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Al Qaeda Leader Ayman Al Zawahiri in a Video Asks Ummah to Emulate Islamic Jihadists as Role Models

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 June 2022


 Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri.(AFP Photo / File.)


• Malaysian Group Says Defaced Indian University, Local Council Websites over BJP Politician's Slur on Prophet Muhammad

• India Urged To Stop 'Selective and Vicious' Crackdown on Muslim Protesters: Amnesty International

• 'Repression against Muslims': Former SC Judges Urge Court to Act against Demolition Drive In UP

• Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State Openly Use Facebook to Spread Propaganda in East Africa


Arab World

• Israel strike crippling Syria’s main airport, tensions rise

• Biden to discuss energy security, bilateral cooperation in Saudi Arabia: Statement

• Saudi Arabia adds 19 Yemeni individuals, entities to terror list

• Astana peace talks to discuss return of Syrian refugees

• Russia’s special envoy for Syria blasts Israeli missile strikes as ‘unacceptable’


Southeast Asia

• Investigation into Malaysian Hacking Group after Cyber Attacks on India

• Cops Probing Malaysian Group Supporting Politician Who Sparked Unrest In India

• Japan foreign minister non-committal on Damascus airport attack


North America

• Bennet Says Biden Visit Will Reveal US Steps to Integrate Israel into Middle East

• Ahead of Biden trip to Saudi Arabia, White House official says US committed to allies

• US awaits ‘constructive’ Iran response on nuclear deal: State Department

• Report: US air force clears crew of plane that took off with Afghans on outside of aircraft



• PM, Prez from RSS, How Can It Be Compared To Taliban: Javed Akhtar Asked In Defamation Suit

• Khargone Violence: HC Issues Notice to Madhya Pradesh over Demolition of Muslim Trader’s Shop

• Family is in danger from Islamic fundamentalists: Expelled BJP leader Naveen Jindal

• RSS to discuss Prophet row, Gyanvapi at a meet in Jaipur next month

• Indian forces in Kashmir kill militant suspected of targeted killing



• UN’s WFP ends food aid to parts of South Sudan as funds run dry

• Libyan oil output collapses after wave of closures

• Death toll from Burkina Faso attack rises to 79, official says

• Is Mali emerging as another front for Russia, West?



• FATF Set To Review Pakistan for Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing

• Pakistan: Imran Khan admits committing 'blunders' leading to his party's fall

• Current setup bent upon abolishing FIA, NAB, says Imran

• Pakistan envoy Masood Khan, President Biden discuss 'building strong basis' for taking ties forward

• Govt urged to negotiate with TTP from position of strength

• Bilawal renews commitment to closer ties with Tehran

• PTI seeks decision on all parties’ foreign funding cases in one go

• Nawaz Sharif calls on Shehbaz govt to facilitate Pervez Musharraf’s return to Pakistan


South Asia

• Pakistan's Futile Exercise-Asking Wily Taliban to Broker Peace with The TTP

• Islamic Scholars in Badghis Call to Reopen Girls’ Schools

• USD 150 million aid by World Bank comes as relief to Afghan farmers under Taliban regime

• Mohammad Ali Jinnah Hospital in Western Kabul Transforms into a Teaching Hospital

• UN: Millions of Children under the Taliban Rule Have Been Deprived of Education

• Russia hints it may recognise Taliban govt in Afghanistan



• Nuclear Chief: IAEA Politicizing Iran Nuclear Work under Israeli Pressure

• Satellite images suggest Iran preparing for rocket launch

• Israel calls for US-led regional coalition against Iran

• FM: Logical Initiatives Offered in Vienna Talks by Iran

• Israelis in Turkey were saved before ‘Iran’s assassins’ could attack at hotel: Report

• Iran believes Israel killed two of its scientists with poison: Report

• Turkey is a ‘safe country’, Ankara says after Israeli warnings

• UN commission on Palestine seeks new ways to get Israel to comply with int'l law

• UN urges Houthis to lift Taif siege as Yemeni truce holds



• Blocked European Funds To Palestinian Territories To Be Released

• Turkey prepared to stall Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership for year: MP

• Sweden’s premier says she looks forward to continuing dialogue with Türkiye

• ECHR blocks UK plan to deport Iraqi asylum seeker to Rwanda

• PKK terror group supporters hold anti-Türkiye demonstration in Athens

• France captures senior Daesh figure in Mali: military

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Al Qaeda Leader Ayman Al Zawahiri in a Video Asks Ummah To Emulate Islamic Jihadists As Role Models


Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri.(AFP Photo / File.)


By Shishir Gupta

Jun 15, 2022

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in a video released through its media wing “As Sahab” has asked the global Muslim community or Ummah to adopt prominent jihadist leaders as role models. The video statement is episode five of the series titled “Deal of the Century or Crusades Spanning Centuries.”

The video calling for the veneration of past and present Sunni jihadists is not only going to spark off Islamic radicalization but has also raised terror threat levels in the world. Zawahiri’s earlier videos in the series had focused on criticizing Arab leaders and “educating” Muslims with the Al Qaeda ideology.

This month Zawahiri also called for jihad against India and Bangladesh for blasphemy against the Holy Prophet and threaten to launch suicide attacks in key Indian cities. Intelligence inputs indicate that Zawahiri is currently based in Afghanistan near the Durand Line border though the Taliban regime denies it and says that the terror kingpin is in Iran. As a terror organization with hardcore Salafist roots, Al Qaeda has no space for either Shia or Sufi branches of Islam.

With the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda’s core leadership has strengthened with the terror group armed with the latest weapons, explosives and night vision devices left by the US-led coalition forces on August 15, 2021. The terrorist group, which evidently has its media wing based in Pakistan, has started attracting militant cadres for global operations and is receiving funding from Middle East countries including Qatar and Turkey.

Rising simultaneously with Al Qaeda is the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) in Afghanistan, which has grown in cadre strength after its key leaders were released from prisons with the advent of the Taliban and the hasty exit of US forces. Armed with state-of-the-art rifles and rocket launchers, the ISKP, which has links with the Pakistani deep state, has targeted the Taliban in the Islamic Emirate.

With Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood being active in the Indian sub-continent through proxies, Islamic radicalization is expected to increase dramatically as the Taliban is the new model for jihadists. That the Taliban was able to throw US forces out of Afghanistan is an example enough for undercover jihadists to rise in the sub-continent and cause havoc. The Al Qaeda threat of bomb attacks in India is not being taken lightly by counter-terror agencies as the whole purpose of a possible strike would be to force a retaliation and increase polarization in Indian society.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Malaysian Group Says Defaced Indian University, Local Council Websites Over BJP Politician's Slur On Prophet Muhammad


A screen capture shows the message DragonForce Malaysia left on an Indian website that it defaced.


By Zarrah Morden

15 Jun 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — A group calling itself DragonForce Malaysia said it has successfully defaced the websites of the Delhi University and the Nanded-Waghala City Municipal Corporation as part of a cyberattack campaign against India over an anti-Islam slur by a politician from the ruling party there.

On its Twitter page, the activist group showed that it was able to inject pages into the websites of the Indian university and local council, to convey its objection to the politician’s remarks about Prophet Muhammad.

“Another Government of India & University India Hacked And Leaked By Dragonforce Malaysia. Database Incoming Boom Boom Boom,” the group wrote on Twitter.

Visits to the sites listed showed that they have been replaced with a message from DragonForce Malaysia over its Ops Patuk campaign against Indian websites over the religious slur.

The group also announced on Twitter that it was able to insert malicious code in some of the websites.

The attacks were just the latest by the Malaysian group. According to the Times of India, the group previously claimed credit for defacing 70 government and private websites in India, leaving audio clips and texts saying: “For you is your religion, for me is my religion”.

The targets of the attack reportedly comprised a diverse range of Indian websites, from the Indian Embassy in Israel and National Institute of Agriculture Extension Management to Delhi Public School and other websites belonging to academic institutions.

The campaign was launched through the forums of the group’s website. Members who successfully took down websites opened new threads on the forums detailing which websites they took down along with screenshots of the defaced sites.

Earlier this month, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Nupur Sharma caused a global storm with her remarks insulting Prophet Muhammad, triggering formal diplomatic protests from Muslim countries worldwide including Malaysia against the Indian government.

This forced the Modi administration into damage control with attempts to downplay her comments as her personal opinion.

The controversy has also led to protests in various parts of the world, including deadly riots in India.

Source: Malay Mail

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India Urged To Stop 'Selective and Vicious' Crackdown on Muslim Protesters: Amnesty International


More than 300 people have been arrested in the northern Uttar Pradesh state for joining last week's rallies. Source: AAP / Hindustan Times/Sipa USA


June 15, 2022

India must immediately end a "vicious" crackdown on Muslims who took to the streets to protest a ruling party official's remarks about the Prophet Muhammad, Amnesty International has said.

Authorities were "selectively and viciously cracking down on Muslims who dare to speak up...against the discrimination faced by them," Amnesty's Aakar Patel said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Cracking down on protesters with excessive use of force, arbitrary detention and punitive house in complete violation of India's commitments under international human rights law".

Amnesty has demanded an "immediate and unconditional release" of detained protesters, and Patel said the arrests and demolitions were "part of an alarming escalation of the states' measures targeting Muslims".

Two demonstrators were killed and hundreds of others arrested last week in nationwide protests over the comments, which embroiled India in a diplomatic furore and caused widespread outrage among Muslim communities across the globe.

Footage of bulldozers demolishing homes of those arrested or identified as protesters has since been spread on social media. More than 300 people have been arrested in the northern Uttar Pradesh state for joining last week's rallies.

Global outcry over derogatory remarks

Cities around India saw sizable demonstrations on Friday, with some crowds burning effigies of Nupur Sharma - the BJP spokeswoman who had made insulting remarks against the Prophet and his wife Ayesha in a TV debate.

Sharma has been suspended from the party, which issued a statement saying it respected all religions, while the governments of nearly 20 Muslim-majority countries called in their Indian envoys to register their disapproval.

Friday also saw huge protests in neighbouring countries, with police estimating more than 100,000 people mobilised across Bangladesh after midday prayers.

Another 5,000 people took to the streets in the Pakistani city of Lahore, demanding that their government take stronger action against India over the comments.

BJP's discriminatory policies towards Muslims

Since coming to power nationally in 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been accused of championing discriminatory policies towards Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government proposed a controversial law that granted faster citizenship to refugees in India, but not if they are Muslim, while state BJP governments have passed laws making inter-religious marriages harder.

Muslims were also accused of spreading Covid-19. In recent years, Hindu mobs have targeted Muslims praying on Fridays in northern India.

BJP recently banned wearing the hijab in classrooms in southern Karnataka state. Hardline Hindu groups later demanded such restrictions in more Indian states. Muslim mutton sellers and fruit vendors have also become the target of the far-right Hindu groups.

During a Hindu festival in April, Hindu mobs pelted stones on mosques in several areas while DJs played loud music outside the mosques as worshippers prayed. Hindu monks known for their incendiary anti-Muslim speeches have been calling for Rohingya-type ethnic cleansing of Indian Muslims.

Source: Trt World

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'Repression against Muslims': Former SC Judges Urge Court to Act against Demolition Drive In UP


Javed Mohammad's house being demolished in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj. Photo: REUTERS/Ritesh Shukla


June 14, 2022

Twelve prominent persons, including three former Supreme Court judges, slammed the demolition of houses of the alleged accused in Friday violence in Uttar Pradesh and dubbed the action "repression by state authorities against Muslims."

According to NDTV, they wrote a letter to the apex court, asking it to take suo motu cognizance of the issue, and pointed out that the manner in which the demolition was carried out leads to the conclusion that it was a "form of collective extra-judicial punishment."

The Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA) on Sunday demolished the house of Javed Ahmad, the alleged mastermind of the June 10 violence in Prayagraj. A day earlier, properties of two other accused of rioting—Muzammil and Abdul Vakir—were demolished in Saharanpur.

Uttar Pradesh police had said their houses were illegal.

"Videos of young men in police custody being beaten with lathis, houses of protestors being demolished without notice or any cause of action, and protestors from the minority Muslim community being chased and beaten by the police, are circulating on social media, shaking the conscience of the nation," NDTV quoted the letter as saying.

Noting that the in the past, judiciary had emerged as the custodian of the rights of people, the letter pointed out that such actions, sanctioned by the government, will embolden the police to torture protestors.

The former SC judges who are signatories of the letter are B. Sudarshan Reddy, V. Gopala Gowda and A.K. Ganguly.

Source: The Week

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Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State Openly Use Facebook to Spread Propaganda in East Africa


Police arrest two terror suspects at the Likoni crossing channel in Mombasa on August 23, 2021.

File | Nation Media Group


June 15, 2022

By Odanga Madung

Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State are using Facebook to spread their hateful ideologies, grow audiences and broadcast their messaging in East Africa, with Kenya as their focus.

This is according to a new report shared with the Nation by the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD).

According to ISD, there is a highly-coordinated online propaganda machine that relies on thousands-strong networks of Somali, Swahili and Arabic language Facebookprofiles and pages to seed its content on the platform, some of which may have been hacked from unsuspecting users.

The research, carried out between 2020 and 2022, reveals that entities affiliated with the two groups are posing as “independent news outlets” on the platform.

