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Islamic World News ( 14 Sept 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Al Qaeda Calls 'Mujahid Brothers' In Pakistan, India to Help Rohingya

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 Sept 2017

Muslims protesting against the killings of Rohingyas in Myanmar, in Ludhiana on Tuesday. (Gurpreet Singh/HT)



•  Al Qaeda Calls 'Mujahid Brothers' In Pakistan, India to Help Rohingya

•  UP Govt Stops Grants to 46 Madrasas for Violating ‘Teaching Standards’

•  UNSC Urges ‘Immediate Steps’ To End Myanmar Violence

•  Malala, Other Nobel Peace Laureates Send Open Letter to UN to Intervene In Rohingya Crises

•  NU to Train 1,000 Jakarta Preachers with Peaceful Islam



•  Al Qaeda Calls 'Mujahid Brothers' In Pakistan, India to Help Rohingya

•  Ulema’s Co-Op Sought to Ensure Peace, Harmony

•  Zero-Tolerance for Drug Mafia, Terrorism in Educational Institutions: MoS for Education

•  ‘Military solution to Afghan issue will create further complications’

•  Govt reassessing ties with US: defence minister

•  Faisal Mosque official ‘target of incitement campaign’

•  World must address security concerns of Pakistan, Gen Bajwa tells Australia

•  Is Trump’s tough talking on Pakistan set to backfire?



•  UP Govt Stops Grants to 46 Madrasas for Violating ‘Teaching Standards’

•  Ludhiana: Thousands Protest Killings of Rohingyas in Myanmar

•  Stop 'Chorus of India as Villain' On Rohingya Muslim Issue: Junior Home Minister

•  India to send relief materials for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

•  Modi, Abe Visit 16th Century Mosque in Ahmedabad

•  Rohingya Muslims Crisis: ‘Guru Ka Langar’ Begins At Bangladesh-Myanmar Border, Target 35,000 Meals per Day

•  Probe Ordered After Assam Teacher Alleges Pressure to Convert To Islam



•  UNSC Urges ‘Immediate Steps’ To End Myanmar Violence

•  Germany 'Rejects 5,000 Turkish Asylum Applications'

•  White Brits Should Learn From Muslims to Improve Communities and Make the Country A Better Place, Top MP Claims

•  Two Wartime Mass Graves of Bosnian Muslims Discovered

•  Germany resumes Afghan deportations


South Asia

•  Malala, Other Nobel Peace Laureates Send Open Letter to UN to Intervene In Rohingya Crises

•  Taliban Militants Accused Of More Sexual Crimes in South of Afghanistan

•  Explosion among Taliban leaders leave several dead in Kunduz province

•  Bomber kills three near Kabul cricket stadium

•  Myanmar's Suu Kyi scraps UN trip amid Rohingya crisis

•  Police foil Islami Andolon’s march towards Myanmar embassy

•  Fighter jets pound ISIS targets in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan


Southeast Asia

•  NU to Train 1,000 Jakarta Preachers with Peaceful Islam

•  Malaysian Religious Harmony Bureau Supports the End of Muslim and Non-Muslim Divide

•  Fire at Islamic school in Malaysia kills 24, mostly teens

•  Malaysia nabs three suspected ISIS militants in three states

•  Malaysia, US to enhance cooperation in fight against IS

•  Indonesia: Returnees from Syria Recount Fear, Disappointment of Life in the Islamic State

•  Myanmar's Rohingya crisis is roiling Indonesian politics


Arab World

•  Arab League Rejects Kurdish Independence Referendum, Calls It Illegal

•  US Strikes Kill At Least 22 Civilians in Syria’s Raqqah, Dayr Al-Zawr

•  Two Egyptian soldiers, 6 militants killed in 'foiled' attack

•  ISIL Terrorists Mass Fleeing to Turkey after Heavy Defeats in Syria

•  Saudi Commander of Tahrir Al-Sham Assassinated in Idlib

•  Armed Dissidents, Russia, Turkey Likely to Attack Tahrir Al-Sham in Idlib

•  Syrian Army Fortifying More Positions near Deir Ezzur Military Airport

•  Syrian Army Takes Control of More Key Regions in Homs Province

•  Syria army tries to encircle ISIS in Deir al-Zor: Military source

•  ISIS afraid for their money as Russia confirms group already ‘began smuggling’ it abroad



•  Israel Ruling on Army Service for Religious Sparks Anger, Debate

•  Israel Endorses Independent Kurdish State

•  Erdogan: Turkey will take its own security measures after Russia defence deal

•  Iran seeks to send delegation to Myanmar over Rohingya plight

•  Iran tops world league for money laundering and terror finance

•  Iran magnifies the role of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Geagea responds

•  Rights group blasts Israeli banks for settlement expansion

•  Yemen VP: Houthis getting ready to eliminate Saleh

•  UN's inaction on Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen 'striking': HRW

•  Erdogan remains defiant as NATO allies criticize S-400 deal with Russia

•  Zarif, Putin stress full commitment to Iran’s nuclear agreement



•  Algeria Finds Sect Leader Guilty Of 'Offending Islam'

•  Suicide Bomber Kills 5 in Northern Cameroon Mosque

•  South Africa: Thousands march in solidarity with Rohingya

•  Military campaign against ISIS could push it to south Jordan, says King Abdullah

•  US claims 6 Shabab militants killed in Somalia air raids


North America

•  Canada Urges Myanmar Leader to End Rohingya Violence

•  Washington Concerned about Iran’s Participation in Astana

•  US Supreme Court Allows Donald Trump to Uphold 'Muslim Travel Ban' Restriction on Refugees

•  US troops using new base in Iraqi Kurdistan: Officials

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Al Qaeda calls 'mujahid brothers' in Pakistan, India to help Rohingya

Sep 14, 2017

Muslims protesting against the killings of Rohingyas in Myanmar, in Ludhiana on Tuesday. (Gurpreet Singh/HT)


Al Qaeda militants have called for support for Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, who are facing a security crackdown that has sent about 400,000 of them fleeing to Bangladesh, warning that Myanmar would face “punishment” for its “crimes”.

The exodus of Muslim refugees from Buddhist-majority Myanmar was sparked by a fierce security force response to a series of Rohingya militant attacks on police and army posts in the country’s west on August 25.

The militant group behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States issued a statement urging Muslims around the world to support their fellow Muslims in Myanmar with aid, weapons and “military support”.

“The savage treatment meted out to our Muslim brothers ... shall not pass without punishment,” al Qaeda said in a statement, according to the SITE monitoring group.

“The government of Myanmar shall be made to taste what our Muslim brothers have tasted.”

Myanmar says its security forces are engaged in a legitimate campaign against “terrorists”, whom it blames for attacks on the police and army, and on civilians.

The government has warned of bomb attacks in cities, and al Qaeda’s call to arms is likely to compound those concerns.

“We call upon all mujahid brothers in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines to set out for Burma to help their Muslim brothers, and to make the necessary preparations - training and the like - to resist this oppression,” the group said.



UP govt stops grants to 46 madrasas for violating ‘teaching standards’

September 14, 2017

The process of verifying aided madrasas, which get grants in the form of teachers’ salaries, was ordered in July by the state government.


After an almost three-month-long physical verification of around 560 aided madrasas in UP, the state government has stopped grants to 46 of them on grounds that they were “violating the basic standards of infrastructure and teaching”. The process of verifying aided madrasas, which get grants in the form of teachers’ salaries, was ordered in July by the state government. During this exercise, the district inspector of schools as well as district minority welfare officers were asked to inspect each madrasa, look into its infrastructure and strength of teachers and also to check their qualification. Later, the government had also asked all recognised madrasas to submit their details, including the number of teachers and their qualifications, online.

“We stopped grant to these madrasas as they failed on basic norms like building, infrastructure, teachers etc. Despite what people might say, the fact is that the minority welfare department was so far running as a correctional welfare department, where there were no records of any madrasa in the state,” said Uttar Pradesh Minority Welfare Minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary.

Chaudhary further told The Indian Express, “It is in fact under the Yogi Adityanath government that the department has actually started working as a minority welfare department. During our exercise, we came across madrasas which did not have their own teachers and were sharing teachers, madrasas which did not have their own building or even land. Grant to all such madrasas has been stopped.”

He further said that on a portal launched by the state government for madrasas, where it has been made mandatory for all recognised madrasas to upload their details, so far, 1000 such institutions have already submitted their details. There are about 7,500 recognised madrasas in the state.



UNSC urges ‘immediate steps’ to end Myanmar violence

Sep 14, 2017

UNITED NATIONS -  The UN Security Council on Wednesday expressed concern about excessive force used by Myanmar during its security operation in Rakhine state and called for “immediate steps” to end the violence.

The unanimous statement followed a council meeting held behind closed doors to respond to the violence that has driven nearly 380,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee across the border to Bangladesh.

The council condemned the violence and called for humanitarian aid workers to be able to reach those in need in Rakhine state.

Ethiopian Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, who holds the council presidency, told reporters after the meeting that council members “expressed concern about reports of excessive violence during the security operations and called for immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine.” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier called for a halt to the military campaign in Rakhine and acknowledged that the mass displacement of Rohingya Muslims amounted to ethnic cleansing.

“I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country,” the secretary general said in a press conference. Asked if he agreed the Rohingya population was being ethnically cleansed, he replied: “When one-third of the Rohingya population has got to flee the country, can you find a better word to describe it?”

The 1.1-million strong Rohingya have suffered years of discrimination in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship even though many have longstanding roots in the country.

Guterres said the Myanmar government should either grant the Rohingya nationality or legal status that would allow them to live a normal life.

The Security Council met behind closed doors at the request of Britain and Sweden to try to agree on a response to the crisis, but diplomats said they expected China and Russia to resist calls for a strong statement.

“We need to see an end to the violence. We need to see immediate and widespread access to humanitarian aid and relief for the people of Burma and the people of Rakhine,” British Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen told reporters ahead of the meeting, referring to Myanmar by its name under British colonial rule.

Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog said he hoped for a “unified outcome” and “clear messages about what needs to happen now.”

That message should be that “the military campaign that we have seen is stopped and that there is full respect for human rights and international humanitarian law,” said Skoog.

Meanwhile, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi will not attend the United Nations General Assembly this week, her spokesman said Wednesday, as the Nobel laureate faces a barrage of criticism over her failure to speak up for Rohingya Muslims fleeing Rakhine state in huge numbers.

A crackdown by Myanmar’s army, launched in response to Rohingya militant attacks on August 25, has sent some 379,000 Rohingya refugees scrambling across the border to Bangladesh in less than three weeks.

The violence has incubated a humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border and piled intense global pressure on Suu Kyi to condemn the army campaign, which the UN has described as having all the hallmarks of “ethnic cleansing”.

Bangladesh is struggling to provide relief for exhausted and hungry refugees - some 60 percent of whom are children - while nearly 30,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have been displaced inside Myanmar.

Seven bodies believed to be those of Rohingya Muslims washed ashore in Bangladesh on Wednesday, officials said, highlighting the risks many of the persecuted group are taking to flee violence in neighbouring Myanmar.

At least 99 Rohingya are now known to have died making the perilous crossing on flimsy boats since a crisis erupted on August 25 in Rakhine state. “We found seven bodies today washed up on our shore, including children,” Border Guard Bangladesh commander Lieutenant Colonel S.M. Ariful Islam told AFP.

The lost Rohingya boy made the journey from Myanmar alone, following strangers from other villages across rivers and jungle until they reached Bangladesh, where he had no family and no idea where to go.

“Some women in the group asked, ‘Where are your parents?’ I said I didn’t know where they were,” said Abdul Aziz, a 10-year-old whose name has been changed to protect his identity.

“A woman said, ‘We’ll look after you like our own child, come along’. After that I went with them.”

More than 1,100 Rohingya children fleeing violence in western Myanmar have arrived alone in Bangladesh since August 25, according to the latest UNICEF figures.

Over just two days, 2,000 children came through a single ‘safe space’ in Kutupalong, little larger than a classroom with just a few staff on hand.

Nine thousand more Rohingya refugees poured into Bangladesh on Wednesday, the UN said, as authorities worked to build a new camp for tens of thousands of arrivals who have no shelter.

Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s first civilian leader in decades, has no control over the powerful military, which ran the country for 50 years before allowing free elections in 2015. She will address the crisis engulfing Rakhine state next week, in her first speech since scores were killed in violence.

At a press conference late Wednesday government spokesman Zaw Htay said Suu Kyi would “speak for national reconciliation and peace” in a televised address on September 19.

There is also scant sympathy among Myanmar’s Buddhist majority for the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim group branded “Bengalis” - shorthand for illegal immigrants.

But outside of her country Suu Kyi’s reputation as a defender of the oppressed is in ruins over the Rohingya crisis.

Rights groups have pilloried the former democracy activist for failing to speak out against the army campaign, which has left hundreds dead.

Rohingya refugees have told chilling accounts of soldiers firing on civilians and razing entire villages in northern Rakhine state with the help of Buddhist mobs.

The army denies the allegations, while Suu Kyi has also played down claims of atrocities, instead blaming “a huge iceberg of misinformation” for complicating the conflict.

The UN Security Council was scheduled Wednesday to discuss the refugee crisis in a closed-door meeting, with China expected to shoot down any efforts to censure its strategically pivotal Southeast Asian ally.

“The state counsellor won’t attend the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly,” government spokesman Zaw Htay told AFP, adding that the vice president would go in her place.

He did not comment further but told local media that Suu Kyi was staying in Myanmar to focus on domestic issues.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner garlanded for her dignified and defiant democracy activism under Myanmar’s former junta, was once the darling of the international community.

She made her debut before the UN assembly last September, winning warm applause for a speech delivered months after she became Myanmar’s first civilian leader following a decades-long democracy struggle under the former junta.

In it she vowed to find a solution to long-running ethnic and religious hatred in Rakhine “that will lead to peace, stability and development for all communities within the state”.

In a sign of how far Suu Kyi’s star has fallen since, the same rights groups that campaigned for her release from house arrest have blasted her for failing to speak up in defence of the Rohingya.

Sympathisers say her hands are tied by the army, which still runs a chunk of the government and has complete control over all security matters.

But fellow Nobel laureates have lined up to condemn her silence, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu calling it “incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country”.

While the US and other Western powers have criticised the military campaign, Beijing on Tuesday offered Myanmar support saying the country was entitled to “safeguard” its stability.

Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson urged the council to pass a “global arms embargo” on Myanmar’s military, but said he expected China to to water down any reaction.

The 1.1-million strong Rohingya have suffered years of discrimination in Myanmar, where they were stripped of their citizenship despite having long roots in the country.

