functional since 2015, but salaries and other packages are being paid by the government,” he said, adding: “We will establish a company to run the Steel Mills with private sector and 1,200 acres of its land will remain under the administrative control of PSM. We expect that the operating capacity of Steel Mills will enhance up to three million tonnes per annum against one million tonnes.”

He said that 19,000 acres of other purpose land of the PSM would remain under the government control.

The PM’s adviser also announced the unbundling plan of PIA as the accumulated losses of the national flag carrier over the past 10 years stood at Rs450bn. It was a heavily indebted entity making it impossible to achieve any growth path, he said.

“The financial restructuring plan has been finalised; a fresh fleet would be provided to the national flag carrier, but it would be rightsized to 7,000 employees from its existing strength of 14,000,” he added.

Dr Husain said an attractive voluntary separation scheme would be offered to around 3,500 employees, while 3,500 affiliated with non-core business like catering, etc, would be outsourced. “The ratio will be reduced from 500 persons per plane to 250, but that too is higher than that of Emirates or Qatar Airways, to reduce losses and turn the airline around,” he added.

Dr Husain said that out of 65m workforce in the country, only 4m were employed in the public sector and the government had to strengthen the private sector as the driving force for the economy. He said there were more than 100 rules and regulations for the investors to fulfil for setting up an industry in Pakistan and the government was working to reduce the number of such requirements.

He said weakening any institution was easy and faster compared to strengthening the institutions. “That is why it was the vision of the prime minister to appoint only professional and able persons as heads of the institutions, including the chief executives, managing directors and senior managers,” he said.

Dr Husain said the current selection process involved several competent authorities, adding that earlier the hiring of senior managements in state-owned enterprises and other institutions was discretionary of the prime minister. He said that about 50 senior managers had been hired through this process and none of the appointments had been challenged.

Many competent overseas Pakistanis have been hired through this process, he said, adding that the new promotion policy of the government was not based merely on seniority, but also on competency and hard work.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1591550/govt-plans-unbundling-of-several-public-entities

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SBP warns of forced repatriation of overseas Pakistani workers

Shahid Iqbal

21 Nov 2020

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has warned over possible forced repatriation of overseas workers that could create grave problems for the economy urging the government to evolve a comprehensive strategy to deal with the situation.

“While the short-to-medium-term focus seems appropriate given the abruptness of the Covid-19 crisis, the government must also frame a long-term view and adopt a comprehensive national migration policy,” the central bank noted in its recently released State of Pakistan’s Economy 2019-20.

The existing framework does not share any comprehensive action plan to address the problems of migrant workers in case of forced repatriation, it added.

The annual report provided a comprehensive account on overseas Pakistanis and possible grave situation emerging from forced repatriation of workers particularly in the Gulf region.

Over 100,000 overseas jobs for which the recruitment process was going on in the country was disrupted due to Covid-19 and is not going to recover unless the recruiting projects are revived.

“Around 50,000 Pakistani migrants faced layoffs in different countries. These jobs may not be recovered in the short term and are thus extremely vulnerable,” it added.

Using data compiled by the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment (BEOE), the report said that around 60,000 Pakistanis were recruited for overseas work, but could not proceed abroad due to travel restrictions and suspension of flight operations. The BEOE also categorises these jobs as extremely vulnerable.

In addition to these, 50,000 emigrants (Azaad Visa excluded) re­­turned on paid or unpaid leaves as of June 20. These workers have not been laid off, but their job continuation entails risk, said the report.

In case of forced dismissals, workers also did not receive compensation, and other dues and therefore found it difficult to arrange travel expenses on their own. The recent figure of stranded Pakistanis in different destinations is highly skewed towards the Gulf region with more than 91 per cent in only two countries, i.e., Saudi Arabia and the UAE, said the report.

During April-June, the national airline flew 490 special flights and repatriated 90,308 citizens during April-June, said the report.

Even before the Covid-19, important migrant destinations, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others, had started internal reform processes and took comprehensive measures to encourage recruitment of local workers.

“Now, with the Covid-19 crisis, the demand contraction and a dull crude oil market has further weakened the economic outlook of oil-exporting economies. Under such circumstances, a complete return to pre-Covid migrant employment levels does not appear in sight, at least over the next two years,” said the report.

A number of countries, including Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Mexico and Sri Lanka, have been following national frameworks for the reintegration of returning workers under national migration legislation and policy frameworks.

In coming months, thousands of repatriated Pakistanis will require similar reintegration assistance in the form of financial support, entrepreneurship facilitation, skill up-gradation and job resumption, said the report.

“A well-planned and coordinated strategy is needed at provincial and federal level to address social and economic consequences of mass repatriation and cater to the basic needs of the returned migrants,” said the report.

The government must improve governance framework in migration-related operations to improve policy effectiveness, the SBP advised.

“As per the International Labour Organization (ILO) assessment, such operations in Pakistan currently face multiple challenges, such as the absence of properly designed systems, weak standard operating procedures, inadequately trained assigned staff and coordination weaknesses among different departments,” said the report.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1591542/sbp-warns-of-forced-repatriation-of-overseas-pakistani-workers

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Balochistan health, education sectors to be revamped: adviser

21 Nov 2020

QUETTA: Adviser to the Chief Minister on Information Bushra Rind has said that the Balochistan government has adopted a strategy to provide maximum facilities to people in the health and education sectors.

Speaking at a press conference here on Thursday, she said: “In order to overcome the shortage of doctors in the province, the government will hire 3,000 male and female doctors on contract.”

Staff nurses and other medical staff would also be recruited, she added.

The adviser said the government had also decided to take action against land grabbers and encroachers. It was the commitment of the government not to allow anyone to hold illegal possessions of government or private property, she added.

She said the government would soon announce a new comprehensive media policy to address the problems being faced by the media persons.

Ms Rind said the Balochistan government was making all-out efforts to eliminate corruption from the province and the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team and National Accountability Bureau had recently signed a memorandum of understanding to work jointly against corruption and corrupt elements.

Talking about the current cold wave and expected rain and snowfall in Balochistan, she said latest machinery had been acquired to combat with the challenge successfully.

In reply to a question, Ms Rind said electricity and gas supply were federal subjects and the chief minister had already discussed these issue with federal authorities.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1591530/balochistan-health-education-sectors-to-be-revamped-adviser

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India

 

From 5-year jail term to non-bailable offence: What states say on ordinance against ‘love jihad’

Nov 21, 2020

Edited by Meenakshi Ray

Several states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, have said they will bring in laws to check “love jihad”, described by Hindu activists as an organised conspiracy of Muslim men to trick Hindu women into marriages and bring about a demographic change.

The Madhya Pradesh government said on Tuesday that a bill will be passed in the next session of the state assembly against “love jihad”. It will a provision of five years in jail for forced conversions for marriage. The Haryana government also indicated on the same day that it will constitute a committee of officials to study and draft law to that effect. Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have also said they will bring in legislation to end love jihad.

However, according to experts, the charges of “love jihad” are bogus and that adult men and women are free to convert under the right to freedom of religion. In February, the central government told Parliament that there was no definition of the term and no such cases were reported by agencies.

Congress-ruled states have opposed the introduction of such legislation.

Here’s what the states want to do against “love jihad”:

Uttar Pradesh

UP’s home department has sent a proposal to the state’s law ministry for a stringent law to deal with the alleged religious conversion of women in the name of marriage. News agency PTI citing a government spokesperson that a proposal for strict law against “love jihad” has been sent to the law department.

This has come after chief minister Yogi Adityanath said earlier this month that his government is planning to introduce a law to regulate interfaith marriages involving Muslim men and Hindu women, citing a high court order to promise that his administration would secure and protect women in the state.

“Taking a serious note of such incidents [of forceful conversion and cruelty], the CM has directed that a concrete strategy be made to control such incidents. It has often been seen that this is being done in an organised manner. If required, an ordinance can be brought for it,” an official earlier told news agency PTI. Last year, the Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission submitted a report to Adityanath, suggesting “a new law to check forcible religious conversions.” Kanpur Police had also set up a special investigation team to look into “love jihad” cases.

Madhya Pradesh

The central state’s home minister Narottam Mishra had said on Tuesday the Madhya Pradesh Dharm Swatantrey (freedom of religion) Bill, 2020, will be passed in the next session of the state assembly. Mishra said the law -- with a provision of five years in jail for forced conversions for marriage -- was necessitated because of rising cases of love jihad. He insisted that the BJP government was not against interfaith marriages but only against incidents of love jihad.

“We are going to table the Madhya Pradesh Dharm Swatantrey Bill, 2020, in this winter session in December against love jihad, which means a woman is forced or lured by a person of other religion for marriage and later she is tortured for conversion,” said Mishra.

The proposed law doesn’t mention any religion in particular in its provisions. Mishra said the bill proposes rigorous imprisonment for five years for “luring a person through fraud and forcing marriage by religious conversion”. Other proposed provisions include making it mandatory for kin of the person being converted for the purpose of marriage to file a complaint.