However, these digital assets are instead allegedly being used to share terrorist propaganda under the guise of “objective” news to influence audiences in Kenya and the wider East African region.

Mr Moustafa Ayad, the author of the report, told the Nation: “The al-Shabaab and Islamic State support networks on Facebook have shown significant resilience. They have become very adept at seeding propaganda across different social media platforms.”

“Independent news websites”

The London-based think-tank gathered data about the growth and impact of 30 al-Shabaab- and Islamic State- linked Facebook pages, 8,000 Facebook accounts and five central al-Shabaab news websites.

According to the researchers, this network experienced a boom in 2022, growing roughly 41 per cent in size over the past four months, adding 12,500 net followers to their audiences between January and April.

It is this booming network that operates as the seeding mechanism for the audiences of “independent news websites” affiliated with Isis and al-Shabaab.

Researchers also mention that content spread by these digital entities is often obtained from websites that use centralised al-Qaeda storage databases as the source for their material.

Al-Shabaab-linked websites are then used to share the content on Facebook.

According to Mr Ayad, “Content from the pages was often a mix, or repurposed mainstream media news and straight up Islamic State, al-Qaeda or al-Shabaab content. They focus on spreading disinformation through a journalistic veneer, while still leading audiences to the larger machinery of its extremist propaganda communication platforms, content caches and local influencers.”

Read: Corrupt judge, rogue lawyer, blood money aid terrorists to slaughter Kenyans

For example, Warbahinta Al-xaq or Truth Media was the most active of the Somali language support pages the researchers identified. The page amassed 4,711 followers and claimed to be an independent Islamic media outlet whose motto is “truth and transparency”.

In actuality, the page rebrands al-Shabaab content for distribution on Facebook. ISD says this positioning could be what helps it get around Facebook’s content moderation policies.

Researchers also found another network of six pages that calls itself al-Hijrateyn media.

They took Arabic language content from the Islamic State and translated it for Swahili and Somali speaking audiences.

Furthermore, the network produces hour-long audio updates, sharing news and fatwas (legal rulings or decrees on points of Islamic law) in English religious edicts linked to the Islamic State.

All of this content went unmoderated on Facebook and was continually shared by a dedicated set of supporters.

The pages shared 112 videos since 2020, garnering close to 84,000 views on the platform. Al-Hijrateyn’s most popular piece of content for example, was an edited video of the bodies dumped in River Yala, Kenya.

From August last year, locals had been finding bodies of unknown men in the river, and in January 2022, activists called a press conference to expose the grim findings and to accuse police of extrajudicial killings.

Many of the bodies -- numbering 30 -- were later identified to be of missing men, and one woman, from across the country, mostly who had a criminal past.

The edited al-Hijrateyn video is a shoddily compiled set of videos with a voice-over saying that Kenyan security forces were on a campaign to kill unarmed Muslims, dumping their bodies in the river, in the “darkness of night”.

The video goes on to say that Muslims face injustices all over Kenya and calls upon them to “distrust” their government and actively reject the “lies” it peddles.

The use of “Independent news outlets” proved to be highly effective on Facebook. ISD estimates that these “news networks” have garnered close to 39,488 followers, and have grown by more than 8,600 followers since January 2022

Facebook’s vulnerabilities

ISD’s findings point towards Facebook having lapses in terms of content moderation and abuse of its pages and group features.

The Meta-owned platform has a well-documented struggle in terms of its ability to moderate languages other than English and in territories outside of the US. All of the content ISD identified was published in Somali, Swahili and Arabic.

Each language had its own dynamics in terms of how it propagated across the platform.

Both Swahili and Arabic language posts formed a smaller part of ISD’s data in terms of the amount of content produced, but they were still able to spread widely and get a high number of views.

It is the Somali language content, however, that ISD’s data shows exposes a particular weakness in Facebook’s moderation systems.

Somali language pages garnered more views and shares because there was a larger presence of extremist-linked pages in comparison to the others that the think-tank studied.

ISD’s research uncovered a network of 23 Somali pages with 32,363 followers on Facebook. Additionally, extremist pages published 843 videos, which got 650,186 views and were shared 101,137 times on the platform.

Pages and groups are also central to how al-Shabaab communities operate on Facebook. Groups, in this case, provide al-Shabaab communities with the ability to coordinate, collate and seed content for dedicated propagandists on the platform.

For example, ISD found gruesome al-Shabaab assassination videos being seeded through various Facebook groups dedicated to Sheikh Aboud Rogo Mohammed, who was shot dead by unknown assailants in Mombasa on August 27, 2012.

Rogo was an extremist Islamist preacher and a supporter of al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda.

The report says that flagging and taking down extremist content has its place and can be effective, but the American company would need to be more comprehensive and take these features into account.

The extremists’ ultimate goal

The network of pages sought to position al-Shabaab and the Islamic State as the rightful protectors of the Muslim ummah in the Horn of Africa while simultaneously excommunicating “infidel Muslims” in other East African countries.

Mr Ayad said: “These ecosystems seek to sow distrust and present both al-Shabaab and the Islamic State as popular alternatives to the current status quo.

“The content published by these networks seeks to dehumanise societal out-groups to strengthen their movement and radicalise people.”

It is no secret that extremists love the internet. Controlling digital territory is just as integral to the survival and ideologies of groups as physical territory.

In response, therefore, Big Tech companies have had to course-correct and create policies to address what extremist behaviour looks like on their platforms.

Facebook and its parent company, Meta, weed out extremist content by relying on a combination of artificial intelligence, user reports and human moderators.

The company claims to remove 99 per cent of content in violation of its “Dangerous Individuals and Entities policy”. It’s a sweeping set of restrictions on what Facebook’s nearly three billion users can say about an enormous and ever-growing roster of entities such as criminal and extremist organisations.

The policy states: “We do not allow organisations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence to have a presence on Facebook.”

However, ISD says that all the content it identified went unmoderated, suggesting that the platforms’ monitors were unaware of the outlets and the content was not likely found in the company’s database of terrorist content.

At a minimum, this demonstrates that Silicon Valley’s much-touted moderation policies (now being applied to hate speech and dangerous rhetoric in this election season) are not using rigorous enough standards in classifying extremist propaganda. Instead, as per ISD’s evidence, it is letting them grow.

A spot check by the Nation on another social media platform, TikTok, found several violent jihad sermons instructing audiences to pick up arms.

Furthermore, ISD also found parts of the network it studied extended on to Twitter and Telegram as well.

“Any kind of terrorist activity on a platform is a problem and points to larger issues within its systems. If terrorist activity is able to get around moderation systems that have been put in place, whether manual or automated, think about how much hate content can exist on the platform in those languages,” said Mr Ayad.

He added: “Terrorist propaganda online represents only one aspect of the overall set of online harms that are flourishing online and targeting East African communities.”

In response to the findings, Facebook removed a number of the accounts that had been flagged by the ISD, which the Nation also brought forward to them.

They however did not respond to questions about why the content was allowed to stay unmoderated on the platform for the length of time that it did.

Through a spokesperson, they told the Nation that they were actively investigating the networks that had been uncovered.

“We've already removed a number of these Pages and Profiles and will continue to investigate once we have access to the full findings. We don't allow terrorist groups to use Facebook, and we remove content praising or supporting these organisations when we become aware of it.”

The spokesperson also told us that, “We have specialized teams — which include native Arabic, Somali and Swahili speakers — dedicated to this effort. We know these adversarial groups are continuously evolving their tactics to try and avoid detection by platforms, researchers and law enforcement. That’s why we continue to invest in people, technology, and partnerships to help our systems stay ahead.”

Ms Emma Wabuke, a PhD candidate on radicalisation at Cambridge University, said social media companies must recognise the delicate role they have to play in this ecosystem.

“The platforms have to handle this carefully, given the freedom of speech and privacy issues concerned. But ultimately, they have an opportunity more than most to moderate the content on their platforms in good time.” Nevertheless, she cautioned that, “Their role, however, should not extend to informing law enforcement, unless there are specific orders that have been enforced by the courts.”

ISD also called for broader community based interventions. “We must educate young people so that they are armed with the knowledge to make informed decisions about extremism and to recognise propaganda when they see it. Education is more effective than intervention.”

Source: Nation Africa

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Arab World

 Israel strike crippling Syria’s main airport, tensions rise

14 June, 2022

Israel marked a major escalation in its years-long campaign of airstrikes in Syria, carrying out an attack last week that shut down the country’s main civilian airport in Damascus as Israel steps up efforts to allegedly stop Iranian weapons shipments to the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Commercial flights were still halted at Damascus International Airport five days after Friday’s pre-dawn airstrikes smashed into its runways, leaving multiple craters, and damaged the air control tower and other buildings.

The strikes further ratchet up tensions in the confrontation between Israel on one side and Iran and its proxy Hezbollah on the other.

Iran has accused Israel of assassinating several high-ranking Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) members, while Hezbollah has threatened to strike a gas rig Israel is setting up in Mediterranean Sea area that Lebanon also claims as its waters.

The escalation comes as Russia, a top ally of Iran and Syria, is preoccupied with its war in Ukraine. Russia has naval and air bases in Syria and troops deployed there, backing Damascus in Syria’s long civil war.

With the strikes, Israel is sending the message that it “won’t let Iran fill the vacuum (left by) Russia in Syria while it is busy with Ukraine,” said Ibrahim Hamidi, a Syrian journalist and senior diplomatic editor for Syrian affairs at the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

For years, Israel has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria, saying it is determined to prevent Iran’s entrenchment near its northern border and the smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah. The strikes have largely hit bases of Iranian-allied militias, including Hezbollah, as well as convoys said to be carrying arms to Hezbollah.

Friday’s strikes were the most extensive against a civilian target and, by shutting the airport down, had the widest impact. As in the past, Israel did not claim responsibility for the strikes.

The airport had remained operational even during the worst days of Syria’s 11-year civil war. It has both a civilian and a military section and satellite photos showed the runways on both sides with at least three craters each.

Along with the runways, the strikes hit or damaged airport halls and a radar tower and an arms shipment that was in the civilian side of the airport, said Rami Abdurrahman who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria. Military positions south of Damascus were also hit.

Despite the escalation, Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah both remained relatively muted about the attack.

Syrian state media said Israeli strikes wounded one person and caused “significant” damage to infrastructure and rendered the main civilian runway unserviceable until further notice.

Flights were rerouted to Aleppo’s airport while repairs were underway.

Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous visited the airport Sunday to inspect repairs.

Photos posted by SANA showed a bulldozer working on what appeared to be the runway while another showed damage inside one of the airport’s rooms with glass blown out, chairs unhinged from their place and electric cables dangling from the ceiling.

Israeli media reported that the aim of the latest attack was to prevent the flow of equipment used in precision-guided missiles to Hezbollah.

Military affairs analyst Yossi Yehoshua wrote in Israel’s daily Yedioth Ahronoth that the Iranians have tried to ramp up aerial operations, first using cargo planes and hiding the weapons in hangars at Damascus International Airport.

He claimed that now Iran and Hezbollah were using civilian flights to Damascus and Beirut to smuggle advanced military materiel to Hezbollah.

“Materiel consists of relatively small parts that look innocuous enough” and are easy to hide inside checked baggage on a civilian flight, Yehoshua wrote.

Amos Harel, senior military correspondent for Israel’s daily Haaretz, wrote that Iran has sought ways around Israeli disruptions and recently some of the best systems have been smuggled in hand luggage on commercial flights.

He added that the action suggests Israel perhaps feels it can take far-reaching military steps now, while international attention is focused on Ukraine.

Past Israeli strikes have largely gone without retaliation from the Syrians. Israeli airstrikes in Syria are usually coordinated with Moscow through a “deconfliction mechanism” to avoid direct confrontation with Russian forces in Syria.

In a rare public rebuke, Russia’s Foreign Ministry denounced Friday’s airstrikes as “provocative” and a “violation of the basic norms of international law.”

A Lebanese journalist who covers Arab-Israeli affairs, Sateh Noureddine, wrote that Israel’s move to knock out Damascus’ airport signals “a plan to impose a complete air blockade on Iran while also striking at Hezbollah, depriving it of a vital air link with its only military supply center.”

The strikes could be a first step toward a possible Israel-Hezbollah war, Noureddine warned, writing in the Lebanese news site al-Modon, where he is editor-in-chief.

Hezbollah and Israel have had a series of confrontations, including a full-scale war in 2006. Tensions between the two enemies have been escalating over a maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel, with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatening last week to strike the Israeli gas rig being set up.

In February, Nasrallah said the group has been manufacturing military drones in Lebanon and has the technology to turn thousands of missiles in their possession into precision-guided munitions.

A Lebanese military analyst who closely follows affairs in Syria and Lebanon said Syrian officials have been unusually “tightlipped” since the strike, given its significance.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Biden to discuss energy security, bilateral cooperation in Saudi Arabia: Statement

14 June, 2022

US President Joe Biden will discuss energy security and bilateral cooperation to address regional and international challenges as part of his official trip to Saudi Arabia in July, the Saudi Embassy in the US said in a statement on Tuesday.

During his planned meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, discussions will also reportedly tackle trade ties, food security and renewable energy.

The Crown Prince and Biden will also discuss cooperation on emerging technologies, economic investment, space, cybersecurity, climate and environmental initiatives in order to empower both countries to address mutual challenges “and seize the opportunities of the 21st century.”