Bangladesh does not want the group either, though it is providing the refugees with temporary shelter.



Malala, other Nobel Peace Laureates send open letter to UN to intervene in Rohingya crises

Sep 14, 2017

Twelve Nobel Peace Laureates, including Malala Yousafzai and international personalities, have sent an open letter to UN Security Council urging it to intervene for ending the Rohingya crisis.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council have urged Myanmar authorities to end violence against Rohingya Muslims.

Talking to newsmen at the United Nations, the Secretary General termed the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state as an example of ethnic cleansing.

He said that one-third of the Rohingya population has been compelled to flee the country.

The Security Council which also met behind closed doors to discuss the situation in Myanmar agreed to publicly condemn the prevailing situation in Myanmar.

The Council expressed concern about excessive violence during a security operation in Rakhine state and urged Myanmar government to take immediate steps for ending the violence.



NU to train 1,000 Jakarta preachers with peaceful Islam

September 13, 2017

Indonesia's largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) is composing a draft curriculum to train 1,000 preachers in Jakarta to spread peaceful Islamic teachings.

Maksum Machfiedz, the deputy head of NU’s central executive board, said it was expected the training would be conducted in November, with the cooperation of the Jakarta administration.

“The curriculum will explain how we can make Islam Nusantara [Islam of the Archipelago] a central practice of Muslims in Indonesia. All preachers must understand the problems in society [...] when they deliver their sermons,” Maksum told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Islam Nusantara is a concept developed by NU to propagate peaceful Islam throughout the world. The concept is based on cultural and pluralist approaches.

Maksum said around 1,000 preachers would participate in the training, which would be delivered in several stages. All technical aspects of the training were still being arranged, he added.

“After signing an agreement with the Jakarta administration last Friday, we plan to discuss all things related to the training with our subordinates. In NU, we will discuss it with our dakwah [missionary endeavor] institutions,” Maksum said.

All funds needed for the training would be covered by the Jakarta administration, he went on.

Maksum said he was certain that with the training, preachers could help subdue sectarian and religious tensions among Muslims in Jakarta, or at least among NU cadres. (yon/ebf)





Ulema’s co-op sought to ensure peace, harmony

September 14, 2017

FAISALABAD-So as to review the security and administrative arrangements for Muharramul Harram, a meeting of Divisional Peace Committee was held under the chairmanship of Divisional Commissioner Momin Agha here on Monday.

RPO Bilal Sidduqe Kamyana, Faisalabad and Chiniot deputy commissioners Salman Ghani and Ayub Khan, CPO Afzaal Ahmad Kousar, Jhang & TT Singh ADCs Sajjad Hussain and Kashif M Ali, Addl Commissioner Coordination Mehr Shafqatullah Mushtaq and others also attended the meeting.

The divisional commissioner said that Ulema had played pivotal role for peace. Joint efforts would be mobilised for maintaining peace during Muharramul Haram, he added. He urged the Ulema to forge unity among their ranks as it was dire need of the time due to the law & order situation during Muharram. He said that the message of peace, tolerance and brotherhood should be promoted.

The said that foolproof security arrangements would be made by the divisional and district administrations for the protection of processions and majalis of Muharramul Haram. However, he added, the religious leaders play their due role to maintain religious harmony as they always rendered valuable services to help the administration for making the security arrangements a success.

He said that the code of conduct in connection with Muharramul Haram be followed to avoid any hatred and provoking act which could jeopardise peace and tranquility.

The RPO said that the Ulema were playing their remarkable role with positive trends and values to maintain religious harmony. He assured for removal of shortcomings and weaknesses of the security arrangements which were pointed out by the participants of the meeting.

The members of the Divisional Peace Committee pledged their full cooperation, and said that they would perform their duties for the promotion of peace, brotherhood and mutual respect as per their previous golden traditions. They determined that the nefarious designs of the enemies of Pakistan and Islam would be foiled with unity. They also put their suggestions to make the security arrangements further strengthened. In the end, special prayers were offered for the development and progress of the country, peace and success of Muharram arrangements.

Meanwhile, the joint meeting of District Peace Committee and District Interfaith Harmony Committee was held in the committee room of Deputy Commissioner office. DC Salman Ghani presided over the meeting while CPO Afzaal Ahmad Kousar and Mayor Municipal Corporation Muhammad Razzaq Malik were also present.

Among others, the chairmen of Municipal Committees Jaranwala, Tandilianwala, Samundri, Chak Jhumra, Khurrianwala, Mamukanjan and Dijkot were also attended the meeting. Addressing the meeting, the DC welcomed the ulema and other members of the Peace Committee, and said that district administration was giving final touches to Muharram arrangements but the cooperation of Ulema was a must to make these arrangements a success.

CPO Afzaal Ahmad appreciated the cooperation of Ulema, and said that the district police had made elaborated security plan for Muharramul Harram and it would be made more strengthened by the consultation of religious leaders.

He said that the cooperation of the local bodies representatives were very important to check the suspicious tenants residing in different areas. He said that the members of Peace Committee keep an eye on the suspicious persons and immediate information be provided for the local police in case of presence of any suspicious person. He said that the peace committees on police station-level would also be made active and the coordination between the peace committees and the police would be made more strengthened.

Mayor Razzaq Malik said that Faisalabad was a citadel of peace which was the credit of the Ulema. He lauded the perpetual cooperation of religious leaders and said, “We will maintain peace during Muharram. He said that all measures would be made by the Municipal Corporation Faisalabad for providing administrative facilities at the sites of Majalis and Jaloos.



Zero-Tolerance for Drug Mafia, Terrorism in Educational Institutions: MoS for Education

Sep 14, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Muhammad Balighur Rehman has said that the incumbent government has adopted a zero-tolerance policy to deal with drug mafias and terrorism in educational institutions, and all universities were strictly advised to keep a vigilant eye on any such activity in the university premises.

Speaking at an event organised to celebrate academic excellence of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) in higher education here on Wednesday, the minister said that the university deserved all the appreciations to cross into the top 500 universities in the recently released report by the ‘Times Higher Education World University Rankings’.

He said that it was a great achievement for the country because there was not even a single university among the top universities in Asia during 2006.  He added that the QAU is also the leading university of the country in Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) ranking.

“Education is a top priority of the government and it could be judged from the fact that the number of out-of-school children decreased from 2.6 million to 2.4 million during Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) regime,” he said, and added that every child should get education at least up to intermediate level, which is also the mandate of the UN.

About encroachment of the university land, the minister said that none of the PML-N leaders were involved in the illegal encroachment, vowing that the matter was in the court, and if they were found guilty, they would have vacated the land already.

Speaking on the occasion, QAU Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr Javed Ashraf said that he felt immensely proud to be the VC of such a prestigious educational institute which is the only university of the country ranked among the top 500 universities in the world.

He also said that there was a complete ban on all students unions in the university and no one would be allowed ever again to form a student organisation.

“The university is facing numerous problems, which were brought to the notice of the high-ups including the prime minister, president, ministers and Islamabad mayor, but of no good,” he lamented.

Full report at:



‘Military solution to Afghan issue will create further complications’

Sep 14, 2017

Pakistan on Wednesday said that a military solution to the Afghan issue will only create further complications, after its foreign minister returned home from a diplomatic offensive to engage regional powers which share a similar point of view on Afghanistan.

In an interview with Geo News, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said all three regional states—China, Iran and Turkey—acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices and backed its stance beyond expectations.

The foreign minister said that he has spoken to his Afghan counterpart, and Pakistan’s efforts were bearing good results, while stressing on the need for resolving the Afghan issue regionally. He urged the countries affected by Afghanistan’s situation to find a solution to it.

He also mentioned that he had briefed the prime minister on the issue, and soon the matter will be presented before the National Security Committee (NSC).

The foreign minister said that he also had talks pertaining to India’s political role in Afghanistan. “New Delhi won’t have a political role in Afghanistan. It will only be restricted to the economic sector,” he added.

“India’s investment in Afghanistan is not meant for its betterment, whereas the United States has clarified that New Delhi does not have a political role in Afghanistan,” he clarified.

Full report at:



Govt reassessing ties with US: defence minister

Baqir Sajjad Syed

September 14, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said on Wednesday the onus of satisfying the United States about its concerns is not on Pakistan.

“We are here to give our point of view logically and with evidence. We will explain our position. But it’s not for us to satisfy them,” Mr Dastgir told reporters at the defence ministry.

The government is currently, in Mr Dastgir’s words, “reassessing ties with the US”, and has simultaneously undertaken a regional outreach ahead of talks with the US on future bilateral engagement.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, after accompanying Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to the UN General Assembly session in New York next week, is expected to visit Washington for the awaited meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Mr Asif’s meeting with Mr Tillerson was originally scheduled for mid-August, but was postponed on Pakistan’s request after US President Donald Trump’s policy statement on Afghanistan and South Asia. The statement was seen here as demeaning to Pakistan, dismissive of its sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and indifferent to Pakistan’s security concerns.

Mr Trump’s speech, in which he accused Pakistan of not adequately acting against terrorist sanctuaries on its soil, was roundly condemned in Pakistan, and the National Security Committee initiated a review to finalise the strategy for dealing with the United States ahead of Mr Asif’s upcoming visit to Washington.

Despite all reservations, however, consensus generally exists here at all levels that a rupture in relations with the United States is not an option.

Mr Dastgir said the two countries needed a frank and candid dialogue on the issues concerning them, as differences between them would reflect in Afghanistan and other regional issues.

The defence minister bemoaned the fact that the US did not share Pakistan’s threat perception about India, which was not only indulging in warmongering but also building up its military capabilities.

He also noted that a nexus between the United States, India and Afghanistan in Kabul threatened Pakistan. “The US knows all, but ignores the threats faced by us because of its strategic interests.”

He said Pakistan would keep raising concerns about India in future engagements with the US. “The United States cannot ignore the threat to us from India. It is [a] serious [situation],” he underscored, adding that it would be major challenge for the Pakistani side to get it acknowledged in the upcoming talks.

Mr Dastgir said the other challenge for Pakistan was the fact that the US “keeps changing the goalposts”.

Full report at:



Faisal Mosque official ‘target of incitement campaign’

Ikram Junaidi

September 14, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Amid growing concerns regarding the radicalisation of students, especially in the aftermath of the tragic lynching of Mashal Khan, the issue of extremist activities on campuses has acquired renewed significance.

On Wednesday, another worrying incident came to light when a senior Faisal Mosque official alleged that he had been made the target of a concerted smear campaign that had declared him to be ‘Qadiani’ – a pejorative term for Ahmadis – on social media.

Speaking before the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Mosque Deputy Director Mohammad Tahir accused a staff member of the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) of engineering the campaign, which instigated some 30,000 students to cause him physical harm.

The committee, chaired by Senator Rehman Malik, directed Senior Superintendent of Police Sajid Kiani to take the matter seriously and ensure the security of the complainant.

However, IIUI Rector Dr Masoom Yasinzai told Dawn he had taken up the issue with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and sought an explanation was sought from the staffer in question, who had denied involvement in any campaign against Mr Tahir.

Talking to Dawn, Dr Masoom Yasinzai said the issue surfaced when the university learnt that CDA wanted to take control of the mosque.

Briefing the committee, Mr Tahir also claimed that on July 25, he had told a parliamentary committee that the IIUI still occupied offices inside the Faisal Mosque premises.

“Following my appearance, an IIUI staffer declared me to be ‘Qadiani’ and extolled the 30,000 students of the university to not tolerate it. Since then, I have been feeling insecure with students’ demeanour towards me. I can say oath on that I am a Muslim, but no one believes me,” he said.

Mr Tahir said he had complained to both police and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Senator Malik said it was unfortunate that students were being instigated to take action against an individual who had been declared a ‘Qadiani’ for personal gains, and asked the FIA about progress in the case.

FIA Director Mazharul Haq Kakakhel claimed that although an investigation was initiated immediately upon receipt of the complaint, there was not much headway.

“Though a number of comments were posted against Mr Tahir on Facebook, the [accused] has denied his involvement. Since we cannot confirm ourselves who has posted the comments, we have contacted Facebook to get information about the person who posted those comments,” he said.

Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) said it had become a trend to accuse people of being ‘Qadiani’ to attain personal motives.

PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi recalled that a similar case was built against Mashal Khan of Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, who was subsequently murdered.

Saying that social media could not be left uncontrolled, Senator Malik observed that people were criticising “our daughters”, including Maryam Nawaz Sharif, and called for a law to be made that would ensure that decency prevailed online.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said if the committee could obtain public opinion on the issue, his ministry would play its role to enact the legislation.

Criminal envoys

The standing committee was also shocked to learn that even Pakistani ambassadors are involved with criminal elements.

During the meeting, Senator Javed Abbasi pointed out that Foreign Office officials were involved in crimes, alleging that a Burmese criminal facing imprisonment in Thailand had admitted to involvement with Foreign Office and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) officials.

When asked about the case, FIA Director Kakakhel said that Ebrahim Koko Klaing, who was facing 30 years in prison over drug smuggling charges, was transferred to Pakistan under the “Agreement on Co-operation in the Transfer of Offenders and Enforcement of Penal Sentences” between Pakistan and Thailand.

“During the investigation, sufficient evidence has been placed on the record against officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted in Bangkok; Ambassador Sohail Khan and other officers are involved, as well as Nadra officials, who made the suspect a fake family tree to declare him a Pakistani,” he said.

Full report at:



World must address security concerns of Pakistan, Gen Bajwa tells Australia


CANBERRA: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that while Pakistan will continue to support all peace efforts, it expects that its security concerns will also be addressed.

“We will continue to support peace efforts in region but our security concerns must also be addressed,” the COAS told Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne AR at the Australian Parliament House.

The army chief is in Australia on two-day official visit on the invitation of Australian army chief.

Upon arrival at the Defence Forces Headquarters in Canberra, Gen Bajwa was given a tri-service guard of honour. The COAS called on Australian Army Chief Lieutenant General Angus J Campbell and Naval Chief Vice Admiral Timothy Barrett, says a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Wednesday.

During these meetings with Australian military and civilian leadership, the COAS highlighted regional security situation and Pakistan Army s contributions towards peace and stability. He said that Pakistan has improved security situation and is playing a key role in the regional economy.

The Australian leadership appreciated Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism and expressed commitment to further improve bilateral collaboration in defence and security fields.

Full report at:



Is Trump’s tough talking on Pakistan set to backfire?


by Miranda Husain

The Afghan quagmire looks set to place Iran at the centre of the multilateral stage at the General Assembly later this month. Which is not at all how Donald Trump had planned it.