“The forceful conversions and marriages will be a cognisable offence and non-bailable. There will be a provision for declaring such marriages null and void,” said Mishra. Besides, those assisting in such acts will be made co-accused in the case, he added.

Haryana

Haryana home minister Anil Vij said the state government intended to constitute a committee of officials to study and draft law against love-jihad. “We will first have a discussion with the chief minister, ML Khattar, in this regard,’’ Vij said. Vij said a representative of the advocate general’s office would also be a part of the committee. This committee will study similar laws enacted by other states, he added.

Karnataka

The BJP national general secretary CT Ravi said on Friday that a ban on “love jihad” and cow slaughter would be a reality in Karnataka very soon. Ravi, a former Karnataka minister, said a law banning both practices would be passed in the upcoming assembly session. He said there are serious deliberations going on in government circles as BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel has also urged chief minister BS Yediyurappa to take steps in this regard.

“Love Jihad and cow slaughter ban have been approved by the BJP core committee. The clamour to bring in a law banning cow slaughter has grown louder. We intend to do so,” the Chikkamagaluru legislator said during a press conference.

Ravi had said earlier this month that on the lines of Allahabad High Court’s order, Karnataka would enact a law banning religious conversions for the sake of marriage. Allahabad High Court had said in its October 31 order that religious conversion just for the sake of marriage was not valid. “We will not remain silent when Jihadis strip the dignity of our sisters,” Ravi had said, adding that anyone involved in any act of conversion would face severe and swift punishment.

Bihar

Union minister Giriraj Singh on Friday supported the implementation of law against “love jihad” in Bihar and claimed that the subject has become a cause of trouble in many states. The BJP leader requested the Nitish Kumar government to understand issues like “love jihad” and population control have nothing to do with communalism, but that they are a matter of social harmony.

Singh told reporters “love jihad” should be seen as a problem not only among Hindus but also among all non-Muslims in all states of the country. He said that in Kerala where there is a large population of Christians, community members have expressed concern over this development.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/from-5-year-jail-term-to-non-bailable-offence-what-states-say-on-ordinance-against-love-jihad/story-0JwKeeXzMFCTZBA38OVU5H.html

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BJP Accused Rajasthan CM Of Supporting Love Jihad Under The Garb Of Personal Liberty

Nov 21, 2020

JAIPUR: Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday criticized BJP over 'love jihad', accusing it of "manufacturing the word" to "divide the nation and disturb communal harmony".

Gehlot's attack came in a series of tweets, after BJP-governed states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh said they are considering enactment of laws to curb such marriages. And, while the Karnataka government said it would watch steps taken by UP and Haryana, BJP in Assam has promised to bring in a law if re-elected in the state assembly elections next year.

Gehlot accused BJP of violating the Constitution and citizens' personal liberty in choice of marital partners. "Bringing a law to curb it is completely unconstitutional and will not stand in any court of law. Jihad has no place in love," he tweeted. "They are creating an environment where consenting adults would be at the mercy of state power..."

They are creating an environment in the nation where consenting adults would be at the mercy of state power. Marria… https://t.co/SExIO21JDD

— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) 1605854832000

Reacting to Gehlot's tweets, Union jal shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat accused him of supporting love jihad under the garb of personal liberty and termed this Congress's "communal agenda." He tweeted: "Dear Ashokji, love jihad is a trap that has many young women believing that marriage is a personal affair, where later it turns out it isn't. Also, if it is a matter of personal liberty, then why are the women not free to keep their maiden name or religion?"

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/bjp-hits-back-after-gehlots-love-jihad-attack/articleshow/79330926.cms

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UP Home Department Proposes Tough Law Against "Love Jihad": Report

November 21, 2020

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Home Department has sent a proposal to the state's Law Ministry for a stringent law to deal with the alleged religious conversion of women in the name of marriage, which BJP leaders refer to as "love jihad".

The development follows an announcement by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during recent election rallies that his government would come out with a law to deal with "love jihad".

A proposal for strict law against "love jihad" has been sent to the Law Department, a government spokesman confirmed on Friday.

Stressing on the need for a strict law to deal with "love jihad", UP Law Minister Brijesh Pathak on Friday told news agency Press Trust of India, that "There has been a rise in such cases in the state which have caused social disharmony and enmity. These incidents are also bringing a bad name to the state and therefore a strict law is the need of the hour."

'We will do whatever is required as soon as we receive a proposal from the Home Department as we have already made all necessary preparations," Mr Pathak said.

Addressing by-elections rallies in Jaunpur and Deoria on October 31, Chief Minister Adityanath had said his government would come out with a law to deal with "love jihad" and had used the Hindu funeral chant "Ram Naam Satya Hai" to threaten those who don't respect their daughters and sisters.

Welcoming the Allahabad High Court ruling which had declared that conversion for the sole purpose of marriage is not valid, the chief minister had also said posters would be put up of those involved in "love jihad", a derogatory coinage referring to the alleged campaign of Muslims forcing Hindu girls to convert in the guise of love.

We will bring an effective law. It is my warning to those who play with the honour and dignity of sisters and daughters by hiding their real names and identities. If they do not mend their ways, their 'Ram Naam Satya' journey will start," Yogi Adityanath had said.

The Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission had submitted a report last year suggesting a new law to check the forcible religious conversions.

"The commission is of the view that existing legal provisions are not enough to check religious conversion and on this serious matter, a new law is needed like in some other states," the report said.

The report was submitted by the Law Commission along with draft legislation, Uttar Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2019.

UP Home Department Proposes Tough Law Against 'Love Jihad': Report

UP planning a strict law to deal with religious conversion of women in the name of marriage

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Home Department has sent a proposal to the state's Law Ministry for a stringent law to deal with the alleged religious conversion of women in the name of marriage, which BJP leaders refer to as "love jihad".

The development follows an announcement by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during recent election rallies that his government would come out with a law to deal with "love jihad".

A proposal for strict law against "love jihad" has been sent to the Law Department, a government spokesman confirmed on Friday.

Stressing on the need for a strict law to deal with "love jihad", UP Law Minister Brijesh Pathak on Friday told news agency Press Trust of India, that "There has been a rise in such cases in the state which have caused social disharmony and enmity. These incidents are also bringing a bad name to the state and therefore a strict law is the need of the hour."

'We will do whatever is required as soon as we receive a proposal from the Home Department as we have already made all necessary preparations," Mr Pathak said.

Addressing by-elections rallies in Jaunpur and Deoria on October 31, Chief Minister Adityanath had said his government would come out with a law to deal with "love jihad" and had used the Hindu funeral chant "Ram Naam Satya Hai" to threaten those who don't respect their daughters and sisters.

Welcoming the Allahabad High Court ruling which had declared that conversion for the sole purpose of marriage is not valid, the chief minister had also said posters would be put up of those involved in "love jihad", a derogatory coinage referring to the alleged campaign of Muslims forcing Hindu girls to convert in the guise of love.

We will bring an effective law. It is my warning to those who play with the honour and dignity of sisters and daughters by hiding their real names and identities. If they do not mend their ways, their 'Ram Naam Satya' journey will start," Yogi Adityanath had said.

The Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission had submitted a report last year suggesting a new law to check the forcible religious conversions.

"The commission is of the view that existing legal provisions are not enough to check religious conversion and on this serious matter, a new law is needed like in some other states," the report said.

The report was submitted by the Law Commission along with draft legislation, Uttar Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2019.

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In Kanpur, according to officials, the police had earlier set up a Special Investigation Team to look into reports of "love jihad".

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/up-home-department-proposes-tough-law-against-love-jihad-report-2328251

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Bihar Should Have Law Against "Love Jihad": BJP's Giriraj Singh

November 20, 2020

Patna: Union minister Girriaj Singh on Friday favoured enactment of a legislation in Bihar against love jihad, which, he claimed, has become a menace in the country.

The firebrand BJP leader also urged the Nitish Kumar government to realize that issues like love jihad and population control had nothing to do with sampradayikta (communalism) but are about samajik samrasta (social harmony).

Love jihad has come to be realized as a menace in all states across the country - not just among Hindus but among all non-Muslims. In Kerala where Christians have a large population, members of the community have raised concern over this phenomenon, Mr Singh told reporters here.

The union minister, who represents the states Begusarai Lok Sabha seat in the Lok Sabha, made the remark apparently referring to allegations by the Syro-Malabar church that Christian girls were being targeted and killed in the name of love jihad.

This menace needs to be rooted out and it will be desirable if Bihar comes out with a legislation to prevent love jihad. The government in the state should realize that curbing love jihad and population control are linked to social harmony and do not tantamount to promoting communalism, said Mr Singh, who is known for his hard line.