Biden will make a two-day official visit to the Kingdom on July 15 after receiving an invitation from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

In addition to meeting with King Salman and the Crown Prince, the visit will also include a summit on July 16 that brings together Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

The embassy also welcomed Biden’s upcoming visit which it said will strengthen historic ties between the Kingdom and the US.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia looks forward to welcoming President Biden and defining the next chapters of our partnership,” the embassy said in a statement, voicing the significance of this partnership, particularly in terms of fostering peace and stability, amid current global challenge.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia adds 19 Yemeni individuals, entities to terror list



Saudi Arabia announced late Tuesday that it has added 19 Yemeni individuals and entities to its terrorist list.

The eight Yemenis and 11 entities were listed for their involvement in facilitating the financial activities of Yemen’s Houthi rebel group, while some of them are associated and cooperating with the Al-Qaeda terrorist group and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to the kingdom’s Presidency of State Security.

The motion involves “freezing all assets belonging to the names of designated individuals and entities and prohibiting dealing with them or for their benefit,” it said in a statement.

Riyadh also accuses these individuals and entities of providing weapons to the Houthis and facilitating the smuggling of money and oil to it.

The Presidency of State Security said it "will continue to work to stop the influence of the terrorist Houthi militia and to target the most prominent individuals and entities who provide them with financial support and cause violence."

This is the second move of its kind in a week.

On June 7, Saudi Arabia, the rest of the Gulf states and the US added 16 individuals and entities to their terrorist lists, some of whom are linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Daesh/ISIS and the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Astana peace talks to discuss return of Syrian refugees

Meiramgul Kussainova  


NUR SULTAN, Kazakhstan

The return of Syrian refugees will be one the main agenda items during 18th Astana format talks on Syria, which will start on Wednesday in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

As guarantor countries, delegations from Türkiye, Russia and Iran will meet the Syrian regime and opposition forces during the two-day talks.

Ambassador Selcuk Unal, Turkish Foreign Ministry's director-general responsible for Syria, will represent Ankara at the meetings.

The Moscow delegation will be headed by Alexandr Lavrentyev, Russia's presidential envoy for Syria; while Ali Asghar Khaji, a senior aide to Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, will represent Tehran.

A UN delegation led by Robert Dunn, principal political affairs officer of the special envoy for Syria, a Jordanian delegation, representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross will also attend the meeting as observers.

The parties concerned will discuss issues including the conditions for the safe return of Syrian refugees, the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in Syria, the work of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, confidence-building measures, the release of hostages and the search for missing persons.

Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters with unexpected ferocity.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Russia’s special envoy for Syria blasts Israeli missile strikes as ‘unacceptable’

15 June 2022

The Russian president’s special envoy for Syria, Alexandr Lavrentyev, has denounced Israeli missile strikes against the war-ravaged country, stressing that such acts of aggression are “unacceptable.”

“We will certainly consider the issue of intensified strikes on Syrian territory by Israel. We think that we will also need to focus on this. This is unacceptable,” Lavrentyev said at the beginning of a new round of Syria peace negotiations within the Astana format in the Kazakh capital city of Nur Sultan on Wednesday.

On Sunday, Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Efimov strongly condemned the latest Israeli missile attack on the Damascus International Airport, calling on the Tel Aviv regime to put an end to its vicious acts and naked aggression or await serious repercussions.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Arabic-language al-Watan daily, Efimov stated that such irresponsible moves pose great dangers to civilian aircraft and civil aviation, and that the Israeli regime must stop such wicked actions straight away.

The airport was targeted by a volley of missiles fired from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights at approximately 4:20 a.m. local time (01:20 GMT) on Friday, state media reported.

The Syrian Ministry of Transport said in a statement on Saturday that runways remained out of service at the airport following the attack.

“Landing and departing flights were suspended today till further notification as a result of the Israeli aggression, since it caused heavy damage to the airstrips in several localities and to the navigation lights in addition to the damage [that] occurred in the airport lobby,” the statement read.

The ministry added that flights are expected to resume in cooperation with air carriers as soon as repair work is concluded.

Spokesman for Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry Aibek Smadiyarov told reporters on Tuesday that all negotiating parties for Syrian peace talks have confirmed their participation in the event, which started on June 15 and will conclude the following day.

“Delegations from the guarantor countries: Russia, Turkey and Iran, as well as the Syrian government and armed Syrian opposition will take part,” Smadiyarov said.

He noted that the Russian delegation will be headed by Russia’s special presidential envoy for Syria, Alexandr Lavrentyev, while Turkey will be represented by Selcuk Unal, the Director General for Syria in the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

The Iranian delegation will be headed by Ali Asghar Khaji, a senior aide on political affairs to Iran’s foreign minister.

“A UN delegation led by Robert Dunn, principal political affairs officer of the special envoy for Syria, a Jordanian delegation, representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross will also attend the meeting as observers,” Smadiyarov pointed out.

The participating parties will reportedly discuss issues including the conditions for the safe return of Syrian refugees, the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in Syria, the work of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, confidence-building measures, the release of hostages and the search for missing persons.

Since January 2017, Moscow, Tehran, and Ankara have been mediating peace negotiations between representatives of the Syrian government and opposition groups in a series of talks held in the Kazakh city of Astana and other places, including Sochi.

The talks are collectively referred to as the Astana peace process.

The first round of the Astana talks commenced a month after the three states joined efforts and brought about the countrywide ceasefire in Syria and assumed the role of the truce’s guarantors.

Source: Press TV

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Southeast Asia


Investigation into Malaysian hacking group after cyber attacks on India

June 15, 2022

The nationwide hacking and defacement of Indian websites led by a Malaysia-based hacker group is just one part of a massive cyber attack aimed at India.

The Free Press Journal has learned that the same hackers have already hacked scores of bank accounts as well as Facebook accounts and have now trained their sights on the official website of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Since Monday, hundreds of Indian websites, both government and private, have been hacked and the home pages have been replaced by a message, stating that this is retaliation for suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma's recent derogatory comments on Islam. Indian cyber crime agencies have been working overtime to restore the hacked websites, which include at least one Embassy website and one police commissionerate in Maharashtra.

A deeper investigation into the matter, however, indicates that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Cybersecurity agencies, both government and civilian, have been conducting repeated sweeps of the dark web to monitor chatter about the cyber attack and have made some alarming findings. According to investigations conducted so far, the cyber attack is being spearheaded by a Malaysia-based pro-Palestine hacker group called DragonForce. The group is a self-styled 'hacktivist' group, which means that they claim to do activism through hacking. Typically, hacktivist groups target governments that are opposed to their ideologies.

The investigation has further revealed that the first call to attack India in cyberspace went out on June 10, when DragonForce appealed to all Muslim hackers around the world to attack Indian government websites. The operation was dubbed 'OpsPatuk', patuk being the Malay word for 'strike back'. Hundreds of messages were posted on discussion forums on the dark web, with hackers first sharing their ideas and then their exploits.

“On Sunday, one hacker claimed to have compromised one of the servers of a popular Indian website hosting service, used by hundreds of Indian websites. The hacker also posted a list of websites using this server, inviting all and sundry to hack them. On Monday, the hacking of the websites began. We are still investigating how many of the hacked and defaced websites were hosted by this server,” a senior Cyber Crime officer said.

DragonForce, meanwhile, kept adding its own contributions as well. They first posted a list of bank accounts with a leading government bank in India on dark web forums. This was followed by a huge packet of hacked Indian Facebook accounts, which were posted in MS Excel format. This included the full names of the Facebook users, their email ids and passwords. Evidence of them having hacked several Indian websites was also shared.

During a further sweep of the dark web, investigators also found a single message posted by another hacker on a forum, in which he posted the link to the BJP's official website and invited everyone to try and hack it.

DragonForce also took to social media, posting a tweet about their threat to India. Investigators have also found that they posted similar messages on the video-sharing platform TikTok, with the hashtag #opspatuk. As of Monday, posts with this hashtag had more than 2.4 million views.

Source: Free Press Journal

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Cops Probing Malaysian Group Supporting Politician Who Sparked Unrest In India

June 14, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Police are investigating a group of men, believed to be foreigners, who were seen on video supporting offensive remarks about Prophet Muhammad by Nupur Sharma, a politician from India.

In the video, which was uploaded on TikTok, the men claimed they were from the Hindu Samachar.

The video was filmed in front of the Batu Caves temple.

Bukit Aman criminal investigation department (CID) director Abd Jalil Hassan said that the men were being probed for making statements that created fear and alarm as well as improper use of network facilities.

“As investigations are still ongoing, we would like to advise the public against speculating about it and be more sensitive when it comes to issues revolving around race and religion.”

Nupur, from the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), had made the derogatory remarks during a TV show aired on May 26.

BJP is the ruling party in India.

The derogatory remarks have since sparked unrest in India as well as triggered a diplomatic row with several Muslim countries.

Nupur, along with another BJP leader Naveen Kumar Jindal, have since been expelled.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Japan foreign minister non-committal on Damascus airport attack

June 15, 2022

TOKYO: Japan Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Tuesday declined to confirm an Israeli missile attack on Damascus International Airport but said Japan was keeping an eye on the situation.

Damascus International Airport suffered major damage – including to runways – following a missile attack believed to be by Israel.

“I am aware of the announcement made by the Syrian authorities,” Hayashi replied in answer to a question by Arab News Japan. “On the other hand, I am also aware that Israel has not made any comment as to whether or not they carried out any attacks.”

“But in any case, Japan will continue to place a close eye on what’s happening in the Middle East, including the impact of this incident. Japan will continue to cooperate closely with the relevant countries to make diplomatic efforts to ease regional tensions and work towards stability in the area,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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North America


Bennet says Biden visit will reveal US steps to integrate Israel into Middle East

14 June, 2022

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett welcomed on Tuesday the White House announcement of US President Joe Biden’s official visit next month, adding that it will reveal American steps to integrate Israel into the Middle East.

Biden will visit Israel for the first time in his presidency on July 13-14.

“President Biden's visit to Israel will deepen the special relationship and the strategic partnership between the two countries, as well as strengthen the US commitment to the security and stability of Israel and the region,” the Israeli PM’s office said in a statement.

“The President’s visit will also reveal the steps that are being taken by the US to integrate Israel into the Middle East and increase the prosperity of the entire region.”

“In addition to this, the US and Israel will be forging agreements set to strengthen the civilian and security cooperation between the two counties and take the US-Israel alliance to new heights.”

Biden to visit Saudi Arabia

After his visit to Israel, Biden will fly directly to Saudi Arabia for a visit on July 15-16.

The Israeli PM’s office said: “Israel welcomes Biden’s visit to the region, including his important visit to Saudi Arabia, and thanks him for his efforts to strengthen the countries' joint interests and expand regional peace.”

Biden is scheduled to meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Crown Prince and Biden will hold official talks that will focus on various areas of bilateral cooperation and joint efforts to address regional and global challenges, exploring cooperation on emerging technologies, economic investment, space, renewable energy, cybersecurity, climate and environmental initiatives, food and energy security, and expanding trade and commercial ties, according to a Saudi statement.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Ahead of Biden trip to Saudi Arabia, White House official says US committed to allies

15 June, 2022

A senior White House official told Al Arabiya on Tuesday that US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, would reassure Washington’s allies that it was “not going anywhere.”

The White House and the Royal Court announced earlier that King Salman invited Biden to Jeddah to participate in the GCC+3 summit.

Nine different heads of state will be present, including the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

“There’s going to be a very robust agenda, and they’re going to talk about counterterrorism, Iran’s destabilizing behavior, climate,” said John Kirby, the newly appointed National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications at the White House.

Kirby told Al Arabiya that meetings would also focus on the war in Yemen, crediting the Saudi leadership for playing a key role in securing a ceasefire for the first time in nearly seven years. The UN-brokered ceasefire between warring sides was initially for two months before being extended for another 60 days last week. “That’s a huge development in the region,” Kirby said.

Energy will “of course” be talked about when Biden meets Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Multiple attempts by US officials to get Saudi Arabia to up its oil production amid the Russian invasion, including trips to Saudi Arabia by the top White House official for the Middle East, Brett McGurk, and US energy advisor Amos Hochstein, came up empty-handed.

But OPEC+, led by Saudi Arabia, announced plans to increase output by 50 percent this summer after soaring gas prices were witnessed partly due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“So, there’s an awful lot [to discuss], but the President is also looking forward to having a discussion with King Salman and his team as well in a bilateral setting. And he’s very grateful for the invitation of the King to come to Riyadh,” Kirby said.

Iran and its proxies

Kirby condemned the hundreds of drone and missile attacks that Saudi Arabia has experienced, mainly carried out by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.

US and Saudi officials have been discussing ways to ensure Riyadh has what it needs to defend itself and its territories.

Kirby, until recently the Pentagon press secretary, said the Saudis had been defending themselves “bravely and skillfully.”

He also pointed out that the US was mindful of these threats because of the estimated 70,000 Americans living in Saudi Arabia. “It certainly matters because we have so many Americans that live there, not to mention many troops that the Saudis are host to,” he said regarding US defense support for Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, a key ally

While it’s no secret that ties between the US and Saudi Arabia quickly soured following Biden’s election, some US officials have voiced support for strengthened relations between Washington and Riyadh.

