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Islamic World News ( 16 Feb 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Al-Qaeda’s New Leader Seif Al-Adel Has $10 Million Bounty on His Head Announced by US State Department

New Age Islam News Bureau

16 February 2023

 

Saif al-Adel

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• Nordic Cross Desecrated During Protests against the Recent Desecration of the Quran by Far-Right Activists in Pakistan

• Israel Firm, Dubbed "Team Jorge", Sought To Influence Over 30 Elections across World: Report

• Somali Army Kills Over 200 Al-Shabaab Terrorists, Liberates Large Swaths of Territory

• Kalicharan, Sudarshan TV Editor-In-Chief Chauhanke Spew Hate against Muslims in Maharashtra

 

North America

• Kurdish Officials Want Canada to Help Set Up Tribunal to Try Islamic State Suspects

• Andrew Tate’s Muslim Fan base Is Growing. Some Say He’s Exploiting Islam For Internet Popularity

• US must do more than talk to resolve Palestine-Israel issue: PA official

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Pakistan

• Injured, witnesses of Peshawar mosque blast reeling from trauma

• China's Islamabad embassy shuts consular section

• Qatar Always Played Pivotal Role for Unity In Muslim Ummah: Pakistan Minister for Religious Affairs

• LHC resumes hearing Imran’s bail plea in ECP protest case today

• Resumption of trade with India urged to address people’s woes

• Jamaat-i-Islami Demands Release of Haq Do Tehreek Leaders, Workers

• Police capture two terrorists found in possession of 1,000 detonators

• American men face terrorism charges years after Pakistan trial

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Mideast

• Iran Raps US' Unconditional Support for Terrorists

• Iran sentences six Arab political prisoners to death: Rights group

• Palestinians denounce new Israeli expulsion law as ‘the ugliest form of racism’

• 'War crime': Israel approves law to deport Palestinian citizens to Gaza, West Bank

• Israel to boost Palestinian economy ahead of Ramadan, amid US tensions

• Iranian President Underlines Absolute Necessity for Strengthening Peace in Asia

• China’s Xi accepts Iranian president’s invitation for state visit to Iran

• At remote desert outpost, Israeli settlers triumphant despite Western anger

• UN Security Council extends sanctions on Houthi leaders for nine months

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Africa

• Algeria arrests one person who threatened to blast Saudi embassy

• At least 73 migrants ‘presumed dead’ after shipwreck off Libya: UN

• Libya dispatches tons of medical supplies to quake victims in Türkiye

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India

• Haji Irshad Ali, a Sari Trader in Kashi, Writes Gita With Ink Made Of Ganga Jal, Soil

• BJP to Engage Influential Sufi Saints to Reach Out To Muslim Voters Ahead Of the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

• Government Drags Feet on National Council For Promotion Of Urdu Language; Delaying The Reconstitution Of Its General Body

• Madhya Pradesh Govt Rechristens Town with Islamic Name; Islamnagar to Jagdishpur

• 16th-Century Mosque and Grave at Humayun’s Tomb Go under Knife

• 'Disturbing': Gujarat HC Dismisses Objection to Sale of Shop to Muslim Man in Hindu-Majority Area

• Muslim Student Group Alleges Islamophobia by ABVP at University Of Hyderabad

• Gujarat HC Dismisses Objection of Property Sale To Muslim Man In Hindu Area

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Arab World

• Saudi Arabia Partners With the Indian Premier League for Tourism Promotion

• Iraq's Moqtada Al Sadr urges MBC to withdraw $75m Ramadan series on Umayyad caliph

• Syria's Assad welcomes ‘positive stance’ from Arab nations

• Saudi Arabia’s World Defence Show 2024 will be expanded amid strong demand

• UAE FM Sheikh Abdullah discusses ties, trade with Blinken, US senators

• UAE to provide Syria with additional $50 million in aid after deadly earthquakes

• UK makes it easier for aid agencies in Syria to avoid breaching sanctions

• Jordan's foreign minister visits Syria in first trip since foreign-backed war

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South Asia

• Afghan Taliban ‘Unlikely To Stop Support for Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’

• Armed Forces Raided a Private TV Network in Afghanistan

• Chinese media hail Iran, China for standing up to US, Western hegemony

• Afghanistan marks 34th anniversary of Soviet Union’s withdrawal

• 4000 ISIS-K Fighters Stationed in Afghanistan near Tajikistan Border: Anatoly Sidorov

• Taliban aid group donates $50,000 in plastic bag to Turkey earthquake victims

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Southeast Asia

• Xi Jinping Accepts Invitation for State Visit to Iran

• Anwar rebuts claims of 'excessive' aid for Turkiye

• Racial fairness in jobs goes beyond political correctness

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Europe

• UK Presents Evidence That Iran Is Supplying Advanced Weapons To Yemen’s Houthis

• Romanian philanthropist helping set up container city for quake victims: Turkish envoy

• Spanish rescuer underlines scale of quakes that jolted southern Türkiye

• 'Your pain is our pain,' says Bosnian rescuer in quake-hit Türkiye

• Poland to send new batch of aid supplies to Türkiye

• Greek rescuers praise quake survivors in Turkish province for welcoming them wholeheartedly

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/qaeda-seif-us-adel/d/129121

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 Al-Qaeda’s New Leader Seif Al-Adel Has $10 Million Bounty on His Head Announced by US State Department

 

Saif al-Adel

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February 15, 2023

DUBAI: Seif Al-Adel, a former Egyptian special forces officer and a high-ranking member of Al-Qaeda with a $10 million US bounty on his head, is now the “uncontested” leader of the militant group, according to a new UN report on the organization.

Al-Qaeda has not formally named a successor for Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who was believed to have been killed in a US missile strike in Kabul last year, dealing a blow to the organization since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Although a US intelligence official said in January that Zawahiri’s succession remained unclear, the United Nations report assessing risks from the group said: “In discussions in November and December, many Member States took the view that Seif Al-Adel is already operating as the de facto and uncontested leader of the group.”

Zawahiri’s death piled pressure on the group to choose a strategic leader who can carefully plan deadly operations and run an extremist network, experts on Al-Qaeda say.

Unlike his slain predecessors who maintained a high profile with fiery videos broadcast around the globe threatening the United States, the experts say Adel planned attacks from the shadows as he helped turn Al-Qaeda into the world’s deadliest militant group.

Adel was indicted and charged in November 1998 by a US federal grand jury for his role in the bomb attacks on the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 224 civilians and wounded more than 5,000.

There are few photos of him, aside from three pictures — including a very serious black and white image of him on the FBI most wanted list.

Beyond the operations in Africa, his training camps and link to the killing of US journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002, according to US investigators, little else is known about Adel.

The US State Department says Adel is based in Iran. The department’s Rewards for Justice Program is offering up to $10 million for information on Adel, whom it says is a member of “Al-Qaeda’s leadership council” and heads the organization’s military committee.

The program’s website says that after the Africa bombings, the former Egyptian army lieutenant colonel moved to southeastern Iran, where he lived under the protection of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

He and other Al-Qaeda leaders were placed under house arrest in April 2003 by Iran, which released him and four others in exchange for an Iranian diplomat who was kidnapped in Yemen.

In a message posted on Twitter on Wednesday, the Iranian mission to the United Nations denied Adel was in Iran.

“It is worth noting that the address for the so-called newly appointed Al-Qaeda leader is incorrect. This misinformation could potentially hinder efforts to combat terrorism,” it said.

Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent who tracked Al-Qaeda operatives, wrote in a profile carried by the Combating Terrorism Center that the militant whose nom de guerre means “sword of justice” has been described as a shrewd figure with a poker face. His real name is Mohammed Salahuddin Zeidan.

“Yet his temper, too, has become notorious. Possessed of a ‘caustic tongue’, he is apt to threaten violence against anyone who displeases him, and is known to meet disloyalty with swift and ruthless force,” wrote Soufan.

“Toward underlings he can be contemptuous, even brutal, in the heat of the moment. But he has also been known as a font of avuncular advice. In happier times, he showed a talent for soccer and a penchant for practical jokes.”

Once Osama bin Laden’s chief bodyguard and a senior trainer of militants, experts on the extremist movement say Adel began his long bloody career in 1981, when he was suspected of involvement in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat during a military parade in Cairo that was broadcast on television.

“Seif Al-Adel’s professional military background and valuable experience as the head of Al-Qaeda’s military committee prior to 9/11 mean he has strong credentials to assume the overall leadership of Al-Qaeda,” said Elisabeth Kendall, an extremist expert at Oxford University.

He takes over an Al-Qaeda that has become highly decentralized since the group carried out its most spectacular operation, the Sept. 11, 2001, airplane attacks against the United States which killed nearly 3,000 people.

Adel, one of the few remaining Al-Qaeda old guard, has been close to the central command for decades, experts say. He would be tasked with providing strategic guidance to far-flung franchises in the Middle East, Africa and Asia that run their own day-to-day affairs, they added.

Some question though whether Adel can become an effective manager of the organization after spending most of his career as an operative and trainer in militant camps.

“Many insiders argue that he had an important operational role in the past, but that he is not equipped for leadership,” said Jerome Drevon, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.

“His skills are more suitable for the organization of armed operations than the administration of a wide network of affiliates.”

One of Al-Qaeda’s leading military chiefs and often called by experts its third-ranking official, Adel set up training camps for the organization in Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1990s.

He also played a role in the ambush of US helicopters in Mogadishu, known as the “Black Hawk Down” incident in 1993 which killed 18 US servicemen, security experts say. That marked the beginning of the eventual withdrawal of a US-UN peacekeeping force from Somalia.

The FBI identifies Adel as one of its most wanted terrorists and accuses him of conspiring to kill US nationals, to murder and to destroy buildings.

Adel gained more extremist credentials after he joined other Arab militants fighting Soviet occupation troops in Afghanistan, where he eventually headed a training camp before becoming a senior figure in Al-Qaeda.

“He (Adel) is a very bold, professional, cold-blooded figure,” said Yoram Schweitzer, head of the Programme on Terrorism and Low-Intensity Conflict at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2252026/middle-east

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Nordic Cross Desecrated During Protests against the Recent Desecration of the Quran by Far-Right Activists in Pakistan

 

Muslims protest over the incident of desecration of the Holy Koran in the Norwegian city of Kristiansand, in Quetta on Nov. 24, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

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February 15, 2023

Some Muslims in Pakistan have publicly insulted the cross on the Norwegian flag in their continued retaliation against the recent desecration of the Quran by far-right activists in Europe.

Members of Pakistan's far-right Islamic extremist political party Tehreek-e-Labbiak (TLP) organized the protest on a public road in Faisalabad city in eastern Punjab province on Feb. 13.

In a video circulating on social media, a man is seen slamming his shoes on the Norwegian flag lying on a street while another rides his motorcycle on it.

The protestors can be heard chanting “Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (We are present O' messenger of Allah).”

Christians have condemned the burning of copies of the Quran in Sweden and the Netherlands but also expressed concern over the provocative methods adopted by Islamist mobs in Pakistan.

TLP activists have been mobilizing mobs against the Quran burning in January by Rasmus Paludan, a dual Danish-Swedish national with a reputation for being an anti-Islam provocateur, in front of Turkish embassies in Sweden and Denmark.

Far-right Dutch leader Edwin Wagensveld of Netherlands also had torn pages of the Quran near the Dutch parliament last month.

Asif Munawar, a Catholic human rights activist and member of the Human Rights Committee in Jhang District near Faisalabad, condemned the desecration incidents in Europe and expressed solidarity with Muslims in Pakistan.

He also urged civil society to avoid blaming Pakistani Christians.

“The deliberate provocative actions will only flame religious hatred. We reject insult of any religion and expect our Muslim brothers to raise their voice against the foreign agenda,” he told UCA News. 

Father Inayat Barnard, the chaplain of Caritas Pakistan, said the desecration of the cross in retaliation to what happened on foreign shores is condemnable.

“Condemnation is different from [indulging in] violence. We pray that our protests may be civilized,” he said.

The violent ways adopted by some sections of the protesters were a sign of their desperation to be in the limelight, he added.

Interfaith groups in Pakistan have criticized Quran burning as an unjustifiable act and said such religiously motivated acts have deeply hurt Muslim sentiments in Pakistan and all over the world.

On Feb. 4, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore held a press conference with Muslim clerics at the Bishop’s House to condemn the latest incidents in Europe.

But the diocesan commission for interreligious dialogue refused to comment on the recent protest when UCA News contacted.  

Insult to Islam and its holy book is a sensitive issue in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

A mob reportedly stormed a police station in Nankana Sahib, a city in eastern Pakistan, on Feb. 11 and lynched a Muslim man for allegedly desecrating pages of the Quran.

Source: UCA News

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

https://www.ucanews.com/news/nordic-cross-desecrated-during-protests-in-pakistan/100383

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Israel Firm, Dubbed "Team Jorge", Sought To Influence Over 30 Elections across World: Report

 

Representative photo/ ToI

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Feb 16, 2023

PARIS: An Israeli firm sought to influence over 30 elections around the world for clients by hacking, sabotage and spreading disinformation, according to an undercover media investigation published Wednesday. It adds to a growing body of evidence that private firms across the world are profiting from invasive hacking tools and the power of social media platforms to shape public opinion.

The firm was dubbed "Team Jorge" by investigating journalists who posed as potential clients. The report said its boss, Tal Hanan, is a 50-year-old former Israeli special forces operative who boasted of being able to control supposedly secure Telegram accounts, thousands of fake social media accounts, and of planting news stories.

The investigation was carried out by a consortium of journalists from 30 outlets, including Le Monde in France, Der Spiegel in Germany and El Pais in Spain, under the direction of a France-based non-profit known as Forbidden Stories. "The methods and techniques described by Team Jorge raise new challenges for big tech platforms," Guardian wrote.

Hanan did not respond to questions, saying: "I deny any wrongdoing". He told three undercover reporters that his services were available to intelligence agencies, political campaigns and private companies.

"We are now involved in one election in Africa... We have a team in Greece and (the) Emirates... (We have completed) 33 presidential-level campaigns, 27 of which were successful," Guardian newspaper quoted him as saying.

British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica - since shut down - was allegedly used to develop software steering voters towards Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential polls. The group collected and exploited the personal data of 87 million Facebook users to which the platform had given it access, leading to major fines and lawsuits. A probe by Forbidden Stories in 2021 said Israeli-made Pegasus spyware had been sold by the cyber intelligence company, NSO Group, to governments and used against at least 50,000 people around the world. AFP

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/israel-firm-sought-to-influence-over-30-elections-across-world-report/articleshow/97965888.cms

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Somali Army Kills Over 200 Al-Shabaab Terrorists, Liberates Large Swaths of Territory

 

Somali Army

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Mohammed Dhaysane  

15.02.2023

MOGADISHU, Somalia

The Somali army killed over 200 terrorists with ties to the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group al-Shabaab during military operations that took place in three states and liberated large swaths of territory from the terrorist group, a senior government official said on Wednesday.

Somalia’s Information Minister Daud Aweis said at a news conference in the capital Mogadishu that the operations took place in Galmudug, South West State, and Jubaland.

"Over 200 al-Shabaab Khawarijs have been killed by the army this week," he said.

He added that the army also liberated large swaths of territories from the terrorist group in the Mudug region and captured a “senior” explosive expert of the terrorist group.

Aweis also said President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has called on Somali people to contribute $1 per person to the “national defense and liberation program.”

“This move is intended to speed up military operations to eliminate terrorists and give people more opportunities to participate in ongoing operations,” he explained.

The Somali National Army has been fighting al-Shabaab terrorists since President Mohamud declared an "all-out war" on them after his re-election for a second term in May last year.

Under increasing pressure from military operations, al-Shabaab terrorists have intensified attacks in the country in recent days, targeting security personnel, military bases, and government installations.

Somalia has been plagued by insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab and Daesh/ISIS being the main threats.