Formerly a member of the Nitish Kumar cabinet in the state, Mr Singh is known to be foremost among detractors of the chief minister who swears by his zero tolerance for the three Cs crime, corruption and communalism.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/giriraj-singh-bihar-should-have-law-against-love-jihad-2328171

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Afghanistan can succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across Durand Line: India at UN

Nov 21, 2020

UNITED NATIONS: In an apparent reference to Pakistan, India has told the United Nations that Afghanistan can succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the Durand Line, asserting that those providing sanctuary to terrorists must be held accountable and the Security Council should speak unequivocally against such forces.

The Durand Line is the 2,640-kilometre border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“It is our view that peace process and violence cannot go hand in hand, and we call for immediate comprehensive ceasefire. For durable peace in Afghanistan, we have to put an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries operating across the Durand Line,” India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador T S Tirumurti said on Friday.

Speaking at the Arria Formula Meeting on ‘What can the Security Council do to support the peace process in Afghanistan', he said the report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team under the Al-Qaeda/Daesh Sanctions Committee has also highlighted the presence of foreign fighters in Afghanistan. For violence to end in Afghanistan, these terrorist supply chains must be broken, Tirumurti said.

“It is time that the Security Council speaks unequivocally against violence and terrorist forces and acts against terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens,” he said.

“Afghanistan can succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the Durand Line. Terror and violence cannot be the instrument to shape Afghanistan's future or dictate the choices Afghans make. It is important to ensure that no one provides sanctuary to terrorists who threaten Afghanistan or any other country in the region. Those who do so must be held accountable,” he said, without naming any country.

Tirumurti noted that Afghanistan today is at a critical juncture and it is vital for the international community, especially the UNSC, to send the right message to everyone concerned.

He stressed that the overall objective of “our endeavour has been only to bring lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan, as that is critical for the peace and security of the whole region” and in order to achieve this, the UNSC needs to ensure that the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

The Indian envoy further stressed that it is important to ensure that the issue of full transit rights to Afghanistan is not used by states to extract political price from Afghanistan.

“The international community should discourage medieval mentalities and work towards removal of artificial transit barriers imposed on Afghanistan. It should ensure all transit rights guaranteed to Afghanistan under bilateral and multilateral transit agreements operate without any hindrance. India remains committed to working with the international community towards achieving this shared objective,” he said.

“The situation in Afghanistan is a matter of concern. Restoration of normalcy in Afghanistan through a legitimate democratic process is essential for long-term stability of Afghanistan and the region,” he said, noting that India will start its tenure in the UNSC from January next year, a crucial juncture for Afghanistan.

“We extend our assurance that India will continue to provide all support to the government and people of Afghanistan in realising their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future where the interest of all sections of Afghan society are protected. We will continue to support all opportunities that can bring durable peace, security and stability in the country.”

The Indian envoy said the international community “simply cannot” afford to lose the gains of the last two decades as the progress achieved so far is hard-won. He stressed that India is convinced that the rights of women need to be strongly protected and gender mainstreaming and safeguards are integral to the future of Afghanistan.

Tirumurti said the recent targeted attacks on Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), universities, women occupying positions of responsibility and youth only serve to highlight the concerted effort by terrorists and their sponsors to erode the gains of the last two decades.

Terrorist attacks continue to target innocents and institutions of learning, he said adding that COVID-19 has hit Afghanistan in the midst of a difficult political transition and an intensifying conflict.

Tirumurti noted that India and Afghanistan are contiguous neighbours and are connected together by centuries of historical, people-to-people and cultural relations.

He said since 2001, India has committed over USD 3 billion towards development, reconstruction and capacity building in Afghanistan.

“Major projects such as the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam in Herat, the Afghan National Parliament building in Kabul and the electricity supply grid between Kabul and northern Afghanistan stand testimony to the special place that Afghanistan occupies in our priorities.”

India's developmental footprint is, today, spread across every one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan and New Delhi has also prioritised Kabul in providing assistance to combat COVID.

“To tide over the artificial and political obstacles of non-permit of full transit rights to Afghanistan for their products to reach India and Indian products to reach Afghanistan, we operationalised air freight corridors that has seen more than 1000 flights. It is important for Afghanistan to have access to high seas,” Tirumurti said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/afghanistan-can-succeed-only-when-terrorism-no-longer-flows-across-durand-line-india-at-un/articleshow/79335481.cms

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India for 'unequivocal' UNSC stand on terror

Nov 21, 2020

NEW DELHI: India has called on the UN Security Council to "speak unequivocally" against violence and terrorist forces and "act against terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens".

Speaking in the Security Council on the Afghan peace process, India's permanent representative to the UN TS Tirumurti said, "For durable peace in Afghanistan, we have to put an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries operating across the Durand Line. The report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team under the al-Qaida/Da'esh Sanctions Committee has also highlighted the presence of foreign fighters in Afghanistan. For violence to end in Afghanistan, these terrorist supply chains must be broken."

He also called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in Afghanistan. For the peace process to move forward, India put forth four suggestions: First, that "the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled. Solutions must come from the Afghans themselves".

Second, Tirumurti said, there must be "zero tolerance of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations". With a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan, he said, "Afghanistan can succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the Durand Line. Terror and violence can't be the instrument to shape Afghanistan's future or dictate the choices Afghans make. It is important to ensure that no one provides sanctuary to terrorists who threaten Afghanistan or any other country in the region."

India also made an impassioned plea that the "gains" of the past couple of decades should not be lost. In other words, India is cautioning the world against leaving Afghanistan in a place which could see the Taliban overrunning Kabul and taking the reins of power with Pakistan's help. With their regressive mindsets, the progress made in the past few years, notably among women, could be lost. "India is convinced that the rights of women need to be strongly protected," Tirumurti said.

Addressing the problems Afghanistan faces due to its land-locked situation and the curbs imposed by Pakistan, India demanded that Afghanistan should get "full transit rights" and which could not be used by other states to extract political mileage. "The international community should discourage medieval mentalities and work towards removal of artificial transit barriers imposed on Afghanistan. It should ensure all transit rights guaranteed to Afghanistan under bilateral and multilateral transit agreements operate without hindrance," he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-for-unequivocal-unsc-stand-on-terror/articleshow/79332712.cms

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Pak-based Jaish trying to target J&K polls: PM

Nov 21, 2020

NEW DELHI: A clear and irrefutable link establishing Pakistani origins of the four terrorists killed on Thursday in Nagrota has emerged , leading Prime Minister Narendra Modi to directly name “Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Jaish e Mohammad” behind efforts to wreak major havoc and destruction to “target grassroots level democratic exercises in Jammu & Kashmir”.

In view of the large and unusual cache of weapons and explosives recovered from the slain terrorists – 11 AK 47 rifles, 24 AK 47 magazines, one UBGL, 3 pistols, 6 pistol magazines, 29 grenades, 5 rifle grenades, detonators, 7.5 kg of RDX and 20 meters of IED wire – the prime minister on Friday, in a rare intervention, reviewed the situation in J&K in the light of what is seen as a Pakistan- inspired plot to create mayhem. The review was attended by home minister Amit Shah, NSA Ajit Doval, foreign secretary as well as top officials of the intelligence establishment. After the review, PM took to social media, again an unusual move, to highlight the efforts by Pakistan-based terror outfits to target grassroot-level democracy in J&K and commend the security forces for thwarting these plans.

Prime minister's tweets were seen as aimed against Pakistan's ISI which uses jehadi terror outfits like Jaish and Lashkar to hurt India.

“Our security forces have once again displayed utmost bravery and professionalism. Thanks to their alertness, they have defeated a nefarious plot to target grassroots level democratic exercise in Jammu & Kashmir,” he tweeted, indicating that the Pakistani-based Jaish was out to disrupt district development council polls and destablise the situation in J&K with what police sources described as a “big attack coinciding with the anniversary of 26/11”.

Some key recoveries made from the dead Jaish terrorists, who had freshly infiltrated from the international border in Samba, were cited by intelligence sources as "unimpeachable” proof of the Pakistani origins of the slain terrorists who with a veritable armoury at their disposal could have caused havoc in J&K.

These include a digital mobile radio manufactured a Pakistani company named Micro Electronics. Messages on the DMR set clearly show that the intruding terrorists were in constant touch with their handlers across the border. These handlers were following the location of terrorists en route to Kashmir and asking if they faced any problems.

Message

Also, a smartphone from a Pakistani company Q Mobile; medicines such as Flagyl, Surfi tablet, Dicloran, Panadol etc, manufactured in Karachi; and shoes manufactured in Pakistan are among the key recoveries that point to complicity of terrorist outfits enjoying a safe haven in Pakistan.

Surfi

A wireless set and a GPS device were also recovered.

Sources in J&K police told TOI that the terrorists, after crossing the international border and reaching a predesignated point on the national highway south of Samba, were headed to the Valley. “The huge quantum of weapons clearly indicates that the plan was to disrupt the effort to restore normalcy in the trouble-torn part,” said an officer.

It has been clear for some time that the Pakistani agencies have been disconcerted by India's efforts to ensure that there was no eruption or upsurge in Kashmir in the wake the constitutional changes of Aug 5, 2019. There have, of course, been desperate attempts by Pakistan to use terrorists to strike at vulnerable and soft targets like political leaders and civilians. “All such attempts have been successfully thwarted with the cooperation of the people of J&K,” said an officer.