Biden and his administration repeatedly said they wanted to “recalibrate” ties with Saudi Arabia and made several foreign policy moves targeting Riyadh. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and soaring energy prices being felt by Americans, Biden sought Riyadh’s help.

Kirby touched on the bilateral ties, calling US alliances and partnerships in the Middle East “absolutely vital.”

“The Saudis have been a key strategic partner in the region for eight decades,” Kirby said.

He did admit that there were some complexities in the relationship, but “you don’t necessarily have to agree with every partner on every issue.”

According to Kirby, the Biden administration is keen on ensuring that the US relationship with Saudi Arabia stays “not only intact but is improved and bolstered going forward.”

The White House official also spoke highly of the Saudi naval forces, saying that the US would look at ways to improve interoperability between regional partners.

Under Biden, the US has been criticized for what has been seen as a certain level of disengagement from the Middle East as it shifts focus to threats from China and Russia. After more than a year in office, Biden will be making his first trip to the region with stops in Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US awaits ‘constructive’ Iran response on nuclear deal: State Department

14 June, 2022

The United States said on Tuesday it awaits a constructive response from Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal that excludes “extraneous” issues, a possible reference to Iran’s demand that its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) be dropped from a US terrorism list.

“We await a constructive response from the Iranians, a response that leaves behind issues that are extraneous to the JCPOA,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said, referring to the deal formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In 2018 then-US President Donald Trump reneged on the deal, under which the Biden administration says Iran restrained its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions, prompting Iran to begin violating its core nuclear limits about a year later.

Speaking at a briefing, Price was responding to questions about the Iranian foreign minister’s statement that Tehran had put forward a new proposal on reviving the agreement, which the US spokesperson did not address in detail.

The pact seemed near revival in March but talks were thrown into disarray over last-minute Russian demands and whether the United States might remove the IRGC, which controls elite armed and intelligence forces Washington accuses of a global terrorist campaign, from its Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Report: US air force clears crew of plane that took off with Afghans on outside of aircraft

14 June 2022

The US Air Force has cleared of any wrongdoing the flight crew of an American military cargo plane that Afghan civilians desperately clamored to hang onto during the chaotic withdrawal of US occupation forces from the war-torn country.

The Air Force was reported by The New York Times as saying on Monday that the crew of the US C-17 cargo plane, which took off from Hamid Karzai International Airport in the Afghan capital of Kabul last August with body parts later found in its wheel well, was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The Air Force claimed that the crew “acted appropriately” as they faced the challenge of hundreds of Afghans trying to board the flight.

The aircrew was “in compliance with applicable rules of engagement,” Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman, was quoted by the American daily as saying, adding that they “acted appropriately and exercised sound judgment in their decision to get airborne as quickly as possible when faced with an unprecedented and rapidly deteriorating security situation.”

The clearance of the aircrew, as the NYT reported, was based on a review of the inquiry findings by Air Mobility Command and US Central Command, which was announced shortly after the incident on August 16 last year.

Videos of the tragic incident, recorded by Afghan news media, were widely shared on social media and showed desperate Afghans, escaping the country after the Taliban took over Kabul, trying to climb onto the exterior of the US C-17 cargo plane and falling from it following takeoff.

It remains unclear how many people lost their lives in the incident.

The situation in Afghanistan aggravated in the aftermath of the withdrawal of the US forces, who invaded the country more than two decades ago to topple the Taliban in response to the September 11 attacks in the United States.

The Taliban took over the capital on August 15, 2021. The militants entered the presidential palace after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Following the Taliban takeover of the capital, witnesses said at least five people were killed at the passenger terminal of Hamid Karzai International Airport, where thousands of Afghans gathered in the hopes of catching a flight out of Afghanistan. American troops were said to have fired shots in the air to disperse thousands of Afghans crowding onto the tarmac.

Source: Press TV

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PM, Prez from RSS, how can it be compared to Taliban: Javed Akhtar asked in defamation suit



June 14, 2022

The plaintiff has filed a reply to the dismissal of suit application preferred by Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar in a defamation case against him for allegedly drawing parallels between the RSS and the Taliban.

"The current President, Vice President, Prime Minster and several Union minsters are from this esteemed organisation. How can someone compare this organisation with Taliban," the reply stated.

The suit, filed by RSS activist Vivek Champanerkar in the court of the additional chief judicial magistrate and joint civil judge (senior division) in Thane, seeks Re 1 as compensation from Akhtar. The court in September 2021 had ordered issuance of a show-cause notice to Akhtar in the defamation suit.

What Akhtar said in his application

Javed Akhtar had raised the issue of maintainability of Champanekar's plea while stating that the alleged defamatory remarks are towards non-determinable, non-identifiable, non-defined and non-definite body/class of persons, and therefore, there is no specific person or even a specific class of persons who has been allegedly defamed.

Akhtar also stated that even in the case that a specific class of persons has been allegedly defamed, the said specific class could file the plaint, and not Champanerkar in his individual capacity. This is especially because there is no specific imputation in the alleged defamatory statements towards him.

What Champanerkar said in his reply

Through advocate Aditya Mishra, Champanerkar filed his reply quoting a judgment of the Bombay High Court in Rahul Gandhi versus Rajesh Kunte (an RSS functionary). “In the judgment, the high court had said that RSS is a determinate body, and any offending member can file a complaint.”

The reply further stated that Akhtar's application is “frivolous and filed with ulterior motives” to prolong the matter. “It is neither tenable in law nor in facts and hence it be rejected with imposition of exemplary cost,” it said.

The reply reiterated that Champanerkar has been a Swayamsevak (volunteer) of RSS for over 20 years and has actively participated in organisation’s social service work. Advocate Mishra stated that Champanerkar's participation as a volunteer is without any remuneration and, similarly, there is no amount payable as membership fees to the RSS.

Moreover, there is no bar on any person of Indian origin irrespective of caste creed or religion from joining the RSS as a volunteer, as long as the person agrees to serve India. He added that volunteers are free, as individuals, to join any party, institution or front, political or otherwise.

The reply argued that Champanerkar subscribes to the aims and objects of the Sangh, associates himself with the activities of the RSS Shakha and regularly attends Shakha meetings along with other swayamsevaks. He therefore has locus to file this suit as a member of the RSS in his personal and individual capacity.

Source: India Today

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Khargone violence: HC issues notice to Madhya Pradesh over demolition of Muslim trader’s shop

June 15, 2022

The Madhya Pradesh High Court on June 9 issued a notice to the state government related to the demolition of a Muslim trader’s shop in Khargone town after it was hit by communal violence on April 10, NDTV reported on Tuesday.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Jahid Ali, an owner of a tent house business, who had alleged that a portion of his shop was demolished without any notice on April 11.

Communal violence broke out in Khargone on April 10 after some people had allegedly hurled stones at a Ram Navami procession, objecting to loud and provocative music being played in the Talab Chowk area. One person was killed and at least 24 were injured in the violence. Ten houses were also burnt.

On April 11, Madhya Pradesh demolished homes and shops of Muslims in Khargone.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Khargone Range Tilak Singh had claimed that the razed homes belonged to those who had thrown stones during the procession. However, Khargone Collector Anugraha P had told that the demolition process is part of the state government’s anti-encroachment drive.

While there are no provisions under Indian law to demolish the houses of anyone accused of a crime, this pattern has been regularly observed across Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states.

In his plea, Ali had demanded a judicial inquiry against “arbitrary and illegal action” of the government and the local administration, according to NDTV. He also sought punitive action against officers who “acted extrajudicial” and compensation to reconstruct his property.

Advocate MM Bohra, who was representing Ali, told the single bench of Justice Pranay Verma that his client was the legal owner of the property and had been paying taxes, the Hindustan Times reported.

“The administration has demolished part of the property without issuing any notice to him [Ali] and without giving any opportunity to him, which is in violation of principles of natural justice,” Bohra told the court. “As a result of the action of [the] administration, the fundamental right of the petitioner is violated.”

The lawyer further contended that Ali was neither an accused nor involved in the Khargone violence.

“This petition was filed against the administration for being judge and jury in itself in taking a decision in a vendetta against the petitioners being members of a minority community without reasonability and rationality,” Bohra said, according to NDTV.

Advocate Akash Sharma, representing the state government, sought two weeks to file a reply in the matter.

Source: Scroll

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Family is in danger from Islamic fundamentalists: Expelled BJP leader Naveen Jindal

June 12, 2022

Days after he was expelled from the Bharatiya Janata Party over his objectionable remarks against Prophet Mohammed, the saffron party’s Delhi unit former media head, Naveen Kumar Jindal, alleged that his family is in danger of being attacked by “Islamic fundamentalists”.

Requesting people not to share information about him or his family members on social media, Jindal on Saturday tweeted: “Despite my requests, many people are posting my residence address on social media.”

“Because the life of my family is in danger from Islamic fundamentalists,” Jindal wrote in Hindi. Tagging the Delhi Police, the former BJP leader also shared a screenshot of a phone number from which he was allegedly receiving death threats.

Naveen Kumar Jindal |The Delhi BJP media head in the news for the wrong reasons

“Just now I have received threats to kill me and my family members,” he tweeted. “I immediately informed the police control room.”

Last week, Jindal and BJP’s former national spokesperson Nupur Sharma were removed from the party posts for making derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad and the Muslim community. Their comments sparked nationwide protests, with hundreds demanding their arrest.

Source: Indian Express

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RSS to discuss Prophet row, Gyanvapi at a meet in Jaipur next month

By Smriti Kak Ramachandran

Jun 15, 2022

Top leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are scheduled to meet in Jaipur next month to discuss a range of issues, including the ongoing Gyanvapi mosque complex case and the violent protests over controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammed by now-suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma, a functionary aware of the matter said on Tuesday.

During a television debate on May 28, Sharma made controversial remarks about the Prophet and party leader Naveen Kumar Jindal tweeted some objectionable comments on June 1. Amid outrage over the remarks, the BJP suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal on June 5.

The statement triggered diplomatic furore with nearly 15 countries, including Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia, expressing their indignation. The Indian government later issued a statement, maintaining that the remarks by individuals denigrating the religious personality “do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the government of India”. The remarks also sparked nationwide protests on June 10, which claimed two lives and left several injured.

Another raging issue likely to come up during the meeting is the Gyanvapi mosque case. In a public interest litigation, seven petitioners have sought a survey of Gyanvapi by a committee headed by a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court or high court to find out whether a structure found in the mosque complex during a court-monitored survey on May 16 is a Shivling as claimed by Hindus, or a fountain as claimed by Muslims.

The Hindu side has claimed that a Shivling was found during a videography survey of the Gyanvapi complex last month. The claim was disputed by the mosque committee members, who said it was part of the water fountain mechanism in the wazookhana reservoir, used by devotees to perform ritual ablutions before offering namaz.

The Sangh has been concerned by the deepening fault lines among communities and is looking at a sustainable solution to the simmering discord, according to the functionary who declined to be named.

Earlier this month, while addressing an officers’ training camp of volunteers in Nagpur, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had called for an amicable resolution to the Gyanvapi dispute, suggesting that the Hindu and Muslim sides should sit across the table to settle the matter amicably. “Why look for a Shivling in every mosque?” he had asked.

While the meeting, known as the Prant Pracharak meeting of the Sangh, the ideological fount of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is an annual affair where leaders take stock of the activities and plan for the year ahead, issues of current relevance are also discussed.

The Sangh’s plans for its centenary celebrations, and expanding its reach across the country are also likely to come up for discussion, the functionary said.

“The Sangh has been making a concerted effort to reach out to the minorities, including the Muslims, to reinforce the shared cultural and civilisational ties between the communities. Bhagwat ji has reiterated several times that we have a common DNA and that Indian Muslims should not identify themselves with the invaders,” said the functionary.

Volunteers have been directing community leaders to try to restore peace between communities by dwelling on the similarities in customs and traditions, said a second functionary, who is privy to the Sangh’s outreach that has begun in parts of Uttar Pradesh.

“There are shared surnames and shared cultural practices that are still followed despite the change in religious practices, which act as a bind. We are only reinforcing those,” the second functionary said, seeking anonymity.

While the hardline affiliates such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and its youth wing the Bajrang Dal have been holding events such as large-scale public prayers and have upped the ante on reclamation of temples, senior Sangh functionaries are pushing for accommodation, coexistence and sustainable solutions.

“At an interaction with young people, a senior leader was asked to comment on the perception that India’s minorities are being subjugated, the immediate context was the TV debates… he told them that Muslims in India are part of the population and that you cannot wish them away,” the second functionary said. “The key is to learn how to coexist and how to focus on our shared heritage.”

Source: Hindustan Times

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Indian forces in Kashmir kill militant suspected of targeted killing

June 15, 2022

SRINAGAR, India: Indian forces in Kashmir killed two militants on Wednesday, one them suspected of gunning down a bank manager this month, police said, part of a stepped-up counter-insurgency effort that has triggered an exodus from the Muslim-majority region.

India has been fighting an Islamist separatist insurgency in Kashmir since the late 1980s. Muslim Pakistan also claims the region over which the nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two of their three wars.

“Indian troops killed two militants this morning in a gunbattle, one of them, Jan Mohammad Lone, was involved in the killing of a bank manager,” said Vijay Kumar, the police chief of Kashmir.