First of all the IAEA rained on his parade by confirming that Tehran was playing by the nuclear rulebook. Then came Pakistan's Foreign Minister, whirling his way through parts of the region like a veritable dervish - with two notable exceptions, naturally - to garner support for a political solution to extricate just about everyone from the Afghan quagmire. And there was Iran, scoffing at the idea of a few thousand troops to seal the deal across the border.

The latter is something that Trump could probably brush aside. Seeing as he views both Islamabad and Tehran as state sponsors of terrorism. We know this because he has said so. What he may have not quite expected is the Afghan Foreign Minister - busy with his own visit to India for the first bilateral meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council post Trump's much touted South Asian policy review - calling for regional engagement with all stakeholders, including Iran.

In an interview with The Hindu this week, Salahuddin Rabbani said: "[W]e hope also that India, as a good friend of other countries in the region like Russia and Iran, can convince those countries to work with the Afghan government to support the peace process." Interestingly he forgot to mention China. The Pakistani state apparatus might like to take this as outward recognition of the rock hard friendship with Beijing that may or may not now be overwhelmingly transactional in nature. But, in reality, it likely had more to do with not wanting to inadvertently remind either side of recent tensions over Doklam. Of course, Pakistan enjoys far more clout than India over Iran when it comes to any conversation on terrorism. After all, both were royally humiliated at the hands of the unquiet American at the US-Arab Islamic summit on terrorism. While New Delhi was royally gushed over.

Rabbani naturally made all the usual sounds about it being in Pakistan's best interests to reassert sovereignty over its territory. Yet he also talked of noticing a change in Islamabad's behaviour following Trump's tough talk. Though of course Pakistan has been at pains to point out that the latter hasn't actually set down any specific rules, no matter how much Kabul welcomes what it sees as the condition-based approach of this 'new' policy for regional peace. Nevertheless, in a bid to show that everything counts in large amount, Prime Minister Abbasi has put on the Af-Pak table the offer of joint patrols with Kabul as part of a bilateral verification process to sign off on the country's anti-terror record. "Whatever it takes to fight terrorism . . . Pakistan is totally open to that," he has said, while of course calling on Afghanistan to do more curb cross-border terrorism from their side.

It seems, therefore, that the US apprentice-president succeeded where he had not quite meant to. In other words, having all the players in the Afghan backyard on the same page regarding the need to get the Americans out of that country so they can all sit comfortably around the negotiating table. If this happens, immense efforts to have relentlessly scape-goated Islamabad and Tehran will have backfired.

Full report at:





Ludhiana: Thousands protest killings of Rohingyas in Myanmar

Sep 13, 2017

Thousands of people from Muslim community in Ludhiana on Tuesday protested against the killings of Rohingya Muslims in the Myanmar.

The protestors gathered near Jama Masjid at Field Ganj area and started marching towards the mini secretariat, raising slogans against the government of Myanmar for not taking requisite action to stop killings of Rohingyas in the country.

More than 8,000 protestors from the Muslim community raised slogans while marching towards deputy commissioner’s (DC) office and occupied more than one kilometre of area resulting in traffic snarls.

The protestors held placards in hands flashing slogans such as ‘stop killing us for being Muslim’, ‘stop killing Muslims in Burma’, ‘Aung San Suu Kyi, shame on you’ and stop genocide of Muslims among dozen others. The protestors also carried Tricolour and Ahrar-e-Islam flags.

Meanhwhile, hundreds of commuters were stranded near Jagraon bridge, Bharat Nagar Chowk and Field Ganj.

Ranjan Verma, a commuter near Jagraon Bridge, said, “I had to sit and wait for more than 40 minutes inside my car to let the protestors pass. It was really difficult for me and my 10 years old daughter to wait in the hot weather.”

Muhammad Mustkeem, general secretary of the Shahi Imam said, “We have submitted a memorandum to the DC of Ludhiana and also shot a letter to the United Nations to intervene and take necessary action. We have also requested the Indian government to help the Rohingya community in Myanmar.”

Sukhpal Brar, additional DC (traffic), said, “The number of protestors were in thousands so we had difficulty in managing traffic for a few minutes but since, the protest was peaceful, later it was easy for us to ensure smooth flow of traffic.”



Stop 'Chorus Of India As Villain' On Rohingya Muslim Issue: Junior Home Minister

September 13, 2017

Criticism of India's treatment of Rohingya Muslim refugees is "a calibrated design to tarnish India's image" said Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju today. He reiterated that the ethnic minority is a security concern for India.

Last week, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Myanmar, Mr Rijiju said that all 40,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled to India will be treated as illegal immigrants and will be deported.

That policy was described as deplorable on Monday by the chief of the United Nations' top human rights body. India offered a strong rebuttal at Geneva reiterating its security concerns and said, "Enforcing the laws should not be mistaken for lack of compassion."

Adding to that today, Mr Rijiju said, "This chorus of branding India as villain on Rohingya issue is a calibrated design to tarnish India's image."

Late last month, he said that India needs no lessons on how to accommodate refugees or treat them with compassion, and said that the 40,000 Rohingyas who have entered India will be entitled to fair legal procedure "We are not going to shoot them nor we are planning to throw them in the ocean. India is not a signatory to UN human rights convention but still the country has been hosting millions of refugees," he said.

Full report at:



India to send relief materials for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Sep 13, 2017

DHAKA: India will send a consignment of humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh tomorrow for Rohingya Muslims, days after Dhaka briefed New Delhi about the problems faced by it due to the influx of refugees from Myanmar+ following the ethnic violence in the Buddhist-majority nation.

Bangladesh High Commissioner in New Delhi Syed Muazzem Ali had met Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar last week and discussed the issue of Rohingyas in detail.

"An Indian aircraft will carry the first consignment of humanitarian assistance tomorrow...It will land at Chittagong airport at 11 am," an Indian High Commission spokesman told PTI.

Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla would hand over the relief materials to Bangladesh's Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader, the spokesman added.

Bangladesh, which is facing a big influx of Rohingyas from Myanmar,+ has called on the international community to intervene and put pressure on Myanmar to address the exodus.

According to the UN estimates, over 379,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled+ Myanmar's Rakhine state into Bangladesh since August 25 when fresh wave of violence erupted.

According to media reports, the violence began when Rohingya militants attacked police posts in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state.

Rohingya residents - a stateless mostly Muslim minority in a Buddhist-majority nation - allege that the military and Rakhine Buddhists responded with a brutal campaign against them, according to the reports.

Bangladesh had earlier said the new influx of Rohingya refugees is an unbearable additional burden on the country which has been hosting around 400,000 Myanmar nationals who had to leave their country in the past due to communal violence and repeated military operations.

Quader had said on Sunday that Bangladesh needed "crucial" Indian support in handling the crisis.

"The entire world today is worried with the Rohingya issue (and) their (India's) concern and stand beside us is very crucial at this moment," he had said.

Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali, at a media briefing on the same day, however, referred to the Indian concern about the crisis.

Full report at:



Modi, Abe visit 16th century mosque in Ahmedabad

Sep 13, 2017,

AHMEDABAD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Wednesday visited Sidi Saiyyed Ki Jaali, a 16th century mosque in the old city of Ahmedabad, soon after the latter's arrival here on a two-day visit+ .

Modi received Abe and his wife Akie Abe+ at the mosque which is famous for its latticework windows, and took them on a tour of the complex.

"Thrilling welcome to the honoured guest. PM @AbeShinzo received with warm affection by enthusiastic crowd," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

The mosque was built in 1573 by the retinue of Ahemad Shah Bilal Jhajar Khan, a General in the army of the last Sultan Shams-ud-Din Muzaffar Shah III of the Gujarat Sultanate.

After completing the tour of the mosque, Modi took the visiting dignitaries to a heritage property across the street where he will host them for dinner.

Earlier in the day, breaking protocol, Modi personally received Abe at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport with a warm hug.

The visiting dignitary was given a guard of honour while artists from different parts of the country presented a variety programme.

The two leaders and Japan's First Lady Akie Abe boarded an open jeep and proceeded from the airport to the historic Sabarmati Ashram with thousands of cheering people lining both sides of the eight-and-half km route.

At the Ashram, Modi, Abe and his wife paid floral tributes to a portrait and a bust of Mahatma Gandhi. Modi also presented Abe a marble sculpture of Gandhi's famous three monkeys.

On Thursday, Modi and Abe will participate in the ground breaking ceremony of the ambitious Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed rail project+ at the Western Railway Athletic Stadium near Sabarmati railway station.

Thereafter, they will hold the 12th Annual Bilateral Summit in Gandhinagar following which a number of agreements are expected to be signed.

This will be the fourth annual summit between Modi and Abe, where they are expected to review the progress in the multifaceted cooperation between India and Japan under the framework of their Special Strategic and Global Partnership.

Full report at:



Rohingya Muslims crisis: ‘Guru ka langar’ begins at Bangladesh-Myanmar border, target 35,000 meals per day

September 14, 2017

Three days after Sikh volunteers from Khalsa Aid  arrived in Bangladesh-Myanmar border to begin relief work for Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, they finally got the go ahead from the Bangladesh government to start the Guru ka langar (community kitchen preparing and serving fresh hot meals) on Thursday.

The Khalsa Aid team which is camping in the border town of Teknaf, told The Indian Express that the Bangladesh government finally gave all the clearances and permissions required to serve meals to the refugees. The team was initially distributing packed food items and water to the refugees.

On Thursday, the langar sewa began at a spot on Shahpuri Island (also known as Shapuree Island) where the refugees from Myanmar are landing after traveling for days in rickety boats.

Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Amarpreet Singh, managing director, India for Khalsa Aid, said, “We cooked and served the first langar meals here today. We had purchased raw materials like rice, vegetables and big utensils on Wednesday after getting required permissions from the government of Bangladesh. The initial target is at least 35,000 meals per day. However seeing the increasing number of refugees here, we know it won’t be enough to feed all but we had to start somewhere.”

Seeing the ‘miserable state’ of the refugees, especially children who haven’t eaten for days, it was difficult for the team to decide from where langar should start, he added.

“We feared that there might be a stampede seeing food being served here. There are at least 3 lakh refugees here already. But a beginning had to be made though we cannot feed everyone here in a single day. People are in dire need of food here. Children are roaming and begging on roads for food. The condition continues to be miserable,” he said.

On the first day of the langar, Sikh volunteers served cooked rice and vegetables.

However, starting the community kitchen and making all preparations in the border town of Bangladesh, which continues to be flooded with Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, wasn’t easy as the team initially faced some hiccups.

“We went to local markets to purchase utensils and raw materials. But some shopkeepers inflated the rates and quoted double prices seeing that we are outsiders. However many locals also helped us in making arrangements. We managed somehow. Attitude of the locals towards Rohingyas is varying at individual level. Some are really compassionate and trying to help them. They are even coming from far off areas to help them but then some are not. They are seeing them as burden on their country,” said Singh.

Before serving the meals, an ardaas (a prayer) was performed.

On Monday, The Indian Express first reported that a team of Sikh volunteers from India reached Bangladesh- Myanmar border town Teknaf to start relief operations and provide food to the Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing Myanmar. The team told The Indian Express that the “condition at the border was miserable to say the least” and that their first priority would be to “provide food” to as many persons as possible.

Full report at:



Probe ordered after Assam teacher alleges pressure to convert to Islam

September 13, 2017

The Assam Police will probe allegations by a teacher in the state's Morigaion district that she was being forced by two of her senior colleagues to eat beef and convert to Islam, an official said on Wednesday.

Morigaon Deputy Commissioner Hamen Das said that two inquiries have been ordered into the allegations.

"We have asked the Inspector of Schools to carry out an academic probe regarding the teacher whether she is regular or not. We have also asked the Superintendent of Police to inquire into the allegations about forcing her to eat beef and for conversion. We are taking the matter seriously as the allegations are of criminal nature," he said.

The teacher, a resident of Sonapur in Kamrup district, had written to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, saying her complaints to the block education officer and to the Deputy Commissioner failed to draw any action.

She said that she has stopped going to the school for quite some time now due to fear and mental pressure she had been undergoing.

"Initially I took it very lightly as I thought the situation will improve. However, the situation turned from bad to worse. A senior colleague of mine continuously asked me to convert to Islam and marry him. When I complained to the head teacher, he also supported him. The head teacher and his wife who lives nearby also forced me to eat beef," she alleged.

"When I complained to the School Management Committee, several members of the committee also rebuked me saying that I have been trying to malign the image of the head teacher and the other teacher," she added.

Full report at:





Germany 'rejects 5,000 Turkish asylum applications'

13 September 2017

Germany’s immigration authority has rejected more than 5,000 asylum applications filed by Turkish citizens, local media reported on Wednesday.

German daily Tagesspiegel reported that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) had ruled on 8,547 asylum applications in 2017 filed by Turkish citizens, and rejected 5,040 of them.

BAMF did not give details about the rejected applications, and officials said each one was evaluated on its own merit based on the German Asylum Act.

German diplomats said although asylum applications by Turkish citizens had increased since last year’s coup attempt in Turkey, the vast majority of asylum applications were filed by citizens of Kurdish origin.

The asylum applications of ex-officials involved in the attempted July 2016 military takeover in Turkey has been a source of growing tension between Ankara and Berlin.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said recently 615 Turkish citizens with diplomatic or service passports had applied for asylum in Germany.

After the foiled coup, several Turkish military officers stationed at NATO bases in Germany disobeyed orders from Ankara to return home.

Several other ex-soldiers and former officials with suspected ties to coup plotters also came to Germany from neighboring countries or Turkey, and applied for asylum.

The attempted military takeover, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured, was orchestrated by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen.

Despite repeated requests by Ankara to return FETO suspects to Turkey for trial, the German authorities have so far turned down such requests, arguing that Ankara must first provide sound legal evidence.

Germany, which is home to three million Turkish immigrants, is among the countries where FETO has managed to organize a large network, including dozens of businesses, private schools, as well as media organizations.

The group, which is also known as Gulenists in the country, claims to have around 70,000 followers on German soil.

Turkey accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.



White Brits should learn from Muslims to improve communities and make the country a better place, top MP claims

By Natasha Clark

13th September 2017

And she said that Islamophobia and other forms of hate crime had risen because so many people in Britain had lost their faith.

The staunch Remainer told an audience at an Eid-ul-Adha reception held by Human Appeal in Parliament yesterday that for her "very white" constituency of Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire, to have a Muslim, Conservative mayor - councillor Halimah Khaled MBE - is "not a problem".

"She is British through and through and she happens to be a Muslim, and she is proud of her faith, and rightly so," she told the reception.

"She and members of her community could teach many white British people many a good thing," the new chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims added.

"And if my community, such as as it is, learned more from your community, this country would be a better country.”

She said that young people today need to be better taught the values of faith, even if they were not religious themselves.