Inputs indicate that the impending DDC polls in J&K, which will establish the third and final tier of the local bodies for governance, have unnerved terrorists and Pakistani agencies, sources told TOI. The elections have already seen massive participation in terms of nominations and public response.

Agencies believe it was this process of democratic decentralisation that the Pakistani terrorists killed at the Ban toll plaza in Jammu were trying to thwart with the huge quantity of weapons they were carrying.

The elimination of the four terrorists has added further to the high numbers of terrorists killed by the security forces in intelligence-based operations since Article 370 was abrogated in J&K. As per figures shared with TOI, over 200 terrorists, including 30 foreigners, have been gunned down in the UT since August 2019.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-based-jaish-trying-to-target-jk-polls-pm-narendra-modi/articleshow/79331978.cms

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Article 370 would never be restored in J&K, 'Gupkar alliance' befooling people: BJP

Nov 20, 2020

SRINAGAR: The BJP on Friday asserted that Article 370, which was revoked by the Centre last year, would never be restored in Jammu and Kashmir, and alleged that parties of 'Gupkar alliance' were befooling people by making promises over its restoration.

Addressing a press conference here, BJP national spokesperson Shahnawaz also said the upcoming District Development Council (DDC) polls were being fought over local developmental issues and its results would not be a referendum on the Centre's last year's decision of revocation of the special status of the erstwhile state.

"We believe that when someone dies, he cannot return from the grave. Article 370 has also been buried and it will never return. It can never be restored and no world power can help in its restoration," he said.

The BJP leader, who is the party's incharge for Kashmir for the polls, said NC president Farooq Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti were befooling people by showing them dreams, but asserted their dreams would never come true.

"They are showing the people dreams and befooling them. There is no big a lie than that. These are the same leaders who were claiming Article 370 cannot be scrapped and even stated that nobody in J&K will raise tricolour if it is scrapped. However, the people are now raising tricolour without any objection," he said.

Hussain said the leaders of the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PGAD) - an amalgam of several parties, including the NC and the PDP, seeking the restoration of the special status of the erstwhile state - had accepted the Centre's decision of revocation of Article 370.

"They have accepted this decision and are now participating in the elections. They have ganged up. They have befooled the people of J&K. They have indulged in politics over the bodies of the youth of J&K to save their chair. They are sinners and no one will forgive them. They have committed big sins and are worse than gangsters and they live only for power and to benefit their families and relatives," he said.

Referring to the DDC polls, he said the lotus - the BJP's election symbol - will bloom in the valley like the rest of the country.

"The polls are not a referendum. This is a local body election, about local issues. This is not about national politics," he said, when asked if the BJP losses the DDC polls, would it mean that the people of Kashmir have not accepted the abrogation of Article 370.

Seeking people's support for the polls, the former Union minister said the party would live up to the people's expectations.

"We are concerned about the people of Jammu and Kashmir and will ensure the development, which is the right of people and will be given to them. The J&K will see a new dawn of development and for which the work has already been started. Give the BJP a chance and God willing, we will live up to your expectations," he said.

Hussain said it was the desire of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to see massive development in J&K.

"Jammu and Kashmir is in the heart of PM Modi and he wants to develop it like other parts of the country. J&K has the capability to give employment not only to the people here, but to the outsiders as well," he said.

On a question about the eviction of nomads from forest areas, Hussain said nobody can snatch the lands of the people of J&K.

"This is only propaganda. The laws have already been implemented and the rights of the Gujjar and Bakerwal community will always be protected," he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/article-370-would-never-be-restored-in-jk-gupkar-alliance-befooling-people-bjp/articleshow/79323461.cms

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4 Jaish terrorists killed in Nagrota got orders from Masood Azhar’s brother

Shishir Gupta

Nov 21, 2020

Early Thursday morning, an encounter between a group of terrorists and security forces happened at the Ban toll plaza near Nagrota. By the end of it, four terrorists were dead, but it wasn’t just a chance encounter. This was an intelligence-based operation that was aimed at blocking what security forces believed could be a major attack, being planned from across the border.

According to people familiar with the matter, initial data from a global positioning system (GPS) device and mobile phones carried by the four terrorists shows that they were in touch with Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) operational commanders Mufti Rauf Asghar and Qari Zarar with the objective of wreaking havoc in the Valley.

Mufti Asghar is the younger brother of JeM chief and UN designated global terrorist Masood Azhar.

On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was briefed about the entire operation by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah, Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla and the two intelligence chiefs.

Following this, the PM said in a tweet: “Neutralizing of four terrorist belonging to Pakistan based terrorist organizations JeM and the presence of large cache of explosives with them indicates that their efforts to wreak havoc and destruction have once again been thwarted.”

Thanking the security forces for their brave action, PM Modi said that their alertness had scotched a nefarious plot to target grassroots level democratic exercises (reference to the Panchayat elections) in Kashmir.

The people familiar with the matter added that the Pakistani deep state is, as is its wont, using pan-Islamist jihadist groups such as JeM to target India by sending in suicide attackers across the border. HT learns that Pakistani agencies have decided to hand over the Balakot terror training facility to JeM, more than one and a half years after it was bombed by IAF jets.

NSA Doval was informed about the Ban toll plaza encounter early on Thursday morning as soon as the firing started at 4.50 am.

Preliminary investigations have revealed that the four terrorists, all from Pakistan’s Punjab Province, moved from across Shakargarh bulge and crossed over to India in the Samba sector.

While top counter-terrorism experts are still investigating the possible targets of terrorists, the weapons, ammunition, grenades and explosives (RDX) carried by them clearly indicates that they had a big strike planned in the Valley. Eleven AK-series rifles, 30 Chinese grenades, 16 AK ammunition clips and 20 kilograms of RDX were recovered from the bodies. The terrorists were battle trained as despite repeated attempts of the J&K police to capture one of them alive, they refused to give in and fought till the end.

Indian intelligence officials say that apart from being an attempt to sabotage the electoral exercise underway in the region, the aborted attack may also be a diversionary tactic by the Pakistani army and ISI chiefs, under pressure from Opposition parties in the country, to bring the focus back on Kashmir.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/4-jaish-terrorists-killed-in-nagrota-got-orders-from-masood-azhar-s-brother/story-kKe6ImIr1rhQSdWztyHD4I.html

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South Asia

 

Ghani: UN Does Not Recognize The Legitimacy of Taliban as a Government

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

21 Nov 2020

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in a UN Security Council meeting on Afghan peace on Friday night said, that the only recognized legitimate state is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and that the Islamic Emirate was not recognized by the United Nations.

The organization does not support the re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate.

“Today’s meeting on peace in Afghanistan demonstrates the strong commitment of the United Nations Security Council to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan,” he said, and goals are reached for a peaceful solution.

“Afghanistan is at the forefront of the fight against global terrorism. We are fighting together to defeat terrorism and can only achieve peace when we stand side by side,” he said.

The international community today has come to the conclusion that Afghanistan must reach a political solution and be a sovereign, united and democratic nation, and the world, and preserve the achievements of the past two decades, and expand it, he said.

He called on UN council to put pressure on The Taliban.

“I would request the council to stress the effective and thorough implementation of sanctions regimes as a key instrument for the success of the negotiations with the Taliban. The Taliban has yet to fulfill the conditions set,” Ghani said, “Sanctions can only be effective if implemented by all.”

“The current level of violence of the Taliban, especially against civilians, is unacceptable. it undermines the peace negotiations and a ceasefire is urgently needed” said Pekka Haavisto, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland during the meeting.

This is coming at a time when Intra-Afghan talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar are facing an uncertain fate and the war in the country has intensified.

https://www.khaama.com/ghani-un-does-not-recognize-the-legitimacy-of-taliban-as-a-government-97987876/

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MoD Operations in Kandahar Claims 39 Militants, Wounds 5

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

21 Nov 2020

According to the Ministry of Defense, 39 Taliban were killed in an attack on security forces in Kandahar province.

Fawad Aman, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said that the Taliban attacked the outposts of the ANDSF forces in Panjwai and Zherai districts of Kandahar province on Friday.

Aman added that the national defense and security forces rebuffed the militant’s attack in the framework of active infantry and airstrike offensives, as a result of which 39 Taliban were killed and 5 others were wounded.

13 Taliban-planted minefields have been discovered and defused by the 205-Atal Corps’ engineering team, Aman Added.

This comes as battle across Afghanistan intensifies, and fears rise as major casualties and damages are reported.

https://www.khaama.com/mod-defensive-operations-in-kandahar-claims-39-militants-wounds-5-98876786/

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At least eight killed in rocket attack in Afghanistan's Kabul: Official

21 November 2020

A rocket attack killed at least eight people in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday, confirmed officials.

"The terrorists fired 23 rockets on the city of Kabul. Based on the initial information, eight people were martyred, and 31 others were wounded," said interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian, who blamed the Taliban for the attack. A police source also confirmed the toll.