Militants entered a branch of the Ellaquai Dehati Bank in Kulgam town this month and killed the manager, who came from the desert state of Rajasthan, and had only been posted to the branch four days earlier.

A little-known militant group called the Kashmir Freedom Fighters claimed responsibility for the attack, warning outsiders not to settle in the Kashmir Valley.

At least 16 people — both Hindu and Muslims — have been killed in targeted attacks in Kashmir this year.

Kumar said troops were tracking militants and had killed eight involved in killings in recent weeks.

At least 104 militants have been killed in Kashmir this year, double the toll in the same period last year, he said.

India and Pakistan rule different parts of the divided Himalayan region.

India accuses Pakistan of backing the militants fighting but Pakistan denies, that saying it only offers political support to fellow Muslims who Pakistan says are being suppressed by Indian security forces.

India rejects Pakistani accusations of rights abuses in Kashmir.

Rattled by the killings, scores of Hindu families, including some from the minority Kashmiri Pandit community, have been fleeing Kashmir in recent days.

The region’s top government official, Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha, has tried to assure Kashmiri Pandits of measures for their security.

Source: Arab News

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UN’s WFP ends food aid to parts of South Sudan as funds run dry

14 June, 2022

The United Nations World Food Program is suspending assistance to a third of those it planned to support this year in South Sudan as the East African nation faces its worst hunger crisis since independence in 2011.

The lack of funding may heighten the risk of starvation for 1.7 million people, the organization said in an emailed statement.

“Humanitarian needs are far exceeding the funding we have received this year,” Adeyinka Badejo, acting country director of the WFP in South Sudan said. “If this continues, we will face bigger and more costly problems in the future, including increased mortality, malnutrition, stunting, and disease.”

Conflict in the country, severe flooding and localized droughts have made about 60 percent of the population food insecure and the situation has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and currency depreciation, which has sent prices of wheat, cooking oil and other staples soaring.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Libyan oil output collapses after wave of closures

14 June, 2022

Libya’s oil output is 100,000-150,000 barrels per day (bpd), a spokesman for the oil ministry said on Tuesday, a fraction of normal levels due to the shutdown of production and export facilities as a tactic in the country’s political stalemate.

Libyan oil output last year was more than 1.2 million bpd and the reduced production adds to the pressure on markets already squeezed by tight supply elsewhere.

The oil ministry spokesman said Libya was facing a daily loss in export revenue of $70 million-80 million as a result of the shutdowns. National Oil Corporation has not recently commented on oil output.

The political dispute over the control of government that is driving the shutdown meanwhile shows signs of escalating, making any swift return of Libyan oil to global markets uncertain.

Tripoli-based Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah has refused to hand over power to Fathi Bashagha, who was appointed to replace him by the eastern-based parliament in March.

Groups at oil facilities have demanded that Dbeibah quit in favor of Bashagha.

Analysts say the main force behind the blockade is eastern commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). It has not commented on that charge, but LNA figures urged an oil shutdown in April.

Production at Sharara field, Libya’s biggest, briefly resumed last week before being shut down again.

The current status of several facilities remains unclear after last week when groups said they had shut down Ras Lanuf and Es Sider terminals and threatened to shut down Hariga terminal, leading to a reduction in output from Sarir field.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Death toll from Burkina Faso attack rises to 79, official says

Aurore Bonny  


DOUALA, Cameroon

The death toll from an armed attack by insurgents in the northern Burkina Faso town of Seytenga rose to 79, as 29 more bodies were found on Tuesday, an official said.

The insurgents had stormed the town of Seytenga and attacked civilians on the night of June 11-12, said Wendkouni Joel Lionel Bilgo, the government spokesman.

Burkina Faso has been battling an insurgency that has spread from neighboring Mali over the past decade.

Last week, 11 gendarmerie officers were killed in an attack on the Seytenga Territorial Gendarmerie Brigade in the same Sahel region.

More than 3,173 people, including 2,173 children, had been displaced as of last Sunday due to recent armed attacks in Seytenga and Titabe communes, according to the Directorate of Humanitarian Action, a local NGO based in the northeastern town of Dori.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Is Mali emerging as another front for Russia, West?

James Tasamba


KIGALI, Rwanda

As the Russia-Ukraine war continues to haunt the world, thousands of miles away in the West African country of Mali is emerging another front for escalation between Moscow and the West.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ismael Buchanan, a senior lecturer at the department of political science at the University of Rwanda, said Moscow's geopolitical quest in West Africa and Mali's support to Russia in the Ukraine conflict depict Moscow’s success in the region with a potential to open new fault lines with France and other NATO allies in the region.

Mali was among 35 countries that abstained at the UN General Assembly, when it voted on a resolution, condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Paris and other European allies have been increasingly jittery over what they see as a Russian threat in West Africa,” said Buchanan.

In March, Russia delivered Mi-35M attack helicopters and an advanced air radar system to Mali. The delivery was in addition to at least four helicopters and weapons provided by Russia under closer ties with the junta leader.

Of even greater concern to the West is that Moscow sent to Mali “military instructors” personnel that France says are operatives from Russia’s Wagner security arm.

Recently French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concerns at the actions of the Russian private security service Wagner in Mali, and in particular about its alleged crimes against certain communities such as the Fulani.

While hosting Senegalese President Macky Sall who currently chairs the African Union (AU), in Paris, the French president urged to maintain “pressure” on the Malian government.

Moscow advancing interests

Buchanan said the more Moscow advances its interests in West Africa, the more it will come in conflict with the West and provoke a response.

“Mali would present another stage for a geopolitical showdown because there is no doubt that Russia will aggressively protect its interests in Mali,” he said.

He said Russia's presence in Mali is part of its renewed efforts to form a partnership with the African continent as it tries to lessen the impact of Western isolation.

Last year, the Malian army led by Vice President Assimi Goïta captured President Bah N'daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and stripped them of their powers. He had also committed to conducting new elections in 2022. But last week, it was announced that the transition to democracy will be delayed for another two years, as interim President Goïta, signed a decree prolonging the military rule.

“Looking at the current situation in Mali or the Sahel region, one may notice that Russia is attempting to portray itself as a reliable ally in the fight against insurgents/terrorists and bolster security partnership in that region while the Western attention turns elsewhere,” said Buchanan.

Freddie David Egesa, an Uganda-based security analyst, said President Vladimir Putin had realized that the West had lost interest in Mali, and he has positioned Russia to advance his interests.

“Russia is scavenging for other partners to hold power having realized that the West has played a double-dealer in the Sahel war. Russia has quietly been rebuilding ties with Africa strengthening economic and military cooperation. This has raised Western concerns about Russia’s goals there,” he said.

French withdrawal gives room to Russia

Other countries in West Africa where Russia has a presence included Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger.

The war in Mali which started in 2013 prompted French intervention, leading to the deployment of troops and the signing of two defense agreements.

Experts said the French involvement, however, triggered protests and offered an opportunity to Russia to present itself as an alternative force.

“I think France’s decision to withdraw its forces from the West African countries, including Mali, left a huge void that is why the Russians have seized every opportunity to boost their influence in Africa,” said Buchanan.

The result was military coups that followed, in August 2020 and May 2021.

According to analysts, the news of the French Interior Ministry and the cement giant Lafarge’s ties with the terrorist group Daesh/ISIS further complicated the situation.

Egesa said Russia has realized that the West has made itself rich by “staging themselves in almost all conflicts in Africa.”

“The fights benefit mainly the Western superpowers as they offer their war expertise and sell military equipment in exchange for valuables like gold, diamonds, etc.,” said Egesa.

In January, the regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions on Mali, including closing its land and air borders with other countries in the bloc to delay the restoration of democratic rule.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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FATF set to review Pakistan for money laundering, terrorist financing

Jun 14, 2022

PARIS: Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global watchdog tasked with combatting money laundering and terrorist financing, is all set for its strategic review of Pakistan and decide whether the country will retain its place in the "Grey List" or exit.

The FATF meeting is scheduled to be held in Berlin from June 14-17. This meeting is especially crucial for Pakistan as the country continues to remain on the watchdog's "Grey List" for failing to check terror financing.

The outcomes of the FATF Plenary will be published on Friday 17 June after the close of the meeting. Pakistan has been on the Paris-based FATF's grey list for deficiencies in its counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering regimes since June 2018. In June 2021, the country was given three months to fulfil the remaining conditions by October.

However, Pakistan was retained on the FATF "grey list" for failing to effectively implement the global FATF standards and for its lack of progress in the investigation and prosecution of senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terror groups.

This decision was announced in October 2021, at the conclusion of the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) three-day plenary to discuss key issues in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.FATF President had said Pakistan will remain on the grey list till it addresses all items on the original action plan agreed to in June 2018 as well as all items on a parallel action plan handed out by the watchdog's regional partner - the Asia Pacific Group (APG) - in 2019.

The president, however, added that the item on financial terrorism still needed to be addressed which concerned the "investigation and prosecution of senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terror groups".

Pakistan opposition parties had been slamming the former Prime Minister Imran Khan's government over its failure to get the country removed from the FATF grey list.

According to experts, Pakistan's grey-listing by the FATF from 2008 to 2019 may have resulted in a cumulative GDP loss of USD 38 billion.

The FATF delegates representing 206 members of the Global Network and observer organisations, including the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the World Bank and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, will take part in the last Plenary under the two-year German Presidency of Dr Marcus Pleyer next week.The German government will host this hybrid event in Berlin, with a significant number of participants taking part in person.

During four days of meetings, delegates will finalise key issues including a report to prevent money laundering through the real estate sector and a report that will help financial institutions use collaborative analytics, data collection and other sharing initiatives to assess and mitigate the money laundering and terrorist financing risks they face.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan: Imran Khan admits committing 'blunders' leading to his party's fall

Jun 14, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan confessed to committing blunders that led to the fall of his party, said the senior lawyer and former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Hamid Khan.

Speaking on a show with Pakistan's local media outlet Geo News, Hamid said that Imran Khan had confessed to misjudging numerous people that caused the loss of the PTI. The senior lawyer said that Imran also admitted being misled on Justice Qazi Faez Isa's issue.

The senior lawyer said he had met Imran Khan after he filed a reference against Isa. He said he had told him that the reference was a mistake because the judge was an honest man, reported The News International.

Notably, the PTI chairman Imran Khan in June 2020, had filed a presidential reference for the removal of Supreme Court's Justice Qazi Faez Isa. This reference forced Isa and his wife to face unjust inquiries about the means of their wealth.

However, later the Supreme Court of Pakistan offered relief to Isa, who was accused of misconduct for allegedly failing to disclose information about his family's foreign assets.

In Pakistan, government and invisible forces have typically employed a formula of victimizing dissenting judges and politicians by making them subject to inquiries over assets allegedly beyond their means.

Many politicians and civil servants prefer not to challenge the status quo, fearing the wrath of the government or the powerful quarters. In a country that is run indirectly by the invisible forces and where everything from the government to the mainstream political parties is a hybrid entity, it is nothing short of a miracle that there are still judges like Isa who show resilience and challenge the status quo.

Moreover, the Imran Khan also confessed to Hamid that he misjudged former aids and estranged PTI leaders -- Jehangir Tareen and Aleem Khan and because of that the entire party had to suffer.

Earlier, the former premier Imran Khan revealed that differences with both estranged leaders developed when he refused to entertain their requests. "Aleem Khan expected me to legalise his 300-acre land near Ravi", he said adding "from then onwards, I developed differences with him."

"Tareen stood with those who are the biggest dacoits in the country. When I ordered a probe into the matter, differences developed with Tareen," he had said.

In talks with Geo News, Hamid said he had warned Imran Khan of certain people around him. As per the former lawyer, he and other former party stalwarts had advised him to be mindful of certain people around him.

Source: Times Of India

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Current setup bent upon abolishing FIA, NAB, says Imran

Kalbe Ali

June 15, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday said if the current setup remained in power, it would abolish the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB), eventually destroying all state institutions.

Talking to party workers and supporters at his Banigala residence, the former prime minister said: “If institutions are rendered useless, the country gets destroyed.” He added that [Prime Minister] Shehbaz Sharif will practically abolish the FIA.

“It is just like deploying a cat to guard milk,” he said.

Mr Khan said Shehbaz Sharif had gotten all his cases worth Rs16 billion cleared and would not hesitate to abolish NAB as well to go scot-free in corruption cases.

He once again alleged that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was systematically killing officers and witnesses involved in cases against its leaders.

“Dr Rizwan, who was investigating their cases, died of heart failure; another officer, Nadeem, met the same fate, while Gulzar and Maqsood, their employees, also expired,” he added.

He said that in order to hide their misappropriations they even burnt the record of Lahore Develop­ment Authority (LDA).

The former prime minister reiterated that the new government was imposed upon the country by the United States under a conspiracy.

“Now they are using police to lodge false cases; eight FIRs have already been registered against me,” he added.

The PTI chairman said neither police force was used nor restrictions were imposed when the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) held political marches to Islamabad.

“They were also silencing free voice by pressurising media,” he said, adding that during his tenure, the only concern was fake news.

About the recent increase in prices, Mr Khan said his government had decided to give subsidy of Rs200 billion, and instead of increasing prices, lowered petrol and diesel price by Rs4 per litre and made electricity cheaper by Rs4 per unit.