The UN has warned of growing insecurity in the country, issuing periodic reports last year detailing attacks by al-Shabaab and pro-Daesh/ISIS terror groups.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/somali-army-kills-over-200-al-shabaab-terrorists-liberates-large-swaths-of-territory/2820626

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Kalicharan, Sudarshan TV Editor-In-Chief Chauhanke Spew Hate against Muslims in Maharashtra

 

Kalicharan, Chauhanke

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15th February 2023

Multiple hate speech events took place in Pune and Nandurbar districts of Maharashtra over the week as Hindutva and religious leaders urged Hindus to raise weapons against the Muslim communities.

In Baramati, Pune district, a Hindu Jagran Morcha event was organised where Kalicharan Maharaj delivered a speech to a group of Hindus to pick up a weapon for their ‘protection’.

Kalicharan Maharaj has several cases against him, the prominent being speaking against Muslims in December’s infamous ‘Dharam Sansad’ event that happened in Chhattisgarh. He was arrested by the Raipur police for alleged derogatory remarks about Mahatma Gandhi.

On February 13, Kalicharan Maharaj in a statement mentioned The Kashmir Files movie.

“In that movie,” he continues, “A Hindu woman is raped by at least 150 men before she is cut into half. It is said that in Islam, one should always share. And this is what they did. 150 men jumped on the Hindu woman and brutally raped her before killing her. I appeal to people to watch the movie,” he said.

He also mentioned that the incident shown in The Kashmir Files is just one such incident. “Many Hindu women have endured the injustice meted on them by Muslims. We need to raise our weapons to counter them.”

He then goes on to say that when India and Pakistan became independent nations, many Hindus residing in Pakistan were killed, including Hindu ministers. Infact, Hindus are not safe in Muslim nations such as Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc.

In another district Nandurbar in Maharashtra, Kalicharan Maharaj continued giving anti-Muslim speeches.

At a programme organised by the far-right Hindutva organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Kalicharan Maharaj made many claims whose authenticity is yet to be proved.

He alleged that in many mosques and madrassas across the country, deadly weapons such as AK-47s, and swords were found during a police raid.

“Can we see such things in our temple?” he asks to which the crowd replied in unison, “No.”

He then claims that Muslim countries such as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, as well as Indonesia, Taiwan, Cambodia and Australia, were all Hindu nations that were forcefully converted to Islam.

He again mentioned The Kashmir Files where he spoke about a scene in the movie that depicts how a woman was raped and then cut into half.

“Thirty years ago, around five lakh women were gang raped and murdered by Muslims. All must watch The Kashmir Files movie. Let us not repeat history,” he said.

In another hate speech, Sudarshan TV editor-in-chief Suresh Chauhanke was speaking at an event named Asaram Bapu Diwas that was held in Pune.

Chauhanke stressed the need to keep weapons and use them when required.

“Those who claim pens as their weapons cannot save Hindus. But those who have proper weapons are the only ones who can save us. I am not degrading journalism but we need to take care of ourselves from anti-Hindu elements,” he said.

Interestingly Asaram Bapu is currently serving life in prison after he was found guilty of raping a minor in his ashram in 2013. Suresh Chauhanke also is being questioned by the Supreme Court of India regarding his speech made at a religious assembly in the national capital in 2021.

Source: Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/maharashtra-hate-against-muslims-spewed-in-pune-by-kalicharan-maharaj-chauhanke-2527063/

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North America

 

Kurdish officials want Canada to help set up tribunal to try Islamic State suspects

February 16, 2023

Authorities in northeast Syria who are holding Canadians suspected of being part of the Islamic State in prisons say they want Canada’s help setting up a special tribunal and trying men in the region, as debate takes hold in Canada on whether the government should bring the Canadian suspects home.

The Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) prefers to try all suspected male fighters, as well as women who are alleged to have committed crimes, in northeast Syria because that’s where the alleged offences occurred and they have enough evidence to try them, said Abdulkarim Omar, AANES representative to Europe.

Their proposal, he said, is for the creation of a court in co-operation with the governments of countries that have their citizens in AANES’ prisons and camps. “We want the international community, including Canada, to help us set up the court to try Daesh fighters in our regions,” he said, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym.

In 2019, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces detained thousands of people from more than 60 countries who were living among Islamic State terrorists when the group’s final holdout crumbled. Foreigners, including Canadians, were taken to camps and prisons across northeastern Syria.

Last month, the federal government agreed to repatriate six Canadian women and 13 children who spent years detained in these camps. Then, a federal court justice ruled the government had to also repatriate four Canadian men being held in prisons there.

The government appealed that decision last Friday saying that in its view, the court made errors of law and fact. Global Affairs Canada said in a statement on Friday that the government is “resolute in its vigilance with regard to the safety and security of Canadians and remains committed to taking a robust approach to this issue.”

But according to Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador and dual Canadian-U. S. citizen who has helped with the repatriation of two Canadians, it is not entirely up to Canada to decide.

“We kind of forget that other people have a say in these things too – and for sure, it’s up to the Kurds. This is where the crimes were committed, they were the victims. This is a big issue for them,” he said.

Mr. Galbraith said he has been to the prisons – and the conditions are terrible – but so are the conditions of the population that IS victimized.

“Justice is not just something for the perpetrators, it’s for their victims,” he said, adding that the alleged crimes of IS were committed in Syria or Iraq, and so those are the places appropriate to try the crimes. “All of the victims are there, the witnesses are there.” He said that AANES has for years asked for a special tribunal, either international or a hybrid format.

On the issue of repatriating foreigners from the camps, Mr. Omar said AANES has always co-operated with governments, including Canada’s. He described the camps as a “time-ticking bomb” that can explode at any minute, saying the international community needs to help find a solution.

He said AANES is continuing to face serious challenges regarding foreign nationals in its camps and prisons, saying the suspected male foreign fighters “pose a serious threat to the region and the whole world.”

He said the fight against IS terrorism has exacted a brutal toll. On top of the lives lost, people have been left permanently disabled from their injuries and there are thousands of orphans.

“We want justice for the victims. Therefore, we call upon the international community to help the AANES to set up the court to try Daesh members in northeast Syria,” he said.

“The international community is not doing much these days because of its preoccupation with the Russia-Ukraine war. Furthermore, fighting Daesh should not be limited to the military aspect, but it must include socio-economic and political support for the AANES and its military forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).”

Global Affairs Canada did not respond to a request to comment.

Mark Kersten, an assistant professor at the University of the Fraser Valley and a consultant at the Wayamo Foundation, a non-profit that works to strengthen the rule of law and promote justice for international and transnational crimes, said that while the Kurdish authorities have been calling for a court to try IS suspects, there has not been a political consensus on how a tribunal singularly focused on IS would work – particularly because people would ask about how this would address the alleged atrocities committed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Source: The Globe And Mail

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

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-islamic-state-syria-tribunal/

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Andrew Tate’s Muslim Fan base Is Growing. Some Say He’s Exploiting Islam For Internet Popularity

By Sana Noor Haq

February 16, 2023

Iman’s ex-fiancé first referenced social media influencer Andrew Tate in their relationship in October. Three months later, she says, it was all over.

Her former partner, who is in his early 30s, became “very controlling,” she says, after he started listening to Tate’s podcast, promoting patriarchal gender roles. He told her he wanted to have a polygamous relationship – something she says the two had never discussed.

“It was complete hell,” the 29-year-old former insurance broker told CNN. CNN agreed not to report the full names of the women in this piece due to concerns about their privacy.

The Muslim couple had met at the end of 2020 and fell in love over their shared interest in travel, Iman said. They got engaged last year and Iman left her life in Britain to join her ex-fiancé in Dubai, where he’d found work. They set a wedding date for February.

But she says his controlling behavior escalated until he became “a completely different person.”

“I noticed myself becoming very, very passive and trying to avoid confrontation at any cost,” she said. “He started becoming very verbally abusive, insulting me or belittling me.”

Serena, a 25-year-old journalist and marketer from a Muslim family in Britain, says her two brothers, aged 21 and 23, started parroting Tate’s “extremely misogynistic” views in September, after watching videos of him on YouTube.

“This made me upset and quite distressed as my brother is my best friend and I felt I was losing him and didn’t recognize him anymore,” she told CNN of her 23-year-old sibling.

“He has turned extremely misogynistic, telling myself and my mum that our duty is to cook and if my mum doesn’t cook one day he calls her lazy,” Serena said via online messages. “I was telling him he was being manipulated and essentially groomed by Andrew Tate, in which he would respond that I don’t have an opinion and I should stop talking.”

Iman and Serena’s experience reflects a growing chorus of Muslim women online who say Tate – a British-American kickboxer turned-social media influencer – is indoctrinating Muslim men and boys with sexist rhetoric, while promoting a distorted version of Islam to justify his self-proclaimed misogyny and obsession with male dominance. He claimed to have converted to the religion in October.

Now, as Romanian authorities investigate Tate and his brother, Tristan, for allegations of rape and human trafficking in connection with an organized criminal group, more Muslims are scrutinizing the effects of the internet personality’s unbridled influence on younger members of their community. Tate and his brother proclaimed their innocence after being questioned by Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT).

In detention since their arrest on December 29, the pair are due back in court later this month. Andrew Tate was pictured in January carrying a Quran while walking into a court in Bucharest at which his appeal for release was denied, Reuters reported.

Iman says Tate’s adoption of Islam makes her “very, very angry,” adding: “I find it’s very common in Muslim communities in general to use religion for their patriarchal, misogynistic agenda when actually it’s not even what Islam says.”

She and her ex-fiance broke up in January, after Iman says she found evidence he had cheated on her the previous month. Despite his determined efforts to dissuade her, she says, she found the strength to leave him and return to the UK.

‘Disenfranchised’ section of society

Andrew Tate shot to internet fame last year, racking up 11.6 billion views on TikTok while ranting about male dominance, female submission and wealth. Already known for a string of scandals, he was one of the most-Googled people in 2022, and his name appeared first for the “who is” category of the world’s largest search engine.

Commentators say he’s influencing young minds across communities around the world. In the UK, his influence on teenage boys of all backgrounds has prompted concern in schools and debate in Parliament.

In August, the influencer was banned from Facebook and Instagram for violating its policies, which prohibit “gender-based hate, any threats of sexual violence, or threats to share non-consensual intimate imagery,” a Meta spokesperson told Reuters. TikTok also banned Tate in relation to its ban on “sexually exploitative content,” the company said in a statement to Reuters. Elon Musk reinstated his long-shuttered Twitter account in November after taking over the company.

But being banned from major social media platforms did not silence Tate online. He continued to appear regularly last year on internet forums hosted by content creators including Mohammed Hijab and Myron Gaines – both of whom belong to a strand of Muslim male influencers known as “akh right bros.”

Taken from the Arabic word for “brother,” akh right bros situate themselves in opposition to so-called Western values in favor of a version of Islam that is rife with misogyny, according to Javad Hashmi, an Islamic studies scholar at Harvard University.

They tap into audiences who struggle with their identity because they are socially and financially disenfranchised as a result of systemic Islamophobia and racism, and may be sexually frustrated due to a lack of success in the dating and marriage market, explained Hashmi. “You feel second class, and so because of this inferiority complex that you have, you’re looking for an ideology that can give you power and empower you,” he said of that audience.

In this space, akh right bros appeal to some Muslim men and boys because they are “defending their religion in a strong way,” while projecting the notion that women are the root of their social problems, he added.

Even though Tate has been linked to anti-Islam figures such as British far-right activist Tommy Robinson, he has been embraced by akh right bros because their prejudices coincide in the so-called manosphere – a digitized space that promotes male supremacy, anti-feminism and “red pill” culture, said Hashmi.

The “red pill” concept refers to a scene in the 1999 film “The Matrix” in which Keanu Reeves’ character Neo is given a choice: Take the blue pill and stay in the safe but fake world you’ve always known, or take the red pill and enter the “rabbit hole” of the cruel real world. In the manosphere, “swallowing the red pill” starts with the notion that feminism is toxic, men are oppressed and that emasculation is ruining society.

“There’s a kind of a shared human experience in the sense that misogyny is not limited to one religious group,” Hashmi said.

‘They idolize him’

Tate claimed he had converted to Islam in October, shortly after a YouTube appearance in which he called it the “last true religion on the planet” went viral. References to Islam have appeared on Tate’s Twitter profile since his detention.

Former MMA fighter Tam Khan welcomed Tate’s induction into the faith in a video on Twitter, which has garnered 3.2 million views. However, others said Tate had embraced a warped version of Islam based on misperceptions of the faith – including the idea it permits violence against women.

While appearing on a podcast with Hijab, a forerunner of the akh right community, Tate said he believed a husband is “responsible for protecting and providing” for his wife during marriage, and therefore she “belongs to him.” He also claimed that in cases of sexual assault, a woman should bear “personal responsibility” for a situation in which she “made it so easy for something bad to happen to her,” and that “the only thing that satisfies” women is “becoming a mother.”

The episode has gained 2.3 million views since it was uploaded to Hijab’s YouTube channel in October.

Hashmi says there is a symbiotic online relationship between akh right bros and influencers like Tate because they play into an algorithm that rewards extreme views, allowing them to gain virality and make money.

“They (akh right bros) are very anti-Western and anti-liberal, anti-modernity, anti-consumerism, materialism, is what they claim. But in reality … they are on the platforms that are the creation of all of those things,” he said.

Tate has a well documented record of flaunting his riches, with footage of him driving shiny sports cars and smoking cigars flooding his Twitter profile.

In January, Romanian authorities said they had seized nearly $4 million worth of assets belonging to Tate, including motor vehicles, luxury watches and sums of money in several different currencies, as part of a sprawling investigation.

Meg, a 33-year-old Muslim teacher, said Tate’s showy affluence attracted some of the young students at the Islamic school where she works in Melbourne in southeastern Australia.

“I can see why Muslim men whose parents migrated to Australia to have a better life and … are now working low-paying jobs or are unemployed, would connect with this rich man who tells them that men are under attack and that they have dominion over women,” Meg said.

“I think a big pull for them is that he is wealthy and that he talks so much about his wealth … it really contributes to them admiring him. They idolize him. They want to be him.”

‘Normalizing’ sexual violence

From starting a petition to using a hashtag, legions of Tate’s fans have called for his release from detention in the wake of the human trafficking and rape allegations he faces in Romania.

Gaines, who co-hosts a podcast with content creator Walter Weekes, defended Tate and his brother in a December 31 episode, two days after their arrest.

According to Habeeb Akande, a UK-based Muslim sex educator, the unwavering defense of Tate offered by his fans is indicative of a wider societal issue.

“A number of the men … that are attracted to Tate’s messaging, they said they ignore some of what he’s said about the sexual violence against women … they just look at that as comical,” he told CNN. “(They) don’t realize that he’s actually normalizing sexual violence against women.”

Tate’s fans cannot reconcile that “a man can be friendly, nice and good to men, but be a vile human being to women,” he said. “A lot of men are being miseducated about sex by porn. Similarly, a lot of them are being miseducated about interpersonal relationships through figures like Andrew Tate.”

Both Akande and Hashmi believe the wider, unmediated “men’s rights” movement Tate occupies online must be addressed if his popularity is to be diminished.

“It would be very mistaken to think that you just end Andrew Tate, and that would be the end of it. Andrew Tate is one figure in this whole kind of movement. And one of the reasons for this movement is … the online space has been left to these people with very little pushback because they act in a very aggressive way,” Hashmi said.

“There are many … moderate or mainstream Muslim leaders, figures, personalities who refuse to engage in these forums, in this online space, because they don’t want to deal with these people,” he added. “But because of this, you’re ceding that public space to these people.”

Tate’s misguided view of Islam is also harmful to Muslim communities because he is spreading mistruths about a community that is already marginalized by Western society, Akande says.

‘Gross misrepresentation of our faith’

Ayo Khalil, 26, is an NHS doctor and community worker who is trying to bridge the gap between Tate’s fans and those who are openly critical of his platform.

He believes Tate’s conversion to Islam is “a gross misrepresentation” of the faith.

“I feel like Muslims have become very obsessed with … public figures representing Islam, regardless of what they’ve said and done,” he told CNN. “It’s such a damaging and uncritical approach.”

Khalil says he converted to Islam and “fell in love” with the faith, because “social justice and spirituality, discipline and submission were embedded in it.”