A fresh report out this week found just one in five Muslims are in work because they are held back by racism.

The Social Mobility Commission said that discrimination was harming Muslim's job prospects.

Ms Soubry added said that the "vast majority of people in Britain have lost their faith" and much hate crime comes from people who "don't understand what it is" to have one.

A study in May showed that half of us have no religion - as faith continued to decline in Britain.

Full report at:



Two wartime mass graves of Bosnian Muslims discovered

Sep 14, 2017

SARAJEVO: The remains of potentially dozens of victims from Bosnia’s 1990s civil war, most likely Bosnian Muslims, have been exhumed from two newly-discovered mass graves, the Missing Persons Institute said on Wednesday.

One of the graves was discovered in the mountainous area of Koricanske Stijene in central Bosnia, where more than 200 civilian men were executed by Serb forces in August 1992, following their eviction from a northwestern region.

It marked one of the most brutal episodes in the inter-ethnic conflict, which lasted from 1992 to 1995 and killed around 100,000 people.

At the end of the war, 31,500 people were reported missing. Since then, the remains of 25,000 victims have been exhumed from hundreds of mass graves, according to the institute, leaving 6,500 unaccounted for.

“Since the beginning of the exhumation at Koricanske Stijene on September 7, about 40 clusters of human bones have been exhumed, essentially incomplete skeletons,” said Lejla Cengic, a spokesperson for the Institute.

She said that the identities would be determined by DNA testing, adding that the clusters did not necessarily correspond to the remains of the same number of people.

Five previous exhumations in the same area, between 2003 and 2013, recovered the remains of 117 victims and the search is still ongoing for 98 others, Cengic said.

The second mass grave was uncovered in the eastern region of Vlasenica.

“Exhumation work began on Tuesday and so far we have discovered the complete skeletons of 10 people. We believe they’re Bosnian Muslim victims killed in 1992,” she said.

Full report at:



Germany resumes Afghan deportations

Sep 14, 2017

KABUL - Eight Afghans expelled from Germany arrived in Kabul on Wednesday as Berlin resumed deportations of rejected asylum seekers from the war-torn country months after suspending the process when a huge truck bomb hit the Afghan capital.

Germany put the controversial expulsions on hold after a sewage tanker packed with explosives detonated near the German embassy in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter on May 31, killing around 150 people and wounding hundreds more.

The latest group represented the sixth wave of repatriations of Afghans from Germany since December under a disputed Afghan-European Union deal aimed at curbing the influx of migrants.

In Berlin, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere defended the latest deportation, saying that “all eight persons have been convicted of serious crimes”, without specifying the offences.

De Maiziere said that Germany would stick with its policy of returning to Afghanistan convicted criminals, people feared by police to be planning an attack, and those who refuse to cooperate with authorities or give their names.

After arriving at Kabul airport on a charter flight, the eight deportees were escorted by police to a car park where an official registered their names.

Some of the men carried small backpacks while others had no luggage at all.

“They told me that there is no problem in your country and you can live there so you can’t stay here anymore,” Mohammad Jamshidi told AFP before getting into a taxi.

Reza Rezayi said he was deported after his wife accused him of beating her.

“Despite having a witness, I couldn’t prove it in the court because Europeans only listen to the lies of women,” Rezayi said.

The International Organization for Migration confirmed the arrival of “eight returnees”.

Twelve had been scheduled to arrive on Wednesday, according to Islamuddin Jurat, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s refugees and repatriations ministry.

“We don’t know if there was a last minute change in the schedule or some of them were taken back,” Jurat told AFP.

The men face an uncertain future in a country struggling with high unemployment, a weak economy and masses of refugees being ejected from Pakistan and Iran, as well as hundreds of thousands of others uprooted by war.

A hundred Afghans have now returned to the country after their asylum applications were rejected by the German government, according to official data.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has been battling to bring down the numbers of asylum seekers after the arrival of more than one million migrants - mainly from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan - hoping to find refuge in 2015 and 2016.

While Germany granted safe haven to most people from war-torn Syria, Berlin has argued that it can safely repatriate people to Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan, even as Taliban and Islamic State militants terrorise much of the country.

Jamshidi, one of the deportees, said that “in every corner of Europe the priority is given to the people of Syria.

“They need only three months to get registered but Afghans can be deported after years of staying in Germany.”

Full report at:



South Asia


Taliban militants accused of more sexual crimes in South of Afghanistan

Sep 13 2017

The growing sexual abuse accusations involving Taliban insurgents have sparked furor among the Taliban ranks as they call it a move aimed at defaming the group’s armed efforts.

The latest accusation against the group has emerged from southern Helmand province of Afghanistan suggesting a group of Taliban insurgents were arrested after intruding into a house in Marjah district.

The reports claim that the Taliban insurgents had stormed into the house to sexually abuse the family.

However, the Taliban group spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, reacted at the reports and said the enemies of the group are attempting to defame them as they are in panic and have been defeated despite receiving support from the US forces in the ground and from the air.

He also pointed out towards the accusations emerged from southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan suggesting the abuse of a young boy by the Taliban insurgents in Chora district.

This comes as the Taliban insurgents are often accused of abusing the young men among their ranks and numerous such reports have emerged suggesting the rape of the suicide bombers before they are sent for the attacks as claimed by the Afghan intelligence. However, incidents involving Taliban insurgents storming into a house to abuse a family have rarely been reported.



Explosion among Taliban leaders leave several dead in Kunduz province

Sep 13 2017

An explosion has taken place among the gathering of the Taliban leaders in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan, leaving several people dead.

According to the Afghan army officials in the North, the incident has taken place in the vicinity of Khanabad district, one of the main volatile districts of the province.

The officials in 10th Pamir Division of the Afghan Army said the gathering was organized in Yamchi Buyen village.

The officials further added that ten Taliban insurgents including their key leaders identified as Mullah Osman, Mullah Abdul Hussain, Qari Khalid, Mullah Zahir, Din Mohammad, and Mullah Abdullah were among those killed.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

The anti-government armed militant groups frequently use explosives materials for the roadside bombings and car bombings to target the government staff and security personnel.

However, in majority of such incidents the ordinary civilians are targeted besides such bombings incur casualties to the security personnel and in some cases the Taliban militants themselves are killed or wounded.

Full report at:



Bomber kills three near Kabul cricket stadium

September 14, 2017

KABUL:- A suicide bomber blew himself up near a cricket stadium in the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday, killing three people including a policeman and wounding five others, police said. The attacker detonated the bomb after he was stopped at a security checkpoint by suspicious police as he walked towards Kabul's main cricket ground where a match was under way.  There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of deadly assaults in the city. "The security forces by sacrificing themselves have prevented the attacker from reaching the crowd (inside the stadium) and creating a catastrophe," police spokesman Basir Mujahid told AFP.

Two of the wounded were police officers. Several ambulances were seen speeding away from the scene, apparently taking the injured to hospital, an AFP reporter said.

Scores of police blocked the road leading to the stadium where the sixth match of the Shpageeza Cricket League, a domestic T20 tournament, between the Boost Defenders and Mis Ainak Knights was under way.

A handful of foreign players are also taking part in the competition which started Monday.

Hundreds of spectators could be heard from outside the stadium as firefighters washed down the road where the bomber had blown himself to bits.

Afghanistan Cricket Board spokesman Farid Hotak told AFP the match was briefly interrupted and "all players and cricket board officials are safe".

Cricket was banned in Afghanistan during the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule but the sport has seen a stunning revival in recent years.

The last major attack in Kabul happened on August 29 when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a bank days before the Eid festival, killing five people and wounding several others.

Wednesday's assault came hours after eight Afghans expelled from Germany arrived in Kabul after Berlin resumed deportations of Afghan asylum-seekers.

It had suspended the process when a huge truck bomb tore through the city's highly fortified diplomatic quarter on May 31, killing around 150 people and wounding hundreds more.

The latest group represented the sixth wave of repatriations of Afghans from Germany since December under a disputed Afghan-European Union deal aimed at curbing the influx of migrants.

Full report at:



Myanmar's Suu Kyi scraps UN trip amid Rohingya crisis

Sep 14, 2017

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi will not attend the United Nations General Assembly later this month, her spokesman said on Wednesday, as the Nobel laureate faces a barrage of criticism over her failure to speak up for Rohingya Muslims fleeing Rakhine state in huge numbers.

A crackdown by Myanmar's army, launched in response to Rohingya militant attacks on August 25, has sent some 370,000 Rohingya refugees scrambling across the border to Bangladesh in less than three weeks. The violence has incubated a humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border.

Bangladesh is struggling to provide relief for exhausted and hungry refugees — some 60 per cent of whom are children — while nearly 30,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have been displaced inside Myanmar.

UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, accused Myanmar of waging a “systematic attack” on the Muslim Rohingya minority and warned that “ethnic cleansing” seemed to be under way.

Suu Kyi, Myanmar's first civilian leader in decades, does not control the actions of the powerful military, which ran the country for 50 years before allowing free elections in 2015.

There is also scant sympathy among Myanmar's Buddhist majority for the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim group branded 'Bengalis' — shorthand for illegal immigrants. But outside of her country Suu Kyi's reputation as a rights defender is in ruins over the Rohingya crisis.

Rights groups have pilloried the former democracy activist for failing to condemn the army campaign, which has left hundreds dead. Rohingya refugees have told chilling accounts of soldiers and firing on civilians and razing entire villages in northern Rakhine state with the help of Buddhist mobs.

The army denies allegations, while Suu Kyi has also played down claims of atrocities instead blaming “a huge iceberg of misinformation” for complicating the conflict.

“The state counsellor won't attend the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly,” said government spokesman Zaw Htay, using Suu Kyi's formal title. The spokesman did not explain the decision but said the country's Vice President Henry Van Thio would attend the summit, which runs through next week.

The UN's National Security Council also plans to meet behind closed doors on Wednesday to discuss the crisis, although China has indicated it will shoot down any attempt to censure its strategically pivotal Southeast Asian ally.

Fallen star

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner garlanded for her dignified and defiant democracy activism under Myanmar's former junta, was once the darling of the international community.

She made her debut before the UN assembly last September, winning warm applause for a speech delivered months after she became Myanmar's first civilian leader in decades. In it, she vowed to find a solution to long-running ethnic and religious hatreds in Rakhine “that will lead to peace, stability and development for all communities within the state.”

In a sign of how far her star has fallen since, she has been blasted by the same rights groups that campaigned for her release from house arrest for failing to speak up in defence of the Rohingya.

Sympathisers say her hands are tied by the army, which still runs a chunk of the government and has complete control over all security matters. But fellow Nobel laureates have lined up to condemn her silence, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu calling it “incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country.”

Denied citizenship by Myanmar, the Rohingya are loathed in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and unwanted by Bangladesh, which is providing temporary shelter to the refugees.

Full report at:



Police foil Islami Andolon’s march towards Myanmar embassy

September 13, 2017

Fazlur Rahman Raju

Later, a five-member team led by the party’s Presidium Member Syed Mossadek Billah Al Madani went to the Myanmar Embassy and handed over a memorandum to the embassy officials

Police have foiled the march of Islami Andolon Bangladesh towards the Myanmar Embassy in Dhaka demanding an end to the atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

As per the previous declaration, thousands of supporters of the Islamist party started their protest march from in front of Baitul Mukarram National Mosque around 12.30pm on Wednesday.

Police barred the protesters at Kakrail Mor but the agitating party men managed to shatter the barricade and continued marching forward until they encountered another police barricade at Shantinagar intersection.

Also Read – Islami Andolon to lay seize to Myanmar embassy on September 13

Later, a five-member team led by the party’s Presidium Member Syed Mossadek Billah Al Madani went to the Myanmar Embassy and handed over a memorandum to the embassy officials.

Full report at:



Fighter jets pound ISIS targets in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan

Sep 13 2017

A series of airstrikes were carried out on hideouts of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS Khorasan, in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, the airstrikes were carried out on Tuesday in the vicinity of Achin and Lalpur districts.

The provincial police commandment in a statement said the foreign forces fighter jets carried out airstrikes on ISIS targets, leaving at least three militants dead.

The statement further added the first airstrike was carried out in Pekha area of Achin district which left three militants dead and their heavy Dshk machine gun destroyed.

The second airstrike was carried out in Sadi area of Lalpur district where a heavy Dshk machine gun of the terror group was destroyed, the statement added.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

Both the Taliban and ISIS militants attempt to expand their foothold in the key and remote districts of Nangarhar province.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Malaysian Religious Harmony Bureau Supports the End of Muslim and Non-Muslim Divide

14 Sep 2017

PETALING JAYA: MCA supports the call to end Malaysia's Muslim and Non-Muslim divide.

At a recent seminar, Selangor’s Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE) head Siddiq Fadzil had urged Muslims to stop looking at Malaysians as Muslim and non-Muslim.

MCA religious harmony bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker, in a statement on Wednesday evening, said it was heartening to hear the reminder by Siddiq that concepts such as Ummah (community) and ukhuwah (brotherhood) be given importance towards nation-building and cohesion.

“This is a timely reminder on the conditions and restraints on those who choose confrontation, hostility and war on the slightest divide or differences,” said Ti, adding that focusing on common values and similarities in diversity was very pertinent to Malaysia.

Siddiq, who is the former president of the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement, had called on Muslims to move beyond terms such as Kafir harbi (non-Muslims at war with Muslims) and Kafir Dhimmi (non-Muslims who are under Islamic rule).

This was supported by MCA, said Ti.

“The said phrase has been a danger to the unity and peace enjoyed by all Malaysians. Malaysia is a multi racial and multi religious country. To allege that some non Muslims are Kafir harbi is to allege that Malaysia is Darul Harbi. This is not true,” said Ti.

“Malaysia is a land of peace, not of war. Let us practice muhibbah and the spirit of community. Let us be charitable and kind to one another. Remember that extremism grows gradually, through increasing puritanism,” he added.



Fire at Islamic school in Malaysia kills 24, mostly teens

Sep 14, 2017

A fire that blocked the only exit to an Islamic school dormitory killed 24 people who were trapped behind barred windows, mostly teenagers, on the outskirts of Malaysia's capital early Thursday, officials said.

Firefighters rushed to the scene after receiving a distress call at 5:41 a.m. and took an hour to put out the blaze, which started on the top floor of the three-story building, Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh said. He said there were at least 24 charred bodies, 22 of them boys between 13 and 17, and two teachers.

Singh said 14 other students and four teachers were rescued, with six of them hospitalized in critical condition.

"We believe (they died of) suffocation ... the bodies were totally burnt," he said.