The attack occurred in densely populated parts of the Afghan capital including near the centrally located Green Zone and at a neighborhood in the north.

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Alarms could be heard blaring at embassies and businesses in and around the Green Zone, a massive, heavily fortified quarter that houses dozens of international companies and their workers.

Unverified photos circulating on social media showed what appeared to be holes from rockets punched into at least two separate buildings.

Officials did not immediately comment but the interior ministry said two small "sticky bomb" explosions had been reported earlier Saturday morning, including one that hit a police car, killing one policeman and wounding three others.

The explosions come ahead of a meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and negotiators from the Taliban and the Afghan government the Gulf state of Qatar.

Wave of violence

There is an ongoing wave of violence that has wrought carnage across Afghanistan in recent months. No group immediately claimed responsibility for Saturday's blasts.

The Taliban have pledged not to attack urban areas under the terms of a US withdrawal deal, but the Kabul administration has blamed the insurgents or their proxies for other recent attacks in Kabul.

Taliban and Afghan government negotiators launched peace talks in September but progress has been slow.

Officials told AFP on Friday however that a breakthrough was expected to be announced in the coming days.

In the past six months, the Taliban carried out 53 suicide attacks and 1,250 explosions that left 1,210 civilians dead and 2,500 wounded, interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said this week.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/11/21/Explosions-heard-in-Afghanistan-s-Kabul-no-casualties-reported-AFP

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Europe

 

Belarus KGB Puts Social-Media Channel Creators on Terrorist List

By Torrey Clark

November 19, 2020

The Belarusian security service put the founder of the country’s most popular Telegram channel and its former chief editor on a terrorist watch list as President Alexander Lukashenko tries to stamp out continuing protests against claimed landslide re-election three months ago.

Nexta-Live founder Stsiapan Putsila, 22, and Raman Pratasevich, 25, are the only two Belarusian citizens on the list of more than 700 “individuals involved in terrorist activities” drawn up by the State Security Committee, still known as the KGB. Pratasevich left the channel in September.

Nexta-Live, with more than 1.8 million subscribers, was instrumental in covering the police brutality against protesters nationwide in August and demonstrations that regularly gathered more than 100,000 people in the capital alone.

The channel was designated as “extremist” in October, according to the state news agency Belta, making it illegal to distribute its content or display its logo in Belarus. The authorities are seeking to extradite Putsila and Pratasevich from Poland, Belta reported this week.

Almost 1,300 people were arrested on Sunday at the weekly rally in the capital, Minsk, according to human-rights center Viasna, which isn’t officially registered in the country. For the first time since the disputed Aug. 9 election, the opposition hasn’t called for a single major rally in Minsk on Sunday via popular telegram channels. Instead, people were urged to organize smaller local rallies.

Lukashenko has rejected criticism of the crackdown and on Thursday promoted a senior police official who had played an active role in dispersing and arresting protesters.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-19/belarus-kgb-puts-social-media-channel-creators-on-terrorist-list

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Gloucestershire man arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences

20 November 2020

A 43-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences.

Counter Terrorism Policing South East detained the man, from Gloucestershire, earlier and he remains in custody.

Officers are searching three locations in the county and another in the West Mercia Police force area as part of their inquiry.

A spokesman said people may see officers in protective suits, but there is believed to be no wider threat to the public at this time.

The man has been arrested on suspicion of encouragement of terrorism contrary to section one of the Terrorism Act 2006; dissemination of terrorist publications contrary to section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006; and collection of information contrary to section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

He has also been held on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of serious crime contrary to section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-55010053?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1738667_

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Greek police arrest Islamic State suspect after migrant camp brawl

NOVEMBER 19, 2020

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek police arrested a Syrian Islamic State suspect on Thursday after a brawl at a migrant camp where he has been staying with his wife and children and said he was believed to have been involved in a number of killings.

The 27-year old man, who arrived in Greece in March 2018, was detained after an argument on Wednesday between two groups at the camp, a police official said.

He was arrested on Thursday, accused of being a member of a terrorist group and participating in homicides. He is expected to appear before a prosecutor later in the day, according to a police statement.

Police said such arrests were rare.

Greece, on the front line of migration into Europe, promised on Wednesday to build new reception centres for asylum seekers and cut the maximum stay in camps on its now-overcrowded islands.

The country bore the brunt of a large influx of refugees and migrants into Europe in 2015 and 2016, many arriving via its outlying Aegean islands close to Turkey.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-police/greek-police-arrest-islamic-state-suspect-after-migrant-camp-brawl-idUSKBN27Z211?il=0&utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1738667_

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North America

 

Trump will participate in virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia: US official

20 November 2020

US President Donald Trump will participate in the virtual Group of 20 summit being hosted by Saudi Arabia on Saturday, a senior US official told AFP.

Trump’s participation in the two-day meeting of the world’s wealthiest nations comes after he attended Friday’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit via video link.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app

Neither summit was held in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hosted by Saudi Arabia, the Leaders’ Summit will bring leaders from 19 of the most powerful countries and the European Union together.

But travel restrictions and concerns over social distancing due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic mean that invitees will have to take part in a virtual conference.

This year’s agenda also looks different to previous years.

The global financial crash wreaked by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be high on the agenda for this year’s summit, as leaders are expected to discuss ways of dealing with the fallout of worldwide lockdowns over the past year and the ongoing race to develop and roll out a vaccine.

The summit comes with Trump still refusing to accept his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden in the November 3 presidential election while issuing unfounded accusations of widespread fraud.

In her speech at a press briefing ahead of the summit, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed President-elect Biden's plans to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change, which Trump had withdrawn the US from.

“Effectively addressing climate change will require a decoupling of economic growth from the exploitation of limited resources,” she added.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/11/21/Trump-will-participate-in-virtual-G20-summit-hosted-by-Saudi-Arabia-US-official

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Pompeo: All options remain on the table against Iran

21 November 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeated Washington’s threats against Iran, saying all options remain on the table against the Islamic republic.

Pompeo made the remarks in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post when he was asked whether “all options still on the table” against Iran.

Pompeo said this has been the policy of the United States for the past four years and there’s no reason it would change.

“My judgement is, and history will reflect, that we’ve been pretty successful,” he said.

“I remember when we first began the maximum pressure campaign. We’d withdrawn from the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], and the world said this will never work, American sanctions alone won’t work,” he said.

“Well, they have significantly reduced Iran’s capacity to foment harm around the world. It’s not complete,” he added.

“[US President Donald Trump] has done several things. One, he denied them money. That also sent a strong message to the Middle East that facilitated the Abraham Accords [through] this central understanding, this isolation of Iran in ways that are deeply different than before, whether it’s the [United Arab] Emirates or Bahrain or Sudan or whoever signs the Abraham Accords next,” he continued.

On Wednesday, Iran warned the US of a crushing response if it takes any hostile move against the country.

A military advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei warned that an act of military aggression by the US against Iran that could lead to an even limited conflict is likely to set off a full-scale war that would afflict other parts of the region too.

The remarks were made by Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, defense minister during President Hassan Rouhani’s previous tenure and former commander of the Air Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

“A limited, tactical conflict can turn into a full-fledged war,” Dehqan said.

This followed a New York Times report that U Trump had asked his top aides, including Pompeo, about the possibility of striking Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The report said the aides dissuaded Trump by warning him that any such a move could escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of his presidency.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/11/21/639023/Pompeo:-All-options-remain-on-the-table-against-Iran

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Dealing with terrorism threat will dominate new administration's agenda

By Daniel N. Hoffman

November 19, 2020

If there’s one thing we learned from the last two presidential election cycles, it’s that the United States has become more politically partisan and divided than at any time in its modern history. Vigorous debate is a hallmark of democracy, but bipartisanship is essential to protecting our nation from foreign adversaries.

Bearing in mind President Kennedy’s admonition that while “domestic policy can only defeat us, foreign policy can kill us,” the stakes could not be higher. Following a bitter and acrimonious campaign, the incoming Biden administration will be on the hook to grapple with a wickedly complex range of threats, including Iran, nuclear proliferation, North Korea, Russia and China.

But it is the threat of terrorism that is arguably the national security threat with the shortest fuse.

The Trump administration decimated Islamic State’s so-called “caliphate” and eliminated terrorists such as ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Hamza bin Laden, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Qassim al-Raymi and AQAP’s chief bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, whom former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell called the “most significant international terrorist removed from the battlefield since Osama bin Laden.”

And just last week, reports confirmed that two unidentified men on motorcycles gunned down al Qaeda second-in-command Abu Muhammad al-Masri, planner the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, on the streets of Tehran. The Trump administration has not yet officially commented on the strike, which Israeli operatives were suspected of having carried out.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to mount lethal attacks with impunity. Top Taliban official Sirajuddin Haqqani, whom the State Department officially designated a global terrorist in 2008, leads the notorious Haqqani Network, which allows al Qaeda and its shadowy leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, to find a haven on its territory. The Haqqani Network has mounted violent suicide attacks against U.S. and allied forces, the government of Afghanistan and innocent civilians.