Khalil ran an online workshop in January in order to start a critical dialogue about Andrew Tate, sexual violence and Muslim masculinity, after seeing the “dismissive way” members of his community addressed Tate’s popularity.

“I have seen in real time what … sexual violence and sexual abuse and other types of abuse can do to an individual,” he said. “Men in this case have to take individual responsibility to really push back against … the way other men behave towards women.”

He believes that more imams, community leaders and teachers need to speak out against Tate and help young Muslim men re-evaluate how masculinity is defined within the parameters of the faith, including “being in touch with your emotions, showing kindness.”

“Being moderate, this is what makes a man. Not going online, showing watches, boasting, smoking cigars and saying sensationalist things for views,” he said.

Source: CNN

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

https://edition.cnn.com/2023/02/16/world/andrew-tate-muslim-men-manosphere-intl-cmd

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US must do more than talk to resolve Palestine-Israel issue: PA official

MOHAMMED NAJIB

February 15, 2023

RAMALLAH: Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians and home demolition campaign has created a “very dangerous” situation in the West Bank, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for the Palestinian presidency, has told Arab News.

He said: “We are facing an unprecedented extremist Israeli government. The policy that Israel is pursuing amounts to a war against the Palestinian people.

“Daily killings have increased tension in Palestine while the political relationship with Israel is nonexistent and the security coordination has stopped.”

Abu Rudeineh added: “We demand the cessation of all unilateral measures, and therefore all our options will be open, including going to the UN Security Council and moving the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court.”

He said that Israel is seizing $300,000 of Palestinian funds every month, leaving the Palestinian Authority unable to pay the full salaries of its employees.

On Feb. 3, Israel, which collects taxes on behalf of the PA, announced that it would use 100 million shekels ($29 million) of PA funds to compensate victims of Palestinian attacks.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich signed the order, claiming that the funds would normally be transferred by the PA to families of prisoners and resistance fighters.

The amount to be deducted is double the usual figure confiscated monthly — $14.7 million. It was the first move of its kind by Smotrich since he took office.

Abu Rudeineh described Israel as “a state outside the law that defies the law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council, which considers Israeli settlements illegal, including in East Jerusalem.” Israel continues to build in East Jerusalem and the West Bank despite its illegality, he said, adding that Israel has become an “existential threat to the PA as it has a government that messes with security and stability in the Palestinian and Arab arenas.”

He said: “We are facing an American administration that is unable to impose what it says publicly, the latest of which was Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s speech that talks about the two-state solution, and says that all American Democratic and Republican administrations oppose settlements, but they do nothing to stop Israeli steps against the Palestinians, their land and sanctities.

“In our existing contacts with the American side, we were completely clear that unless Israel stops its unilateral measures, we are forced to take decisions, the first of which was the cessation of security coordination.”

He added that the US has issued statements that appeared favorable to Palestine but that needed to be put into practice. “When President Joe Biden came to Bethlehem, he said he was against unilateral measures and with the status quo against settlement expansion and supported the two-state solution, and despite that, Israel continues its settlement expansion, legitimizing settlements and unilateral measures.”

The US administration must force Israel to comply with international law, he said. Statements “do not frighten Israel or discourage it from what it is doing,” he added.

“We constantly hear voices saying we want to strengthen the PA, but they strengthen Israel and Hamas more than they strengthen the PA by contributing to the delivery of money to Gaza.”

Palestinian officials in contact with US government have focused on two issues — unilateral measures and signed agreements, Abu Rudeineh said, adding that those two concerns may be raised in the UN Security Council if no progress is made.

“All American efforts are focused on calming us down, and we tell the Americans that we are not the ones carrying out the escalation. Those who are killing, settling and storming the Al-Aqsa compound are obvious.

“Stop these actions, and things will calm down. But unfortunately, the American administration is giving us the words we want, but it is not forcing Israel to implement them. Therefore, the escalation is taking place because Israel is demolishing homes in Jerusalem and killing Palestinians.”

The US is “required to force Israel to do what America wants,” Abu Rudeineh said, adding: “But the problem is that what matters to America is the security of Israel and not clashing with the Jewish communities in America and dealing with the US internal situation. These are the considerations that govern American foreign policy.”

The killing of Palestinians, home demolitions and storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Abu Rudeineh said, “cause the existing security tension, and it will continue before, during and after Ramadan. The Americans want calm to preserve Israel’s security and not as a prelude to resuming a political process between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

The spokesman described the fears of the Palestinian leadership: “The only concern is the Israeli occupation and the indifference of the American side. However, it seems that the US is concerned with the continuation of instability in the Middle East because what America cares about is the security of Israel and Arab oil.”

He added: “The main problem is the theft of the PA’s funds and the suspension of donor country funds. We have had more than $2 billion stolen and seized by Israel. The US can force Israel to return our stolen money if it is serious.

“America is required to abide by international legitimacy. Is it unimaginable that all American presidents, the latest of which is Biden, visited Ramallah and the Palestinian territories while the Palestine Liberation Organization continues to be classified as a terrorist organization?”

Abu Rudeineh said: "The US administration must reconsider its dealings with the PLO and the Palestinian people. They cannot open a consulate in East Jerusalem and close the PLO office in Washington. The US administration contradicts itself and international legitimacy.”

He added that the US had ended its financial support to the PA in an effort to stop its influence in Jerusalem, “but they will not find a single Palestinian who accepts giving up Jerusalem. Jerusalem is not for sale, and the American administration must reconsider its accounts.”

Regarding the potential for a third intifada in the West Bank, Abu Rudeineh said: “The issue is not a third intifada. Rather, there are Israeli attacks and Palestinian reactions, and all we see is a reaction to Israel’s daily crimes.

“The PA is keen on the security, stability and protection of Palestinian citizens. We are not protectors of Israel, and we will not be in any case either.”

He praised the political stance of Saudi Arabia, describing the Kingdom as “unlimitedly supportive of the Palestinian cause, especially its adherence to the Arab Peace Initiative, which is the best initiative in the last 100 years to support the Palestinian cause.”

He lauded Saudi Arabia’s continuous condemnation of Israeli aggression and the Kingdom’s position on Jerusalem, “which is quite clear.”

Abu Rudeineh added: “We are keen on our relationship with Saudi Arabia and the implementation of the decisions of the Arab summits, on top of which is the Arab Peace Initiative.

“We are against the normalization of some Arab countries’ ties with Israel because it contradicts the Arab Peace Initiative that was proposed and adopted by Saudi Arabia.”

On the future of Palestine, he said: “We are not creating problems for anyone, but the occupation is the one that imposes itself on Palestine and the entire region through all these measures.

“Resolving the Palestinian issue will restore security and stability to the region, and without resolving the Palestinian issue, everyone will burn, and the most important point in the Palestinian issue is the status of Jerusalem, with its historical, national and religious values.”

He added: “Stopping security coordination was the first and weakest card of the PA and as long as Israeli atrocities continue, we will continue with these steps, and more difficult and dangerous steps will follow, including demanding UN Security Council resolutions to delegitimize Israel.

“Our political and legal battle will continue as long as Israel continues its unilateral measures. If they stop them, we will be happy to review all our steps.

“But if the unilateral measures continue, we will implement the decisions of the Palestinian leadership regarding security coordination, turning to the ICJ and the ICC, and instructions have been issued to our UN representative to develop certain political perceptions.”

Abu Rudeineh added: “We are facing American pressure not to go ahead because America wants us to remain silent in exchange for nothing.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2251961/middle-east

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Pakistan

 

Injured, witnesses of Peshawar mosque blast reeling from trauma

Aihtesham Khan

February 16, 2023

The police lines blast that shook Peshawar to the core might be at the back of the country’s mind and its ruling elite but for the injured, first responders, witnesses, and the city’s populace it is a constant source of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

One such victim of PTSD is Fazal-ur-Rahman, an Officer of the provincial education department, who was injured in the blast. “I managed to crawl out of the mosque’s debris,” said a visibly torn Fazal, “it is nothing short of a miracle that I survived.” While Fazal is thankful that he managed to survive, he cannot forget the blood and bones that were scattered all over the place; hence, large crowds and noise trigger his PTSD.

“I am trying to forget the events of the unfateful day but every time I am reminded about the explosion, my brain stops working.” While Fazal was amongst the injured, station house officer (SHO), Saeeda Shaheen, who was on duty a few steps away from the mosque and witnessed the explosion, is similarly distraught. “Once we had recovered from the initial shock of the blast, what we saw was nothing less than doomsday. There was a cacophony of people shrieking from pain and crying for help,” recalled Shaheen, adding that thinking about the event still makes her body tremble. It is likely that the effects of the blast will weigh heavy on both the victims and witnesses for anywhere between 1 to 6 months, as per Senior Clinical Psychologist, Dr Abida Nazir, who works at the Peshawar Central Jail’s Psychiatric Center.

“However, if the PTSD is not treated in time, the affectees will gradually start suffering from lack of sleep, loss of appetite, and will go into a depression spiral,” opined Dr Abida. “It is important that victims and witnesses alike receive regular counselling from a qualified professional to help them get over the trauma.” A Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Official, who happened to survive the blast because he stepped out to answer his phone, concurring with Dr Abida’s suggestion, said that presently he had a recurring migraine and could not sleep properly.

“I have realised that the only way I will be able to forget the horrific events of 30th January is if I seek treatment,” said the official while talking to The Express Tribune under the condition of anonymity. Apart from Dr Abida’s advice as a medical professional, there is ample evidence to suggest that seeking therapy or treatment from a psychiatrist helps. “Although the Army Public School (APS) blast will always be fresh in my mind, regular treatment from a psychiatrist helped me to move on from my trauma,” informed the mother of Muhammad Ali, a student who was martyred in the APS blast. “I was referred to a psychiatrist, who treated me for over a year and that helped me return to my daily life.”

Source: Tribune Pakistan

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

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2401421/injured-witnesses-of-peshawar-mosque-blast-reeling-from-trauma

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China's Islamabad embassy shuts consular section

Feb 16, 2023

ISLAMABAD: China has announced the closure of the consular section of its embassy in Islamabad for an indefinite period citing “technical issues” as the reason.

The Chinese government has also advised its citizens to be extremely cautious while in Pakistan due to threats to their lives.

In a notice on its website, the Chinese embassy shared no specific information about the nature of the “issues” nor was a timeline provided about the reopening of the “temporarily” closed consular section.“The consular section of the Chinese embassy in Islamabad will be temporarily closed from February 13, 2023 until further notice due to technical issues,” reads the notice, adding the closure would remain in place until further orders.

The notice gave no reason for the suspension of the service but growing insecurity against Chinese nationals apparently seems to be one of the factors.

On Saturday, the Chinese foreign affairs ministry’s consular department had warned its citizens that they may be at risk of high levels of security in Pakistan. Beijing’s warning to its citizens had come a day after Islamabad reiterated its resolve to protect all foreign nationals, especially the Chinese. Chairing a security-related meeting last week in the restive port city of Gwadar, interior minister Rana Sanaullah had directed authorities to provide foolproof security to Chinese nationals working on various projects in Pakistan and warned any negligence in this regard would not be tolerated.

As per the official handout of the meeting, the security agencies were told to make foolproof security arrangements and adopt an integrated strategy for the timely completion of hydropower projects worth billions of rupees.

Last year in July, a team of Chinese engineers working on the 84 MW hydropower project in Swat hill station in the northwest had suspended work due to threats and moved to Islamabad.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/chinas-islamabad-embassy-shuts-consular-section/articleshow/97959390.cms

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Qatar Always Played Pivotal Role for Unity In Muslim Ummah: Pakistan Minister for Religious Affairs

Mohammad Ali

February 15, 2023

ISLAMABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 15th Feb, 2023): Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Mufti Abdul Shakoor on Wednesday said that Qatar had always played a pivotal role for the unity of Muslim Ummah.

In a meeting with the Ambassador of Qatar to Pakistan Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman bin Faisal Al-Thani who called on him here at the Ministry, he said Qatar amazingly hosted the Fdration Internationale De Football Association (FIFA) World Cup and presented a beautiful introduction of islam to the world.

Abdul Shakoor said that the Ministry was grateful to the distinguished guest for the visit and expressed the hope that it would further promote relations at the government and public level.

He said that Qatar was a good friend of Pakistan and Pakistanis had deep love for Arabs and Arabic language.

The Qatari Ambassador said that Pakistan was a unique and beautiful land with rich in natural resources.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman was a valuable friend of Qatar and a wise Islamic leader, he added.

The envoy said that Qatar was ready to cooperate with Pakistan on high-quality printed interpretations of the Holy Quran and books of Hadith.

Source: Urdu Point

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

https://www.urdupoint.com/en/pakistan/qatar-always-played-pivotal-role-for-unity-in-1643493.html

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LHC resumes hearing Imran’s bail plea in ECP protest case today

Rana Bilal

February 16, 2023

The Lahore High Court (LHC) will today (Thursday) hear a petition filed by PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan seeking protective bail after an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad rejected his request for pre-arrest bail for skipping court hearings in a case pertaining to violence outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, who was hearing the case, adjourned the hearing to 12:30pm after Imran’s lawyer Azhar Siddique requested for some time. He told the court that the former prime minister was meeting doctors and that the party had security concerns. He, however, assured the court that Imran would be in court.

Yesterday, the ATC — on grounds of non-appearance in court — rejected Imran’s request for an extension in his interim bail in a case pertaining to violent protests outside the ECP after it disqualified him in the Toshakhana case.

The PTI chief has been convalescing in his Zaman Park residence in Lahore ever since he was wounded in an assassination attempt during a pitstop his caravan made in Wazirabad while they were marching on Islamabad.

Subsequently, the PTI chief had approached the LHC for interim protective bail, but the high court refused to grant the bail without his personal appearance and adjourned the petition till today.

“Bring him on a stretcher or in an ambulance. Bail will not be granted without him being present in court,” Justice Sheikh had said.

Earlier today, Imran submitted a power of attorney in court declaring Advocate Azhar Siddique as his counsel for the case.

Imran’s petition

The PTI chairman’s petition was submitted by his counsels Advocates Malik Ghulam Abbas Nissoana, Muhammad Farooq Khokhar, Rashid Gill, Muhammad Aadil Khan and Ch Asghar Ali.

In the petition, Imran said that the Islamabad anti-terrorism court did not grant him an exemption from appearance on the basis of medical grounds, and rejected his request for an extension in his interim bail.

“I have to submit a bail petition again in the Islamabad ATC,” he stated in the petition and prayed to the Lahore High Court to “approve the protective bail for the surrender to take place in the concerned court.”

The case

The terrorism case in Islamabad was filed against Imran in Oct 2022 after PTI workers took to the streets and held demonstrations outside ECP offices across the country after it disqualified the former prime minister in the Toshakhana reference.

Soon after the verdict was announced, the PTI leadership asked people to take to the streets. Clashes were also reported between the police and protesters in Islamabad, Peshawar and Karachi.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1737449/lhc-resumes-hearing-imrans-bail-plea-in-ecp-protest-case-today

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Resumption of trade with India urged to address people’s woes

Ikram Junaidi

February 16, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Poli­ti­cal economist Dr Per­vez Tahir on Wednesday called for revival of trade with India to decrease people’s woes.

He said the federal cabinet’s size should be cut down in conformity with the requirement of the 18th Amendment. Since the federal development spending is financed by borrowing, it ought to be reduced to zero until the budget is balanced, he said, adding that defence expenditure “has a tail longer than… necessary”. It’s time to improve the tooth-to-tail ratio, he stressed.

Dr Tahir was addressing the participants of the Third Asma Jahangir Memorial Lecture organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Former PPP senator Farhatullah Babar also spoke at the event, which was moderated by rights activist Nasreen Azhar.

Dr Tahir suggested that income of big landholders must be subjected to normal income taxation. Wealth tax, inheritance tax and estate duties need to be re-imposed, he said, adding that there should be no increase in indirect taxes. Provinces should devote 50 per cent of their income to development budget and provide the corresponding current budget to fully comply with Article 25-A within two years, he said.