The fire broke out near the door of the boys' dormitory, trapping the victims as it was the only entrance and the windows are barred, fire department senior official Abu Obaidat Mohamad Saithalimat said.

He said the cause was believed to be an electrical short-circuit.

Another fire department official, Soiman Jahid, said firefighters heard shouts for help when they arrived at the school. He said they found 13 bodies huddled in a pile on the right corner of the dorm, another eight on the left corner of the dorm and one in the middle near the staircase.

Soiman said initial investigations showed the school had just submitted an application to the city council for building safety approval but couldn't give further details.

A fire department official who declined to be named because he wasn't authorized to give a statement said the bodies were piled on top of each other, indicating a possible stampede as people tried to flee the fire. The official had earlier said 25 bodies were found, but the more recent tally of dead and injured matches the number of people thought to have resided there.

Singh said police were still finalizing the details and investigating the cause.

Local media showed pictures of blackened bunk bed frames in the burned dormitory. A resident, Nurhayati Abdul Halim, told local media that she saw the boys crying and screaming for help when the fire broke.

"I saw their little hands out of the grilled windows; crying for help. ... I heard their screams and cries but I could not do anything. The fire was too strong for me to do anything," she said, adding that the school had been operating in the area for the past year.

The Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah is a private Islamic center, known as a "tahfiz" school, for Muslim children, mainly boys, to study and memorize the Quran. Many such schools are exempt from state inspections.

The Star newspaper said there were 519 tahfiz schools registered nationwide as of April, but many more are believed to be unregistered.

The newspaper said the fire department had recorded 211 fires in such private Islamic centers since 2015. In August, 16 people fled a fire at a tahfiz school in northern Kedah state. Another tahfiz school was destroyed by a fire in May but no one was hurt.

Full report at:



Malaysia nabs three suspected ISIS militants in three states

Nadirah H. Rodzi

Sep 14, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR - A 21-year-old man, who has been receiving guidance from top Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters on making explosives to be used in attacks at non-Muslim places of worship, is among three suspected militants arrested by Malaysia’s counter-terrorism unit.

National police chief Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the unemployed man has admitted to receiving instructions from Malaysia’s most wanted terrorist Mahmud Ahmad and a Saudi Arabian bomb expert to produce improvised explosive devices (IED) on a large scale.

“He was arrested in Bagan Serai, Perak on Sept 8, and has links with Al-Qaeda and Abu Sayyaf militants. The suspect is believed to have joined the terror group since early this year. He has attempted to make the bombs three times," Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi said.

The top cop added that the man has also received orders from a Malaysian ISIS fighter in Syria to purchase a pistol, M-16 and AK-47 rifles, and a hand grenade from a neighbouring country for the purpose of launching attacks on non-Muslims' places of worship in Malaysia.

“We also seized bomb-making chemicals at the suspect's house,” he said.

In a separate raid, a 38-year-old cendol seller was arrested in Melaka on Sept 10 for producing ISIS flags and promoting the terror group's struggle.

Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi said the man had planned to join the ISIS faction in southern Philippines and in Rakhine, Myanmar.

Full report at:



Malaysia, US to enhance cooperation in fight against IS

September 14, 2017

WASHINGTON DC: Malaysia and the United States intend to strengthen cooperation to counter the growing threat of the Islamic State (IS) terror group and its affiliates in Southeast Asia.

This was among the highlights of the joint statement issued following talks between Prime Minister Najib Razak and US President Donald Trump at the White House here, Tuesday.

It said both leaders reaffirmed the importance of promoting community resilience and mutual respect across religious and ethnic boundaries.

“As a partner in the fight against IS and a member of the Global Coalition led by the United States, the two leaders noted Malaysia’s pledge of US$1 million for humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from IS,” the statement said.

Pledging to strengthen bilateral defence ties, the two leaders underscored the importance of expanding cooperation in priority areas, including maritime security, counter-terrorism and information sharing between their defence and security forces.

“President Trump welcomed Malaysia’s intent to make an additional US$60 million in defence procurement from the United States,” the statement said.

Trump and Najib, it said, committed to pursue additional opportunities for joint exercises and training, according to the statement.

The leaders also underscored the importance of enhancing maritime domain awareness through the development of maritime capabilities, such as surveillance, communications and information-sharing.

“(They) expressed their intent to continue discussions on funding of assets through the most effective mechanisms for developing these capabilities in order to advance regional security,” it said.

Najib is in the US for a three-day working visit from Sept 11 at the invitation of the US president as both countries marked the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations this year.

Trump hosted the Malaysian prime minister at the White House to strengthen the Comprehensive Partnership between the two countries.

The two leaders discussed their commitment to further strengthening the Comprehensive Partnership to promote peace, stability, prosperity, and international consensus in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.

The statement noted that the US and Malaysia shared a long history of close cooperation built on economic ties and mutual security interests.

“The two leaders pledged to continue building upon that relationship through enhanced diplomatic, economic, security, and people-to-people ties,” it said.

The document said the US recognised Malaysia’s continued progress towards meeting programme requirements for the US Visa Waiver Programme.

“Prime Minister Najib announced Malaysia’s commitment to implement its data sharing agreements with the United States and to phased enhancements of passenger screening at all points of entry,” it said, adding that the US committed to actively work with Malaysia towards this end.

On the subject of North Korea, they expressed their concern over the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests, which are a flagrant violation of the multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Full report at:



Indonesia: Returnees from Syria Recount Fear, Disappointment of Life in the Islamic State


Two weeks before he fled the capital of the so-called Islamic State, Heru Kurnia lived the most traumatic moment of a bitterly disappointing two-year stay in Raqqa.

He saw kids kicking a human head in the street as if it were a football.

The testimony is part of a video released by the Indonesian government this week in which eight of 18 Indonesians who escaped the Islamic State (IS) in June recount their experiences.

“There’s a clock tower roundabout there. The body was leaned against it, the head was being used as a toy by kids, kicked around. … People were watching something, I went over. Dear God, a dead person treated like that,” Heru told an interviewer in Erbil, Iraq, in August.

Adults standing nearby did not stop the children, he said.

Heru said the sight made him nauseous and “unbelievably scared.”

“I told them at home, we have to be careful,” he said, apparently referring to other members of the group living in Raqqa.

The Indonesians said they travelled voluntarily to Syria in 2015, attracted by the idea of living in an Islamic country and enticed by promises of financial support.

BenarNews could not independently verify their accounts or speak with members of the group, who were taken into police custody after they arrived in Jakarta on Aug. 12.

Indonesian law does not allow for people returning from IS territory to be arrested but the government has a weeks-long “socialization” program to help them re-enter Indonesian society.

BNPT and security officials did not immediately respond to BenarNews’ request for comments about the video.

‘They were like thugs’

The 12-minute video, titled “Stories of ISIS Deportees,” was filmed in Iraq and Indonesia and uploaded to YouTube by a media unit of Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) on Sept. 11. ISIS is another acronym for the Islamic State.

Reality in Raqqa was far from the pious, prosperous caliphate depicted in IS propaganda online,  according to the video testimony.

“Almost two or three times a week there were fights, for various reasons: food, getting shoved; they were like thugs. We didn’t interact very much with them because we were afraid. They were very rough people,” Heru said of other residents in Raqqa.

Nineteen-year-old Nurshadrina Khaira Dhania recalled fights and filth in a dormitory where she stayed with other Muslim women.

“They say cleanliness is next to godliness, but oh God, the filth. And the fights – they even involved knives. So different than what they said and shared in the Internet. They liked to gossip and slander other Muslim women,” she said.

She said the family had been seduced by empty promises, including that the cost of their  journey to Syria would be reimbursed.

“They made several promises, for example, if we as Muslims had big debts we couldn’t pay, ISIS would pay them off. And as for the expense of the journey from Indonesia to Raqqa, they would reimburse it. They would pay all those costs,” she recounted.

Her father, Dwi Djoko Wiwoho – reportedly a high-ranking civil servant in Batam when he left for Syria – said that instead of educational opportunties for his daughters in the so-called caliphate, the family found men eager to marry them off.

“They said there were free schools over there but when we arrived, they were told to get married,” Djoko, 50, recalled.

“There were a lot of proposals, Daesh people even came after my youngest daughter asking when she would start menstruating, saying, let us know when she’s menstruating,” he said, using another name for IS.

IS officials were intolerant of different ways of thinking, he said.

“They were very quick to find someone blasphemous, if it didn’t fit with their understanding, they were considered apostates, non-believers, ungodly,” Djoko said.

But their conduct did not reflect the teachings of Islam, according to Difansa Rachmani, 31. "They were just after power, treasure and women,” she said.

“Don’t waste your life being lied to by ISIS. Soon ISIS will be destroyed, I’m sure, God willing, they will be destroyed, because this ISIS is not about enforcing God’s word. Allah hates them.”


The whereabouts of the group – five men, nine women and four children – is unclear, but the end of the video shows them in tearful reunions with relatives.

Some Indonesians who saw the video expressed little sympathy for the family.

“Comfy, yeah, you burn your passport and your flag, you spit on your own country, you can still go back. They all should be monitored,” Bima Sudiarto wrote in the comments section of the video.

“The ‘short-fused’ will not believe this video … they will consider it engineered,” wrote  another commenter, using a nickname for hardline Muslim groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

About 600 to 700 Indonesians have gone to Syria, according to Ridlwan Habib, a terrorism expert at Universitas Indonesia.

“Many of them were tempted by dreams of pots of gold in another country. Other than that, poor judgment and lack of information,” he told BenarNews when asked why people left for Syria in the first place.

Al Chaidar, a terrorism researcher at Malikussaleh University in Lhokseumawe, Aceh, said BNPT’s quarantining of Indonesians returning from Syria was important.

Full report at:



Myanmar's Rohingya crisis is roiling Indonesian politics

September 14, 2017

JAKARTA/YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia The brutal crackdown by the military on Myanmar's minority Rohingya Muslims in the country's western Rakhine State is stoking anger in nearby Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country.

Radical Muslim groups in Indonesia, where Muslims account for over 80% of the population, are trying to translate public sympathy for the Rohingya's plight into political ammunition against President Joko Widodo. To insulate itself against its Islamist critics, the secularist Widodo government is waging an unusually aggressive diplomatic campaign on behalf of the Myanmar minority group.

The Rohingya crisis has become a major point of political contention in Indonesia. On the afternoon of Sept. 8, the tension was palpable near the famous Borobudur Buddhist temple in central Java. It was the scene of a massive protest called by the Islamic Defenders Front, which goes by the Indonesian initials FPI, and other Islamist groups.

Some 1,000 people took part in the rally, according to police. Many Muslims marched near the temple, a United Nations World Heritage site, following Friday prayers at nearby mosques.

Thousands more who planned to participate in the rally were barred from entering the area. About 3,000 security personnel were mobilized to maintain order, and multiple checkpoints were set up the night before. National Police Chief Tito Karnavian vowed to block Islamist groups from staging their rally inside the temple grounds -- a national park -- pledging an all-out effort to protect Borobudur.

Support for the protests is not universal among Muslims. "We see that this action could be harmful to Islam itself," Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, chairman of the influential Muhammadiyah Youth Movement, told local media company Kompas. "We see parties with other interests [are] taking advantage of the demonstrations."

Nonetheless, the huge gathering nearby underscored the sectarian rift between the Muslim majority and minority Buddhists in Indonesia. The tensions are being fed by the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar.

A USEFUL CONFLICT There have been reports that Islamic groups in Indonesia are recruiting volunteers to go to Myanmar to protect the Rohingya. Indonesian security forces are on alert, keeping a close eye on the activities of radical Muslim groups.

The FPI, which helped organize the Sept. 8 protest, is one such group. Its goal is to turn Indonesia into a state governed by Sharia, or Islamic law.

The group has long been at loggerheads with the country's secular authorities. It was a driving force behind American pop singer Lady Gaga's decision to cancel a concert in Indonesia in 2012, denouncing what it called her bad influence on young people. It has also vandalized stores that sell liquor. Acting as self-appointed religious police, the FPI has shown a willingness to resort to force to impose its ideology.

Islamist groups take advantage of public sentiment to put pressure on Widodo

JUN SUZUKI and BOBBY NUGROHO, Nikkei staff writers

On Dec. 2 last year, the FPI spearheaded a rally of 300,000 people in central Jakarta, demonstrating its growing influence with the country's Muslims. Habib Rizieq Syihab, the group's leader, is living outside the country to escape prosecution on various charges.

The FPI is seeking to play an active role in protests against Myanmar's persecution of the Rohingya in hopes that capitalizing on Indonesians' feelings of solidarity with fellow Muslims will help expand the group's clout at home. Around 6,000 members joined a protest on Sept. 6 in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta. The rally was organized by the FPI and other like-minded groups.

BALANCING ACT Widodo's government is concerned about the FPI's activities with respect to the Rohingya crisis, which it fears could turn the conflict in Myanmar into a bigger political issue in Indonesia.

In April, the FPI was instrumental in thwarting the re-election bid of Jakarta's then-governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok. The ethnic Chinese and Christian politician was an ally of President Widodo. The group launched a successful campaign to incite religious antagonism toward Ahok, using a doctored video to accuse him of showing disrespect for the Quran.

The government is also keeping a vigilant watch for transnational militant groups, such as Islamic State, which may try to take advantage of the religious rifts in Indonesia to commit acts of terrorism. Three men belonging to an organization that claims allegiance to IS tried to bomb the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta last November. The Anti-terrorism unit of Indonesia's national police arrested the men, thwarting the attack. The police found explosive devices in their hideout.

Indonesia is scheduled to hold its next presidential election in 2019. The intensifying religious conflict and rising influence of Islamist groups in the country could endanger Widodo's bid for a second term. His biggest concern is being labeled anti-Islamic, a charge that would alienate many of his supporters if it stuck.

Widodo is trying to head off that criticism as the persecution of the Rohingya attracts growing international attention. The violence against the Rohingya and the "humanitarian crisis" in Myanmar should be halted immediately, he said in a radio address on Sept. 3. Widodo told Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to work closely with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to help resolve the crisis.

These high-profile moves are unusual for Widodo, to whom diplomacy does not come naturally. They are all the more notable because Indonesia has no economic interests at stake in Myanmar's sectarian strife.

During a visit to Myanmar that started on Sept. 4, Marsudi got the OK from Myanmar's government to set up a hospital and provide relief to the Rohingya. The Indonesian government has published many videos and photos of Marsudi's visit to demonstrate Jakarta's commitment to protecting Muslims.

During a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in August, Indonesia took the lead in drafting a statement expressing deep concern about clashes in Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israeli security forces over measures introduced at the Al-Haram Al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount. The new security measures, such as installing metal detectors and surveillance cameras, infuriated many Indonesian Muslims.