“We too had the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressure, but we resisted it because we could not burden our people anymore,” he added.

Mr Khan said within two months, the incumbent government had taken inflation to new heights, never seen before in the country’s history, adding that three months ago they were insisting that Imran Khan should not have increased oil prices.

He said people, especially labourers and those from the working class, should come out for their rights and take part in the next protest against the government.

“They do not have any consideration for the people of this country; they only care about what America tells them,” he added.

Mr Khan said if his government could give a grant of Rs12,000 to the poor and needy during the peak time of Covid-19, the incumbent government should do the same.

Speaking about the opposition leader in the National Assembly, the PTI chief said: “If the leader of the opposition is Raja Riaz, a turncoat set to contest the next elections on the PML-N ticket, then there was no democracy in the country.”

“It means the sanctity of the Parliament is no more,” he added.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan envoy Masood Khan, President Biden discuss 'building strong basis' for taking ties forward

June 15, 2022

Ambas­sador Masood Khan, Islam­abad’s ambassador in Wa­­shington, has met US President Joe Biden on his visit to the White House where the two discussed building a "strong basis for moving Pakistan-US ties forward".

According to a press release issued by the Pakistan Embassy in the US, Khan visited the White House for a "meet and greet" and an official photograph with the US president — an established tradition for newly appointed envoys.

"During the ceremony, the US President and the ambassador had a brief conversation on building a strong basis for moving the US-Pakistan ties forward," the statement said.

The US government follows a tradition whereby after the appointment of new ambassadors to Washington, a ceremony is held at the White House where new envoys present their credentials to the head of state conforming to their appointment.

Khan was sent to Washington on March 25, when the PTI government was still in power, but after former prime minister Imran Khan’s ouster on April 11, there was speculation that the change in Islamabad would also impact diplomatic appointments.

Later, Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Munir Akram, explained that incumbent ambassadors continue to represent the country in foreign capitals unless specifically asked by the new government to return home. Neither Ambassador Khan nor Ambassador Akram was asked to do so.

On his arrival in Washington earlier this week, Khan received a letter from the chief of protocol at the US State Department, endorsing his appointment as Pakistan’s ‘working ambassador’ in Washington.

Later, on April 19, he also received a letter from the US president’s office, formally confirming his appointment.

Meanwhile, the statement issued today said that forty-six other ambassadors were also present there for the official photograph with the President, which was taken one by one. "They too had not been able to call on the President for more than a year because of the Covid-19 restrictions," it added.

Since President Biden’s age, 79, makes him particularly vulnerable to the virus, the White House tried to minimise the president’s contact with others. Diplomatic sources in Washington earlier told Dawn that Covid-19 had also hit the credentials ceremony.

Source: Dawn

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Govt urged to negotiate with TTP from position of strength

June 15, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan must approach all negotiations with the TTP from a position of strength, and must ensure that all agreements are in line with the Constitution.

This was the central thrust of a policy note titled “Pakistan, the TTP, and the Impetus for Internal and External Peace” published by think tank Tabadlab. Authored by Mariam Mirza and Zeeshan Salahuddin, the report analyses the ongoing negotiation process, identifies the key stakeholders, and the most viable path forward for the government of Pakistan.

It said that TTP’s demands include the reversal of the merger of erstwhile Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as per the 25th Constitution Amendment; withdrawal of all military presence from the region; enforcement of Shariah law in the Malakand division; the release of 102 commanders and fighters and presidential pardon to two key militant commanders; and complete freedom of movement for the TTP’s members in the Malakand division.

The authors of the report deem these demands unviable, since they would amount to ceding constitutional sovereignty in these regions to the TTP. Meanwhile, the government’s demands include the complete dissolution of the TTP, disengagement from other militant groups, a renunciation of violent activity, and reemergence as a legitimate political entity within the constitutional norms of the country.

The authors feel that the government should treat its demands as non-negotiable. Any agreement that does not result in the disbandment and the demilitarisation of the TTP cannot be considered a success. Additionally, the report suggests that Pakistan should capitalise on internal pressures within the TTP for repatriation of their families currently displaced to Afghanistan.

Source: Dawn

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Bilawal renews commitment to closer ties with Tehran

June 15, 2022

TEHRAN: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday reiterated the country’s commitment to strengthening bilateral relations with Iran in diverse areas, saying that building close relations with Tehran remained a high priority for Pakistan.

Moreover, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, while speaking during a joint press conference with Mr Bhutto-Zardari, said Iran still believes that negotiations can succeed in reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, despite a recent rebuke from the UN nuclear watchdog.

“Iran is a very important neighbour of Pakistan, one with which we share immutable historic and fraternal bonds,” said Mr Bhutto-Zardari. “For the prime minister and for me, building close relations with Iran remains a high priority,” he added.

The foreign minister, who reached the Iranian capital earlier in the day on a two-day visit at the invitation of Dr Amir-Abdollahian, said that during their consultations they took stock of the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

Iranian foreign minister claims nuclear deal can still be revived

The two sides identified ways to take their relationship further to match its true potential, particularly in the areas of trade, investment, connectivity, border management, facilitation for zaireen (pilgrims), cultural and educational cooperation, and enhancing people-to-people exchanges.

The foreign minister said he conveyed a message of goodwill and cordiality to Iranian brothers and sisters, adding that he was glad that they have come closer to resolving one of the major obstacles in expansion of bilateral trade through operationalising barter trade mechanism.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that another significant step towards improving bilateral relations was the commitment to strengthen energy cooperation through import of additional electricity from Iran.

He said that the two sides also discussed possibility of exchange of prisoners under the existing legal framework to allow them to complete their sentences in their respective countries.

“We appreciate Iran’s hospitality to receive and facilitate Pakistani pilgrims visiting Iran and have held useful discussions on creating additional facilities for zaireen,” he added.

The foreign minister said they discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan, especially the dire humanitarian situation and economic fragility.

He said that Pakistan and Iran were directly affected by conflict and instability in Afghanistan, and that they had vested interest in a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

From the Afghan authorities, the world expects a move towards inclusivity and effective counterterrorism action, he added.

The foreign minister said he also briefed his Iranian counterpart on the serious situation of human rights in Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir.

We are grateful for Iranian leadership’s steadfast support for the just cause of Jammu and Kashmir, he added.

The derogatory remarks made by BJP officials in India have deeply offended Muslims across the world. It is time for international community to show a common resolve against xenophobia, intolerance and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief, he maintained.

Nuclear deal revival

With regard to the nuclear negotiations, Tehran had last week condemned as “unconstructive” a move by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to censure the country for failure to cooperate over its nuclear programme.

It had also disconnected some of its cameras at nuclear sites, a move the IAEA warned could deal a “fatal blow” to negotiations to revive the deal.

“We believe negotiations and diplomacy are the best ways to reach the final point of the agreement,” Dr Amir-Abdollahian said during the press conference with Mr Bhutto-Zardari.

Source: Dawn

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PTI seeks decision on all parties’ foreign funding cases in one go

Iftikhar A. Khan

June 15, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan has moved an application before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), asking it to decide all foreign funding cases together.

The ECP reserved its judgement on the most recent PTI application in a series of applications and writ petitions to delay a verdict in the almost eight-year-old foreign funding case.

The hearing resumed on Tuesday and PTI lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan once again repeated the legal provisions of political funding. He concluded his arguments by committing that the PTI would conclude its arguments on Wednesday (today). The ECP is expected to allow the petitioner’s lawyer, Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, to respond to the conclusive arguments of PTI spread over several weeks.

Talking to reporters outside the ECP, the petitioner and PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar said that after almost eight long years of struggle the case may have come to its conclusive stage. He said the purpose of the case was to institutionalise political parties so that they could act as nurseries of credible and competent leadership. He said Pakistan needs fresh and competent leadership but when political parties are individual or family fiefdoms, the fountains of leadership dry up.

Anwar Mansoor to conclude arguments in foreign funding case today; ECP rejects rigging allegations over Punjab LG polls

He said the time has come for Imran Khan to take major decisions, as he was now at crossroads. He took a path that has ruined a political party meant to change Pakistan’s politics and not to decay it further. He said Imran Khan took the path of power at any cost. It was time for him to fade away and hand over the reigns of the party to those who built the party from scratch and remain committed to its founding ideals.

Mr Babar gave the example of Nelson Mandela who sacrificed 27 years of his life for democracy and human rights. But when the time came he relinquished power and the party leadership and passed it on to those who struggled for change.

ECP rejects rigging allegations

Rejecting the allegation of planned rigging in the by-polls on 20 provincial assembly seats in Punjab, the ECP on Tuesday also said it had made all arrangements to hold free, fair and transparent by-elections.

In a statement, the ECP regretted the fresh round of tirade against it and its chief launched by the PTI. “The Election Commission strongly condemns and denies these allegations”, it said.

The statement came a day after PTI chairman Imran Khan accused the PML-N and the ECP of working in cahoots to rig the upcoming by-polls. He particularly targeted Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, accusing him of meeting and taking weekly instructions from both Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz.

The commission said it has made proper arrangements for transparent elections in 20 constituencies of Punjab as was done in the local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

It was pointed out that the ECP not only took immediate notice of the disruption of polling and illegal action in these elections, but also acted against influential people without any hesitation. It vowed to continue discharging its duties in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

The Election Commission also rejected as misleading the impression that votes have been deliberately shifted to other areas and even other constituencies. It made it clear that the by-polls on the 20 provincial asse­mbly seats will be held on the existing electoral rolls and delimitation.

It said the preliminary electoral rolls for next general elections had been put on display at thousands of display centres across the country, inviting voters to get corrected any wrong entry, and to have an error-free electoral rolls.

Source: Dawn

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Nawaz Sharif calls on Shehbaz govt to facilitate Pervez Musharraf’s return to Pakistan

June 15, 2022

The former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif called on the Shehbaz Sharif government to facilitate former president Pervez Musharraf’s return to Pakistan.

“I have no personal enmity or tussle with Pervez Musharraf. I do not want anyone else to suffer the traumas that I have to endure for my loved ones,” the three-time prime minister stated on Twitter.

Nawaz added that he is praying for the health of the former dictator, adding that if he wishes to come home, then the government should facilitate his return, reported Geo News.

Hours before Nawaz’s tweet, Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar also said that the military leadership believes that the former army chief should return to Pakistan.

“We have contacted his family. Once his family responds, we can make the required arrangements,” the military’s spokesperson said as he prayed for Musharraf’s speedy recovery.

Musharraf, 78, is critically ill these days as he is suffering from a condition called amyloidosis, his office said Friday.

Source: The Statesman

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South Asia


Pakistan's futile exercise-asking wily Taliban to broker peace with the TTP

Jun 14 2022

By Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha

New Delhi, Jun 14: Though the mutually agreed ceasefire between the Pakistani militant outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Pakistani security establishment will last three months, the Afghan Taliban, the so-called "mediator" now says there should be no fixed timeline.

"We will continue to mediate in the negotiations between TTP and Pakistan until both sides reach an agreement. We are playing a role in the dialogue between Pakistan and TTP to bring peace to the region," the Taliban's spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, told BBC on Sunday.

Analysts say that both the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistan Taliban or the TTP are walking the Pakistan military along the garden path.

"The objective of the two is the same, the creation of Pashtunistan or a homeland for the Pashtuns on either side of the Durand line."

The Pashtuns see the Durand Line, which defines Afghanistan's borders with Pakistan as an artificial creation—a colonial era relic, which is blocking their aspiration for a Pashtun homeland.

Mujahid also said that the chief of the UN designated terror group TTP, Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud and his core commanders are at present in Kabul and are being hosted by the wily interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani. The TTP has raised some impossible demands of Pakistan. These include the implementation of Sharia law in areas under its de facto control, especially parts of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province formerly known as Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Besides, the TTP wants that FATA, a lawless zone where it once roamed freely, is detached from the more tightly controlled KP province formed in 2018.

But according to few TTP commanders, there is growing impatience in many factions of the TTP to continue with the ceasefire as Pakistani forces have launched military strikes against the group in many parts of the region.

In a recent message to his factions, the TTP supremo Noor Wail Mehsud reminded them that, "in this Jihad against Pakistan, I've lost my father, my brother, and multiple uncles and cousins. Even if I am the least honourable one, I will still take their vengeance," Noor Wali said in a video clip circulated by the group.

Khalid Khorsani, TTP's senior commander and part of the group's negotiating team, took to social media to pacify his cadres.

"Negotiations are part of war and resistance. And ceasefire doesn't mean surrender. Jihad and negotiations are both rules of Allah which will continue in any case. We inform all mujahideen that the blood of any Mujahid brother will not be wasted."

According to Pakistani experts, the group is suspicious and does not trust the Pakistani military establishment especially after the Pakistani surgical strikes on their camps inside Afghanistan.

"The Pakistani army would love to target the TTP chief if they could get specific intelligence. It is the mutual distrust," says Ali Zia Sayed, a Pakistani analyst.

Pakistani establishment's main problem is the way Noor Wali has managed to reorganize the various groups under the TTP umbrella. He has reorganized by embracing Jamaatul Ahrar, Hizbul Ahrar, Amjad Farooqi Group, a faction of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi sectarian outfit, Moosa Shaheed Karwan Group, Mohmand and Bajaur Taliban, the Lal Masjid-famed Ghazi Brigade, and Punjabi Taliban. Some of them might be motivated by an ideological cause, while others are lured by money and prospects of a higher social status.