“Property tax should be fully devolved to local governments for effective public service delivery and trade should be opened in the region to deal with the current account deficit,” he suggested.

Political economist says holders of large swathes must pay taxes ‘like everyone else’

While talking about human rights lawyer and social activist Asma Jahangir, Dr Tahir said he knew Asma since the time she was a schoolgirl, adding that those were the days of the student movement launched against the rights usurper Ayub Khan.

“What greater pleasure can there be than celebrating the memory of someone you first saw as a teenage girl who then surpassed all of us as a fearless leader and an outstanding champion of the rights of the weak and the exploited.”

Source: Dawnc

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1737397/resumption-of-trade-with-india-urged-to-address-peoples-woes

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Jamaat-i-Islami Demands Release of Haq Do Tehreek Leaders, Workers

Behram Baloch

February 16, 2023

GWADAR: Jamaat-i-Islami emir Sirajul Haq on Wednesday announced that his party fully supported the demands of Haq Do Tehreek and the people of Gwadar and demanded that the government release all detained leaders and workers of the HDT.

Speaking at a news conference at the Gwadar Press Club, he assured his party’s complete support to the ongoing struggle and movement of the people of Gwadar and condemned the government and local administration for detaining HDT leaders and workers in false cases.

The JI emir also met HDT head Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman and other leaders in a local prison.

“If Gwadar is a game-changer, then the government must bring changes in the life of the local community,” he said, adding that the people of the area had long been demanding their fundamental rights, but the government had treated them like second-class citizens.

He said the HDT movement was against the CPEC, adding that the people only wanted to live a respectful life. The government, he said, must listen to people’s demands instead of rubbing salt on their wounds.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1737393/ji-demands-release-of-hdt-leaders-workers

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Police capture two terrorists found in possession of 1,000 detonators

February 15, 2023

KARACHI: Two suspected terrorists were apprehended in the North Nazimabad neighbourhood of Karachi on Wednesday by a joint operation conducted by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) and the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA), according to a press statement.

The suspects were found to be in possession of 1,000 detonators and other explosive materials.

During the operation, which was underway to locate a third accomplice, the two suspects were taken into custody with the explosives in their possession. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Junaid Ahmed Sheikh of the SIU said the detainees were caught in the act of transporting the explosives from one location to another within the city.

Upon questioning, the suspects confessed to having brought the explosives from Peshawar to Karachi to use for “terrorist activities.” The press release added that one of the suspects who facilitated the transfer of explosives is currently on the run.

Additionally, the statement disclosed that one of the detainees’ accomplices had previously been arrested in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda city and had received an eight-year jail sentence for the possession of explosives.

Source: Pakistan Today

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

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/02/15/police-capture-two-terrorists-found-in-possession-of-1000-detonators/

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American men face terrorism charges years after Pakistan trial

February 15, 2023

ISLAMABAD: It was almost 15 years ago when five young men from northern Virginia left the US to pursue dreams of the War on Terror in Afghanistan, only to find themselves under arrest in Pakistan when their farewell video prompted family members to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Now, after the five served a decade in a prison in Pakistan, US prosecutors are moving forward with plans to put them on trial again for terrorism charges.

At a status hearing Tuesday in US District Court in Alexandria, however, a judge gave strong indications that she plans to toss out charges against one of the men on grounds that torture and solitary confinement he allegedly endured in Pakistan have rendered him mentally incompetent.

In fact, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema has questioned the utility of bringing charges against any of the five, given the fact that they were convicted and punished already in Pakistan.

“If these men have been prosecuted in Pakistan and served significant periods of incarceration in a Pakistani prison, and now the United States government is trying to charge them for essentially the same conduct in this country, you’ve got to think about whether that makes sense,” Brinkema said during a December status hearing on the case.

The five men — Waqar Khan, Ahmed Minni, Ramy Zamzam, Aman Yemer, and Umar Farooq — originally came to the FBI’s attention only after the family reported them missing.

In late 2009, the five left the US for Pakistan, leaving behind an 11-minute video espousing the need to engage in the war to defend Muslim lands under attack. Family members sought to stop them from making the trip once they learned of the plans, reaching out to a Muslim civil rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and eventually to lawyer Nina Ginsberg and the FBI.

But the five had already made it to Pakistan and began looking for people who could help them get to Afghanistan. They were frequently turned away by those they sought out, according to a recently unsealed FBI affidavit, although one man suggested he could help if one of the five’s extended family in Pakistan could vouch for them.

They were arrested in Sargodha, a city in the eastern province of Punjab, on December 9, 2009, about nine days after the FBI learned they left the US, according to the affidavit.

Several members of the group admitted to FBI agents that their goal was to fight against American troops if they got to Afghanistan.

The five were charged in Pakistan, where they say they were tortured during their detention — allegations denied by authorities. All five were convicted and received 10-year terms.

After serving their sentences, the US government has sought to bring them to the US to face charges here. So far, though, only three of the defendants — Zamzam, Yemer and Minni — have been deported back to the US. A fourth remains in Pakistani custody, and a fifth is at large there.

Yemer, who was just 18 when he was arrested and is the youngest of the five, faces serious mental health problems. Ginsberg, his lawyer, said in court that Yemer’s faculties eroded after mistreatment and solitary confinement in Pakistan. As she described it, Yemer sits in a chair all day, nonresponsive. He only eats if he is fed, and he only goes to the bathroom if someone takes him to a toilet.

Months in a hospital, including electroshock treatment, were largely unsuccessful, she said.

“They just totally incapacitated him,” Ginsberg said after Tuesday’s hearing, in which her client appeared dressed in a gray tracksuit, his face blank.

Ginsberg said during the hearing that she was hopeful the US would drop the charges against her client. Brinkema gave clear indication she will dismiss the charges against Yemer as soon as Ginsberg files a motion seeking dismissal regardless of whether the Justice Department agrees.

As for the other defendants, prosecutor John Gibbs expressed optimism that a plea deal will be reached and circumvent the need for a trial. Lawyers for Zamzam and Minni have said that if a deal can’t be reached, they plan to seek dismissal on grounds that their clients were denied the right to a speedy trial, among other potential issues.

At a hearing in December, Brinkema raised the question of whether a US trial would amount to double jeopardy, although it was not immediately clear whether the trial in Pakistan would allow the defendants to claim double jeopardy protection in the US.

Source: Pakistan Today

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

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/02/15/american-men-face-terrorism-charges-years-after-pakistan-trial/

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Mideast

 

Iran Raps US' Unconditional Support for Terrorists

2023-February-15

Kana'ani in a series of tweets on Wednesday said that "supporting terrorists and criminals is an integral part of the US foreign policy".

"The Zionist regime as the manifestation of organized terrorism, Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorist group, and the torturing and criminal members of SAVAK as a terrible anti-human organization, all have been and are under the direct and continuous support of the United States," the diplomat wrote.

"The clear message of the Iranian nation to the US; Stop supporting criminals and terrorists, interfering in Iran's internal affairs, and [imposing] oppressive sanctions against the Iranian nation," the spokesperson added.

Hundreds of people poured into the streets of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday – coinciding with the 44th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution – calling for “regime change” in Iran.

The participants included the members of the MKO terrorist outfit, monarchists loyal to the Pahlavi family. Parviz Sabeti, the former deputy chief of SAVAK, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s so-called “secret police” known for its third-degree torture and other gross human rights abuses, was also present with his family at the gathering.

There is documented evidence of how undercover SAVAK agents – working directly on the orders of Sabeti – would intimidate, arrest, torture, rape and kill women during the Pahlavi dictatorship.

Responding to the question of a reporter given the presence of Sabeti, Kana'ani said on Monday countries claiming to be the flag-bearers of human rights have morphed their countries into safe havens for criminals and hooligans.   

“This came as no surprise that a country purportedly believed to be forerunner in protecting human rights has hosted a criminal with checkered history,” he stated.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011126000600/Iran-Raps-US'-Uncndiinal-Sppr-fr-Terrriss

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Iran sentences six Arab political prisoners to death: Rights group

15 February ,2023

Iran has sentenced six Iranian Arab political prisoners to death, and six others have been handed jail sentences ranging from five to 35 years, a human rights group reported on Tuesday.

The six individuals who were sentenced to death are Ali Mojaddam, Moeen Khanfari, Mohammad-Reza Moghadam, Salem Mousawi, Adnan Mousawi, and Habib Drees, the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO), which monitors human rights violations in Arab-populated regions in southwest Iran, said.

Fares Amouri, Jasem Alboughobeish, Qasem Moghadam, Eskandar Moghadam, Raad Maniaat and Tofigh Maniaat were given prison sentences ranging from five to 35 years in jail, the group said.

The verdicts were issued on Tuesday by Branch 4 of the Revolutionary Court of Ahwaz, the capital of Khuzestan province, according to AHRO.

The charges against the prisoners have not been made clear.

The Iranian judiciary has not commented on the report, which came days after state media reported that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had pardoned “tens of thousands” of prisoners, including many arrested in recent anti-regime protests following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini in September.

Rights activists have expressed skepticism over that announcement, pointing out that many prominent figures remain in jail and activists continue to be arrested.

Oil-rich Khuzestan is home to a large Arab population that has long complained of being marginalized and discriminated against in Iran.

Iran experienced months of protests following the death of Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who died on September 16 shortly after her arrest by the morality police for allegedly breaching the country’s strict dress rules for women.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/15/Iran-sentences-six-Arab-political-prisoners-to-death-Rights-group

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Palestinians denounce new Israeli expulsion law as ‘the ugliest form of racism’

16 February 2023

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has strongly condemned a new Israeli law that facilitates the expulsion of Palestinian prisoners and their families, with the Palestinian foreign ministry calling it “the ugliest form of racism.”

The resistance movement said in a statement on Wednesday that Israel’s law violates the rights of Palestinians in their ancestral land and is aimed at paving the way for their forceful expulsion.

The Israeli parliament passed a law earlier in the day that allows the Tel Aviv regime to revoke the residency status or citizenship of those who have been engaged in activism against the occupation of Palestinian lands, and deport them either to the occupied West Bank or the besieged Gaza Strip.

The bill was passed in the Knesset by 94 votes to 10 on Wednesday. It was fast-tracked through parliament following an escalation of tensions across West Bank towns and cities in recent months.

The law stipulates that those sentenced to prison, and who have received a form of funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA) can have their citizenship or residency revoked and be deported.

The Palestinian foreign ministry slammed the law as “the ugliest form of racism.”

Qadoura Fares, the chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Association, said: "This is an unjust and racist law that aims to empty the land of its native residents and eject people from their homes."

Fares said the law was a “very dangerous decision that aims to transfer Palestinians from their cities and villages under the pretext of getting social assistance from the PA.”

The new law will apply to Palestinian citizens of Israel and permanent residents of occupied East al-Quds. The latter widely refuse Israeli citizenship and are issued residency IDs by Israel’s interior ministry.

The Palestinian Authority gives stipends to families of Palestinian prisoners or detainees.

Adalah, an organization that advocates Palestinians' rights in Israel, said the law “not only creates an additional avenue for the revocation of the citizenship of residency of Palestinians … under the Israeli regime, but also facilitates their expulsion.”

“The law explicitly and exclusively targets Palestinians as part of Israel's entrenchment of two separate legal systems based on Jewish supremacy,” the group said in a statement.

Ahmad Tibi, an Arab opposition lawmaker in the occupied territories, condemned the law as discriminatory.

“When an Arab commits a crime, they are a conditional citizen, whereas when a Jew commits even a more serious crime, revoking their citizenship is unheard of,” he said.

Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right cabinet, discussions about withdrawing residencies and stripping away citizenship from Palestinians living in al-Quds have been floated, specifically for prisoners who have carried out retaliatory operations.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/16/698295/Palestinians-slam-new-Israeli-law-%E2%80%98the-ugliest-form-of-racism%E2%80%99

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'War crime': Israel approves law to deport Palestinian citizens to Gaza, West Bank

15 February 2023

The Israeli parliament has passed a law that allows the Tel Aviv regime to revoke the residency status or citizenship of those who have been engaged in activism against the occupation of Palestinian lands, and deport them either to the occupied West Bank or the besieged Gaza Strip.

The final reading of the bill was passed in the Knesset by 94 votes to 10 on Wednesday. It was fast-tracked through parliament following an escalation of tensions across West Bank towns and cities in recent months.

The law stipulates that those sentenced to prison, and who have received a form of funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA) can have their citizenship or residency revoked and be deported.

It will apply to Palestinian citizens of Israel and permanent residents of occupied East al-Quds. The latter widely refuse Israeli citizenship and are issued residency IDs by Israel’s interior ministry.

According to international law, deportation by an occupying power constitutes a breach of the Geneva Conventions and is considered one of the most serious war crimes.

This is while the Israeli threat of deportation of Palestinian prisoners is standard practice.

In 2013, for example, the Israeli regime sought to force hunger striker Samer el-Issawi to accept being deported to a UN member state in return for him ending his strike.

According to the Israeli rights group B’tselem, the goal of such deportations is to create a demographic and geographic reality under which Israel’s sovereignty in the occupied East al-Quds cannot be challenged.

“This policy blatantly discriminates between Palestinian residents of East al-Quds and Israeli settlers,” the rights group said. “Israeli citizens can leave for as long as they like and always have the right to return.”

Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right cabinet, discussions about withdrawing residencies and stripping away citizenship from Palestinians living in al-Qudsm have been floated, specifically for prisoners who have carried out retaliatory operations.

According to human rights organizations, Israel has revoked the residency status of at least 14,701 Palestinians in East al-Quds from 1967 to 2020. The number will jump to 86,000 if the dependent children of those who had their residencies revoked are counted.

Earlier, the Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement had denounced the deportation bill as a flagrant violation of Palestinians’ rights.

“Such a bill is aimed at Judaization of occupied Palestinian lands, and an attempt to displace Palestinian people forcibly,” it said in a statement on January 12.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/15/698290/Israel-approves-law-to-deport-Palestinian-citizens,-residents-to-occupied-territories

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Israel to boost Palestinian economy ahead of Ramadan, amid US tensions

By TOVAH LAZAROFF

FEBRUARY 15, 2023

Israel's security cabinet took steps to boost the Palestinian economy in advance of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held lengthy consultations with the Biden administration, according to a senior source.

This includes the regulation of tolls on the Allenby Bridge which is the main thorofare by which West Bank Palestinians travel abroad. Fuel fees will be lowered and the Israeli Economy Ministry will update the list of goods that are imported into the Palestinian territories.

The security cabinet made the decision at its meeting on Sunday, but details of the decision were only released on Wednesday.

Coming amid fears of escalation of violence, Israeli tensions with Biden administration

The move comes amid concerns of a sharp escalation in violence when Ramadan begins on March 22, particularly given that it will overlap with the Passover holiday in April. The US has looked to Israel to take steps to improve life on the ground for Palestinians, particularly in lieu of any peace process.

But the gesture also comes amid tensions between Israel and the Biden Administration over the security cabinet’s decision on Sunday to transform 10 West Bank outposts into nine new settlements.

On Tuesday the IDF’s Civil Administration followed that move by publishing a Wednesday, February 22 meeting of the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria.

The Higher Planning Council is slated to advance plans for some 10,000 new units in West Bank settlements, not all of which will be approved at that meeting.

The Palestinian Authority in response has appealed to the United Nations Security Council to issue a statement or a resolution condemning the move. Israel is working to ensure that the US will block the move given that it is one of five countries with veto power at the council.

In the worst-case scenario, it is hoping that any UNSC statement, would also condemn Palestinian terrorism.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price spokesman said on Tuesday, “We are opposed to unilateral measures that have the potential to exacerbate tensions and that can move us further away from a negotiated two-state solutions.

Source: J Post

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

https://www.jpost.com/news-updates/article-731676

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Iranian President Underlines Absolute Necessity for Strengthening Peace in Asia

2023-February-15

President Rayeesi made the remarks during a meeting with students, professors and academic personnel from Peking University on Wednesday.