Indonesia has also offered to serve as a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have severed diplomatic ties.

These are all signs that Jakarta is trying hard to establish its diplomatic credentials over issues related to Islam.

Full report at:



Arab World


Arab League rejects Kurdish independence referendum, calls it illegal

Sep 14, 2017

The Arab League has rejected an upcoming referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence an illegal measure that would pose further threats to security in the already volatile Middle East, senior Iraqi officials say.

Permanent Representative of Iraq to the Arab League Habib Sadr said on Wednesday that the pan-Arab body’s foreign ministers considered “the referendum illegal and inconsistent with the Constitution of Iraq” during their recent meeting in Cairo, Egypt.

“The ministers decided to support the territorial integrity of Iraq and assumed that this referendum posed a threat not only to the unity of Iraq but also to the security in the whole region,” Sadr added.

Sadr implied that some Arab states feared that the Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence referendum might trigger similar acts outside Iraq and lead to uncontrollable processes in the Middle East.

Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, has set September 25 as the date for the referendum on the region’s independence from Iraq, prompting criticism from the central government in Baghdad, the international community and Iraq’s neighbors.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari, who was present at the Arab League summit, warned on Wednesday that Kurdish leaders should think carefully before going ahead with any independence move.

In an interview with Reuters, he said “those who make such a declaration should bear the responsibility for it. It is easy to declare whatever you want but it is not that easy to actualize it.”

“We are depending on dialogue and also Arab, and non-Arab advocacy. As we saw yesterday, the Arab diplomatic mobilization was attained by Arab foreign ministers,” he said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said the Arab League unanimously rejected the upcoming Kurdish plebiscite during its recent meeting.

“Iraq’s constitution must be respected and Iraq’s unity must be completely preserved for security of the region,” the pan-Arab body was quoted as saying by Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Jamal.

On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi slammed the planned vote as “unconstitutional,” calling on the Kurdish leadership to come to Baghdad and conclude a dialogue.”

The premier’s remarks came after Iraqi House of Representatives voted to reject a poll on Kurdish regional independence.

The Iraqi parliamentarians urged the Iraqi premier to take all necessary measures to maintain the unity of Iraq and start a serious dialogue with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region to solve the pending issues.

Barzani, however, rejected the parliament’s move, calling on the Iraqi legislative chamber to reconsider the decision.

Ashwaq al-Jaff, Iraqi parliament member from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), vowed that the referendum would go ahead despite the vote.

“We haven’t changed our stance even today as Kurdish people have no other choice. The Supreme Committee for the Referendum will reiterate the stance of holding a referendum and will reject all demands to postpone it," said al-Jaff.

Jaff also said the decision was made on the premise of what he called Baghdad’s “violation of the constitution.”

Besides the Baghdad government, Iraq’s neighbors, including Turkey, Syria and Iran, have also expressed concerns about the planned referendum by Iraqi Kurdish authorities, arguing it could create further instability in the region.

In a statement on Thursday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry warned Iraqi Kurdish officials that “there will most certainly be a price to pay” for its insistence on holding the vote.

Ankara also welcomed the Iraqi parliament’s vote that rejected the controversial referendum as unconstitutional.

Turkey’s fierce opposition to the idea of an independent Kurdistan comes amid a large-scale military crackdown against militants of the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has left thousands dead since it started two years ago.

The PKK, also blacklisted in the West, has fought the Turkish government for more than three decades; an insurgency that Ankara says is mostly originated from mountainous regions in northern Iraq.

More than 15 million Kurds live in Turkey, most of them in areas bordering Iran, Iraq and Syria in the south.



US strikes kill at least 22 civilians in Syria’s Raqqah, Dayr al-Zawr

Sep 14, 2017

At least 22 civilians, mainly women and children, have been killed in the latest US airstrikes on the Syrian cities of Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr.

According to Syria's official news agency, SANA, 11 of the civilians were killed as US jets targeted a residential area in Raqqah, while 11 more were killed during a strike on Dayr al-Zawr’s al-Shahabat village on Wednesday.

The raids also severely damaged private property and civilian infrastructure in the targeted areas.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of fulfilling its declared objective of destroying Daesh.

Full report at:



Two Egyptian soldiers, 6 militants killed in 'foiled' attack

13 September 2017

Egypt's military said two soldiers and six militants were killed in a “foiled” suicide bombing in Sinai on Wednesday, days after the ISIS staged a large scale attack in the peninsula.

The bomber had taken advantage of a fog to creep up on an army “installation” when troops spotted and killed him, the military said in a statement.

The ISIS also claimed Wednesday's attack in a statement on its propaganda agency Amaq.

The military said five other militants were killed in ensuing clashes, which followed a police convoy bombing in Sinai on Monday claimed by ISIS that killed 18 people.

Monday's attack was one of the deadliest in a militants insurgency in the peninsula that has killed hundreds of troops and policemen.

Full report at:



ISIL Terrorists Mass Fleeing to Turkey After Heavy Defeats in Syria

Sep 13, 2017

"The former extremist terrorists are now rallying in several towns and villages in Southern Turkey after making it through the borders," local media reported.

The ISIL has experienced heavy defeats in Homs, Hama and Deir Ezzur provinces in recent weeks.

Throughout the year, the Turkish border guards have shot dead scores of both civilians and the terrorists who were trying to cross the borders into Turkey.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian army forces ambushed a large group ISIL terrorists who were escaping from a besieged area in Central Syria towards Idlib, and held them captive.

The ISIL terrorists sought to run away from an army-controlled region through al-Sa'an-Ithriya road towards areas controlled by al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in Idlib but they faced an ambush by the army units.

During the operation, 25 ISIL militants were held captive.

A military source said that 3 ISIL commanders are among the captives.

The Syrian army is now steamrolling through ISIL's last positions in Central Syria, liberating town after town around in the Eastern countryside of Homs and Hama.

The Syrian army troops hit ISIL terrorists' defense lines hard in Eastern Hama and imposed control over several villages.

Full report at:



Saudi Commander of Tahrir Al-Sham Assassinated in Idlib

Sep 13, 2017

News websites affiliated to the terrorists reported that Abu Mohammad al-Share'i was killed by unknown assailants in Saraqib city in Eastern Idlib.

They added that he was formerly a commander of Jund al-Aqsa terrorist group.

Relevant reports said on Tuesday that Abdullah Muhammad al-Muhaysini, the commander and Mufti (religious leader) of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at has left the terrorist group only hours after leaked audio files indicated widening of rifts among the commanders of the Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board), reports said.

Al-Muhaysini together with another mufti of Tahrir al-Sham named Mosleh al-Aliyani in a statement released on social networks on Monday declared their separation from the terrorist alliance, the Arabic-language media reported.

Al-Muhaysini and al-Aliyani mentioned the reason behind their separation as to be recent clashes between Tahrir al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham in Idlib province and also leakage of the audio files and disrespecting the religious leaders (muftis).



Armed Dissidents, Russia, Turkey Likely to Attack Tahrir Al-Sham in Idlib

Sep 13, 2017

Media activists in Idlib reported that reporters of different international news agencies are leaving Idlib after reports said that agreements have been made for attacks against Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at by other militant groups, backed by the Russian and Turkish air forces.

Earlier reports said today that a Saudi commander of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at was assassinated in the Eastern parts of Idlib province.

News websites affiliated to the terrorists reported that Abu Mohammad al-Share'i was killed by unknown assailants in Saraqib city in Eastern Idlib.

They added that he was formerly a commander of Jund al-Aqsa terrorist group.



Syrian Army Fortifying More Positions Near Deir Ezzur Military Airport

Sep 13, 2017

A military source disclosed that the Syrian army troops are reinforcing their military positions in the areas which have recently come under their control, specially in the al-Tharda mountains.

Meantime, the Syrian army's engineering units assisted by Russian experts are demining and removing the bombs planted by the ISIL terrorists group.

The source also said that the Syrian and Russian fighter jets are also targeting the ISIL's military positions in Huweija Sukr, al-Mariyeh and Huweija al-Mariyeh in a bid to expand security of Deir Ezzur military airport.

This comes as tens of ISIL terrorists have fled to the town of Mouhsen located 30 kilometers from the airport and some others have also fled towards the city of al-Mayadeen.

In a relevant development on Monday, the Syrian army continued its advances in Deir Ezzur province and managed to retake several points, restoring full security to the surrounding areas of Deir Ezzur military airport.

The Syrian army troops attacked ISIL's military positions to the South of Deir Ezzur city from the two directions of Panorama and al-Tim oilfield, and managed to take control of al-Tharda 1, al-Tharda 2 and al-Tharda 3 mountains.

Meanwhile, the Syrian army regained control of al-Tharda mountains which are considered the main defense lines for Deir Ezzur military airport in the South.

The Syrian army has now restored full security to the surrounding regions of Deir Ezzur military airport and the airport will soon be ready for operations.

In relevant remarks on Sunday, the commander of the operation in the region said that the Syrian city of Deir Ezzur will be liberated from the ISIL terrorist group in the coming days.

The Syrian city of Deir Ezzur will be liberated from the ISIL militants in the coming days, Gen. Mohamed Khadur, the commander of the operation in the region said.

"In the coming days, we will raise the Syrian flag in the skies of Deir Ezzur," Khadur said.

According to the commander, the liberation of Deir Ezzur depends in particular on regaining control of the road that links Deir Ezzur and the city of Palmyra.

Khadur also noted that the operation under his leadership had been carried out for more than two months, and the servicemen gained control of 185 out of 200 kilometers (115 out of 124 miles) of the road.

The Syrian military started an operation to unblock the airbase on Friday, days after breaking the siege of Deir Ezzur.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Takes Control of More Key Regions in Homs Province

Sep 13, 2017

The army units advanced further into Eastern Homs and took control of Zaqroutiyeh, Dervishieh, Loyebdeh, Qaniman and Um Saj in an area of 72 square meters to the North of Manoukh.

The Syrian army inflicted heavy losses on the ISIL terrorists and destroyed their military vehicles and equipment.

Meantime, the Syrian troops engaged in mop-up and demining operations as well as removing the bombs laid by the ISIL terrorists.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian army continued its military operations against ISIL in the Eastern outskirts of Homs and came close to imposing full control over the entire region.

The army units intensified their military operations against ISIL in Eastern Homs and advanced further East of Sha'er Mountain and took control of several points.

The Syrian army also regained control over several regions North and West of Balas mountains in Eastern Homs.

The army troops killed several ISIL terrorists in the operation and destroyed their military positions and equipment.

In a relevant development on Monday, the Syrian Army soldiers drove ISIL terrorists out of more positions in an energy field region after hours of heavy fighting in Eastern Homs in their push towards Deir Ezzur.

The army men stormed ISIL's defense lines in surrounding of the recently-liberated town of al-Sukhnah and managed to free a gas field 5km far away al-Sukhnah along the road to Deir Ezzur.

In the meantime, other units of the army engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL near the captured gas field and took control of several hills and houses 3km away from the gas field.

Relevant reports said on Saturday that the army soldiers managed to prevail over terrorists' defense lines and entered the town of Humeimeh from the Southern and Central directions, inflicting heavy casualties on the militants.

Full report at:



Syria army tries to encircle ISIS in Deir al-Zor: Military source

13 September 2017

After breaking an ISIS blockade, Syria’s army is seeking to encircle the remaining extremist-held parts of Deir al-Zor city, a military source said Wednesday.

The city is the capital of oil-rich eastern Deir al-Zor province, regarded as a strategic prize by both Russian-backed Syrian troops and US-backed fighters.

Last week, Syria’s army and allied fighters broke a years-long ISIS siege of Deir al-Zor, entering two regime-held sections of the city that had been cut off from each other.

Since then, the army has brought reinforcements to the city and is seeking to oust ISIS from eastern neighborhoods that run along the Euphrates river, which slices diagonally through the province.

“The army is seeking to encircle Daesh from three sides by controlling the parts of the western bank of the Euphrates river,” the source told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Troops would target riverside territory on the city’s northwestern edges as well as strategic areas on its southern outskirts, including the key military airport and the village of Al-Jafra, on the banks of the Euphrates.

The operation seeks to “oust Daesh from the city and the province completely,” the military source said.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, also reported that “fierce fighting has been ongoing since yesterday as the army seeks to expel the extremists and reach the western bank of the Euphrates.”

If the army captures Al-Jafra, “Deir al-Zor will be encircled from three sides, so Daesh will have no way out except the Euphrates which is within firing range of regime artillery and Russian warplanes,” he added.

As the Syrian army backed by Russian air support battles ISIS in Deir al-Zor, a separate offensive by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces is under way on the eastern side of the province.

The operation by the alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters began over the weekend, but the SDF has said it was not coordinating the fight with the regime.

Air strikes by Russian and US-led coalition war planes in support of the separate offensives have killed dozens of civilians in recent days.

On Wednesday, the Observatory said suspected US-led coalition strikes on several parts of eastern Deir al-Zor province overnight and throughout the day killed 12 people.

On Tuesday, the monitor reported 35 people killed in Russian and US-led strikes on either side of the Euphrates.

Full report at:



ISIS afraid for their money as Russia confirms group already ‘began smuggling’ it abroad

13 September 2017

As the crackdown on ISIS in Iraq and Syria has intensified, the organization began thinking and planning terrorist operations in Western countries, as well as a search for ways to smuggle their money abroad.

The Russian Foreign Ministry revealed Tuesday that ISIS began to transfer funds from the territory under their control to foreign countries, especially Europe.

“In the past, we highlighted ISIS raising funds in the territories under their control, but now, the organization, which seems to feel its imminent defeat, is beginning to transfer money in the opposite direction, to foreign countries, including Europe,” said Dmitry Feoktistov, Deputy Director of the Department of New Challenges and Threats of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It seems that the money will be spent to fund dormant cells in Europe to carry out attacks.

According to the same source and in order to compensate for their loss of profits from the oil trade in Syria, ISIS is trying to find new sources of income, resorting to operations related to foreign currencies and smuggling of antiquities and drugs.

Some estimates indicate that ISIS has lost about 90% of oil wells that they had previously controlled.

The ISIS dinar becomes more expensive than gold

Moreover, as their resources diminished, ISIS imposed their currency on all the territories under their control, in search for additional sources of funding, according to Dmitry Feoktistov.

He added that: “In fact, the organization announced that its golden dinars, silver dirhams and copper coins, are the only currency allowed in public circulation on the territory controlled by them.”

The terrorist organization refused to accept payments from the residents made in other currencies, forcing them to convert Syrian pounds and US dollars to ISIS dinars, which are sold at a price higher than the price of gold in the "economic offices" of the organization.