President-elect Biden should have learned from the Obama administration’s precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, which proved a significant factor in creating the conditions for the growth and spread of ISIS. Mr. Trump removed significant numbers of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and now, in a pre-election pledge, promised to bring all but about 2,5000 U.S. troops home from Afghanistan by early 2021. Doing so, however, would risk making the same policy mistake as Mr. Obama, who was forced to send U.S. troops back into Iraq in 2014 to combat the surging Islamic State threat.

One of the most important lessons we learned from September 11 was appreciating the value of a robust forward presence of intelligence officers, diplomats and troops to detect and preempt threats from places where no government exercises its authority. 

There is rightly no interest in another troop surge or costly “nation-building,” but the U.S. should maintain a forward presence in Afghanistan and Iraq — as small as feasible — to keep working with local security forces on counterterrorism operations and be prepared for unilateral action for as long as the threats persist.

The U.S. must also remain diplomatically engaged in support of Kabul and Baghdad. Specifically, the U.S. must make real power-sharing arrangements in Afghanistan a precondition for any full withdrawal. The U.S. should also commit greater support to Iraqi Prime Minister Kadhimi, a valuable regional ally who is dealing with an economy in recession, a COVID-19 crisis, and continuing pressure from Iran and its allies inside Iraq. Iran’s widespread use of proxy extremist militia forces in Iraq only heightens the intensity of sectarian conflict, which is oxygen for terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer eloquently articulated a strategy of “forward defense” — confronting our enemies “over there” rather than play defense as they plan attacks on the homeland.

Our personnel serving on the front lines deserve a clearly articulated strategy, one that explains and justifies the risks they are willingly taking on.

If there is one thing our fractured political system needs, it’s a national consensus on foreign policy. There is no better place to start than counterterrorism. If Democrats and Republicans need any motivation, they should keep in mind that nothing less than our nation’s security, which they took an oath to protect, hangs in the balance.

• Daniel N. Hoffman is a retired clandestine services officer and former chief of station with the Central Intelligence Agency. His combined 30 years of government service included high-level overseas and domestic positions at the CIA. He has been a Fox News contributor since May 2018. Follow him on Twitter @DanielHoffmanDC.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/nov/19/dealing-with-terrorism-threat-will-dominate-new-ad/?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1738667_

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Mideast

 

Israel’s aggressive intentions against Lebanon remain, warns army chief Joseph Aoun

Joseph Haboush and Tommy Hilton

20 November 2020

Lebanon’s army commander Friday warned his troops to remain alert and “fully prepared” to defend their land in the face of continued Israeli threats.

“Be alert and fully prepared to face Lebanon’s foes, as the Israeli enemy does not hesitate to issue threats to attack our land; its hostile intentions towards us have not stopped,” General Joseph Aoun said to soldiers during the Order of the Day.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Aoun also said that terrorists and terror cells had not stopped their plans to “tamper with our internal stability.”

Lebanon was one of the world’s first countries to defeat ISIS and push it outside its borders during a 2014 operation where the Lebanese army defeated ISIS and Nusra Front militants.

The United States is the number one donor of aid and weapons to the Lebanese army. Washington has invested and donated more than $2 billion in the military since 2006.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to occupy parts of southern Lebanon in Kfar Shuba and Ghajar. Tel Aviv has long defended its actions over the continued possession of Iran-backed Hezbollah’s illegal arms and missile capabilities.

In October, Lebanon and Israel began indirect talks over their disputed maritime borders. The talks have been brokered by the US and hosted by the United Nations.

But this has not stopped Israeli threats, according to the Lebanese army chief.

“The bet is on you in the face of these dangers, so there is no toleration for those who tamper with the security and stability of our country, and there is no toleration for those who attempt to undermine the supreme national interest and tamper with civil peace,” he said Friday.

Aoun also said that Lebanon is going through an “unprecedented stage” of political, social, and economic difficulties, exacerbated by the Aug. 4 Port of Beirut explosion and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We are confident that with our unity and solidarity, we will surpass this stage,” he said.

General Aoun has commanded the army since 2017, having previously headed an infantry brigade following counter-terrorism and military training in the US. He is not related to Lebanon’s President, Michel Aoun.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/11/20/Israel-s-aggressive-intentions-against-Lebanon-remain-warns-LAF-chief-Joseph-Aoun

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Iran condemns Pompeo’s visit to occupied lands, pro-Israel doctrine

21 November 2020

Iran has condemned a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the Israeli-occupied territories, saying his doctrine includes formalizing the regime’s occupation and whitewashing its crimes.

In a post on his twitter account, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Pompeo prioritizes the interests of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu over those of the American people.

The #PompeoDoctrine 101:

- Put Bibi's interest above that of even Americans who put him in office;

- Formalize Israel's occupation & whitewash Israeli crimes- no matter what;

- Silence criticism with bogus 'anti-Semitism label';

- Waste US taxpayers money on private family tours pic.twitter.com/vCRuy4rBvA

— Saeed Khatibzadeh (@SKhatibzadeh) November 20, 2020

Pompeo arrived in Israel on Wednesday for his last trip to the occupied lands before leaving office in January.

He met with Netanyahu and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani in Jerusalem al-Quds.

The US secretary of state also made a stop at the site of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan Valley, where he announced that Washington would consider the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement “anti-Semitic” and cut off government support for any organizations taking part in it.

The movement, which was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations and later turned international, is meant to initiate “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law” and end its decades-long occupation of Palestine.

Pompeo then travelled by helicopter to Psagot settlement close to the West Bank city of Ramallah, marking the first time a top US diplomat had officially visited the illegal Israeli settlements. It came a year after he declared that Israeli settlements were "not, per se, inconsistent with international law".

Palestinian Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh condemned Pompeo’s embrace of the Israeli settlements and accused the outgoing US administration of “active participation in the occupation of Palestinian lands.”

Most of the international community considers Israeli settlements to be illegal based on the Geneva Convention principle that an occupying power is barred from transferring its population into war-won territories. They also see the settler units as an obstacle to the so-called two-state solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Additionally, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called Pompeo’s visit to the Israeli settlement a "dangerous precedent" that "legalizes settlements."

During the trip, Pompeo released a statement saying products from settlements could be labelled “Made in Israel”.

The BDS, however, accused the US and Israel of trying to silence advocacy for Palestinian rights.

“The BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality, stands with all those struggling for a more dignified, just and beautiful world,” it said. “With our many partners, we shall resist these McCarthyite attempts to intimidate and bully Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders into accepting Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism as fate.”

After Psagot, Pompeo paid a similar visit to the occupied Golan Heights.

Syria appealed to the United Nations to condemn the "provocative" visit, calling it "a flagrant violation" of Syrian sovereignty.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the closing stages of its 1967 Six-Day War with Arab countries, which also saw the regime occupy the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds and the Gaza Strip.

Tel Aviv unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.

Damascus has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.

In March 2019, US President Donald Trump signed a decree recognizing Israeli “sovereignty” over the occupied Golan during a meeting with Netanyahu in Washington.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/11/21/639034/Iran-US-Mike-Pompeo-visit-Israel-Palestine

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Iran: World must press Israel to join NPT unconditionally

20 November 2020

Iran’s representative to Vienna-based international organizations raises the alarm at Israel’s highly secretive nuclear activities as a threat to global security, saying the world community should pressure the regime into joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) “swiftly” and “unconditionally.”

Addressing a meeting of the 35-nation Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday, Kazem Gharibabadi singled out Israel as the only party in the Middle East that has refused to join the NPT, thus preventing the treaty from extending to all parts of the globe.

The regime, he warned, has been expanding its clandestine nuclear capabilities in entire disregard of international rules and norms, something that poses a serious threat to global peace and stability.

He said the international community “has no other option but to put constant pressure on the regime in Israel to make it join the NPT swiftly and unconditionally” and place its atomic activities and sites under the provisions of the IAEA’s safeguards system, which allows inspection and verification of the peaceful uses of nuclear materials.

That is the sole way to resolve the “nuclear crisis” gripping the Middle East, added Gharibabadi.

Israel is believed to be the only possessor of nukes in the Middle East and estimated to have between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal. The regime, however, pursues a policy of nuclear opacity under which it neither confirms nor denies possession of nuclear arms.

‘Saudi Arabia, UAE must respect IAEA safeguards’

Elsewhere, the Iranian official voiced concerns about the refusal of NPT members Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to fully implement the Agency’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and allow inspections of their nuclear work.

Gharibabadi said the two regimes have in force the so-called Small Quantities Protocol, which exempts them from authorizing IAEA inspections on the basis that they have very little nuclear material and very few nuclear activities.