Many in Pakistan including the partners of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the TTP and the Taliban are both playing a double game and so far, outsmarted the Pakistani establishment.

"The TTP is not in a weak position. Even if there is a deal, it will not survive for long because the TTP does not have a strong motivation to end the conflict with Pakistan," said Anees Gilani, a Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist.

A Peshawar-based Pakistani journalist, who does not want to be identified said that "these talks show that the TTP was never defeated. It was protected by the Afghan Taliban, who have always been supported by Pakistan's security establishment."

Source: Daiji World

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Islamic Scholars in Badghis Call to Reopen Girls’ Schools

June 15, 2022

Islamic scholars at a gathering in the western province of Badghis urged the Islamic Emirate to reopen schools for female students in grades 6-12. 

A gathering was held on Monday evening to inaugurate the council of Ulema in Badghis. 

“We should try to facilitate a good life for our sisters in every area. Education is one of the important issues,” said Mawlawi Ramazan, an Islamic scholar. 

“The doors of the schools should be reopened for girls in addition to the boys so our sisters can earn a necessary education,” said Mawlawi Muhaiddin, a religious scholar.

They said that both boys and girls have the right to take modern and religious education. 

“The Almighty Allah made education mandatory for men and women,” said Abddulraziq, an Islamic scholar. 

“If (girls) study within a Sharia hijab, there is no problem because the society needs the education of men and women,” said Mawlawi Isar, a religious scholar. 

Some residents of Badghis called for the reopening of girls’ school beyond grade six.

“Girls have attempted to study until grade seven but are deprived of an education and the doors of schools are closed before them and they cannot go to university,” said Abdul Wahid, a resident of Badghis.

Source: Tolo News

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USD 150 million aid by World Bank comes as relief to Afghan farmers under Taliban regime

15 June, 2022

Kabul [Afghanistan], June 15 (ANI): The World Bank has granted USD 150 million in aid to Afghan farmers as food security continues to plummet in the country due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), aid has been provided to the farmers to enhance their agricultural products as well as to reduce increased insecurity and widespread humanitarian crisis pressure has resulted in extreme food insecurity among Afghans at various levels, Khaama Press reported.

According to the FAO, this is the first tranche of World Bank assistance, with the second instalment, totalling USD 45 million, expected to be released within the forthcoming 24 months.

Calling its assistance to farmers a “generous and timely” measure, the organization also stated the situation of the war in Ukraine had a significant impact on the escalation of food insecurity in Afghanistan.

“We are grateful to the World Bank and its Members for the generous and timely contribution”, said FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu.

“It is a historic moment for poor farmers in Afghanistan, he added.”

Meanwhile, the management committee of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Fund (ARTF) and the World Bank have approved a USD 793 million project to provide immediate relief to the needy and provide health services in Afghanistan, adding that this amount of recent aid will be distributed and provided away from Taliban control, reported Khaama Press.

The situation of human rights in Afghanistan has worsened since the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban’s return to power in August last year.

Although the fighting in the country has ended, serious human rights violations continue unabated, especially against women and minorities. Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan faced criticism inside and outside Afghanistan for imposing restrictions on women. 2021 has been the worst year for the Afghan women as the Taliban after assuming control of Afghanistan has rolled back access to their right to education and work; however, they also snatched it later for an indefinite period of time.

Taliban has imposed draconian restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and movement for women and girls. As a result of this, women and girls in Afghanistan are facing a human rights crisis, deprived of the fundamental rights to non-discrimination, education, work, public participation and health. The women in the country are staring at a bleak future due to a number of restrictions imposed by the Taliban governing aspects of their lives within ten months of Afghanistan’s takeover.

Women are no longer allowed to travel unless accompanied by men related to them and are being curtailed from wearing make-up as well as their reproductive rights.

Source: The Print

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Mohammad Ali Jinnah Hospital in Western Kabul Transforms into a Teaching Hospital

By Saqalain Eqbal

14 Jun 2022

According to the Pakistani embassy in Kabul, the Taliban Ministry of Public Health has approved the transformation of the Mohammad Ali Jinnah Hospital in western Kabul into a teaching hospital.

On Tuesday, June 14, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Mansoor Ahmad Khan, said that he and Taliban Minister of Public Health Qalandar Ebad had signed an agreement to transform Mohammad Ali Jinnah Hospital into a teaching hospital.

The Mohammad Ali Jinnah Hospital will be turned into a teaching hospital following the implementation of this agreement.

A memorandum of understanding was also signed between the Taliban Ministry of Public Health and a team from Lahore University, according to the agreement.

The Pakistani ambassador tweeted that “a team of University of Lahore signed a Letter of Understanding for assistance in running M. A. Jinnah Hospital Kabul & upgrade its facilities to make it a teaching hospital.”

Source: Khaama Press

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UN: Millions of Children Under the Taliban Rule Have Been Deprived of Education

By Saqalain Eqbal

14 Jun 2022

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Taliban denied millions of children of an education.

The UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner, Kelly Clements, traveled to Afghanistan and stated during a visit to a school in Herat province that the majority of the children without the right to education were girls.

Following the visit, she stated that education is a natural right of children and one of society’s most pressing needs.

She further said that women in Afghanistan are actively participating in economic development and therefore should be in positions of leadership.

The UN official made the remarks as women were increasingly isolated and are marginalized after the Taliban took power, with the Taliban prohibiting women from engaging in public, cultural, artistic, and political activities.

Source: Khaama Press

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Russia hints it may recognise Taliban govt in Afghanistan

14 Jun 2022

Russia's special envoy for Afghanistan has said Moscow may recognise the interim Taliban government and has reserved grain for the South Asian country to stave off the possible food crisis there.

"There is such a possibility. Its conditions were determined by both the Russian president and foreign minister," Zamir Kabulov told the Russian state TV Channel One Russia.

Kabulov said that Russia will not follow the US and other countries over recognition of the interim Taliban government.

He said the Taliban is willing to cooperate with Russia and work in line with accepted international rules.

Kabulov said the deputy trade minister of the Taliban government will pay a visit to Moscow, adding Afghanistan wants to purchase some products and Russian President Vladimir Putin has allowed the grain to be reserved for Afghanistan.

No world recognition yet

After the withdrawal of foreign forces ended a 20-year war last year, the Western-backed government and its security bodies collapsed in the face of Taliban military advances.

World governments do not recognise the new Taliban set up.

The UN has warned that more than one million children in Afghanistan under the age of five will likely face the most severe form of malnutrition this year.

It's a result of worsening living conditions caused by droughts and extreme poverty.

Many aid agencies have already cut off billions in finances for the Taliban-run government, leaving many families struggling to make ends meet.

Pakistan has called for engagement with the Taliban, saying the world cannot afford a humanitarian crisis.

Source: Trt World

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Nuclear chief: IAEA politicizing Iran nuclear work under Israeli pressure

14 June 2022

Iran’s nuclear chief has slammed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for politicizing the country’s peaceful nuclear program under the Israeli regime’s pressure regardless of Tehran's extensive cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Mohammad Eslami made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Iran Press on Tuesday in response to a question about a resolution, proposed by the US and its European allies, which was recently passed during a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Board of Governors accusing Tehran of failing to fully cooperate with the agency.

He said Iran did not expect at all that such a resolution would be passed under the influence and political pressure of the Israeli regime.

The Iranian nuclear chief expressed hope that the UN nuclear watchdog would be released from the “Zionists’ captivity” so that the international prestige of the IAEA and its director general would not be undermined further more.

In yet another blow to the bleak prospects of reviving the JCPOA, the US, France, Britain, and Germany spearheaded a resolution at the IAEA’s Board of Governors on Wednesday, which accused Iran of not cooperating with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Iran has denounced the resolution and blamed the US and its three European allies for the crisis created over its nuclear program, which was under an unprecedented level of inspections before Washington withdrew from the JCPOA.

The resolution was passed only few days after the IAEA’s chief Rafael Grossi traveled to Israel and met the regime’s hawkish Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Iran had previously warned that Grossi's visit to Israel ahead of the meeting of the Board of Governors was in contradiction with the agency’s principles of observing impartiality and maintaining its technical and professional status.

Earlier in the day, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also criticized the Western-drafted resolution passed against Tehran’s nuclear program, saying the Islamic Republic still insists on reaching a “good, strong and lasting” deal with the P4+1 group of countries.

Eslami vehemently rejected the “political” allegations leveled over the past 30 years that Iran is seeking atomic bombs, saying such accusations have been orchestrated by Israel to impede Iran’s nuclear progress.

Iran has always had full cooperation with the IAEA and allowed it to visit the country’s nuclear sites, the AEOI chief emphasized.

He reiterated that Iran provided the IAEA with clarifications regarding its nuclear activities as part of trust-building measures and as a sign of goodwill.

It is a completely false claim by Western and Zionist media outlets that Iran’s peaceful nuclear program pursues military objectives and seeks to build nuclear bombs, he said.

In Iran’s defense doctrine and national security doctrine, weapons of mass destruction have no place, Eslami added.

He said Iran cooperates with the IAEA within the framework of the Safeguards Agreements and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Source: Press TV

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Satellite images suggest Iran preparing for rocket launch

14 June, 2022

Iran appeared to be readying for a space launch Tuesday as satellite images showed a rocket on a rural desert launch pad, just as tensions remain high over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The images from Maxar Technologies showed a launch pad at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province, the site of frequent recent failed attempts to put a satellite into orbit.

One set of images showed a rocket on a transporter, preparing to be lifted and put on a launch tower. A later image showed the rocket apparently on the tower.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel calls for US-led regional coalition against Iran

AbdelRaouf Arnaout 



Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday renewed his call for establishing a US-led regional coalition to confront Iran.

Iran "closes the cameras at its nuclear sites, expands its aggressive operations in the region and rejects attempts to reach a nuclear agreement,” Gantz said during an award ceremony for Israeli soldiers.

“What is needed is not just cooperation, but also a regional force build-up, with American leadership, which would strengthen all parties involved,” he added.

The Israeli minister had made similar remarks during his recent visit to the US amid rising tensions with Iran.

Notably, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said last week that his country's policy toward Iran "has changed over the past year."

Bennett said at a meeting of the Israeli Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, after using the term "octopus" against Iran: "We are moving against the head, not just the arms, as we have been doing in past years.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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FM: Logical Initiatives Offered in Vienna Talks by Iran


Tehran “has offered its initiatives and ideas on a logical basis whenever it was treated in a logical way by the other side", Amir Abdollahian said on Sunday after participation in a hearing session of the Iranian Parliament’s Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy to answer questions about the latest developments surrounding the diplomatic row over Iran’s nuclear program.

“Every time that the opposite side put forth excessive demands during the [Vienna talks], we used the country’s own tools and power, so that they would understand that the interests and welfare of the Iranian nation were important to us and that we will continue our efforts to this end,” Iran’s top diplomat added.

He expressed the hope that the measures meant to get all the negotiating parties to return to the JCPOA, would be taken in such a way that Iran’s power and demands as well as people’s expectations are taken into consideration.

“While emphasizing the need to completely protect the rights of the country in international arena, our people expect us to do so while respecting all the red lines,” Amir Abdollahian said.

Since April last year, the Iranian negotiating team has been involved in marathon talks with the other remaining parties to the JCPOA – Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia – with the aim of bringing the US back into the deal and destroying its sanctions regime against Tehran.

Under former president Donald Trump, the United States pulled out of the landmark agreement and instigated what it described as the “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against the Islamic Republic to reach a “better deal” than the JCPOA.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israelis in Turkey were saved before ‘Iran’s assassins’ could attack at hotel: Report

14 June, 2022

Several Israelis visiting Istanbul were picked up and flown out of Turkey by Israeli security officials to save them from “Iranian assassins” who were waiting to kill them at their hotels, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

Israeli public broadcaster Kan radio reported on Sunday that security officials foiled an Iranian attack targeting Israelis in Turkey last month.

The Israeli officials coordinated with their Turkish counterparts to thwart the attack planned by an “Iranian network” in Turkey.

The Times of Israel said an Israeli woman was visiting a market in Istanbul when she received a call from a senior Israeli official telling her to not return to her hotel because “Iranian assassins” were waiting there for her and her spouse.

“Instead, a caravan with some 10 Israeli security officers took the couple to the airport, leaving their stuff in the hotel, and then to Israel, where they were probed for clues about the plot against them,” the Times of Israel reported.

Tensions between Israel and Iran have heightened in recent weeks.

Israel had issued last month a warning to its citizens against travel to Turkey amid fears that Israelis would be targeted in a “revenge attack” for the assassination of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Colonel Sayad Khodai.

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Iran believes Israel killed two of its scientists by poisoning their food in May.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran believes Israel killed two of its scientists with poison: Report

14 June, 2022

Iran believes Israel killed two of its scientists by poisoning their food in May, The New York Times reported on Monday citing Iranian officials.

The report identified the scientists as Ayoub Entezari, an aeronautical engineer who worked for a military research center, and Kamran Aghamolaei, a geologist.

They are described as top university graduates who were “young, healthy and athletic.” They both fell suddenly ill in late May and continued to grow sicker before ending up in the intensive care units of hospitals in two different cities in Iran.