Full report at:





Israel ruling on army service for religious sparks anger, debate

Sep 14, 2017

JERUSALEM  - An Israeli Supreme Court decision that could force ultra-Orthodox citizens to serve in the army like their secular counterparts sparked anger from religious leaders Wednesday and reignited a sensitive political debate.

Tuesday's decision strikes down a law exempting ultra-Orthodox men engaged in religious study from military service, saying it undermines equality. The decision raises the possibility that they could be forced into service, a highly contentious proposition with political implications.

The court however suspended its decision for one year to allow for preparations for the new arrangement - which also provides the government with the opportunity to pass a new law.

Ultra-Orthodox political parties and their allies in government are likely to draft new legislation that could seek to override the court ruling and keep the exemption in place.

The ultra-Orthodox parties form a key part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition and have often acted as kingmakers in Israeli politics. Around 10 percent of Israel's eight million people are considered ultra-Orthodox. 

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, whose ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism alliance is part of Netanyahu's coalition, accused the court of seeking to topple the coalition.

He called the ruling "one of the worst, most wretched judicial decrees that will enter the long history of persecutions of the Jewish people," ultra-Orthodox newspaper Hamodia reported.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, said "the Supreme Court is totally cut off from our (Jewish) heritage and tradition."

The issue is part of a decades-old debate over whether young ultra-Orthodox men studying at seminaries should perform mandatory military service like the rest of Israel's Jewish population.

After reaching age 18, men must serve two years and eight months, while women must serve for two.

In 2015, lawmakers passed legislation extending their exemption from duty, reversing a law passed the previous year that would have seen it expire.

Israel's first prime minister David Ben-Gurion initially granted the exemption in the early years of the state founded in 1948, which at the time involved only 400 students.

The ultra-Orthodox are however today among the fastest-growing segments of Israel's population, with projections that they could account for one-quarter of the total by 2050.

They oppose serving for a variety of reasons, with the most extreme believing a Jewish state is not allowed before the coming of the Messiah.

Others argue that yeshiva study is just as important to Israel as military service or that ultra-Orthodox soldiers would be confronted with salty language and other unreligious behaviour.

Yair Lapid, the head of the centrist Yesh Atid party who pushed to remove the exemption as part of the previous government in 2014, welcomed the court's decision as a victory of "values."

Lapid, now in the opposition, also criticised Netanyahu, saying the prime minister could not continue to avoid the issue and that "conscription is for everyone, not just for the suckers who don't have a party in the coalition."

Israeli media reported that the ultra-Orthodox parties were to meet on Wednesday to plot a way forward after the decision.

But many analysts said it was unlikely to provoke a coalition crisis, with Netanyahu having sided with the ultra-Orthodox parties on a range of issues recently.

A decision in June to scrap a deal to allow women and men to pray together at the Western Wall provoked heavy criticism of Netanyahu, who was accused of abandoning reform efforts for political gain.

The ultra-Orthodox parties bitterly opposed the deal for mixed-gender prayer at the site in Jerusalem, the holiest where Jews are allowed to pray, since it violates their strict interpretation of Jewish law.

"Let's put matters in proportion. This is not a political earthquake, not at this stage," political columnist Ben Caspit wrote in Israel's Maariv newspaper.

"Almost nobody has the energy for elections at the moment."



Israel endorses independent Kurdish state

Sep 14, 2017

JERUSALEM: Israel supports the establishment of a Kurdish state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday, as Kurds in Iraq gear up for a referendum on independence that lawmakers in Baghdad oppose.

Israel has maintained discreet military, intelligence and business ties with the Kurds since the 1960s, viewing the minority ethnic group -- whose indigenous population is split between Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran -- as a buffer against shared Arab adversaries.

On Tuesday, Iraq’s Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said he would press ahead with the Sept. 25 referendum despite a vote by Iraq’s parliament rejecting it.

“(Israel) supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state,” Netanyahu said, in remarks sent to foreign correspondents by his office.

Western powers are concerned a plebiscite in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region - including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk - could divert attention from the war against Islamic State militants.

Netanyahu said Israel does however consider the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) a terrorist group, taking the same position as Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

An Israeli general told a conference in Washington last week that he personally did not regard the PKK, whose militants have been fighting Turkey for more than three decades, as a terrorist group.

Netanyahu, who is due to address the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 19, voiced support for “the Kurds’ aspirations for independence” in a speech in 2014, saying they deserve “political independence”.

His latest remarks appeared to be a more direct endorsement of the creation of a Kurdish state.

But they will cut little ice in Baghdad, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel and has strong ties with Israel’s arch-foe Iran.

Iraq’s neighbors Turkey, Iran and Syria -- oppose the referendum, fearing it could fan separatism among their own ethnic Kurdish populations.

Full report at:



Erdogan: Turkey will take its own security measures after Russia defence deal

13 September 2017

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan dismissed on Wednesday Western concern over Turkey’s deal to procure an S-400 air defense system from Russia and said the NATO member will continue to take its own security measures.

“They went crazy because we made the S-400 agreement. What were we supposed to do, wait for you? We are taking and will take all our measures on the security front,” Erdogan said.

Western governments have expressed concern over the deal as it cannot be integrated into the NATO system. Turkey has said that NATO allies had not presented a “financially effective” offer on alternative missile defense systems.

Erdogan said in July that the deal had been signed, although the deal appears to have been drawn out since then, due to issues over financing. Turkish media quoted Erdogan this week as saying he and Russian President Vladimir Putin were determined that the agreement should proceed.

The decision to procure the Russian system comes as Turkey finds itself frequently at odds with NATO allies, particularly the United States and Germany. Ankara has been angered by U.S. support for the YPG Kurdish fighters in the battle against ISIS in Syria.

The US Pentagon said it had expressed concerns to Turkey about the deal.

Full report at:



Iran seeks to send delegation to Myanmar over Rohingya plight

Sep 13, 2017

Tehran says it has called for a visit of an Iranian Foreign Ministry delegation to Myanmar to discuss ways to end the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in the Southeast Asian country.

“To [help] put an end to the violence against the Rohingya Muslims, the Islamic Republic of Iran has demanded that a delegation of the Foreign Ministry visit Myanmar,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Wednesday.

He added that Iran’s ambassador to Thailand has held talks with Myanmar’s officials on the situation of the Rohingya.

The Iranian official added that an Iranian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Pacific Affairs Ebrahim Rahimpour will travel to Bangladesh to pay a visit to Rohingya refugee camps and monitor their situation.

Qassemi said that Iran's ambassador to Thailand, who is also Iran's accredited ambassador to Myanmar, has visited Naypyidaw to convey Iran's stance on the developments in the country, and has met with the country’s deputy foreign minister on the Rohingya Muslims’ situation. 

The envoy has called for an immediate end to the acts of violence against the Rohingya Muslims, he added.

The persistent violence against the Muslims will not serve the interests of Myanmar and will pose major challenges to the country in the future, the Iranian envoy told Myanmar’s official, Qassemi said.

In the meeting, the Iranian envoy also urged Myanmar officials to prepare the grounds for the dispatch of humanitarian aid to the country's affected area, Qassemi added.

He said that Iran would use all it has in power to alleviate the plight of the Rohingya.

“In addition to the dispatch of humanitarian aid, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to initiate political negotiations aimed at settling the issue (the plight of the Rohingya),” he said.

Iran’s Red Crescent to dispatch humanitarian aid

Meanwhile, Iran’s Red Crescent is preparing to send a shipment of humanitarian aid for the Rohingya Muslims stranded on the border with Bangladesh.

The relief package, which includes food, medicine, life support and hygiene items, will be shipped on Friday.

Iran MPs to visit Myanmar 

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Iranian Parliament's Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Wednesday that a delegation of Iranian lawmakers was expected to visit Myanmar to study the situation of the Rohingya Muslims.

The Rohingya, described as “the world’s most persecuted minority,” have been denied citizenship in Myanmar, which has effectively rendered them stateless.

Full report at:



Iran tops world league for money laundering and terror finance

14 September 2017

RIYADH: Iran has topped the world league table for money laundering and terror financing for the third consecutive year.

It was followed by Afghanistan, Guinea-Bissau, Tajikistan and Laos in the annual rankings compiled by the Basel Institute on Governance, an independent anti-corruption group based in Switzerland. The three lowest ranked countries were Finland, Lithuania and Estonia.

In the list of 146 countries, Saudi Arabia ranked 93rd, which gives the Kingdom’s banking system a superior rating to that of Turkey in 43rd, Pakistan in 46th, China in 51st, Russia in 64th and India in 88th, and only marginally behind Japan in 98th.

“The Kingdom has a clean record as far as money laundering is concerned,” said Syed Ahmed Ziauddin, chief of the financial institutions and public sector at Bank Aljazira. “All financial institutions, including banks, have a high compliance rating within the framework of international regulations and guidelines issued by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority. The banks in the Kingdom have world-class technical platforms on a par with advanced countries.”

Marwan Jafri, another local banker, said: “Saudi banks are fully committed to fighting money laundering and combating terrorism financing by adopting and maintaining appropriate policies, systems and controls. But there are ample proofs in the public domain about the involvement of Iran in money laundering and terror financing.”

Full report at:



Iran magnifies the role of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Geagea responds

13 September 2017

In an exaggerated statement, Iran spoke of the role Hezbollah played for the sake of Lebanon and its people.

This was followed by a response from Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, to the statement by the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani who spoke of what he referred to as the “favor” Hezbollah did for the government and the army in Lebanon.

Although, Hezbollah had a deal in late August to move ISIs militants from Al-Qalamoun al-Gharbi on the Lebanese-Syrian border to Deir al-Zour under the protection of its forces and that of the Syrian regime.

Geagea said in a statement on Wednesday that Shamkhani's speech was not accurate, as the favor that Hezbollah takes credit for is serving the government and the army of Iran, not the Lebanese government.

As the enormous sacrifices made by Hezbollah were mainly to serve Iran extend its influence in the region starting with Syria, Yemen. Yet, the biggest favor the party has done was for propping up the regime of Bashar al-Assad because otherwise it would have toppled since the beginning of the Syrian revolution.

Iranian exaggeration

“If it were not for Hezbollah, Lebanon would have been hosting terrorists from around the world,” Shamkhani said Tuesday.

He added that “The government, army and people of Lebanon are now indebted to the sacrifices made by Hezbollah.”

Full report at:



Rights group blasts Israeli banks for settlement expansion

13 September 2017

Israeli banks are contributing to the proliferation of West Bank settlements by providing loans and mortgages for construction there, violating their human rights obligations, Human Rights Watch said in a report Wednesday.

The report said that Israeli law does not require banks to provide such services to the settlements, and urged them to distance themselves from such activities. It also urged the banks’ shareholders to “ensure that their business relationships do not contribute to or benefit from” human rights violations.

Human Rights Watch says the banks have helped the expansion of the West Bank settlements, which are now home to some 400,000 Israelis.

Sari Bashi, the group’s Israel and Palestine advocacy director, said the banks should abide by the UN guiding principles on business and human rights, a set of non-binding guidelines meant to address and remedy abuses committed in business activity, or else face action by shareholders.

“There are many, many steps banks can and should take to at the very least reduce their involvement in settlements, if not stop it entirely,” she said. “If they choose not to take steps, institutional investors who care about their own human rights activity should take action.”

Israel captured the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel has since annexed east Jerusalem in a move that is not recognized internationally, and it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Most of the international community considers settlements illegal and an obstacle to creating a Palestinian state. Israel disputes this, saying the fate of the settlements must be resolved through negotiations with the Palestinians. Israel’s banks lend money to homebuyers, settlement councils or to companies carrying out construction in the West Bank. Most also have branches in settlements.

Israeli law requires banks to accept settlers as customers, meaning they cannot refuse to open accounts for them. But a legal analysis by Human Rights Watch of Israeli banking laws concluded that banks are not obligated to provide financial backing for construction in the West Bank.

While an anti-discrimination law prohibits refusal of service based on place of residence, the report said banks could cite other reasons for declining to provide loans, such as the construction’s implications for Palestinians’ human rights. The law also allows companies to decline to serve certain areas so long as they provide advance notice to customers.

“It is Human Rights Watch’s assessment that banks can, under domestic law, avoid providing many services that support settlements and settlement activity, and that doing so is necessary to fulfill their human rights responsibilities,” the report said.

The relevant laws have yet to be challenged in court, meaning the report offers only one interpretation of how they may be read.

But the group presents a warning to Israel’s banking sector: Operating in the settlements risks inviting divestment from ethically-minded shareholders. Bashi cited a 2016 move by the pension fund for the United Methodist Church that blocked five Israeli banks from its investment portfolio, saying they profit from rights abuses.

The Association of Banks in Israel, an umbrella group, declined to comment on the report’s claims. Spokespeople for Israel’s major banks either declined comment or referred queries to the banking association. Israel’s central bank had no immediate comment.

Human Rights Watch said the five largest banks in Israel did not respond to questions about whether they adhere to the UN guiding principles. Four of the country’s biggest banks are members of the UN Global Compact, a group of companies that calls on its members to “make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.” Eugene Kontorovich, an international law expert at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a conservative think tank, disputed the report’s claim.

He said that private companies are not obliged under international law to restrict where they work even if others believe the settlements are illegal. He said companies are not necessarily violating human rights if they conduct business in an area where violations are said to occur. “Granting a mortgage is not a human rights violation,” he said.

Full report at:



Yemen VP: Houthis getting ready to eliminate Saleh

13 September 2017

Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar said on Tuesday that the Houthis, whom ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh helped stage their coup, are getting ready to pay him back by eliminating him.

“The Houthis are now preparing to pay back those who helped them by eliminating them and excluding them and by voicing ingratitude, just like they’ve always done,” Ahmad said in reference to Saleh.

During an address to local officials in Marib, Ahmar added that the Houthis would not have come so far if it had not been for contradictory political work as it’s thanks to these contradictions that the Houthis infiltrated Sanaa. He also said that Houthis always violate vows and pledges, adding that this has become one of their characteristics.

Full report at:



UN's inaction on Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen 'striking': HRW

Sep 13, 2017

Human Rights Watch has slammed the United Nations for its inaction on Yemen's ever-worsening humanitarian situation due to the Saudi war.

"Yemen is a humanitarian disaster of really epic proportions," said Human Rights Watch chief Kenneth Roth on Wednesday.

"What is striking to me is the incongruity between the severity of the disaster and the weakness of the response by the UN Human Rights Council" so far, he added.

“What everybody is aware of is that the situation is just so much dire today than it was the last time the Human Rights Council took up the matter. It's not simply that more civilians are killed day in and day out by the Saudi coalition's bombing, but also that there is such widespread famine, there is widespread food insecurity, there is a massive cholera epidemic today - the largest in the world. None of this was present at this scale the last time the Human Rights Council looked at the matter, and I hope no one can turn their back on such severe human suffering," he added.