“As long as they (Saudi Arabia and the UAE) fail to scrap the protocol as repeatedly demanded by the IAEA’s Secretariat, they will not feel duty-bound to implement the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements completely and effectively,” he said.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s refusal to adhere to the safeguards agreements, while their nuclear programs are rapidly advancing, will help them hide parts of their activities in the absence of international inspections, he cautioned.

Gharibabadi criticized the so-called advocates of nuclear non-proliferation for turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s non-compliance with the IAEA’s safeguards system and still helping them increase their nuclear capabilities.

The UAE has made huge investments in developing its nuclear program in recent years. The kingdom, in August, announced the start-up operations in the first of four reactors at the Barakah nuclear power station, the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world.

Experts have, however, raised concerns about potential risks that the plant could pose to the environment and regional security.

Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions have also prompted worries in the global community over the past few years, especially after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hinted in 2018 that the kingdom may go for nukes.

Widespread reports of Saudi Arabia’s undeclared nuclear activities were confirmed in August, when satellite images revealed a large compound in a suspicious location in the heart of the desert.

The Wall Street Journal, citing Western officials, reported that Saudi Arabia had built a facility, with foreign aid, for extraction of yellowcake from uranium ore near the remote town of al-Ula.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/11/20/639002/Iran-Israel-Nuclear-NPT

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Over 3,000 Palestinian children killed by Israel since Second Intifada: Ministry

20 November 2020

The Palestinian Ministry of Information has pointed to the deliberate targeting of Palestinian children by Israeli military, stating that more than 3,000 minors have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli troops since the Second Intifada (uprising).

The ministry said in a statement on Thursday that at least 3,097 Palestinian children have been killed, while tens of thousands of others sustained injuries between the Second Intifada, which broke out on September 28, 2000 against Tel Aviv regime’s occupation of Palestinian territory, until the end of October 2019.

The statement added that 123 Palestinian minors have been killed and many more injured ever since US President Donald Trump sparked controversy by officially recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli capital in December 2017. More than 17,000 Palestinian children were rounded up and detained during the mentioned period as well.

The Palestinian Ministry of Information highlighted that seven children have been killed in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip since the beginning of the current year as a result of the Israeli military assaults.

According to statistics from the Palestinian Prisoners Club and the Palestinian Prisoners' Affairs Authority Israeli forces have arrested 304 children between the start of the current year and the end of June, and the number of Palestinian minors currently being held bars at Israeli jails stands at 155.

More than 7,000 Palestinian children have been detained by the Israeli authorities since 2015, and some have been sentenced to ten years in prison or life imprisonment, the Palestinian Prisoners' Society (PPS) said in a statement released on the occasion of World Children's Day, which is celebrated on November 20 each year.

The society highlighted that most of the child detainees are from occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.

The PPS then called on international human rights institutions, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in particular, to make serious efforts to protect Palestinian children, and to oblige Israeli authorities to abide by a series of agreements concerning protection of child detainees.

More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, with dozens of them serving multiple life sentences.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/11/20/638990/Over-3,000-Palestinian-children-killed-by-Israel-since-Second-Intifada-Ministry

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Turkey issues detention warrants for 101 people on alleged terrorism links

NOVEMBER 20, 2020

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish authorities have issued detention warrants for 101 people including lawyers and doctors as part of what they called terrorism-related investigations, a security source and state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Friday.

Authorities launched the operation from the southeastern province of Diyarbakir and sought suspects across four cities and a total of 106 residential addresses, the source said.

Seventy-four suspects have already been detained, the source said.

The suspects were believed to be connected to the Democratic Society Congress, which the source and Anadolu defined as the legislative arm of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.

Anadolu said the authorities found guns, documents and digital material at the suspects’ addresses.

Milena Buyum, Turkey campaigner for Amnesty International, said the lawyers’ detentions clashed with recent talk of judicial reforms, which have also been mentioned by President Tayyip Erdogan.

On Thursday, Erdogan’s close ally and former deputy prime minister, Bulent Arinc, emphasised the importance of the justice system in an interview.

“These raids are the opposite of the kind of reform that Arinc spoke of only last night, where detention is exceptional and judges take ‘pro-freedom decisions,’” Buyum wrote on Twitter.

She said the DTK was a Kurdish umbrella organisation for civil society.

The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, has fought against the state in the southeast since 1984. A ceasefire collapsed in 2015.

The Ankara state prosecutor’s office ordered the detention of 60 people in September, including 48 lawyers and others in the legal sector, suspected of operating in support of the network of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. That drew criticism from Turkish and international lawyers’ groups.

https://www.reuters.com/article/turkey-security/turkey-issues-detention-warrants-for-101-people-on-alleged-terrorism-links-idUSL8N2I61C8?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1738667_

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Africa

 

Rebels In Ethiopia's Tigray Fire Rockets At Neighbouring State: Report

20 November 2020

Rebels in Ethiopia's northernmost region of Tigray have reportedly launched rocket attacks on neighboring Ahmara State, amid growing concerns about the spread of violence in the East African country.

Amhara communications official Gizachew Muluneh said on Friday that the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) had fired three rockets at the regional capital, Bahir Dar, in the early morning.

He said the rockets had missed their targets, with two striking near the airport and a third hitting a maize field.

"My suspicion is they were targeting the Amhara Mass Media Agency, the airport, and a telecommunications tower that is nearby," Gizachew said.

There were no reports of casualties or damage, he added.

Last week, the TPLF also fired rockets at Asmara, the capital of neighboring Eritrea, which it accuses of backing Ethiopian government forces. Both Eritrea and Ethiopia deny the allegation.

The Friday development came a day after Ethiopia said its forces had liberated two towns in the rebel-held Tigray and were further advancing to retake the regional capital, Mekelle.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Abiy ordered the army offensive in Tigray early this month, in response to a deadly attack on an army base that killed at least 54 people from the ethnic Amhara group in the Oromia region.

Abiy accused the TPLF — the region’s ruling party — of having staged the attack.

Tigray's regional president, Debrestion Gebremichael, has accused the federal government of staging the offensive to oust the regional government and assert its own authority.

Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has resisted calls by the United Nations (UN), the African Union, and various countries for talks with the armed rebels in the north.

The conflict has left hundreds dead and forced around 25,000 Ethiopians to flee across the border into Sudan. The crisis also risks destabilizing the wider Horn of Africa region.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned that a full-scale humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the region.

UN plans for 200,000 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan

Meanwhile, the UN has announced that it is making plans for as many as 200,000 refugees fleeing into neighboring Sudan, making an urgent appeal for $200 million to assist them.

"Together with all the agencies, we have built a response plan for about 20,000 people, and currently we are at about 31,000, so it has already surpassed that figure," the UN refugee agency's representative for Sudan, Axel Bisschop, told a briefing in Geneva on Friday. "The new planning figure is around 200,000."

The Sudan-based representative for the UN children's agency (UNICEF), Abdullah Fadil, also voiced fears about the impact of the arrivals on Sudan, already hosting one million refugees from other African neighbors.

"Our serious concern is if we do not act quickly with the resources needed... this could unravel not only Ethiopia but also Sudan," he told the briefing.

Rights groups are concerned about ethnic violence and destabilization in Ethiopia, Africa's second-most populous country.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/11/20/639003/Rebels-in-Ethiopia-Tigray-fire-rockets-at-neighboring-state-Report

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Ethiopia conflict puts 2.3 million children in need: UNICEF

20 November 2020

The outbreak of conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region has left some 2.3 million children in urgent need of assistance and thousands more at risk in refugee camps, the UN children's agency said Friday.

Tigray has been rocked by bloody fighting since November 4, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of military operations against the regional government.

The move was a dramatic escalation of a long-running feud between the federal government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the region's ruling party, which dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades before Abiy took office in 2018.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting, and thousands have fled across Ethiopia's northern border into neighboring Sudan.

"Inside the Tigray region, restricted access and the ongoing communication blackout have left an estimated 2.3 million children in need of humanitarian assistance and out of reach," UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said.

The agency estimates that "some 12,000 children - some of them without parents or relatives - are among those sheltering in camps and registration centers and are at risk."

Many of the makeshift camps set up in Sudan are overcrowded and refugees have been struggling with unsanitary conditions, limited access to water, and food.

The UN agency said it has sought to provide urgent assistance and life-saving support for children living in "extremely harsh" conditions in the camps.

Fore urged all parties to the conflict to allow humanitarian access, and refrain from using explosives in densely populated areas.

"Every effort should be made to keep children out of harm's way, and to ensure that they are protected from recruitment and use in the conflict," she said.  

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/11/20/638991/Ethiopia-conflict-children-Tigray-region-UNICEF

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Boko Haram: Troops kill 3 terrorists, rescue women, children in Northeast

November 19, 2020

By Shehu Usman

Troops of Operation Fireball have killed three Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists in different clearances they conducted in Borno State.

Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brigadier General Benard Onyeukoin, a statement released on Thursday, indicated that the troops also rescued two women and three children kidnapped by the terrorists.