They both died within days of each other. Iran suspects these are targeted killings by Israel.

Should Iran’s suspicions prove to be true, it would be part of a shadow war where Israel targets Iran’s military personnel and officials and scientists related to the country’s nuclear program, and Iran retaliates by targeting Israelis abroad.

Earlier this week, Iran's state media announced that two members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) aerospace division died “on duty” in separate instances, without giving further details.

Those two deaths come after the assassination of IRGC Colonel Sayad Khodai who was shot dead in his car by two assailants on motorcycles in Tehran on May 22.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkey is a ‘safe country’, Ankara says after Israeli warnings

14 June, 2022

Turkey is “a safe country,” its foreign ministry said on Tuesday after Israeli authorities urged their citizens to leave over fears of Iranian attacks.

In an indirect response that did not mention Israel, the ministry noted “some countries” had issued travel warnings.

Turkey “is a safe country and continues to fight against terrorism,” the statement said.

“These travel warnings are considered to be related to different international developments and motives,” it added.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday urged citizens in Turkey to leave “as soon as possible” over threats that Iranian operatives were planning attacks on Israelis in Istanbul.

He said there was “a real and immediate danger” from Iranian agents.

On Monday, Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper quoted an unnamed security official saying several Iranian “cells” were planning operations against Israeli tourists in Turkey.

The warnings come amid the latest surge in tensions between bitter rivals Iran and Israel, with Tehran blaming Israel for a series of attacks on its nuclear and military infrastructure, in Iran and also in Syria.

Turkey is a popular holiday destination for Israelis, including through more than a decade of diplomatic rupture between the two countries.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UN commission on Palestine seeks new ways to get Israel to comply with int'l law

Peter Kenny  



The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory said Monday that the global community must urgently explore new ways of ensuring Israel’s compliance with international law.

Former UN Human Rights commissioner Navi Pillay addressed the Human Rights Council with the commission’s first report on the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.

“It is our strong view too that the continued occupation of the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and Gaza, the 15-year blockade of Gaza, and longstanding discrimination within Israel are all linked and cannot be looked at in isolation,” she said.

“Given a clear refusal by Israel to take concrete measures to implement the findings and recommendations of past commissions, the international community must urgently explore new ways of ensuring compliance with international law.”

The former South African jurist said the international community had failed to take meaningful measures to ensure Israel’s compliance with international law and influence it to bring an end to the occupation.

Pillay said the state of “perpetual occupation” of Palestine and longstanding discrimination in both Israel and Palestine is a core underlying root cause of the ongoing violence.

“Threats of forced displacement, demolitions, settlement construction and expansion, settler violence and the blockade of Gaza have all contributed to and will continue to contribute to cycles of violence,” said the former rights chief.

She said the reality enduring for decades brings a general sense of despair and hopelessness within the Palestinian population in Palestine, Israel and the diaspora.

“They are left without hope of a better future that affords them their full range of human rights, without discrimination,” said Pillay.

She said the ongoing situation of occupation and discrimination is used by Palestinian “duty-bearers” to justify their violations and abuses of international law, including the failure of the Palestinian Authority to hold legislative and presidential elections.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UN urges Houthis to lift Taif siege as Yemeni truce holds


June 15, 2022

NEW YORK: The Houthis must lift their siege of Taiz to allow millions of suffering residents to access vital humanitarian assistance, healthcare and economic opportunities, Hans Grundberg, the special envoy for Yemen, urged Tuesday.

Reporting to the UN Security Council’s monthly meeting on the war-ravaged nation, Grundberg said this action must be taken, even as he welcomed the fact that the truce has held between the Yemeni government and the Iran-backed group.

The ceasefire has seen a drastic reduction in hostilities and civilian casualties, allowed the resumption of civilian flights from the long-shuttered Sanaa airport, and facilitated the flow of fuel into Hodeidah port.

Grundberg said the Houthis must now gradually open the roads leading into the city. Taiz governorate has been under siege since 2015, when the group closed main routes and surrounded the city center, largely cutting it off from the rest of the country.

“It is critical that this truce can also deliver on easing the suffering of the people of Taiz,” Grundberg told the Security Council.

“For years, (Taizis’) freedom of movement has been greatly impeded by this conflict. As Taizis know all too well, the only open roads to the city are long and arduous,” said Grundberg. The Swedish diplomat told the council he had personally travelled for over six hours “along the narrow, winding, and rugged mountainous road from Aden to the city of Taiz. Before the conflict, the same trip on the main road would have only taken three hours.”

“In Taiz, I met with men, women, and youth, who told me about their daily plights caused by the closure of access roads in and out of the city. I have also witnessed first-hand how the severe restrictions have crippled the economy, worsened access to healthcare, and endangered travel of civilians.”

The UN has proposed a phased opening of the roads around Taiz. It includes a main route eastward from Taiz city to the Hawban area, as well as additional roads to and from other governorates. The proposal includes measures to ensure the safety of civilian travelers.

“While I am encouraged by the positive response by the Government of Yemen to the UN proposal, I am still waiting for a response from Ansar Allah,” Grundberg said.

In response to Arab News’ questions after the meeting, Grundberg said he wants to urge the Houthis to respond.

“If you consider the fact that seven years have gone and we have not seen a resolution, but only several attempts (to solve the problem) of Taiz, I think that the fact that we have been waiting for six days since the proposal was presented to them is within that context not a long time.

“But since we are within the framework of 60 days of truce, every day that goes by is particularly long. So this just highlights the fact that this is not an easy matter to solve. But I encourage all the parties, including Ansar Allah to make as speedy a progress on this issue as possible.”

Grundberg had on Tuesday addressed the Security Council for the first time in person since the truce took effect on April 2, which was later extended to Aug. 2. In his report back, he told council members that the ceasefire continues to hold as there has have been no airstrikes inside Yemen nor cross-border attacks launched from it since the beginning of the agreement.

There has also been a significant reduction in civilian casualties, although Grundberg lamented the fact that lives were still being lost to landmines and unexploded ordinance as civilians ventured into contaminated frontline areas that were previously inaccessible to them.

Despite the overall reduction in hostilities, however, Grundberg said that violations continue with armed clashes occurring on several fronts especially in Marib, Taiz and Hodeidah governorates.

“As you are aware, we do not have independent monitoring capacities, but I take these allegations very seriously,” said Grundberg. “It is critical to prevent such alleged incidents from provoking a spiral of renewed escalations and violence.”

Grundberg also referred to his involvement in convening the first two meetings of the Military Coordination Committee, with representatives from several parties and the Coalition’s Joint Forces Command. The committee had agreed to meet regularly, he added.

“The face-to face meetings represent a significant first step towards building trust and improving communication between the parties,” he said.

Since the truce began, several commercial flights have left Sanaa airport which had been closed for six years. Around 3,000 passengers have been transported to Amman and Cairo, seeking medical treatment and reconnection with family members.

Grundberg noted the country’s government “prioritizing the needs of Yemenis” by facilitating the opening of the airport, and also reiterated his “sincere appreciation to the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their instrumental roles in facilitating the flights.”

The steady flow of fuel to Hodeidah port has continued throughout the truce, he said. During the months of April and May, over 480,000 metric tons of fuel products were cleared, “more fuel than entered Hodeidah during the whole of last year.”

“The steady delivery of fuel has taken the pressure off vital services, significantly decreased queues at petrol stations that dominated Sanaa’s streets, and has allowed Yemenis to travel more easily throughout the country,” he said.

Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s permanent representative to the UN, called on Grundberg to intensify efforts to open Taiz’s main road, and not only secondary ones, “to alleviate the suffering of millions living under siege.”

She said that despite the truce the Houthis continue to mobilize and recruit across their areas of control, “indoctrinating children with extremist ideology.”

Nusseibeh, along with other council members, commended Saudi Arabia for contributing $10 million toward the UN-backed salvage operation on the decaying supertanker Safer.

US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said there was now “a cause for genuine optimism” as the truce holds, and that building on this progress will be a central focus of President Joe Biden’s visit to the region next month.

Asked by Arab News whether he shares the optimism that the truce will develop into a permanent solution for the seven-year conflict, Grundberg said he was adopting a cautious approach.

“I try to take one step at a time and not rush too quickly, but also make sure that all steps that are taken are done and implemented in a consolidated manner. What we are seeing right now are steps that have been unprecedented that we have not seen during the last seven years and that is absolutely something that we should welcome.

Source: Arab News

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Blocked European funds to Palestinian Territories to be released

14 June, 2022

Hundreds of millions of euros in European funds to support the Palestinian Territories can be paid out following the resolution of problems that had blocked their release, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday.

Payment of the funds had been held up by a dispute over proposals by the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, to condition funding on educational reform including the content of Palestinian school textbooks.

“I am glad to announce that the EU funds for 2021 can be disbursed rapidly,” she said during a visit to Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. “All the difficulties are gone. We have made clear the disbursement will take place.”

The European Commission, which contributes some 300 million euros a year along with other European states and institutions which contribute a similar amount, are together the largest donors to the Palestinian Territories, which had faced an increasing financial squeeze.

“Thank you for resuming your assistance to us. This is a day of happiness,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told von der Leyen.

Earlier, von der Leyen met Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem where she welcomed the prospect of increased cooperation in energy supplies and warned of the danger of food problems as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkey prepared to stall Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership for year: MP

14 June, 2022

Turkey is prepared to stall Sweden and Finland’s bids to become NATO members for as long as a year, a Turkish MP and chair of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee said on Tuesday.

“This is a matter of vital national interest, and we are prepared to prevent their membership for as long as a year if necessary. Turkey is the second largest army in NATO and has been providing the drones that help Ukraine defend itself. We deserve greater respect,” Akif Cagatay Kilic said.

He added: “What are [Sweden and Finland] going to do? They have been harbouring terrorist organisations that kill my people, disrespect my borders, pose an existential threat to my country. The only thing we demand is that there are no distinctions. A terrorist organisation is a terrorist organisation.”

Sweden and Finland are seeking to enhance their security through NATO membership, ending decades of military nonalignment in an historic move driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Sweden’s premier says she looks forward to continuing dialogue with Türkiye

Atila Altuntaş 



Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Tuesday stressed the importance of dialogue and ongoing negotiations with Türkiye amid Sweden and Finland's applications to join NATO.

Andersson met with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store in the Swedish city of Sodertalje to discuss regional issues, including Sweden and Finland's NATO bids.

"We are acting together with Finland. I look forward to continuing the dialogue with Türkiye until the problem is solved," said Andersson, speaking at a joint press conference after the trilateral meeting.

Marin said it is crucial to reach a solution ahead of a NATO summit that will be held at the end of this month in Madrid.

"There is momentum now. It is important that we move forward in this process. We take Türkiye's problems seriously and continue to engage in dialogue," she said.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO on May 18, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.

But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups such as the PKK and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). Their accession requires the unanimous approval of all 30 NATO member countries.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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ECHR blocks UK plan to deport Iraqi asylum seeker to Rwanda

Shweta Desai  



The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued an urgent order Tuesday preventing the removal of an Iraqi asylum seeker hours before his scheduled deportation from the UK to Rwanda.

Invoking Rule 39 of its Rules of Court, the ECHR indicated to the UK government to not deport the Iraqi national “until three weeks after the delivery of the final domestic decision in his ongoing judicial review proceedings.”

The Court stepped in to block the deportation of the Iraqi after the British High Court rejected his appeal for interim relief to prevent his deportation. He had claimed asylum in the UK on May 17.

Under a controversial asylum partnership agreement between the UK and Rwanda, all asylum seekers whose claims are rejected or deemed inadmissible could be relocated to Rwanda.

The individual, who is reportedly a victim of torture, had claimed his life was in danger in Iraq and had left the country for Türkiye, from where he reached the UK after crossing the English Channel by boat. On May 24, the British authorities rejected his asylum claim as “inadmissible” and served a “notice of intent” to relocate him to Rwanda.

The Court noted the risk to the human rights of the Iraqi national in Rwanda, a country outside the jurisdiction of the European Convention on Human Rights, while granting the interim measure to prevent his removal from the UK until the decision of the domestic courts. The Iraqi national’s judicial review is scheduled in July.

The ECHR is a regional human rights judicial body based in Strasbourg, France, created under the auspices of the Council of Europe.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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PKK terror group supporters hold anti-Türkiye demonstration in Athens

Derya Gulnaz Ozcan and Tevfik Durul 



PKK terror group supporters held an anti-Türkiye demonstration in the Greek capital.

Police did not intervene in the demonstration late Monday which was attended by about 20 members of the Rouvikonas anarchist group around the Turkish Consulate General Athens-Piraeus in the neighborhood of Neo Psychiko.

Demonstrators left the site after throwing anti-Türkiye leaflets onto the yard of the consulate.

The Turkish Embassy in Athens took the case to the Greek diplomatic corps and police authorities and asked that the perpetrators be found.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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France captures senior Daesh figure in Mali: military

June 15, 2022

PARIS: French troops deployed in Mali have captured a senior figure in the branch of the Daesh group in the Sahel region of Africa, the military said Wednesday.

“In the night of 11-12 June, an operation of the (French) Barkhane force allowed the capture of Oumeya Ould Albakaye, a senior figure in [Daesh] in the Greater Sahara (IS-GS),” a spokesman for the chief of staff told AFP.

Source: Arab News

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