Earlier in the week, HRW also lashed out at the Saudi-led coalition for its refusal to provide information on its role in the massive unlawful airstrikes against Yemen in an attempt to avoid international legal liability.   

On Monday, the UN’s human rights chief called for an urgent investigation into Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes against civilians in Yemen.  

Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein made the remarks during a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva after the global body attributed over 5,000 civilian deaths to Saudi airstrikes.

Saudi Arabia along with his allies has been pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate the former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.

Full report at:



Erdogan remains defiant as NATO allies criticize S-400 deal with Russia

Sep 13, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed criticism from his NATO allies over his country’s purchase of Russia’s strategic S-400 missile defense systems, saying Ankara would not “wait for" the Western military alliance to help Ankara with security affairs.

“They went crazy because we made the S-400 agreement. What were we supposed to do, wait for you?” the Turkish head of state said during a speech in Ankara on Wednesday. “We are taking and will take all our measures on the security front.”

Erdogan said Monday that Turkey had already paid a deposit for two batteries of the advanced missile systems. The deal is said to be worth around $2.5 billion.

The S-400 system is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.

Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military walked out of a $3.4 billion contract for a similar Chinese system.

The withdrawal, reports said, took place under pressure from the United States, which dominates NATO, of which Turkey is a member.

Neither the S-400 nor its Chinese equivalent FD200 is compatible with other NATO military systems, meaning that they are not bound by NATO’s instructions that prevent Turkey from using such weapons.

During his speech, Erdogan said his country had to go for the Russian missile system after Western companies failed to offer “financially effective” alternatives.

His explanations, however, did not stop the outpouring of criticism from the US and other members of the military alliance.

“A NATO interoperable missile defense system remains the best option to defend Turkey from the full range of threats in its region,” Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael said in a statement.

Erdogan remained defiant, making it clear on Tuesday that “nobody has the right to discuss the Turkish republic’s independence principles or independent decisions about its defense industry.”

Ankara’s ties with its Western allies in NATO have been strained over a range of issues.

Erdogan has been critical of Washington for supporting Kurdish groups in Syria that it says are responsible for terror attacks inside Turkey.

The Turkish president has also slammed American officials for rejecting his requests to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a powerful opposition figure living in the US.

Full report at:



Zarif, Putin stress full commitment to Iran’s nuclear agreement

Sep 13, 2017

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Russian President Vladimir Putin have underlined the need for all parties to Iran’s nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to fulfill their commitments stipulated in the deal. 

Zarif, who arrived in the Russian city of Sochi on Wednesday, met and exchanged views with President Putin on matters of mutual interest. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also attended the meeting.

Following his talks with Putin, the top Iranian diplomat described his meeting with the Russian leader as “substantial and positive.”

Regarding the JCPOA, it was stressed that the deal is non-negotiable and that all sides to the agreement must fulfill their obligations, the Iranian foreign minister said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has so far fulfilled all its commitments concerning the JCPOA, but unfortunately certain sides have not stayed committed as they should. Today, we stress that this (the JCPOA) is an international and multilateral agreement and that all sides should adhere to it,” he added. 

Zarif added that he also discussed the Syrian crisis with the Russian president, stressing Moscow and Tehran have had good cooperation in the battle against terrorism.

The Iranian foreign minister said that Iran, Russia and Turkey are due to continue talks on Syria in the Kazakh capital Astana to discuss ways to restore peace to the Arab country, deliver humanitarian aid and initiate a political process aimed at resolving the country's crisis.

Zarif said that the two sides also discussed the expansion of ties in different fields, including cooperation in the defense, nuclear energy, transportation and energy sectors.

Lavrov also told reporters that Iran has kept its side of the bargain in implementing the JCPOA.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the JCPOA on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.

Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

On Monday, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, said Iran was abiding by the rules set out in the nuclear accord it signed with the P5+1 group of countries.

Full report at:





Algeria finds sect leader guilty of 'offending Islam'

13 September 2017

An Algerian court on Wednesday found the head of the country's tiny Ahmadi community guilty of "offending Islam" and handed him a six-month suspended sentence, his lawyer said.

"Mohamed Fali was handed a six-month suspended sentence. He was found guilty of unauthorised fundraising and offending the Prophet and Islam," Salah Dabouz said.

While Ahmadis consider themselves to be Muslims, Islamic extremists have accused them of heresy and since last year Algerian authorities have cracked down on them.

The trial in the western coastal town of Mostaganem came after Fali objected to a suspended sentence of three months on the same charges in February at a trial he did not attend.

Algerian law allows defendants to attend a retrial if they were not present for the first trial.

Fali was arrested from his home in Ain Sefra, 650 kilometres (400 miles) southwest of Algiers, on August 28.

"My client will be released, but I'm shocked he was sentenced in a case where there are no facts," his lawyer said.

Fali faces cases in several courts.

At least 286 of Algeria's roughly 2,000 Ahmadis have been arrested and tried since the start of a government crackdown last year.

All were handed jail terms, ranging from a three-month suspended sentence to four years, except three who received fines.

Islam is the state religion in Algeria, where Sunni Muslims make up the majority.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by law, but preachers and places of worship must be licensed by the government.

The Ahmadis have never applied, believing they would face certain rejection.

Founded in late 19th-century India, the Ahmadiyya movement only reached Algeria in 2007.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation -- of which Algeria is a member -- declared in 1973 that the movement was not linked to the Muslim faith.



Suicide bomber kills 5 in northern Cameroon mosque

13 September 2017

Five people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a mosque in the Far North region on Wednesday, an official said.

"The suicide bomber, a boy of about 15 years, infiltrated a mosque in Sanda-Wadjiri, a village south of Kolofata," Seiny Boukar, the mayor of Kolofata, said. The attack took place during the morning prayers, at 5.30 a.m. local time (0430GMT).

The explosion injured six people and destroyed part of the mosque. Terrorist group Boko Haram is believed to be behind the attack, a security official said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Boukar Yasalou, local leader of the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement, was among those killed, local media reported.

Boko Haram killed 25 people, including three soldiers, in the Far North in August, according to the Defense Ministry.

In June, the ministry announced the recruitment of more than 7,000 gendarmes and military personnel as part of the fight against Boko Haram.

Around 26 million people in the Lake Chad region have been affected by Boko Haram violence and more than 2.6 million displaced, according to the UN.

Full report at:



South Africa: Thousands march in solidarity with Rohingya


Thousands marched in South Africa’s capital on Wednesday to condemn the ongoing killings of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

“We demand that the Myanmar government immediately intervene and take responsibility for the widespread atrocities that have displaced thousands of Rohingya Muslims,” a protest organizer read out from a list of demands handed to the South African parliament in Cape Town.

Protestors chanting ‘‘Free Rohingya’’ carried signs reading “Send the Myanmar ambassador back. South Africa does not support racism.” Other signs read, “Stop the genocide of our brothers and sisters in Burma,” using an older name for Myanmar.

Hajji Allie, a protest organizer, told Anadolu Agency over that 3,000 people had participated in the march calling for an end to the violence in Myanmar.

Protestors also demanded that perpetrators of the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar be investigated and prosecuted for international war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Since Aug. 25, more than 370,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

The refugees are fleeing a fresh security operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladesh, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Praise for Erdogan and Turkey

Separately, Sheikh Riad Fataar, the deputy head of South Africa’s Muslim Judicial Council, thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his firm stance on condemning the killings of Rohingya Muslims and supporting them with humanitarian aid.

“We are grateful to the Turkish president and people,’’ Riad told Anadolu Agency.

Full report at:



Military campaign against ISIS could push it to south Jordan, says King Abdullah

14 September 2017

Jordan's King Abdullah II says he is "deeply concerned" with the situation in southern Syria and that his country's border with Syria would only reopen "when the right security conditions materialize on the ground."

The monarch told the state news agency Petra in an interview published Thursday that the military campaign against ISIS in Syria "could push it south toward Jordan" and that Jordan's top priority is to protect its border.

The king also says that a cease-fire for southwest Syria, brokered in July by Jordan, Russia and the US, could be replicated elsewhere in Syria.

Russia proposes creating "de-escalation zones" in several areas of Syria. Russia's foreign minister met with Abdullah in Jordan this week to discuss the requirements for such a zone in southern Syria.



US claims 6 Shabab militants killed in Somalia air raids

Sep 13, 2017

The United States Africa Command has claimed that its airstrikes have killed six members of the al-Shabab militant group in southern Somalia.

A statement from the command on Wednesday said the people were killed in three airstrikes carried out earlier in the morning in an area about 260 kilometers (160 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu.

However, it did not elaborate on the location of the strikes and the identity of the militants.

Robyn Mack, a spokeswoman for the US Africa Command, only said the military assessment showed there were no civilians near the site of the attacks. Authorities said the airstrikes were coordinated with Somalia’s central government.

There have been many ambiguities surrounding US drone strikes and bombardments in the rural regions of Somalia, a war-torn country still reeling from more than two decades of militancy.

The US military has expanded its operations against al-Shabab following a decree by President Donald Trump. Local sources say the intensified drive has inflicted casualties among civilians. It was announced last week that four members of al-Shabab were killed in drone strikes, although no details were provided on the identity of the militants. US and Somali officials have also claimed in recent weeks that several al-Shabab leaders responsible for planning and executing deadly attacks in Mogadishu had been killed in joint operations.

Full report at:



North America


Canada urges Myanmar leader to end Rohingya violence

14 September 2017

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Myanmar’s de facto leader Wednesday and “conveyed his deep concerns” over the persecution of Rohingya Muslims, the prime minister’s office reported.

His telephone call to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi comes after online petitions signed by 10,000 Canadians, collected in just five days, urged Trudeau to act and to revoke Suu Kyi’s honorary Canadian citizenship. Canada bestowed the honor in 2007 for her struggle to bring freedom and democracy to Myanmar.

“What is happening under Aung San Suu Kyi’s watch in Myanmar right now is about as far as you could get from [these] ideas,” the petition reads.

The government statement released after the call did not address the citizenship issue.

However, Trudeau said on Twitter that: “Today I spoke with Aung San Suu Kyi to convey Canada’s deep concerns for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.”

About 370,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh, saying government troops and Buddhist mobs are killing them. Myanmar is predominately Buddhist.

In a written statement, Trudeau said he discussed with Suu Kyi “the need to defend and protect the rights of all minorities”.

He went on to tell the state counsellor that there was “the urgent need for Myanmar’s military and civilian leaders to take a strong stand in ending violence, promoting the protection of civilians and promoting unimpeded access for the UN and international humanitarian actors”.

Trudeau pledged Canada’s support to “help build a peaceful and stable society in Myanmar”.

Full report at:



Washington concerned about Iran’s participation in Astana

13 September 2017

The State Department on Tuesday expressed concern about Iran’s participation in the Astana negotiations as a backer of the cease-fire and noted that Tehran’s support for Assad increases the severity of the conflict and the suffering of the Syrians.

This comes as a preliminary consultation tour begins in the Kazakh capital of Astana between the representatives of Russia, Iran and Turkey, the day before the start of the sixth round of negotiations on Syria.

Representatives of the three countries will discuss demarcation of the area and tension relief in the city of Idlib and its surroundings.

The US State Department announced earlier that a delegation from Washington would travel to Astana to participate as observers in the Astana 6 negotiations on Syria, which will be held on 14 and 15 September.



US Supreme Court allows Donald Trump to uphold 'Muslim travel ban' restriction on refugees

Sep 14, 2017

The Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to maintain its restrictive policy on refugees.

The justices have agreed to an administration request to block a lower court ruling that would have eased the refugee ban and allowed up to 24,000 refugees to enter the country before the end of October.

The order was not the court's last word on the travel policy that President Donald Trump first rolled out in January. The justices are scheduled to hear arguments on 10 October on the legality of the bans on travellers from six mostly Muslim countries and refugees anywhere in the world.

It's unclear, though, what will be left for the court to decide. The 90-day travel ban lapses in late September and the 120-day refugee ban will expire a month later.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Tuesday night: “We are pleased that the Supreme Court has allowed key components of the order to remain in effect. We will continue to vigorously defend the order leading up to next month's oral argument in the Supreme Court.”

The administration has yet to say whether it will seek to renew the bans, make them permanent or expand the travel ban to other countries.

Lower courts have ruled that the bans violate the Constitution and federal immigration law. The high court has agreed to review those rulings. Its intervention so far has been to evaluate what parts of the policy can take effect in the meantime.

The justices said in June that the administration could not enforce the bans against people who have a “bona fide” relationship with people or entities in the United States. The justices declined to define the required relationships more precisely.

A panel of the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge's order that would have allowed refugees to enter the United States if a resettlement agency in the US had agreed to take them in.

The administration objected, saying the relationship between refugees and resettlement agencies shouldn't count. The high court's unsigned, one-sentence order agreed with the administration, at least for now.

The appeals court also upheld another part of the judge's ruling that applies to the ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Full report at:



US troops using new base in Iraqi Kurdistan: Officials

Sep 13, 2017

US forces have been deployed to Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Kurdish officials say, noting that the presence is part of the joint military campaign the two sides have been running against terror groups for months now.

Ari Harsin, the head of the Peshmerga Committee in the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament, said the American personnel, together with a series of military equipment, were based near the region’s capital Erbil.

The official denied speculation that the foreign presence would hinder the region’s plans to hold an independence referendum.

Scheduled for September 25, the independence bid has been censured by the central government in Baghdad.

The US has also opposed the idea of an autonomous Kurdish state in Iraq, joining voices with major regional players, including Iran, Turkey and Syria, who have warned against partitioning Iraq.

Harsin, however, said the referendum indicated “the will of the Kurdish people and nobody was going to stop it.”

The international community is concerned that the referendum could ignite a fresh conflict in the region, diverting attention from the ongoing war against Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

During a trip to Erbil in late August, US Defense Secretary James Mattis asked Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani to drop the bid and stay focused on the Daesh fight.

US to coordinate attacks from Erbil base

Meanwhile, Rashad Kalali, with the Committee for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Erbil’s Makhmur district, said the American troops have established a military base in southern Erbil, Iraq's al-Sumaria news website reported Wednesday.

The official said the US had also deployed a range of weapons in the base, including missiles, heavy artillery, tanks, armored personnel carriers and over 100 military vehicles.

Although American forces were already using the base as an attacking point against Daesh positions, they were ultimately going to use it as a command center to coordinate air and ground operations with the Iraqi armed forces and the Peshmerga in the final battle to free the town of Hawijah, Kalali said.

Full report at:




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