“A new world is forming and taking the place of the older one. The new world requires an up-to-date order in which real multilateralism, maximum synergy, solidarity and dissociation from unilateralism will thrive more than ever, and a fair and just order will accordingly emerge,” he stated.

The president added Asia lies at the center of the emerging global developments, stressing that protecting and promoting peace throughout the vast continent is not only a matter of choice but an absolute necessity.

Rayeesi noted that Iran’s military prowess and regional capabilities are directed at perseverance of security and stability in other countries and will only be employed to counter threats from hegemonic powers.

“Among the Islamic Republic of Iran’s strategic achievements is its triumph over transnational challenges such as terrorism and extremism in West Asia,” the Iranian president pointed out.

Rayeesi also hailed the age-old relations between Tehran and Beijing, saying that China joined the international community through the ancient Silk Road, and Iran provided a fertile ground for the progress and welfare stemming from the trade route.

“Not only did the Silk Road facilitate trade and cooperation among different nations as the most important route, but it also served as a cultural bond and connected different societies together throughout history,” he added.

Iran's president went on to hail China’s Belt and Road Initiative, emphasizing that Iran and China, with the revival of this initiative in the modern world, have once again reasserted their determination to strengthen friendship and take firm steps toward homogeneous development, strategic partnership and a promising and prosperous future for the humankind.

Earlier in the day, President of Peking University Hao Ping awarded the title of "Honorary Professor" of Peking University in recognition of President Rayeesi's services and actions in strengthening and developing relations between Iran and China, as well as maintaining peace in the region and the world.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011126000772/Iranian-Presiden-Underlines-Absle-Necessiy-fr-Srenghening-Peace-in

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China’s Xi accepts Iranian president’s invitation for state visit to Iran

16 February ,2023

China’s President Xi Jinping has accepted Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s invitation to pay a state visit to Iran, a joint communique between both countries said on Thursday.

The statement released on Raisi’s last day of a three-day visit to Beijing did not give more details.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/16/China-s-Xi-accepts-Iranian-president-s-invitation-for-state-visit-to-Iran

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At remote desert outpost, Israeli settlers triumphant despite Western anger

15 February ,2023

Between Jericho and the Dead Sea, Israeli settlers rejoice after the government granted their outpost retroactive approval. An hour's drive north, others are beaten by officers evicting an unsanctioned settler vineyard.

Drawing Western concern and Palestinian anger, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government authorized nine settler outposts in the occupied West Bank this week, in response to two Palestinian street attacks in which nine Israelis were killed.

On hearing the news from the government on Sunday night, the young men of Beit Hogla, a cluster of mobile homes housing around 35 families neatly set up near a desert road, broke into a dance.

“We had tears in our eyes. It was very joyful,” said Yagel Shmuel, a 31-year-old father of four who came to live in Beit Hogla seven years ago with four other families.

The formal recognition will make it easier to pave roads, and build schools for the settlement's 100 children, said Shmuel. “We hope the government's decision will bring us a lot of families and we can build here a big settlement.”

Since the 1967 war, Israel has established around 140 settlements on land Palestinians see as the core of a future state. Besides the authorized settlements, groups of settlers have built scores of outposts without government permission.

Some, like the vineyard uprooted on Wednesday, have been razed by Israeli security forces. Others were authorized retroactively. The nine granted approval on Sunday are the first for Netanyahu's new nationalist, religious government.

Palestinian officials have denounced the move as a provocation and called on world powers to back up verbal condemnation with action against Israel.

Most world powers deem settlements built in the territory Israel seized in the 1967 war as illegal under international law and their expansion as an obstacle to peace, since they eat away at land the Palestinians claim for a future state.

Israel disputes the illegality of the settlements and cites Biblical and historical ties to the West Bank, which it calls by its Biblical name - Judea and Samaria.

Ideological settlers believe they are pioneers redeeming land promised by God to the Jewish people. Legalizing outposts was one of the main promises Netanyahu's Likud party made to their leaders in coalition deals following the Nov. 1 election. “This is the most important thing we have,” said Shmuel.

More than 450,000 people, or less than 5 percent of Israel’s population, are Jewish settlers in the West Bank, home to about 3 million Palestinians who exercise limited self-rule there.

While the leaders of the pro-settler parties Religious Zionism and Jewish Power celebrated the authorization of the outposts, the vineyard's uprooting on Wednesday exposed cracks in the government.

Religious Zionism leader, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, denounced the uprooting and blamed Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for ignoring their coalition deal granting him increased powers in the West Bank over settlement expansion.

Footage showing some border policemen beating settlers who tried to stop the eviction further aggravated Smotrich and his ally, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/15/At-remote-desert-outpost-Israeli-settlers-triumphant-despite-Western-anger-

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UN Security Council extends sanctions on Houthi leaders for nine months

February 15, 2023

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Wednesday extended for nine months an asset freeze and travel ban targeting a dozen Yemenis, mainly top members of the Iran-backed Houthi militia, over the ongoing conflict there.

The short Council resolution, adopted unanimously, does not modify the sanctions regime already in place — it simply sets November 15 as the new end date for the measures.

The panel of experts tasked with managing the sanctions saw its mandate extended until December 15.

The Council also reaffirmed the arms embargo, which has targeted the Houthis for the past year. That measure has no expiration date.

Council members discussed the situation in Yemen behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2251886/middle-east

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Africa

 

Algeria arrests one person who threatened to blast Saudi embassy

15 February ,2023

Algerian security forces arrested one person who threatened to blast the headquarters of the Saudi embassy in Algiers, Algerian state TV reported on Wednesday.

The Saudi embassy received a call at 3 am local time (0200 GMT) on Wednesday from a person who threatened to bomb its headquarters, the TV added, citing a statement from the capital’s security forces.

The capital’s security forces arrested the suspect after investigations, the report said adding that the person was subjected to medical checks and psychological tests before being prosecuted.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/02/16/Algeria-arrests-one-person-who-threatened-to-blast-Saudi-embassy

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At least 73 migrants ‘presumed dead’ after shipwreck off Libya: UN

15 February ,2023

Dozens of migrants are believed to have died in a shipwreck off Libya, with only seven survivors found so far, the United Nations said Wednesday.

“At least 73 migrants are reported missing and presumed dead following a tragic shipwreck off the Libyan coast yesterday (Tuesday),” the UN’s International Organization for Migration said.

The boat carrying 80 people had departed Qasr al-Akhyar, some 75 kilometers (46 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli, and was heading to Europe.

So far, 11 bodies have been retrieved by the Libyan Red Crescent and the local police, IOM said.

And the UN migration agency said that “seven survivors who made it back to Libyan shores in extremely dire conditions are currently in the hospital.”

The central Mediterranean remains the world’s deadliest migratory sea crossing.

The latest tragedy brings the numbers of deaths there since the beginning of this year alone to 130, IOM said.

According to the agency’s Missing Migrants Project, more than 1,450 migrant deaths were recorded on that route in 2022.

And more than 17,000 deaths and disappearances have been recorded there since 2014.

“This situation is intolerable,” IOM said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2023/02/15/At-least-73-migrants-presumed-dead-after-shipwreck-off-Libya-UN-

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Libya dispatches tons of medical supplies to quake victims in Türkiye

15.02.2023

TRIPOLI, Libya

Libya’s Tripoli-based government has dispatched tons of medical supplies to the victims of last week’s two deadly earthquakes in Türkiye, according to a Turkish diplomat on Wednesday.

Turkish Ambassador in Tripoli Kenan Yilmaz said that the Libyan aid has exceeded 15 tons of medical supplies.

“Medical devices, hospital beds, generators, blankets and heaters were sent to the quake victims as part of the Libyan aid,” Yilmaz told Anadolu.

Jibril al-Shteiwi, the director of the Libyan defense minister’s office, said an air bridge has been launched upon orders from Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh for the quake victims in Türkiye and Syria.

“Four planes loaded with aid have already been sent to Türkiye and Syria,” he said, adding that a fifth aid plane is also being prepared to be dispatched.

At least 35,418 people were killed and 105,505 others injured in two powerful earthquakes that rocked southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, according to the latest official figures.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 10 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

In Syria, at least 3,688 people were killed and over 14,749 injured in the earthquake disaster.

Since the earthquake disaster, 16 Arab countries officially announced the launch of air bridges and the provision of urgent relief and medical aid to support Türkiye, according to official statements.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/libya-dispatches-tons-of-medical-supplies-to-quake-victims-in-turkiye/2821217

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India

 

Haji Irshad Ali, a Sari Trader In Kashi, Writes Gita With Ink Made Of Ganga Jal, Soil

Feb 16, 2023

VARANASI: Haji Irshad Ali, a sari trader in Kashi, who used to write 'Shahadatain' for the burial of the dead in his childhood is nowadays busy in scribing the holy Hindu text Shrimad Bhagwad Gita in calligraphy using Ganga's soil and water on the large sheets of white cotton fabric.

Earlier, he had also written the holy Quran, Hanuman Chalisa and other religious texts in the similar style on cotton fabric measuring 30x24 inches. He wishes to gift his artistic works to celebrities including President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

"When I was 14, I started writing Shahadatain on a piece of half-meter cloth to be put on the shroud before the burial of the dead," said Irshad, who is now 53. Shahadatain literally means declaration of faith - to declare there is only one God, Allah, and that Muhammad is his messenger.

"The passion for writing grew further, and I decided to script the holy Quran on fabric pieces. It took almost six years to complete all the 30 paragraphs of Quran with the handmade ink made with the soil of the Ganga, Aab-e-Zamzam (water from Zamzam well), jafran (saffron) and gond (adhesive)," said Irshad, the resident of Bhelupur locality. The famous Banarasi silk brocade has been used for the binding of the bulky book.

Later, he started writing Shrimad Bhagwad Gita in the same style and size. "The only difference is that I used Ganga jal (Ganga water) along with Gabnga soil and gond to prepare the ink for this work," he said, adding that before starting the venture, he sincerely learnt Sanskrit to understand Shrimad Bhagwad Gita. "I bought a Sanskrit translation book and took help of local priest to learn the language," he said. He has also written Vishnu Shastranaam, Hanuman Chalisa and the National Anthem on cotton fabric pieces.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/muslim-sari-trader-writes-gita-with-ink-made-of-ganga-jal-soil/articleshow/97964986.cms?from=mdr

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BJP To Engage Influential Sufi Saints To Reach Out To Muslim Voters Ahead Of The 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

16th February 2023

By Rajesh Kumar Thakur

NEW DELHI: Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Bhartiya Janata Party is geared up to launch a comprehensive nationwide outreach programme among the influential Sufi saints of the country, making them familiar with the party’s policies and programmes started for the Muslims and other minority communities.

This comes as the first such initiative chalked out by the BJP through its minority morcha, which is reaching out to the minority communities, especially the Muslims, to bring them closer to the party.

Under the new programme, the party’s cadre will engage Sufi saints from several states, including Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The outreach programme, called ‘Sufi Saints Samvad Conference’, will have the religious leaders preach love and brotherhood among all sects. The Conference will be organised by the minority morcha starting from March this year across the country.

Speaking to this newspaper, Jamal Siddiqui, the national president of BJP minority morcha, said the Modi government has proved that ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas, sabka prayas’ has never been just a slogan of the BJP, but a dynamic project. “People from the minority communities, including the Muslim community, should realise this. There is a need to tell them about the party’s programmes aimed at their progress,” Jamal Siddiqui said.

Quoting a line of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, Siddiqui said, “The Muslims are the flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood,” Siddiqui said that the conference aims at having a wider dialogue with Sufi saints about how to take the country ahead in a peaceful way. “The need of hour is to bring the Sufi saints into the forefront,” he said.

Besides religious leaders from dargahs such as Ajmer Sharif and Hazrat Nizamuddin and other places, a Christian saint from Delhi has also been included in this programme, Siddiqui said. The BJP leader further said that the BJP’s minority morcha will also facilitate a meeting of the Sufi saints with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the near future.

Boosting ‘Sabka Saath’

BJP’s minority morcha is reaching out to the minority communities, especially Muslims, to bring them closer to party

Party planning a new nationwide outreach initiative, ‘Sufi Saints Samvad Conference’, from March onwards

A Christian saint from Delhi has also been included in the conference

BJP minority morcha also planning to facilitate meeting of Sufi saints with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in near future

Source: New Indian Express

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

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2023/feb/16/bjp-to-engage-sufi-saints-to-reach-out-to-muslim-voters-2547965.html

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Government Drags Feet On National Council For Promotion Of Urdu Language; Delaying The Reconstitution Of Its General Body

Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   New Delhi  

16.02.23

A government organisation working for the promotion of Urdu has been unable to carry out crucial activities like organising seminars, opening teaching centres and promoting books as the Centre is delaying the reconstitution of its general body.

The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), which has 37 members, has been functioning with only its four permanent members — the education minister as the chairman, the director and two officials of the ministry of education. In the absence of the general body, or the entire strength of the NCPUL, the 10-member Executive Board also lies defunct.

Many Urdu scholars and organisations have expressed concern over the activities of the NCPUL coming to a standstill. The education ministry had constituted the council in 2018 for three years. The tenure of the members ended over a year ago in December 2021. The Executive Board is constituted from among the members of the council. The strength of the board now stands at four — the four permanent members of the NCPUL.

The general council of the NCPUL gives broad advice on the activities of the organisation. The Executive Board has a greater role since its approval is required to carry out most promotional activities.

The NCPUL provides grants to institutions and NGOs for holding seminars and conferences, gives approval for opening centres for teaching Urdu and facilitates research projects and bulk purchase of books written by scholars. NCPUL director Aquil Ahmad said he had taken up the vacancies with the government. “The reconstitution of the council is under process. It will happen soon,” he said.

However, the delay means the money earmarked by the government for the promotion of Urdu in 2022-23 could largely remain unutilised.

Shohab Malik, a faculty member of Urdu at Jammu University, said: “This will be the most unfortunate thing that for the first time the funds meant for promotional activities will remain unutilised. There is hardly any time left to organise seminars or open centres and carry out research. The funds will have to be utilised before March 2023.”

Kausar Mazhari, who teaches Urdu at Jamia Millia Islamia university, said the NCPUL lying defunct meant neglect of the language.

“The delay in the reconstitution of the council is an act of neglect towards the promotion of the Urdu language. I hope the government reconstitutes the council at the earliest,” Mazhari said.

An official of the education ministry said the council had proposed a list of names in December 2021 for appointment as members of the NCPUL.

“The process of reconstitution is at an advanced stage,” the official said.

The Telegraph sent an email to Sanjay Murthy, the secretary in the department of higher education, asking why the NCPUL council had not been reconstituted. A response is awaited.

Online conference

The NCPUL, which organises a World Urdu Conference (WUC) with eminent scholars of Urdu from across the globe, has been holding the event online since 2020, drawing the ire of scholars. Malik said the scholars have a greater scope of interacting and knowing each other when a conference is held in the physical mode.

“A virtual conference is not effective. The participants get disturbed by the activities at home. They fail to socialise. When every institution is functioning in the physical mode, there is no reason to hold the WUC virtually,” he said.

Source: Telegraph India

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

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/government-drags-feet-on-urdu-council/cid/1916815

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Madhya Pradesh Govt Rechristens Town with Islamic Name; Islamnagar to Jagdishpur

February 15, 2023

The Madhya Pradesh government under BJP has changed the name of a historic town in the state from Islamnagar to Jagdishpur.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan made an announcement to this effect at the Gaurav Diwas programme held in Chaman Mahal of the town yesterday evening. He said Jagdishpur has regained its lost identity after 308 years.

The CM launched development works worth nearly Rs 27 crore on the occasion and also unveiled a stone plate of Jagdishpur’s name.

Chouhan said historically Jagdishpur was settled and ruled by Devda Rajputs but Dost Mohammad Khan conquered it and named it Islamnagar. The CM claimed that Dost Mohammad Khan had treacherously murdered the ruler of the place Narsingh Devda after inviting the latter for dinner.

Source: The Statesman

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

https://www.thestatesman.com/india/madhya-pradesh-govt-rechristens-town-with-islamic-name-1503154840.html

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16th-Century Mosque and Grave At Humayun’s Tomb Go Under Knife

Feb 16, 2023

NEW DELHI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has begun conservation work on the 16th-century Afsarwala tomb and mosque, located inside the Humayun’s Tomb complex.