He recounted that, on 17th November, 2020, troops of 251 Task Force Battalion deployed in Strong Response Area Molai while acting credible intelligence intercepted some Boko Haram criminals and relations of some kidnapped persons making efforts to pay a ransom of Two Million naira cash (2,000,000.00) to the terrorists.

“In a swift reaction, the gallant troops engaged the Boko Haram criminals forcing them to abort the collection of the payment as well as abandon their captives.

“In the aftermath of the decisive encounter, One Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist was neutralized while others escaped with gunshot wounds. One AK 47 Rifle and one Motorcycle were recovered.

“The victims including 2 women and 3 children were all rescued unhurt”, he said.

In another development, Brigadier General Onyeuko noted that on 17 November 2020, troops of 151 and 202 Battalions conducted an aggressive fighting patrol to clear Boko Haram criminals hideout in the general area of Zaye Ngusa Village and other crossing points neutralised two terrorists.

NEWS:  Ex-minister, Chukwu makes new UN team

“Similarly, on 15 November 2020, troops of 26 Task Force Brigade in Strong Response Area Pulka in a well coordinated ambush operation along Pulka – Sabon Gari – Kirawa road intercepted Boko Haram criminals logistics convoy.

“On sighting the terrorists, the troops engaged the criminals with gun fire forcing them to flee abandoning their consignments.

“Items recovered were: 8 bicycles, several bags of grains, assorted packets of drugs and other food items”, he disclosed.

The Acting Director, however, commended troops of Operation Fireball for their resilience, gallantry and professionalism exhibited since the beginning of the operation, while also assuring the entire populace of the Northeast region of Nigerian military high command determination to finally rout the remnants of BHT/ISWAP criminals from their enclaves in the zone.

https://dailypost.ng/2020/11/19/boko-haram-troops-kill-3-terrorists-rescue-women-children-in-northeast/?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1738667_

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Somalia: Bomb Kills 3 Soldiers in Southern Somalia

19 NOVEMBER 2020

At least three soldiers died and several more people, including civilians, have been wounded in a blast at a security checkpoint outside Somalia's capital on Thursday morning, officials said.

The attack took place in Lafole town, some 22 kilometers (13 miles) southwest of Mogadishu.

Explosives were planted by a roadside and detonated while soldiers were carrying out security checks during the morning rush hour, according to Abshir Hussein Mohamed, a police officer in the nearby town of Afgoye.

"At least three soldiers have died and several more injured people, including soldiers and civilians, have been shifted to a hospital in Mogadishu," he told Anadolu Agency over the phone.

Somalia-based al-Shabaab, affiliated with the al-Qaeda terror group, claimed responsibility for the attack via its propaganda radio service Andalus.

The blast comes days after at least five people were killed and eight more wounded in a suicide bombing at a busy restaurant in Mogadishu.

https://allafrica.com/stories/202011200260.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1738667_

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Southeast Asia

 

Be Thankful Umno Is Part Of Federal Govt, Barisan Nasional Reminds Squabbling Leaders

November 21, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional (BN) secretary-general Annuar Musa said his “Umno soul” is not dead as implied by an Johor Umno leader and he will continue fighting for the unity of the Malays and Bumiputeras, which is a key founding objective of the party.

Reminding Johor Umno deputy chairman Nur Jazlan Mohamed that everyone will “die” one day, he said he would not stray from this objective.

Yesterday, Nur Jazlan described Annuar as a “politically dead figure” in Umno’s struggle when commenting on the latter’s statement that Umno should snap out of its superiority complex.

The Federal Territories minister said certain Umno leaders had forgotten that the party lost the general election in 2018. Because of this, he said, they had no right to question the treatment Umno received in Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Cabinet.

Annuar said quarrels among some Umno leaders involved differences in personality and opinion but he reminded them that these should not divide the party.

“We should be thankful to God that we are back at the helm in the Putrajaya administration. But remember that God’s grace can be lost at any time.

“If you want to fire me, want to remove me as a minister, it does not matter. I will be more disturbed if I am considered a bootlicker who is afraid of losing my position,” he said.

In politics, he said there were no eternal enemies or friends, adding that if Umno could get along with MIC, MCA and PAS, he did not see why it could not cooperate with PPBM.

“There is no problem if we are criticised, reprimanded or have different opinions. To me, that should be welcomed. And if you become dead politically, it doesn’t matter. Either way, we will die too, but the struggle must live on,” he said.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/11/21/be-thankful-umno-is-part-of-federal-govt-annuar-reminds-squabbling-leaders/

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GLC-driven initiatives will boost recovery, say experts

Teoh Jie Ying

November 21, 2020

PETALING JAYA: Economists have welcomed budget initiatives involving government-linked companies (GLCs), saying it is important for these companies to help bolster Putrajaya’s efforts to revive the economy.

These initiatives can help ease unemployment and boost small businesses, say economists Madeline Berma, a fellow of the Academy of Sciences, and Yeah Kim Leng of Sunway University Business School.

These initiatives include MySTEP, a short-term employment project under which GLCs will provide 15,000 contract jobs, and the RM300 million Jana Niaga platform to help finance small and medium enterprises.

There is also the RM150 million contribution from GLCs for the provision of laptops to students in 500 schools and the expansion of the My30 travel pass and a new RM5 unlimited travel pass for school students involving an RM450 million allocation from Prasarana.

Madeline said the RM700 million allocated for MySTEP will be vital, especially considering the unemployment rate was at an all-time of 5.3%. The MySTEP programme also went well with efforts to reskill and retrain workers.

“Although government handouts work as a short-term solution, a longer-term solution would be to create employment opportunities provided by GLCs, even if it is on a contract basis.”

Yeah said the pandemic provided GLCs an opportunity to justify their existence as an extension of the government’s socio-economic agenda.

“Through offering apprenticeships and even industry training, GLC’s may well be able to help Malaysians get back on their feet. Hopefully this will help mitigate the severe unemployment, especially among youths.”

Madeline and Yeah believe there is still a lot that GLCs can still do to support the government’s efforts.

Yeah says GLCs in the health sector should invest in efforts to find a Covid-19 vaccine, saying the best way to ensure economic recovery was to find a way to contain the pandemic.

Madeline said GLCs need to go beyond corporate social responsibility and should work with local start-ups and social enterprises to add value and create opportunities for all Malaysians.

She also said she hoped GLCs would consider investing in low-tech initiatives in areas without sufficient infrastructure.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/11/21/glc-driven-initiatives-will-boost-recovery-say-experts/

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New tourism rules soon for green zone travel, says minister

November 21, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: New rules and procedures are being drawn up in the wake of the government’s approval of inter-state and inter-district travel between green zones, tourism minister Nancy Shukri said today.

Green zone travel, which will be allowed from Sunday, will revive the domestic tourism industry, which has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, she said.

She was also confident that the decision would ease the concerns of hotel, resort and homestay operators, tour guides, and others who lost their sources of income during the difficult times.

She hoped that people from green zones would use this opportunity to travel domestically, besides using the services of local travel agents.

“This opportunity should also be used as best as possible by industry players with interesting travel promotions and offers in line with the new normal and SOP (standard operating procedure) to attract tourists,” she said as a guest on the Ruang Bicara live talk show programme on Bernama TV tonight.

Following the latest development, Nancy said the SOP with regard to tourism was being updated as there were some minor amendments that needed to be made on the advice of the National Security Council adding that the new SOP list was expected to be uploaded on the ministry’s official website in two days’ time.

She said the ministry would also carry out engagement sessions with industry players to discuss and ensure the permission given to travel would be fully utilised to revive the tourism sector.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/11/21/new-tourism-rules-soon-for-green-zone-travel-says-minister/

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Dr Mahathir suggests US president-elect Joe Biden crucial to Asia’s growth

21 Nov 2020

BY SYED JAYMAL ZAHIID

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 ― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Joe Biden could play a key role for Asia’s overall growth as he looks to the US president-elect to rebuild ties with China whose growth is crucial to the region.

The 95-year-old told business paper Nikkei Asia that he expects Biden to take a more rational approach than current US president Donald Trump, who ignited a trade war with the Asian superpower that had economic repercussions on around the world, including Malaysia.

“Under Trump, relationships between countries were totally destroyed as he quarreled with China, Europe, Mexico and even with Canada,” the two-time prime minister said.

“Biden would have to have some normalisation in the relationship with China, as it's very important to us,” he said.

China remains Malaysia's largest trading partner, followed by Singapore and the United States.

Bilateral trade between the two nations hit another record high last year, rising to US$124 billion (roughly RM503 billion), said China's Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian, 14.2 per cent increase from 2018's US$108.66 billion (RM443 billion).

Dr Mahathir, 95, a long vocal critic of the US, especially over American support for Israel versus the Palestinians.

He told Nikkei Asia that Biden could rebuild ties that he says were damaged under the Trump administration.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/11/21/dr-mahathir-suggests-us-president-elect-joe-biden-crucial-to-asias-growth/1924728

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URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/abu-ibrahim-al-hashimi-al/d/123536

 

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