The tomb, along with other structures, is part of the Unesco World Heritage site.

According to ASI officials, the identity of the ‘Afsar’ or officer who raised these buildings is not known. However, one of the graves inside the tomb bears the figures 974, which could refer to the Hijri year corresponding to 1566-67. Both the mosque and the tomb may have been built around that time, said the officials.

Nadeem Hussain, ASI’s conservation assistant at Humayun’s Tomb, said that several stones at Afsarwala mosque had fallen, cracks had appeared on its walls and the plaster was peeling off. The path leading to the mosque towards Arab ki Sarai is also badly damaged and causing inconvenience to visitors as the lime concrete had decayed and used mortar particles were being blown away by wind to other areas of the monument.

“The original lime plaster layers that survived will be retained. Additional lime plaster will be carefully matched with the original to restore only the missing portions,” said Hussain.

The work, which was started in the first week of January, is likely to be completed by the end of February. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 23 lakh, said ASI officials.

“For strengthening and filling the gaps on the walls, we are using a mixture of belgiri, jaggery and gum in water,” Hussain said, adding that Delhi’s quarries will be used for replacing stones.

The mosque lies on a raised platform within the eastern enclosure of Arab Serai at the complex. Its prayer chamber has three arched openings and the central bay has a dome roof. To the north of the mosque is a long and dilapidated hall with arched openings.

At the south-eastern corner of the mosque, on the same raised platform stands an octagonal tomb with a double dome. The mausoleum is built from grey quartz and lined with red sandstone and marble.
Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/16th-century-mosque-and-grave-at-humayuns-tomb-go-under-knife/articleshow/97959466.cms

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'Disturbing': Gujarat HC Dismisses Objection to Sale of Shop to Muslim Man in Hindu-Majority Area

Feb 16, 2023

New Delhi: The Gujarat high court imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on people who had objected to a Hindu man selling his shop to a Muslim man, calling the objections “disturbing,” Bar and Bench has reported.

“It is a disturbing factor that a successful purchaser of property in a disturbed area is being hounded and thwarting his attempt to enjoy the fruits of the property which he successfully purchased,” the single judge on the bench, Justice Biren Vaishnav said.

A Muslim man, according to the report, purchased a shop from a Hindu man in a Vadodara locality identified as “predominantly Hindu.” Petitioners in the case were witnesses who had signed the sale agreement between the two parties in 2020 but who now claimed that they had been coerced to sign them.

The Collector and local police had also objected to the sale, citing that it could affect the “balance” and cause law and order problems.

In 2020, the high court had dismissed these objections. It was when the transaction was supposed to be registered with the sub-registrar that the witnesses said that they had been coerced.

An additional civil application was filed by more than 10 shop owners, whose businesses were beside the Muslim man’s.

In 2021, the Gujarat high court had stopped the state government from declaring any locality a “disturbed area” allowed under Section 3(1)(ii) of the Gujarat Disturbed Areas Act, 1991, stating that it could lead to “improper clustering of persons” from “one community”.
Source: The Wire

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

https://thewire.in/law/gujarat-high-court-muslim-man

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Muslim Student Group Alleges Islamophobia by ABVP at University Of Hyderabad

15th February 2023

Hyderabad: Muslim Students Federation (MSF), a student organisation at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) has alleged that the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) employed Islamophobic slogans against them at the University’s general body meeting on Wednesday.

Speaking to Siasat.com, Mohammed Muhsin said that after protests from the ABVP, the yearly held University General Body Meet (UGBM) which sheds light on the work done by the UoH Students Union, was cancelled. As all students present were leaving the Amphitheatre on campus, MSF claims to have been attacked by cadres of the ABVP.

“There were around 100 of us and around 300 ABVP members. They started shouting slogans like Goli maaron saalon ko (Shoot the traitors) and also asked us to ‘Go to Pakistan’,” said Muhsin, the president of MSF and a PhD Management studies student at the university.

MSF is the student organisation of the Indian Union Muslim League party.
Source: Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/hyderabad-muslim-student-group-alleges-islamophobia-by-abvp-at-uoh-2527686/

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Gujarat HC dismisses objection of property sale to Muslim man in Hindu area

15th February 2023

The court called the objections of the Hindu individuals “disturbing”. The men had signed the sale agreement as witnesses when the Muslim individual purchased property from a Hindu man in 2020. However, in the court the witnesses claimed that they were coerced into signing it.

Earlier in 2020, the high court had dismissed the objections. However, when the transaction was supposed to be registered with the sub-registrar, the witnesses stated that they were coerced.

“It is a disturbing factor that a successful purchaser of property in a disturbed area is being hounded and thwarting his attempt to enjoy the fruits of the property which he successfully purchased,” the single judge on the bench, Justice Biren Vaishnav said in the current case.

Source: Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/gujarat-hc-dismisses-objection-of-property-sale-to-muslim-man-in-hindu-area-2527514/

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Arab World

 

Saudi Arabia Partners With the Indian Premier League for Tourism Promotion

SANJAY KUMAR

February 15, 2023

NEW DELHI: The Saudi Tourism Authority has signed a partnership agreement with India’s most popular cricket league to tap into a strong sports fan base in both countries and promote the Kingdom as a leading destination for Indian visitors.

In the past two years, India has emerged as Saudi Arabia’s key tourism source market and is expected to become the largest one by 2030, as the STA’s efforts are concentrated on building relations with Indian industry stakeholders.

The cricket partnership, inked between the authority and the Indian Premier League on Tuesday evening aims at increasing the Kingdom’s appeal in the south Asian nation. The STA will be an official sponsor of the IPL — a men’s Twenty20 franchise and the world’s most-watched cricket league.

“We are delighted to announce our partnership with IPL, because we know how important cricket is to our visitors from South Asia,” Alhasan Al-Dabbagh, the STA’s chief for Asia Pacific, said in a statement.

“Through our partnership with the IPL, we aim to increase Saudi Arabia’s presence and appeal in the Indian and south Asian markets. We are excited to show prospective south Asian visitors why they should consider Saudi not only as their next holiday destination, but also as a viable sports destination as we play host to prominent sports and entertainment events such as Formula One, WWE, and the Spanish Super Cup.”

The partnership follows the STA’s other recent promotion programs in India, including a successful tourism roadshow and participation in a series of travel and trade events across the country earlier this month, including the One World Travel Market in Mumbai and the South Asian Travel and Tourism Exchange — Asia’s leading platform for the tourism and hospitality industry.

The promotion strategy and the cricket partnership found immediate appeal in both the sports and tourism industry.

“The IPL partnership is a powerful channel to engage with its vast audience and support the Saudi Tourism Authority’s objective of creating brand awareness in India as well as among the fans from the entire cricketing world,” Rajeev Shukla, vice president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said during the announcement of the IPL deal.

“We hope that through this partnership, we inspire and grow the cricket fanbase in Saudi and in collaboration with STA, create exciting opportunities for them to engage with the game.”

Jay Shah, the board’s secretary, said he believed the partnership would help position Saudi Arabia as the leading tourism and sports destination.

“For us, it’s an exciting prospect that the Saudi Tourism Authority has immense faith in the power of the IPL to bring countries together.

“This partnership will create newer opportunities for cricket in Saudi and strengthen the sport in the region,” he added.

Cricket matches have been organized in Saudi Arabia since the 1960s, when the game was introduced by expatriates from Pakistan and India. As years passed, the sport became more structured and local clubs began to form.

The Kingdom became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council in 2003 and in 2016 was promoted to associate membership.

But the game’s real boom began only recently, with the establishment of the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation in 2020, which has since lined up a series of programs to promote the sport at home and prepare national teams to compete with the world’s best in the future.

The idea to involve cricket in the country’s promotion was expected to boost Saudi Indian ties.

“It is great news for Saudi Arabia and India,” Elodie Azar, deputy general manager of the Saudi travel operator Kurban Tours, told Arab News.

“I feel that sport is a way to engage the young generation. This will help to promote Saudi as a leisure and tourism destination. This will also help to connect with many cricket fans around the world and to lead Saudi to be a destination for sports fans also not only tourism or business.”

In addition, it was expected to help forge people-to-people relations that underpinned economic and political partnerships.

“Building people-to-people ties is essential for India and Saudi Arabia,” Mohammed Soliman, strategic technologies director at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said.

“It is part of the broader trend of economic and political integration in West Asia.”

Muddassir Quamar, Middle East expert and fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, described the cricket partnership as a “defining moment” in Saudi Indian relations.

“There is a strong push in the Kingdom for bringing mega sporting and recreational events inside Saudi Arabia and the partnership can be one step toward that,” he told Arab News.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2251841/world

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Iraq's Moqtada Al Sadr urges MBC to withdraw $75m Ramadan series on Umayyad caliph

Ismaeel Naar

Feb 15, 2023

Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr has urged Saudi-owned MBC Group not to broadcast a TV series scheduled to run during Ramadan, which depicts the life of Umayyad caliph Muawiyah bin Abi Sufyan.

Muawiyah is reportedly the most expensive Arab TV drama series in history at a cost of $75 million.

“Broadcasting such series is contrary to the new, moderate policies pursued by the brotherly country of Saudi Arabia,” Mr Al Sadr wrote on Twitter on Tuesday evening.

“There is no need to hurt the feelings of your Muslim brothers in the east and west of the earth.”

MBC Group is the biggest broadcaster in the Middle East and North Africa. The show marks the directorial TV debut of Palestinian-Egyptian director Tariq Al Arian and is scripted by journalist Khaled Salah.

Production began in July in the Tunisian city of Hammamet with other scenes filmed in Kairouan, also in Tunisia.

The character of Muawiyah is played by Syrian actor Loujain Ismail, after veteran Palestinian artist Ali Suleiman withdrew from the role.

Actresses attached to project include Asma Jalal, Aisha bin Ahmed and Jamila Chihi, playing Muawiyah's wives. Jordanian actor Iyad Nassar portrays Imam Ali bin Abi Talib.

The Umayyad Caliphate ruled a large part of what is now the Middle East from 660 to 750 and was ruled under the first caliph Muawiyah. His son Yazid bin Muawiyah ruled as the second Umayyad caliph — the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Imam Hussein, protested against his caliphate.

Shiites mark Ashura annually to mourn the death of Imam Hussein bin Ali, who was killed in a battle outside Karbala in modern-day Iraq in 680 AD by Yazid bin Muawiyah's army.

Although MBC has yet to respond publicly to Mr Sadr’s statements, MBC Media Solutions (MMS), the commercial arm of MBC Group, announced the company’s highly anticipated Ramadan 2023 line-up this week in Riyadh and Dubai.

“We all know by now the impact and reach of Ramadan and we are proud of our role as MMS in enabling brands to be a part of this special season’s stories and narratives year on year,” said MMS chief executive Ahmed Al Sahhaf in Riyadh.

Shows focusing on early Islamic figures following the Umayyad and Rashidun dynasties have been dramatised for TV in the past. Directed by the late and influential Syrian filmmaker Hatem Ali, MBC broadcast Saqr Quraish in 2002, tracing the rise and fall of the 7th and 8th-century Umayyad dynasty.

Source: The National News

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

https://www.thenationalnews.com/mena/iraq/2023/02/15/iraqs-moqtada-al-sadr-urges-mbc-to-withdraw-75m-ramadan-series-on-umayyad-caliph/

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Syria's Assad welcomes ‘positive stance’ from Arab nations

15 February ,2023

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday welcomed “any positive stance” from Arab nations, including many that severed ties with Damascus since the outbreak of its civil war.

His remarks came during a meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Damascus, after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Turkey and Syria on February 6, leaving a combined death toll of nearly 40,000 people.

Safadi's visit is the second by a top Arab diplomat to Syria since the quake, after Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan also met Assad in Damascus on Sunday.

“The Syrian people welcome and respond to any positive stance towards them, especially from the Arab brothers,” Assad said, according to a statement from his office.

He further emphasized the importance of “bilateral cooperation between Syria and Jordan”.

Jordan was among the first countries to respond to the quake in Syria, sending at least three planes and dozens of trucks laden with aid.

“We have been cooperating for a long time, but we highly appreciate this visit because it comes at an appropriate time,” Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told Jordan's Al Mamlaka TV after the visit, hailing Amman's “generous aid”.

Jordan is among the few Arab countries that maintained diplomatic ties with Damascus even after Syria's 2011 suspension from the Arab League over bloodshed in its civil war.

Communications were however limited and official visits were halted for several years until June 2021, when a Syrian ministerial delegation visited Jordan.

Jordan's King Abdullah II also called Assad after the quake, having held in October 2021 his first official call with the Syrian president since the war began.

Analysts have viewed the momentum after the quake as an “opportunity” for Assad to return to the Arab fold as leaders have reached out to offer aid.

On Tuesday, a Saudi plane carrying aid landed in Syria's second city Aleppo – the first in more than a decade of war and severed diplomatic ties.

Following the quake, Assad also received a call from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi offering support, their first official exchange since Sisi assumed office in 2014.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/15/Syria-s-Assad-welcomes-positive-stance-from-Arab-nations

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Saudi Arabia’s World Defense Show 2024 will be expanded amid strong demand

16 February ,2023

Saudi Arabia’s World Defense Show has received such massive interest in participating in the second edition, that the organizers will expand the exhibition space to accommodate more participants and visitors, state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday.

The General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) announced that the second edition of the World Defense Show (WDS) will be held in Riyadh on February 4-8, 2024.

The WDS serves one of the pillars of Vision 2030, achieving the Kingdom’s goal to localize 50 percent of its military equipment spending by 2030.

“In response to… strong demand, and as part of the show’s overall enhancement initiatives, WDS organizers have reviewed expansion plans to include a third exhibition hall offering the defense community with an additional 25 percent of exhibition space, to compliment the two existing main halls,” SPA reported.

WDS CEO Andrew Pearcey said: “Since the resounding success of the sold-out inaugural World Defense Show in 2022, we have really been humbled and so very pleased with the overwhelming interest from exhibitors and new defense ecosystem constituents keen to participate.”

He added: “In fact, and in order to accommodate this tremendous growth in demand, we have expanded our venue to accommodate an additional 9,000 square meters in exhibitor space.”

The first edition of the WDS held in 2022 registered military and defense procurement contracts with a total estimated value of $7.92 billion (29.7 billion riyals). It also attracted over 600 exhibitors from more than 42 countries, over 100 official defense and security delegations, and witnessed more than 65,000 visits over the course of the show.

GAMI Governor, Ahmad al-Ohali, said the goal of localizing 50 percent of the Kingdom’s defense equipment and services by 2030 can be reached through “focusing on developing indigenous capabilities in defense industries, technologies, and national competencies, as well as job creation for Saudi youth, and an increased contribution from the sector to the national economy.”
Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/saudi-arabia/2023/02/16/Saudi-Arabia-s-World-Defense-Show-2024-will-be-expanded-amid-strong-demand

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UAE FM Sheikh Abdullah discusses ties, trade with Blinken, US senators

15 February ,2023

UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed met with the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a number of American lawmakers this week to discuss an array of issues and partnership possibilities.

During his meeting with Blinken in Washington, Sheikh Abdullah discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in security, climate, trade exchange and investment, according to the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

In their meeting on Tuesday, they also highlighted their joint efforts to combat extremism in the Middle East and further the Abraham Accords.

The UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan normalized ties with Israel in 2020 through signing the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

Rising tensions and violence between Israelis and Palestinians were also discussed. The two sides looked at ways to prevent further escalation of violence and restore calm, State Separtment Spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

The devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey and ways to provide humanitarian aid were also discussed as were climate-linked initiatives and the upcoming COP28 event in the emirates.

“We understand the urgent need for ambitious action with the US and other partners to address climate change and facilitate a smooth transition to a near-carbon-neutral world in the future,” Sheikh Abdullah said.

Price also commended the UAE for its “steadfast support for Ukraine” and voiced appreciation for the UAE’s humanitarian aid contributions to the Ukrainian people.

Separately, the top Emirati diplomat met with Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Jim Risch, Vice Chairman of the Committee; and Senator Todd Young.

The meetings explored ways to strengthen economic relations between the two allies, and promote trade and investments.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/02/15/UAE-FM-Sheikh-Abdullah-discusses-ties-trade-with-Blinken-US-senators

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UAE to provide Syria with additional $50 million in aid after deadly earthquakes

15 February ,2023

The UAE will provide an additional $50 million in aid to quake-hit Syria on the direction of President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed.

The latest fund allocation will add to the existing $50 million to the war-torn Middle Eastern country that saw a deadly 7.8 magnitude quake followed by an aftershock destroy homes and take lives earlier this month.

Out of the additional $50 million, $20 million will be allocated for “humanitarian projects in response to the emergency appeal of the United Nations in Syria,” the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Wednesday.

The projects will reportedly be carried out in coordination with the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

Since 2011, the conflict in Syria has killed nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes, with many seeking refuge in Turkey.

Even before last week’s earthquake, the majority of the population was in need of humanitarian assistance. The latest disaster has piled on more misery. Opposition-controlled areas have received little assistance as frontlines with the government are sealed off and only a single border crossing links it to Turkey to the north.

The UAE has so far sent 38 flights to Syria carrying 1,243 metric tonnes of food and medical aid, 2,893 tents that can shelter nearly 20,000 people, and 42 rescuers.

Ties between Damascus and Abu Dhabi were strained after the Syrian civil war broke out more than a decade ago. Syria was expelled from the 22-member Arab League over the conflict.

The UAE reopened its embassy in the Syrian capital in December 2018, suggesting an effort to bring Assad’s regime back into the Arab fold after years of boycott.

Last March, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a visit to the UAE, his first to an Arab state in more than a decade.

Deadly quakes

More than 41,000 people have been killed in Turkey and Syria when the devastating quakes hit the countries on February 6, destroying entire villages and injuring hundreds of thousands.

The UAE has sent a total of 70 flights to both affected countries. In the aftermath of the quake, the UAE also sent rescue teams to help recover people trapped underneath toppled buildings.

Several relief campaigns have also been set up across the emirates to collect donations as well as aid to send to the two countries.

The Gulf country also recently opened a field hospital in Turkey’s Gaziantep with an inpatient ward comprising 50 beds, operating rooms and a medical team of 75 doctors, nurses and assistants.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/02/15/UAE-to-provide-Syria-with-additional-50-million-in-aid-after-deadly-earthquakes

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UK makes it easier for aid agencies in Syria to avoid breaching sanctions

February 15, 2023

LONDON: Britain said on Wednesday it was issuing two new licenses to make it easier for aid agencies helping earthquake relief efforts to operate in Syria without breaching sanctions aimed at the government of President Bashar Assad and its backers.

The combined death toll in Turkiye and Syria from last week’s earthquake has climbed above 41,000, and millions are in need of humanitarian aid, with many survivors having been left homeless in near-freezing winter temperatures.

In Syria, relief efforts have been hampered by a civil war that has splintered the country and divided regional and global powers.

The British government said the temporary new licenses would “strengthen the timely and effective delivery of relief efforts by removing the need for individual license applications.”

“UK sanctions do not target humanitarian aid, food, or medical supplies, but we recognize that the current requirements for individual licencing are not always practical during a crisis response,” Minister of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said in a statement.

The licenses provide broad protection to organizations to allow them to operate by authorizing activities which would have otherwise been prohibited.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2251931/middle-east

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Jordan's foreign minister visits Syria in first trip since foreign-backed war

15 February 2023

Jordan's foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Ayman Safadi, visited Damascus on Wednesday in the first such visit by a senior Jordanian official since foreign-backed militancy broke out in Syria more than a decade ago.

Safadi met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the presidential palace in the Syrian capital, the country's official news agency SANA said, and conveyed condolences of Jordan's King Abdullah II to the Syrian people over the recent earthquake.

The catastrophic quake that hit northwestern Syria last week killed thousands of people and left many more injured and displaced.

The top Jordanian diplomat stressed that the Jordanian leadership and people stand in solidarity with Syrians in the wake of the tragedy and “will continue to provide everything possible to help Syria overcome the terrible ordeal, and support the Damascus government’s relief efforts to assist those affected.”

Safadi stressed that the international community should deal with the calamity in accordance with humanitarian principles so that much-needed aid supplies are delivered to all quake-devastated regions without any discrimination or politicization of the matter.

For his part, Assad appreciated Jordan’s official and popular stance following the devastating earthquake that left a trail of death and destruction.

“Due to their geographical and cultural commonalities, both nations face similar challenges in many spheres. This provides ample opportunities for promotion of cooperation in the areas of common interests," he was quoted as saying.

Safadi is slated to head to Turkey from Damascus to show “solidarity" with the country, a statement from the Jordanian foreign ministry said.

“Safadi will discuss the humanitarian and aid needs that the two countries need,” read the statement, noting that aid planes will fly to both the earthquake-affected countries on Wednesday.

Jordan has dispatched large shipments of aid to Turkey and Syria, with the kingdom sending a medical hospital to Turkey and organizing several flights and aid convoys through the country’s northern border crossing with Syria.

The Syrian health ministry announced on Tuesday that the death toll from the quake stands at 1,414, while the number of injured people has reached 2,357.

The ministry's count of earthquake casualties only includes the quake-hit areas under government control.

A day earlier, a UN relief agency said 4,300 deaths and 7,600 injuries caused by the quake had been reported in the militant-held areas in northwestern Syria.

Jordan downgraded diplomatic relations with Syria, like most other Arab countries, following the outbreak of foreign-sponsored militancy in the country in 2011, when Abdullah II asked Assad to step down.

Jordan hosted Western-backed armed groups fighting against Damascus. It also took in hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria.

The tide of the war gradually began to turn in September 2015, when Russia began conducting air raids against Daesh and other Takfiri terrorist groups inside Syria at the Damascus government’s request. The Syrian government is now in control of almost all the areas once seized by terrorists.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/15/698268/Top-Jordanian-diplomat-visits-Syria-in-first-trip-since-start-of-foreign-backed-conflict-in-2011-

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South Asia

 

Afghan Taliban ‘Unlikely To Stop Support for Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’

Anwar Iqbal

February 16, 2023

WASHINGTON: Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are unlikely to discontinue supporting militants in Pakistan as they feel that economic troubles prevent Islamabad from launching a major operation against the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), according to a new report from a leading US think tank.

“Amid Pakistan’s economic crisis and the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan, the Pakistani Taliban have reemerged as an increasingly potent threat,” warned the report, released in Washington on Tuesday by the US Institute of Peace (USIP).

Referring to Kabul’s recent criticism of Islamabad’s policies, the report argued that “this undiplomatic rhetoric underscores the Taliban’s determination to continue supporting the TTP, even in the face of intensified pressure from Pakistan”.

USIP argued that the Taliban’s response to being confronted about their support for the TTP “has been to level counter-accusations — which does not signal an impending shift away from that support”.

USIP report fears Pakistan’s deteriorating economy will limit its ability to act against terrorists

Such rhetorical signals are matched by anecdotal reports from UN officials and other observers — quoted in the USIP report — of TTP individuals moving freely and conducting business in Afghan cities.

Interlocutors with access to Kandahar report that the Taliban emir and his close advisers were “unlikely to waiver in supporting the TTP on ideological grounds,” the USIP report noted.

According to this report, another key factor shaping the Pakistani response is the country’s deteriorating economy, which is on the brink of a default. “That limits Pakistan’s military options. Pakistan can carry out raids and undertake defensive actions inside the country, but it doesn’t have the resources for a sustained high-intensity campaign,” USIP warned.

The report noted that “Pakistan has flirted with the idea of cross-border airstrikes again,” which it last conducted in April 2022 and it also faced “growing pressure for action,” but seemed reluctant to act.

The pressure came from political groups in Pakistan who were “framing the terrorism resurgence as a conspiracy by the military to block former prime minister Imran Khan’s return to power and to get American aid,” the report added.

But the report argued that economic pressures and the risk of a conflict spiral, especially amid reports of Taliban fighters joining the TTP, “may induce doubts in Pakistan about such a cross-border operation”.

The TTP’s escalating campaign of violence “is a function of its growing political and material strength — reflected in its political cohesion, expanding cadre of trained fighters, suicide bombers, weapons, and equipment,” the report added.

“The Afghan Taliban remain very supportive of the TTP and are providing the group with a permissive safe haven,” the report claimed. It noted that the TTP also had a lot of popular support in Afghanistan, “where both Taliban and non-Taliban constituencies get behind the TTP due to a fervent dislike for Pakistan”.

The USIP reported that some Taliban fighters were also joining the TTP, and some recent bombers, who carried out attacks inside Pakistan, were also Afghan.
Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1737417

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Armed Forces Raided a Private TV Network in Afghanistan

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 15, 2023

A group of Taliban members stormed Tamaddon TV network’s compound in Kabul on Tuesday, and harassed the employees of the media organization, according to official sources.

Islamic Emirate members entered the compound at around 4:30 pm on Tuesday and conducted a search operation in all the departments, according to Afghan Independent Journalist Association (AIJA).

The primary assessment of AIJA indicates that the armed members who raided Tamaddon TV Network belonged to the ministry of interior. AIJA reported that the employees were verbally abused, and the Taliban members took with them two vehicles of the agency which had legal licenses.

Hujjatullah Mujadidi, Head of the Afghan Independent Journalist Association met with Kabul Police Chief Commander Khalid Zadran at the Tamaddon TV compound and shared the complaints with the relevant authorities. Mr. Zadran assured that a comprehensive investigation is underway and the findings will be shared with the head of Tamaddon TV and AIJA in a timely manner.

Besides condemning the incident in which journalists and media workers were harassed, AIJA has asked for a thorough investigation and suggested the relevant organizations to prevent such raids in the future. It is also stated that in case of violation of rules by media outlets, relevant entities (Ministry of Information and Culture and Media Violation Commission) should take action.

Previous also, the Taliban members had stormed media organizations in Afghanistan – threatened media workers and journalists. On certain occasions, they even detained and persecuted journalists.

Taliban authorities have warned the media outlets that their publications and programs should be Islamic, and avoid using negative thoughts against the ruling regime. 

Since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, the group is accused of arbitrary arrest and abuse of dozens of journalists and media workers. The group has imposed tough restrictions on media outlets, especially on women journalists.
Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/armed-forces-raided-a-private-tv-network-in-afghanistan/

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Chinese media hail Iran, China for standing up to US, Western hegemony

16 February 2023

Reflecting on Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi's ongoing momentous visit to China, the Chinese media have underscored the importance of the visit to the countries' successful efforts to stand up to the US, and Western hegemony.

Raeisi arrived in China on Tuesday on a three-day visit to the country, the first to be made by an Iranian president in two decades.

Chinese media outlets have been abuzz with special coverage and relevant content since the immediate run-up to the visit, underlining the weight of the visit with respect to bilateral, regional, and international dynamics.

United against 'US interference, sabotage'

China's English-language daily Global Times noted how the bilateral cooperation between the countries had thrived on their common efforts at "overcoming interference and sabotage by the US side."

It said the Sino-Iranian relations were characterized by "win-win cooperation...outside the US-West bloc and its influence circle...which cannot be blocked by the political forces of the US and the West."

"As two ancient civilizations in Asia, China and Iran are now important industrialized powers and energy producers respectively. The two countries are highly complementary economically, and both have a strong desire for development. The development needs of the two countries are highly compatible in many fields. For many years, China has been Iran's largest trading partner; Iran is one of the most important markets for China's overseas project contracting, and exports of complete sets of equipment and technology,"  the paper wrote.

"The development of China-Iran relations has a strong endogenous driving force. It can be said that President Raisi's visit to China is very natural," it added.

"In this sense, China's deepening cooperation with Iran also has anti-hegemony and anti-bullying feature," the publican wrote. "Both China and Iran uphold independent foreign policies, firmly defend the principle of non-interference in internal affairs on international occasions, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries. This is conducive to promoting the multi-polarization and diversified development of the world, and conforms to the general trend of the times."

China's 'unswerving' resolve to develop Iran relations; ties' 'strategic' backbone

Confirming the ties' immunity to third-party pressure, China Daily noted how Raeisi's counterpart Xi Jinping had vowed in remarks to him that China would "unswervingly" develop friendly cooperation with Iran no matter how the international and regional situations evolve.

The newspaper expressed confidently that the Iranian president's visit was destined to "enhance ties" between the countries, and called the trip "a sign of the reinforced high-level contact between Beijing and Teheran."

China's Xinhua news agency, meanwhile, underlined how Xi had asserted in other remarks to Raeisi that China had always viewed and developed its relations with the Islamic Republic from a "strategic perspective."

Iran, China facing similar challenges

South China Morning Post mentioned that the visit had come at a time, when "both China and Iran are struggling with challenges at home and abroad."

It noted how both nations were facing Western pressure, in terms of sanctions. The paper also reminded us that Beijing's relations with Washington had reached their lowest ebb over the past decades across several areas, from trade to advanced technology to the military.

Raeisi, who has said he would sign as many as 20 deals with China during his visit, could urge China -- Iran's biggest trading partner -- to "use more yuan" in trade settlements and investment with the Islamic Republic as means of circumventing the American coercive measures, the paper concluded.

Chinese broadcaster CGTN hailed that the Sino-Iranian ties had weathered "various international vicissitudes," calling the two "sincere strategic partners." Xi would urge the nations to cooperate to "practice true multilateralism," it added.

The presidents, the network said, vowed to implement the Iran-China 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership agreement.

The two sides jointly announced the launch of the implementation of the plan last March, agreeing to step up cooperation on energy, infrastructure, production capacity, science and technology, and medical and healthcare.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/16/698294/Iran-China-President-Raeisi-visit-importance-Chinese-media

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Afghanistan marks 34th anniversary of Soviet Union’s withdrawal

By Fidel Rahmati

February 15, 2023

Thirty-four years ago, on February 15, 1989, the last Soviet Soldier crossed the Afghan-Soviet border ending one of the bloodiest wars in the history of Afghanistan.

Today, 15 February, has been declared a holiday to mark the anniversary of the withdrawal of former Soviet forces from the country.

The former Soviet Union sent thousands of troops into Afghanistan, controlling the country politically and militarily. The invasion of Afghanistan longed almost nine years, from December 1979 to 15 Feb 1989. The presence of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan is considered one of the lasting legacies of the Cold War.

On the other hand, the United States and its regional allies, notably Pakistan, launched a containment policy to compel Moscow to withdraw from the country. After nine years of war in the country with the direct financial support of the US and Saudi Arabia and technical training by Pakistan, the former Soviet Union withdrew from the country. It finally led to the collapse of the pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led to the killing of nearly two million Afghans and left other thousands disabled in the war.

After the withdrawal of the Soviets, the US left the country in a dire humanitarian crisis and civil war, along with the interference of the regional powers till 2001.

The September 11 attacks on the United States and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan led to the newly established government in the country. The US and its allies both economically and militarily backed the government.

The Doha agreement on February 2020 between the US and the Taliban negotiation team undermined the Kabul government and led to the collapse of the system in the country.

On August 2021, the Taliban retook control of the country and established its Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The international community and organizations have not recognized the caretaker till now.

Since the collapse of the previous regime, the country has faced several economic, humanitarian, and legitimacy crises. The US and its allies left the people alone in a dire humanitarian crisis that once had been claimed as the strategic partner.

On the 34th anniversary of the Soviet Union, the caretaker government in Kabul called for a positive interaction with the world on occasion. The present government in Kabul said, “If the countries have a clear and good interaction with us, we are also ready to have a positive interaction, keeping in mind our religious and national interests.”

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-marks-34th-anniversary-of-soviet-unions-withdrawal/

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4000 ISIS-K Fighters Stationed in Afghanistan Near Tajikistan Border: Anatoly Sidorov

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 15, 2023

Anatoly Sidorov, Chief of the Joint Staff Chief of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has announced that the ISIS fighters in Afghanistan reach 6500, out of which 4000 ISIS-Khorasan fighters are believed to be stationed near the Tajikistan border.

Mr. Sidorov stated that ISIS-K militants are mostly stationed in northern Badakhshan, Kunduz, and Takhar provinces. Prior to this, United Nations officials had revealed in a fresh report that several thousand ISIS militants are operating in Afghanistan. Sidorov believes that militant group poses threats to the security of Central and South Asia.

However, the Islamic Emirate officials repeatedly denied such claims and say that Taliban security personnel target ISIS fighters and would not allow them to grow in numbers in the country. Herewith, the Taliban officials report on carrying out separate operations on ISIS fighters across Afghanistan.

Since the return of the Taliban to power, ISIS militants have carried out brutal attacks in Kabul and other provinces of Afghanistan, claiming the lives of scores of innocent civilians and foreign diplomats.

Meanwhile, Tajikistan which shares a border with Afghanistan has experienced rocket attacks from the militant group over the past year.

Emomali Rahmon, the President of Tajikistan whose country is a permanent member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization had stated earlier that at least 6000 terrorists operate in Afghanistan.

Anatoly Sidorov, Chief of Joint Staff of (CSTO) in a press conference on Tuesday admitted that ISIS-K and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan are a serious threat to the security of Central Asia.

“Instability in the regions is directly linked to the Taliban’s policy to repress religious and ethnic minorities, increasing level of violence and lack of unity. The Taliban-run administration is currently plagued with a serious economic and humanitarian crisis,” he added.  

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/4000-isis-k-fighters-stationed-in-afghanistan-near-tajikistan-border-anatoly-sidorov/

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Taliban aid group donates $50,000 in plastic bag to Turkey earthquake victims

15 February ,2023

An Afghan Taliban-run aid organization has donated $50,000 towards earthquake victims in Turkey, according to a tweet with a photo of the representative allegedly handing over the money in a plastic bag.

The Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) President Mawlavi Matiul Haq Khalis, who was a member of Afghanistan’s negotiating team in Qatar during US talks, was photographed handing a plastic bag to the Turkish ambassador in Kabul Cihad Erginay.

Some media reports stated that the plastic bag, featuring an energy drink brand in Afghanistan, contained the $50,000 (4.5 million Afghanis).

“Turkey is a compassionate and friendly country of Afghanistan, which has always helped and sympathized with the people of Afghanistan in difficult situations,” Khalis was quoted as saying in an ARCS statement.

He was appointed the president of the ARCS in 2021.

Earlier this month, the Taliban government in a statement expressed condolences to Turkey and Syria for the tragedy, in which more than 41,000 people have been killed.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2023/02/15/Taliban-aid-group-donates-50-000-in-plastic-bag-to-Turkey-earthquake-victims

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Southeast Asia

 

Xi Jinping accepts invitation for state visit to Iran

Feb 16, 2023

BEIJING: China's President Xi Jinping has accepted Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's invitation to pay a state visit to Iran, a joint communique between both countries said on Thursday.

The statement released on Raisi's last day of a three-day visit to Beijing did not give more details.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/xi-jinping-accepts-invitation-for-state-visit-to-iran/articleshow/97969076.cms

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Anwar rebuts claims of 'excessive' aid for Turkiye

February 16, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today told the Dewan Rakyat the reasons why Malaysia is sending considerable aid to quake-hit Turkiye.

"There are quarters who are questioning why Malaysia is taking this step and some have described it as 'excessive'.

"First, there is unprecedented large-scale damage, apart from the (destruction from) the (2004) tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia.

"Secondly, we enjoy a special friendship, not just personally, but between both countries.

"And thirdly, Turkiye before this has provided direct and indirect assistance to several of our initiatives, amounting to millions of ringgit, and this rarely happens in bilateral ties with other nations," he said.

Anwar, who is also finance minister, said the government was donating US$1 million to Turkiye.

He said he would propose additional funding for the country at the cabinet meeting tomorrow.

Malaysia has sent RM50 million to Turkiye, he said, adding that this was a figure to be proud of.

The biggest contributor was Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, which donated €5 million.

Yayasan Albukhary gave RM10 million, and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia gave US$1 million.

Anwar said Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar was one of the earliest donors. He gave US$1 million.

Source: NST

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

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2023/02/880478/anwar-rebuts-claims-excessive-aid-turkiye

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Racial fairness in jobs goes beyond political correctness

16 Feb 2023

The benefits of a diverse workforce go beyond political correctness. For long-term benefit to the country, it is fitting that the public and the private sectors embrace diversity by accommodating Malaysians of all ethnic groups in their workforce.

They should promote diversity in their workforce to reflect the racial composition in the country and ensure that no ethnic group is deprived of jobs in both the sectors.

A multiracial workforce in both the public and private sectors will pave the way not only for better work ethics but will also nurture better cultural understanding and, to an extent, lessen racial and religious inharmoniousness among the various communities.

The new unity government has shown some positive signs in ensuring that the issue of racist speech and extremism in religious rhetoric is nipped in the bud. In fact, more can be done to tone down the nasty racial and religious discord that now and again rears it ugly head.

Start with the schools

Racial tolerance and understanding starts at the school level. The present government has a crucial role to play in making national schools the school of choice of all Malaysians.

Efforts have to be made to prevent national schools from being turned into “religious schools” that will be shunned by pupils of different ethnic groups and religions.

A multiracial setup in all national schools will nurture and pave the way for better cultural understanding among pupils of all ethnic groups.

The workforce and students in all educational institutions in the country also need to be multiracial to reflect the racial composition of the country.

Fairness in employment

The workforce in the public and private sectors in general have to reflect a fair ethnic composition, so that no Malaysian will feel marginalised when it comes to employment.

Studies have shown there are many benefits to workplace diversity, in promoting cross-cultural understanding and generating more ideas, competition and challenges. There is a wider range of skills among employees and a diversity of experiences and abilities, which can lead to greater innovation, better decision-making and higher engagement.

In a diverse workplace, employees are more likely to remain loyal when they feel respected and valued. People can learn from each other.

All sectors, public as well as private, must facilitate a significant representation of people of all ethnic groups, at all levels.

A report by the LinkedIn site on global recruiting trends showed that 78% of companies prioritise diversity to improve work culture and 62% of companies prioritise it to boost financial performance and productivity.

The report added that sectors making meaningful efforts towards diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as providing a sense of belonging are observed to be more dynamic and successful.

Political stability

Population-wise, 69.9% of Malaysians are classified as Bumiputeras (of whom 63.5% are Muslim), 22.8% are classified as ethnic Chinese and 6.6% as ethnic Indians. Those who do not fall under these three main ethnic groups are classified as “others”.

Malaysia has over 80 sub-ethnic groups, each having its own unique way of life. The country has to continue accommodating all these ethnic groups in employment.

Only a nation that is politically stable, and not bogged down by racial and religious rancour, will draw in investors. No investor would want to invest in a nation that is embroiled in racial or religious skirmishes.

There are countries with people of one race and religion yet in shambles because of intra-racial and intra-religious strife, so much so that investors fear to tread there. They are economically doomed, bringing a lot of misery to the people.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2023/02/16/racial-fairness-in-jobs-goes-beyond-political-correctness/

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Europe

 

UK presents evidence that Iran is supplying advanced weapons to Yemen’s Houthis

15 February ,2023

Britain says it has for the first time presented evidence that Iran is supplying advanced weapons to the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, after finding images of tests conducted at the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards in Tehran on the hard drive of an unmanned aircraft seized by the Royal Navy.

Personnel from the British ship HMS Montrose seized the unmanned quadcopter along with a shipment of missiles and missile parts in February last year when they stopped and searched a number of fast-moving skiffs in the Gulf of Oman.

The weapons and other evidence were presented to the United Nations as linking Iran to violations of Security Council resolutions barring weapons shipments to the Houthis, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Monday in London.

“This is the first time we have been able to present evidence to the UN that indicates a direct link between the Iranian state and the supply of these weapons,” a ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with departmental policy.

The UN has prohibited weapons transfers to the Houthis since 2014 when they descended from their northern stronghold, toppled the internationally recognized government of Yemen and seized the capital, Sanaa. Iran has long denied arming the militia.

The commercial quadcopter seized by the Royal Navy is designed for reconnaissance flights, the ministry said.

Investigators were able to decrypt the data on the aircraft’s internal memory, which hadn’t been wiped. That’s where they discovered the records of 22 test flights conducted at the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace headquarters in western Tehran, the ministry said.

The drone was in the same shipment as a number of surface-to-air missiles and components for Iranian Project 351 land attack cruise missiles.

The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence of Iranian interference in the conflict in Yemen, which has spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Western nations, UN experts and others have traced Houthi weaponry ranging from night-vision scopes, rifles and missiles back to Tehran.

Most recently, French naval forces in the Gulf of Oman in January seized thousands of assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles coming from Iran and heading to the Houthis.

In November, the US Navy announced that it had found 70 tons of a missile fuel component hidden among bags of fertilizer aboard a ship sailing to Yemen from Iran.

“Once again the Iranian regime has been exposed for its reckless proliferation of weapons and destabilizing activity in the region,’’ said Tariq Ahmad, Britain’s minister of state for the Middle East.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/02/15/UK-presents-evidence-that-Iran-is-supplying-advanced-weapons-to-Yemen-s-Houthis

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Romanian philanthropist helping set up container city for quake victims: Turkish envoy

Talha Ozturk  

15.02.2023

BELGRADE, Serbia

A Romanian philanthropist will help establish a container city for earthquake victims in southern Türkiye, an official said on Wednesday.

This is part of the expansive efforts made in Romania for Turkish people affected by this tragedy, said Ozgur Kivanc Altan, Ankara’s ambassador to Bucharest.

Romania immediately sent a team of more than 110 people and four search and rescue dogs to Türkiye, he told reporters at an aid collection center in Bucharest.

Altan said Romanian rescuers helped save many people trapped under collapsed buildings.

“Some 2,000 tents and 8,000 beds from RescEU were delivered to Türkiye on trains provided by Romania, as were approximately 5,000 tents and 15,000 sleepers given by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees,” the Turkish envoy said.

“In addition, 660 winter kits and over 26,600 folding beds were delivered to Türkiye via two large planes and several trucks,” he added.

A massive aid campaign is being carried out in Romania with the support of the Turkish-Romanian community and NGOs, especially the Turkish Businessmen Association (TIAD), said Altan.

Countless more tents, blankets, sleeping bags, beds, generators, heaters, and flashlights, along with tons of food and personal hygiene items have also been sent to Türkiye, he said.

Both Romanian and Turkish communities have “worked day and night on this great logistical operation,” Altan added.

On Feb. 6, two powerful earthquakes struck southern Türkiye, centered in Kahramanmaras and shaking nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.

The death toll has now climbed over 35,400, with thousands more injured.
Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/romanian-philanthropist-helping-set-up-container-city-for-quake-victims-turkish-envoy/2821127

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Spanish rescuer underlines scale of quakes that jolted southern Türkiye

Seda Sevencan and Kenan Irtak  

15.02.2023

A Spanish firefighter who joined the search and rescue operation in southern Türkiye said they were not expecting to witness the sheer scale of destruction caused by last week's twin quakes.

Speaking to reporters at Istanbul Airport, Salvador Luque, head of a Spanish rescue team who conducted rescue efforts in Kahramanmaras province, said they brought a team of firefighters.

“We offered ourselves to the Turkish government through the embassy. We came with all the illusion of being able to work on what our job is, which is the emergency, but we never thought that we were going to encounter the disaster, the catastrophe that we have encountered,” Luque said.

“On a mental level, we leave with the pain of not being able to give more service to this town,” Luque said.

He further said the Spanish government will be with the Turkish people after all this.

On Feb. 6, two powerful earthquakes struck southern Türkiye, centered in Kahramanmaras and shaking nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.

The death toll has now climbed over 35,400, with thousands more injured.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/spanish-rescuer-underlines-scale-of-quakes-that-jolted-southern-turkiye/2821118

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'Your pain is our pain,' says Bosnian rescuer in quake-hit Türkiye

Seda Sevencan and Kenan Irtak 

15.02.2023

In the aftermath of last week's twin earthquakes in Türkiye, the leader of a Bosnian search and rescue team said they feel the pain of the Turkish people.

Speaking to reporters at Istanbul Airport, rescuer Fahrudin Dobraca said his team pulled 10 people alive from the rubble of collapsed buildings in Hatay province and recovered 27 bodies.

Underlining that they did their best during the rescue operation in the region, Dobraca said: “Your pain is our pain, we share it, and I don't know what else to say.”

He said his team consists of 20 people and they got training on search and rescue operations in liaison with the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and Istanbul-based Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) for six years in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

They were scheduled to come to Türkiye for a drill, however, they came for a real rescue operation after the disaster, he added. “We really feel this pain and disaster, we are brothers.”

Over 35,000 people were killed, while tens of thousands of others were injured in the two earthquakes, affecting more than 13 million people across the Turkish provinces of Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.

According to Türkiye’s Foreign Ministry, 9,315 personnel from 80 nations had arrived in the country until Monday – exactly a week since the disaster struck – to help out in disaster zones.

Besides rescue teams, blankets, tents, food, and psychological support teams, along with over 12,300 vehicles, including excavators, tractors, and bulldozers, were also sent to the affected areas.

More than 227,762 tents, 2.6 million blankets, and 48,271 containers have been sent to the 10 worst-hit provinces, according to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last Friday that the country was facing one of the biggest disasters in its modern history.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/your-pain-is-our-pain-says-bosnian-rescuer-in-quake-hit-turkiye/2821076

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Poland to send new batch of aid supplies to Türkiye

Murat Temizer  

15.02.2023

Poland will send a new batch of aid supplies to quake-stricken Türkiye, the Turkish ambassador said Tuesday.

Cengiz Kamil Fırat told Anadolu that Poland had dispatched a rescue team as well as a field hospital with medical equipment, doctors and nurses to Türkiye.

Fırat expressed his gratitude to Poland for its swift and generous assistance and said that on Wednesday, all of the Polish teams will return and they plan to welcome them at the airport with banners and flags to show their appreciation.

"The rescue team served in the province of Adiyaman and rescued 12 of our citizens. We are truly grateful to them. All of the Polish teams will return tomorrow, and we would like to welcome them with banners and flags. We want to thank you," he said.

He also said that Poland will send three trucks of aid including generators, blankets and winter tents from its strategic reserves as well as some medicines requested to the quake-hit regions.

At least 35,418 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 tremors were centered in Kahramanmaras and struck nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa. More than 13 million people have been affected by the devastating quakes.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/poland-to-send-new-batch-of-aid-supplies-to-turkiye/2820113

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Greek rescuers praise quake survivors in Turkish province for welcoming them wholeheartedly

Ahmet Gençtürk  

15.02.2023

The first batch of Greek rescuers who returned to their country after a relief mission in the quake-stricken Turkish province of Hatay praised the local survivors for the warm welcome they received.

“Despite all the hardships they’ve had to endure, the Turkish people gave us a very friendly welcome and treated us as family members,” said one of the rescuers during a press conference.

“When we had to take breaks, the people approached us to offer hot tea, biscuits, sweets and bread,” he said.

“When they learned we were Greeks, they opened their arms wide and embraced us,” he added.

The rescuer said they did what they should as neighbors.

“From our experience, we know that in a disaster, you first ask for help from your next-door neighbor and then from the rest of the wider neighborhood.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Katsaniotis, who is in charge of coordinating Greek humanitarian aid to Türkiye, announced on Twitter that a truckload of aid collected by the Athens chapter of the Greek Scout Corps had left during the day for Türkiye and another batch of aid collected in the northern port city of Thessaloniki will depart on Feb. 17.

A ship loaded with 1,000 tons of food, medicine and at least 200 large bags of clothes will depart Wednesday from the port city of Piraeus.

At least 35,418 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 tremors last week were centered in Kahramanmaras and struck nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa. More than 13 million people have been affected by the devastating quakes.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/greek-rescuers-praise-quake-survivors-in-turkish-province-for-welcoming-them-wholeheartedly/2820107

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